Bhopal: The Indo-Israel cooperation in fields like smart city development, innovative technologies, defence, water management are on rise after the biggest-ever business delegation from Israel visited India along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Israel’s counsel general Ya’akov Finkelstein while talking to Free Press during his recent visit to Madhya Pradesh.

Ya’akov Finkelstein a post graduate, obtained degree on international relations from Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He is consul general at Consulate General of Israel, Mumbai, since August 2017. Earlier, he was Director of Department for Jewish Communities, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem. Excerpts of interview

Q. Why is Madhya Pradesh significant for Israel?

The growth rate of 15 percent in agriculture is impressive. Israel is globally known for agriculture production. The growth rate of the state creates several opportunities for Israel also.

In the state, centres of excellence have been proposed in Sehore and Shajapur districts. In Sehore district, a centre for floriculture is planned while a learning centre for oranges is proposed in Shajapur. Israel is one of the largest exporters of fruits. We will try to keep the indigenous varieties. But we can also improve to get better production. The farmers of the area are cultivating crops for thousands of years. We will also learn from them.

Q. What can India contribute for Israel?

India is a great nation and one of the world’s fastest growing economies. It is a great honour that we are bound with friendship with India. The availability of manpower, resources and strong political will is shaping up the nation.

The bilateral relations between India and Israel are more important. The knowledge in agriculture and water management, innovation, cyber space are important. We have launched satellite from Indian soil and we are also strategic partner. Now, we are working on Fintech cyber.

India is one of the major civilisations. One of my friends told me that whoever comes to India to change the nation becomes part of this nation. Many Israeli ex-army personnel are keen to set up business in India. They are fond of India and its culture.

Q. What is contribution of India and Israel in field of agriculture?

Israel is a world leader in advanced agriculture technologies. Israel’s success lies in the determination and ingenuity of farmers and scientists and in the close cooperation between R&D and industry. These characteristics have created a flourishing agriculture sector amidst a difficult environment with limited ground and water resources.

Among the many fields in which Israel and India collaborate, agriculture is at front. This cooperation includes structured interactions between governments, experts and most important – farmers. This comprises bilateral sharing of knowledge and technologies, establishment of centres of excellence in agriculture sectors across India, exchange visits of experts and farmers and post-doctoral scholarships for Indian agriculture researchers in Israel.

This cooperation, based on proper implementation and assimilation of Israeli agro-technologies and extension procedures, is part of India’s 2nd Green Revolution. All this also includes use of marginal, saline and recycled water for irrigation.

Q. What is MASHAV?

It is Hebrew acronym for centre for international cooperation. It was established as a division of foreign affairs ministry. What started as a modest programme focused on human capacity building at grass root level at a time when Israel was a developing nation. Since 1958, almost 200,000 course participants trained from 140 countries in Israel and abroad and have developed dozens of demonstration projects worldwide in fields of Israeli expertise.

Q. How is Israel’s economy evolving?

The Israeli economy is diverse, open market economy. Being a relatively young state in the modern era, Israel is recognised as a developed market. Israel also became a member of the OECD in 2010. Israel is home to international high tech companies, which understand its cultural and economic benefits and its innovative spirit. Along with local Israeli firms which became an international success, both international and local firms make Israel worthy of its description as ‘The Silicon Wadi’.? Israel excels in research and development, human capital, entrepreneurship, venture capital availability, utility patents per million population.

Q. What is the state of education?

Israel has some of the best universities in the world. Many of them are offering courses in English for international students. The major education institutes are Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, Bar-Ilan University, Summer School for US Law Students, Lookstein Center for Jewish Education, University of Haifa, Ben Gurion University of Negev, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Weizmann Institute of Science.

Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, Galillee International Management Institute, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, ORT Braude College, Wingate Institute, Machon Lev-Jerusalem College of Technology are leading educational institutions.

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