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Hand in hand into the future: Indian PM’s historic visit to Israel reflects how the two countries are working together on many fronts

Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu

A historic visit to Israel commences today. It will be the first ever of an Indian Prime Minister to Israel. The two of us have met before but this is the first time we do so on Israeli soil.

The natural partnership between India and Israel, formally elevated 25 years ago to full diplomatic relations, has grown stronger from year to year. The deep connection between our peoples reflects our many similarities in spirit, if not in size. Ours are two modern, vibrant democracies that draw on our rich historical traditions while striving to seize the promise of the future for our peoples.

Both our nations are complex. Like yogic asanas grounding down and pulling up at the same time, they face many challenges. By working together we can overcome some of the challenges.

Over the centuries the philosophies and histories of our ancestors inspired one another. Today the entrepreneurial drive of Indians and Israelis brings us closer together. The Jewish community in India was always welcomed with warmth and respect and never faced any persecution. The Jews of Indian origin in Israel are proud of their heritage and have left an indelible imprint on both societies. Both communities serve as a human bridge between our nations.

India and Israel are walking hand in hand into the future as partners. India is a growing economic powerhouse with a large market and talent pool. Israel is a world leader in high technology and innovation. The combination of India’s and Israel’s human resources and ingenuity will provide more effective and more affordable solutions for us in diverse fields that are priorities for both our governments: agriculture, water, health, environment, education and security.

This unique blend of complementary capabilities has forged strong ties between India and Israel, particularly in the field of technology. From start-ups to space, communications to cybernetics, Israel’s technological capabilities are merging with India’s. Indian students specialising in advanced research and technical studies are building strong links with institutions of higher learning in Israel. These ties go beyond technological exchange and reflect a long-term developmental partnership.

Fifteen fully operational joint Centers of Excellence under the Indo-Israeli Agricultural Project showcase our mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of agriculture. Together, we are harnessing our respective strengths and learning from each other’s experience to generate and cultivate solutions with a distinct India-Israel stamp.

Israel’s extreme water crises in the past place it in a unique position to understand India’s quest for efficient water solutions.  The cost effective adaptation of Israeli technology to India’s needs could create new solutions that we could use to help address the water challenges of other developing nations across the globe.

The common challenges we face are not for governments alone to tackle. Undoubtedly our governments will play an important role, but it is the private sector that will propel us forward.

In an effort to involve the business sector as a catalyst of our bilateral relations, India and Israel have taken important steps. We are establishing a new India-Israel CEOs Forum. Acquiring business visas from each country has become easier today than it has ever been, thanks to steps taken by both governments.  We are also asking our respective business leaders to suggest ways in which we can bring our bilateral trade closer to its real potential. Together we are creating and funding new avenues for joint cooperation, including in industrial and technological research and development.

The “Make in India” initiative to strengthen the Indian manufacturing base has been enhanced by its Israeli “Make with India” counterpart.  We are pleased that this vision is already bearing fruit.

We both recognise the threat terrorism poses to our countries and to global peace and stability. Accordingly, a few years ago we signed a landmark agreement on cooperation in homeland and public security. India and Israel are committed to working together to fight this scourge.

This week’s historic visit, as we celebrate 25 years of full diplomatic relations between India and Israel, reflects not just the close cooperation of our governments, but also the great sympathy and affinity between our peoples. We marvel at the changes we have witnessed over the last two and a half decades and are proud that India and Israel are genuine partners for development, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.

We are confident that 25 years from now, Indians and Israelis will look back on this visit as the first of many historical milestones that we reached together in the great friendship between our peoples.

Narendra Modi is Prime Minister of India and Benjamin Netanyahu is Prime Minister of Israel

Source: The Times of India

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