Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Prime Minister of India to visit Israel. It is a much hyped visit and deservedly so since India has a lot to gain from Israel. It has also been seen as a move by India to move away from Russia on defence dependency.
From defence, counter- terrorism to agriculture, there is a lot that India can gain from Israel. Let us breakdown the five reasons why Israel is so important to India.
Soon Israel would become the chief exporter of arms and ammunitions to India with the Barak missiles and surveillance drones. On the other hand with the Trump regime in place in the US, Israelis are worried and they feel that India is a better alternative.
Israel is a crucial supplier and maker of parts for military systems. The country also has expertise in small and medium conflict zones. Israeli aerospace industries have already bagged Rs 13,000 crore worth of Indian contracts.
Signs of a collaboration with Israel was seen during the 1962 China war. Israel had provided India military aid not only during the China war but also during the wars with Pakistan in 1965 and 1971.
India in 1967 reciprocated by providing Israel with spare parts for French-made Mystere and Ouragan aircraft as well as AX-13 tanks.
In the 1999 Kargil war Israel supplied artillery shells when India faced a shortage. In the 1990s, India purchased the Barak 1, an air-defence missile bought specifically for its capability to intercept US-made Harpoon missiles deployed by Pakistan.
India's imports of unarmed vehicles (UAVs) have almost all been from Israel. Of 176 UAVs purchased from Israel, 108 are Searcher UAVs and 68 are Heron UAVs In April 2017, India and Israel signed a Rs 12,878 crore deal for advanced medium-range surface-to-air missile system, which will provide the Indian army the capability to shoot down aircraft, missiles and drones at ranges of up to 70 km.
India and Israel are both victims of terrorism. With increased sharing of intelligence and counter-terrorism cooperation both countries could better the way the war on terror is sought. India has always admired Israel's counter-terrorism skills.
Experts in India have called Israel's counter-terrorism strategy as a no-nonsense one and hence gaining expertise from them would go a long way in the war against terror. Israel could also provide real time intelligence to India on global terrorist outfits.
With Israel becoming a pioneer in the area of rainwater harvesting and use of oceanic water for irrigation, the nation has transformed from a water deficit to surplus state. India which faces an erratic monsoon could gain from that technology which will go a long way in helping the agriculture sector.
There is an Indo-Israel agriculture action plan for 2015-18 that is operational, and 15 of the proposed 26 centers of excellence in agriculture are being developed in India with Israel's help to showcase the latest technology to Indian farmers.
Phase-I (2010-12) and phase-II (2012-15) of the agreement are complete, according to a reply given in the Lok Sabha on February 7, 2017.