Dynamic Dimensions of the India-Israel Synergy
India and Israel have fostered a fruitful diplomatic alliance that spans more than three decades. Over the years, the two economies have strategically collaborated across diverse sectors, such as trade, technology, agriculture, defense, and innovation, allowing them to leverage each other's strengths and expertise for mutual benefit. The enhanced frequency of high-level exchanges and ministerial visits between India and Israel has resulted in the expansion of cooperation across several functional areas.
Economic ties between India and Israel have deepened with the bilateral trade reaching an impressive $ 7.86 billion (excluding defense) in 2021-2022. India, today, is Israel's second-largest trading partner in Asia and the seventh-largest globally. While traditional sectors such as diamonds, petroleum products, and chemicals have continued to dominate bilateral trade, there has been a surge in trade in high-tech products, electronics, communications systems, and medical equipment. Foreign direct investment from Israel into India, between April 2000 and September 2022, amounted to approximately $ 280 million, and there are over 300 investments from Israel in India, which focus on high-tech, agriculture, and water.
With a shared passion for innovation and technological advancement, India and Israel have steered initiatives like India-Israel Industrial Research and Development and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F) and the India-Israel Initiative for Industrial Research and Development (i4RD). The I4F and i4RD support joint industrial research and development (R&D) projects in priority sectors such as agriculture, water, energy, healthcare, and ICT. In May 2023, denoting a significant development, the two partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance cooperation in industrial R&D programs. The MoU spans across a multitude of sectors, including healthcare, aerospace, electronics instrumentation, civil engineering, chemicals and petrochemicals, sustainable energy, ecology and environment, mining, agriculture, and biotechnology. The collaboration will be supervised by a Joint Steering Committee led by the heads of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in India and the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) in Israel, aiming to promote mutually beneficial industrial and technological cooperation. To commemorate thirty successful years of meaningful engagement, India and Israel inaugurated the 30th Centre of Excellence (CoE) as part of the Indo-Israeli Agriculture Project, focused on the cultivation of semi-arid horticultural crops.
Israel has gained recognition for its remarkable ability to “make the desert bloom.” A global leader in the development of sustainable technologies and solutions specifically tailored for the agricultural sector, Israel’s expertise has been invaluable for India. Israeli innovations in areas like drip irrigation, protected cultivation, and post-harvest management have significantly increased agricultural productivity and water efficiency in India. Moreover, collaboration in water management technologies has helped India address water scarcity issues and improve water resource management.
A vital pillar of the India-Israel bilateral relationship is defense and security cooperation. Israel's state-of-the-art defense systems, including unmanned aerial vehicles and missile defense systems, have played a crucial role in enhancing India's defense preparedness. Defense technology transfers, joint research programs, and the procurement of advanced defense equipment have bolstered India's defense capabilities. In November 2021, the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) of India and the DDR&D of Israel signed a Bilateral Innovation Agreement (BIA) aimed at fostering innovation and expediting R&D in startups and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in both countries, with a particular focus on the development of dual-use technologies. Regular exchanges between the armed forces and collaboration on security issues have further strengthened the defense cooperation between the two nations.
Together, India and Israel have cultivated a seamless flow of knowledge and resources, fostering advancements in various domains. The robust trade and economic ties, technological collaborations, advancements in agriculture and water management, and defense cooperation have laid the foundation for a strong and dynamic partnership. This synergistic relationship continues to flourish as India and Israel explore new avenues of cooperation and forge ahead on their journey towards progress and prosperity.