New initiative to strengthen India-Israel relations


New Delhi : A new initiative has been launched to reach out to Indian policymakers, journalists and the public to spread awareness about Israel and help strengthen ties with India, especially in the fields of trade, tourism and technology.

Support TwoCircles

The Israel Project (TIP), a non-profit educational organisation that provides information about Israel and the Middle East to the media, policymakers and the public, has launched the innovative programme in India to strengthen relations between the two countries.

Led by Molly Malekar, TIP’s director of India affairs, the programme is already reaching out to over 2,000 journalists and leaders in India. The purpose is to get them the facts and sources they need to understand the region and strengthen relations between India and Israel, the organisation said in a statement Tuesday.

“Although diplomatic relations are still relatively new, India and Israel share a long history of co-existence and mutual appreciation,” said Malekar, who was born and raised in India.

“Both ancient civilizations gained independence at the same period; are vibrant democracies; and are looking at the future, striving towards mutually acceptable solutions to a vast array of challenges. The strengthening of this relationship will not only benefit the two societies but will also foster freedom and stability in
the region.”

India topped the list of tourists from Eastern countries to Israel in 2010, with over 40,000 visitors. The figure was up 75 percent compared to the previous year, displacing South Korea from the top slot after several years, according to Israeli official data.

With the successful campaign last year, the Israeli tourism ministry now aims to attract at least 50,000 Indian visitors in 2011 and also plans to participate for the first time at the International Tourism fair in Mumbai.

Last year, Israeli companies invested over $3 billion in India, in sectors ranging from dairy farming to real estate to hospitals.

In addition, both countries had signed five significant trade and economic agreements from 1993 to 1996, while bilateral trade grew from $80 million in 1991 to $4 billion in 2008.

For the first time in 2008 in Mumbai, companies from both sides held discussions for cooperation in building new technologies in solar energy, IT, robotics and others.

Israel has a close relationship with India on water management and other green initiatives, particularly agricultural. The Tel Aviv-based company Netafim, which provides irrigation solutions for agriculture and landscaping, has put more than 14,800 acres of land in Andhra Pradesh, known as the “Rice Bowl of India”, under sprinkler and drip irrigation.