Post-Independence, India opposed the formation of Israel out of Palestine owing to several factors including India’s own partition on religious lines, and India’s relationship with other nations. India also voted against Israel’s admission to the United Nations in 1949. However, in 1950, India recognised the States of Israel.
Since then to the early 1990s, for a period of more than four decades, the relation of India with the States of Israel remained informal in nature. This informal relationship that India maintained were due to both domestic as well as foreign considerations:
- Domestically, politicians in India feared losing the Muslim vote if relations were normalised with Israel.
- India didn’t want to jeopardise the large amount of its citizens working in Arab States of the Persian Gulf, who were helping maintain its foreign-exchange reserves.
- India’s domestic need for energy was other reason for the lack of normalisation of ties with Israel, in terms of safeguarding the flow of oil from Arab nations
It was in 1992, almost two and a half decades ago, that India established full diplomatic relations with Israel. Since then it has only blossomed.
Areas of Co-operation:
- Military and Strategic Ties: Since the establishment of formal relationship, India and Israel have increased co-operation in military and intelligence ventures. The fact that both the nations are victim of terrorism supported by the neighbouring country has generated a strong strategic alliance between the two.
Defense ties between both the nations have been booming and in fact, India has become Israel’s biggest arms market. Arms deal worth $2.6 billion has been signed in 2017 alone.
Counterterror cooperation and intelligence cooperation have always been high on the India-Israel bilateral agenda. The nature of the terror challenge that the two nations face can be underscored by the recent comments of Hizbul Mujahideen (HuM) supreme commander Syed Salahuddin, who suggested that his being declared a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” by the U.S. State Department was a joint move by the United States, Israel, and India to express their animosity toward Pakistan.
- Science and Technology Collaboration: Since the establishment of formal relationship, both the countries have done several science and technological collaborations in the field of IT, biotechnology, lasers, and electro-optics to name a few.
Several funds, like i4RD, have been created to boost R&D in the field of Science and Technology.
- Agricultural Co-operation: Based on Israel’s unique expertise in agriculture, India and Israel signed the Agreement for Agricultural Cooperation in 2006, which evolved into Indo-Israel Agriculture Project (IIAP). Within this framework, the State of Israel is contributing its best practices and know-how, and capacity building through professional trainings programs.
To achieve the desired goal, Centres of Excellence are also being established. The Centres of Excellence provide a suitable platform for rapid transfer of technology to the farmers. Protected cultivation, drip irrigation and fertigation, canopy management, nursey production, Integrated Pest Management technologies are demonstrated at the centres and later adopted by the farmers to increase their yield and income.
- Bilateral Trade: Bilateral trade b/w India and Israel grew from $200 million in 1992 to $4.14 billion in 2015.
Main items of India’s export to Israel: stones and metals, chemical products, textile and textile articles, plants and vegetable products, mineral products, rubber and plastic products, base metals and machinery
Main items of India’s import from Israel: precious stones and metals, chemical and mineral products, base metals, machinery, and transport equipment.
- Space Collaboration: In 2002, India and Israel signed a cooperative agreement promoting space collaboration between both nations. Since then several collaborations between the space agency of both the nations, viz. Israel Space Agency (ISA) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have taken place.
Recently when India created history by launching 104 satellites through a single rocket, it also included Israel’s “technology demonstrator” nano satellite.