web analytics
April 28, 2015 / 9 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Israel Buoyed By Election Of Old Friend In India

Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi

With a focus on Hindu nationalism and pro-market policies, newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promises to propel the country in a new direction. India and Israel have enjoyed increasingly close military and economic cooperation over the past two decades, and Modi also brings to his new post strong personal and business ties with Israel dating to his time as chief minister of one of India’s most wealthy and industrialized states.

While traditional Israeli allies in Europe remain in economic stagnation and produce increasingly hostile rhetoric toward the Jewish state, Modi’s election may further elevate Israel’s bond with the world’s largest democracy.

“We are very confident he will give the proper attention to the relations with Israel because he understands the strategic bond,” Anat Bernstein-Reich, president of the Israel-India Friendship Association and vice president of the Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce, told JNS.

Differences in size and culture aside, India and Israel have many modern and historical similarities. Hinduism and Judaism are among the world’s oldest existing religions, and both share ethno-religious components that set them apart from other major faiths. At the same time, both religions have intricate systems of laws, purity codes, and dietary restrictions that define their communities. In modern times, both India and Israel achieved independence from Great Britain during the late 1940s, after long internal struggles and bloody partition plans.

Yet for its first few decades of independence, India, under the direction of then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his Congress Party, sought friendlier relations with Arab states and aligned itself with the third-world Non-Aligned Movement, which was often hostile to Israel. India viewed the Jewish state as a proxy of the imperial Western powers.

This mentality didn’t change until 1992, when the end of the Cold War forced Indian leaders to rethink their global strategy, including relations with Israel. In January 1992, India and Israel opened their first bilateral diplomatic missions.

Since then, one of the most important aspects of Indo-Israeli relations has been military cooperation, with Israel becoming India’s second-largest military importer behind Russia.

“Today, military cooperation is considered to be one of the most important aspects of their ties,” said Alvite Ningthoujam, a Ph.D. candidate at India’s Jawaharlal Nehru University who has researched India-Israel military cooperation with the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

Ningthoujam explained that the Indo-Israeli military relationship has evolved over the years “from a mere seller-buyer relationship” to a “relationship that has been transformed into that of joint-collaborations.”

“India imports very sophisticated weapon systems such missiles, arms and ammunition, electronic warfare systems, radio-communication systems, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, etc., and there are several other deals in the pipeline,” Ningthoujam said.

Even though their military ties are strong, Israel and India have shared a mixed relationship since 1992, largely as a result of the Congress Party’s years of vocal support for the Palestinian cause as well as its reluctance to criticize Iran’s nuclear program.

But this hasn’t been the case universally in India. Modi’s conservative Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which now has outright majority control of India’s parliament for the first time in the country’s history, has longstanding warm ties with Israel dating back to when the BJP was part of a government coalition in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“We are sure the BJP will give a boost to India-Israel relations based on past experience with BJP,” Bernstein-Reich said.

Ideological affinity aside, many inside the BJP are extremely grateful for the discrete military support Israel provided to India during its 1999 Kargil War with Pakistan, when Russia and other allies refused to help India.

In recognition of Israel’s support, top BJP officials visited Israel in 2000, which eventually led to former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon’s historic visit to India in 2003.

Like the rest of the BJP, Modi “understands that Israel needs India for political reasons as a strategic ally, something that wasn’t there before, because India needed the oil of Arab countries, including Iran,” Bernstein-Reich said.

With his anti-terror attitude, Modi “will want to keep Israel close to him and not at a distance, like the Congress Party did,” she added.

Bernstein-Reich, who has worked as a technology entrepreneur in India and Israel for the past 17 years, met with Modi during his visit to Israel in 2007 as part of a high-tech agricultural conference. Modi, who served as chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat from 2001-2014, forged strong ties with Israeli businesses during that time. India has a decentralized form of government, in which individual states and their leadership can develop economic and bilateral ties with foreign nations.

Under Modi’s leadership, Israeli companies poured billions of dollars of investment into Gujarat in areas like industrial research, solar and thermal power, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure, and water recycling and desalination plants.

“Modi understands what Israel can give to India technology-wise,” Bernstein-Reich said.

On the other hand, while Indo-Israeli economic ties have grown significantly, to nearly $5 billion, bilateral trade between the nations has recently stagnated.

“There has been steady growth, but not enough in recent years because of the recession,” said Bernstein-Reich.

Additionally, one of the outstanding issues that Modi inherits as India’s new leader will be finalizing a Free Trade Agreement with Israel.

The Free Trade Agreement has been under negotiation for the past three years, and Bernstein-Reich explained that although the Congress Party was very friendly toward Israel, officials “took their time” on the trade pact.

Bernstein-Reich predicts that once the agreement is signed, bilateral trade will increase substantially.

“It will be a unique agreement with India that will give special benefits to businesses in both countries,” she said.

Modi, meanwhile, has garnered significant attention for his strong Hindu nationalism, resulting in criticism from the West, especially for Hindu-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002. Yet his views in that area may also allow him form an ideological bond with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is similarly chastised in some Western countries.

Shortly after Modi’s victory, Netanyahu spoke with him and expressed his desire to “deepen and develop” bilateral ties.

