Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India and Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, on 15 January 2018 expressed their unwavering belief that the two countries can together shape the future of their countries and the world. “In India, we have been taking steady steps over three years at both macro as well as micro-level, to make a difference. Our motto is: Reform, Perform and Transform. The results are two-fold. On the one hand, our procedures, processes and systems are getting aligned with the best in the world. Secondly, we are able to maintain the pace of faster growth. In spite of deep structural reforms, we are among the fastest growing major economies. FDI inflows are at an all-time high, with 40% rise. Tremendous work is being done to skill and employ the youth. 65% of our population is below 35 years of age and is hungry for technology-enabled growth,” said Modi in his address at the business meet.
“This is our greatest opportunity as well as challenge. For this purpose, we have started the Start-up India campaign. There is vast potential for India-Israel partnership in this area. The India-Israel Innovation Bridge will act as a link between the Start-ups of the two sides. I have been saying that Indian Industries, start-ups and the academic institutions must collaborate with their Israeli counterparts to access the huge reservoir of knowledge. India has size and scale. Israel has sharpness and edge,” Modi added.
Both leaders emphasised on the critical role of business in transforming bilateral trade and investment ties, with Prime Minister Modi stating that Indian and Israeli business had the capacity to add real value to achieve concrete success in boosting two-way trade.
Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister Netanyahu were addressing the India-Israel Business Summit organised jointly by FICCI, ASSOCAM, CII and the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel (MAI). FICCI was the lead coordinator for the Summit.
Modi said that for making ‘Start up India’ programme a success it was imperative for industry, start-ups and the academia to collaborate with their Israeli counterparts to cash in on the advances in technology of Israeli companies that has won global admiration.
Netanyahu said that the economic reforms and emphasis on technology for growth espoused by Prime Minister Modi was an agenda that the two countries could take forward together. He stressed on the role of big data, artificial intelligence and connectivity to achieve high innovation-led rates of growth.
Rashesh Shah, President, FICCI, in his welcome remarks, said that the Innovation Bridge announced between the two countries is a foundation stone to innovate, incubate, indigenise and internationalise global markets. Cooperation in agriculture and water, collaborations in research, development and technological innovations to strategic collaborations in defence and counter-terrorism are becoming the bed-rock of our multi-faceted relations. Cooperation in the field of innovations, start-ups and cutting-edge technology across sectors, is all set to define our cooperation for many years to come, he emphasized.
Shobana Kamineni, President, CII, highlighted new areas where India and Israel could work together. These include space and satellite cooperation, cyber security, development of India-specific technologies and products and high-tech manufacturing for Indian and overseas markets in one of India’s industrial corridors.
Sandeep Jajodia, President, ASSOCHAM, said that India is now one of the world’s fastest growing economy, offering a huge youthful consuming class. Israel was noted for its technology in defence, pharma, agriculture, cyber security and gems. The businesses of the two countries were thus ideally suited to complement the development of each other’s economy.
Shraga Brosh, President, MAI, said the challenge before the two countries was to achieve the goal of US$ 20 billion worth of trade in the next four and a half years. He expressed confidence that given the desire and the commitment of the two sides this would be achieved.
The recommendations were submitted to the two Prime Ministers at the second meeting of India-Israel CEOs Forum to achieve US$ 20 billion bilateral trade turnover in the next five years from the present level of US$ 5 billion were arrived following extensive deliberations of six working groups earlier in the day.
According to Pankaj Patel, Immediate Past President, FICCI & Indian Co-Chair of the Forum, “The Forum is of the considered view that biggest opportunity between India and Israel is in the creation of an innovation economy, with both our countries taking big strides in the innovation and start-ups space. It should be natural for the two countries to align policies to nurture and support the innovation eco-system to make success of the Innovation Bridge launched in July 2017 and $ 50 million National Technology and Endowment Fund announced.”
The Forum discussed at length, steps to deepen the cooperation in the field of agriculture. Building further upon the already existing mature collaboration in the sector where India has benefitted from Israeli technology in horticulture mechanisation, protect the cultivation, micro irrigation and post-harvest management through several Israel Centre of Excellence in different States of India, the Forum noted that India was all set to assimilate these technologies for long-term gains.
The working groups also made the following recommendations to strengthen Indo-Israeli engagement in diverse areas:
Defence, aerospace and homeland security
There remained a need for both our governments to nurture co-production and co-development by considering a new approach to our policy. It was unanimously proposed that all manufacturing organizations, whether public or private sector, get included in such partnerships. This would have a dual benefit of enhanced manufacturing activity and increased trade. At the same time, this would also be an opportunity for India’s SME sector to upgrade their manufacturing technology, and skills for technology absorption. This is in line with FICCI’s strategy for engagement with Israel in this important sector.
Agriculture and water management
The Working Group discussion in these sectors, evolved a clear opportunity of collaboration in the area of desalination where Israel remained a world leader. India could act as a base for low cost manufacturing and project implementation. Mobile, solar desalination plants for Indian villages appear to be a great opportunity for our coastal areas.
In addition, India can use already prevalent drip irrigation technology from Israel to enhance nutrient efficiency in crops, for better productivity. For this, scaling up drip irrigation in arid areas of India is to be promoted which will also go a long way in creating the Second Green Revolution in India.
Urban infrastructure and transport
This is a new area of possible cooperation wherein Israel companies have expertise for small cities and districts. Actions here could include creation of knowledge hubs and technology transfer ecosystem in the aspects of distribution, traffic management, citizen safety and waste management to start with.
Digital technology – IT, cyber and data security
This area of cooperation has inherent complementarities between our countries. With India’s world-renowned software skills, our companies need to collaborate in the area of cyber and digital security technologies for making our country digitally empowered. This would also be an important pillar for our Digital India program.
Start-up and innovation eco-system
The Forum was unanimous in noting that for articulating and promoting an ‘innovation economy’, collaborations in the area of innovation research is necessary, besides the funding support already announced. Another area the Forum would explore is a tri-lateral partnership between India, Israel and United States, with focus on the SMEs sector.