One of Modi’s first public gestures as prime minister was to visit the Ganges River, one of holiest places in Hinduism, where he promised to restore the heavily polluted river to its former glory. Over the years, Netanyahu has taken a similar approach, focusing on securing Israel’s Jewish heritage sites and insisting that Jerusalem remain under Jewish sovereignty.

Modi is also surrounding himself with like-minded ministers who admire Israel and its values.

“Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is a big fan of Israel and enhanced diplomatic ties is expected,” Ningthoujam said.

Swaraj, who is the first woman to hold the post in India, has called herself a “strong fan” of Israel and a “strong admirer” of the late Israeli prime minister Golda Meir. She has also visited Israel and served as chairwoman of the Indo-Israel parliamentary friendship group in 2008.

Already, Swaraj’s Israeli counterpart, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, has reached out to her. The two foreign ministers acknowledged the “great importance” of Indo-Israeli bilateral relations.

“The fruitful cooperation between the two nations contributes greatly to tremendously important spheres of collaboration, including agriculture, water, research and development and more,” said a press statement from Swaraj.

Despite its size and natural resources, India has in recent years failed to keep pace with the advancements of China and other major Asian countries, as corruption and political divisions have caused economic stagnation. Many hope Modi will give a much-needed boost to India in order for the country to compete globally. For tiny Israel, meanwhile, strengthening ties with major Asian nations is an important part of its 21st-century strategy.

“[India] needs a country such as Israel that is willing to transfer technologies which are hard to procure from elsewhere, not only in the field of the military, but on other fronts as well,” Ningthoujam told JNS. “Israel had already proved its credibility [to India] in the past, and particularly during the Kargil War. So it is a very important country to India.”

(JNS)

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Israel Buoyed By Election Of Old Friend In India”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
UNRWA Rocket Logo
UNRWA Chutzpa
Latest News Stories
Sen. Rand Paul at the Western Wall in 2013.

“How do you explain your position in a way that they will stop writing that you’re an anti-Semite?” asked the Yated Ne’eman editor-in-chief.

UNRWA Rocket Logo

UNRWA is proud because Hamas only stored mortars in their schools, not rockets, according to the UN inquiry.

Iran’s aggressively expanding posture across the region. (Google map; author annotation.)

U.S. officials have acknowledged that Iran-supported Shiite violence in Iraq and Yemen has been influencing the talks between the U.S. and Iran on the latter’s nuclear program

IDF soldiers outside Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights. (Archive)

12:46 PM: Now this is interesting: A Syrian army source told the Lebanon news outlet, Elnashra: A number of rockets were launched at IDF positions near the border. Syrian rebel forces then launched mortars at the source of the Syrian rocket fire. The Syrian army is on high alert in readiness for an Israeli assault. […]

German Soccer fans were told to stop waving their Israeli flags.

The UN’s BOI report about the 2014 Gaza War documents the exploitation by Hamas of UN facilities.

The Russian government’s plan to rid the capital Moscow of swastikas and everything else of Nazi origin, in time for Victory Day.

Since 2014, the Border Police have become a favorite target for Arab terrorists.

Miller would like a chance to tell the court it’s time to “put the Jews on trial where they belong.”

Two Israelis were hurt in road terror attacks Monday, and a 16 year old Arab teen was shot while attacking a motorist.

The Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park holds the record for the highest birth rate in New York City in 2013.

The death toll continues to rise following earthquakes in Nepal as rescue workers fight the clock.

Ready for the big news? George W. Bush doesn’t think much of Barack Obama’s foreign policy decisions.

A credible threat that rival gangs will unite amid riots to “take out” Baltimore Police after Freddie Gray, 25, dies in custody.

The families of two American Jews began breathing again early Monday after Danny Cole and Mendy Losh “phoned home” from a small village thousands of feet high on Mount Everest to say they’re still safe.

More Articles from Sean Savage

Israel is home to one of the few remaining growing Christian communities in the Middle East.

Sen. Warren meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Nov. 24, 2014.

Tevi Troy, who served as White House liaison to the Jewish community under President George W. Bush, called Warren’s recent decisions on Iran sanctions and PA funding “worrisome signs.”

El-Sisi has embarked on an ambitious plan to destroy Hamas’s tunnel infrastructure underneath the Egyptian-Gaza border.

The Cincinnati case helped clarify what cities can and cannot do concerning access to public places.

As expected, one of the biggest themes throughout the week long UN gathering was a focus on the threat posed by Islamic State to the international world order, with nearly every major world leader mentioning the U.S.-led international efforts underway to combat the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.

Looming large over any efforts to rebuild Gaza is the ongoing split between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party, which controls the West Bank, and Hamas, which continues to control the Gaza Strip.

J Street’s co-sponsorship policy extends to groups on both the anti-Israel and pro-Israel side of the spectrum.

While traditional Israeli allies in Europe remain in economic stagnation and produce increasingly hostile rhetoric toward the Jewish state, Modi’s election may further elevate Israel’s bond with the world’s largest democracy.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/israel-buoyed-by-election-of-old-friend-in-india/2014/06/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: