Daily Management Review

From Defense To Science, Agriculture And Technology, India, Israel Expand Cooperation


From Defense To Science, Agriculture And Technology, India, Israel Expand Cooperation
The way for Israeli firms to access millions of consumers and for Indian companies seeking advanced technologies would be paved by a string of deals signed this week between India and Israel which reflected wider cooperation apart from the long standing cooperation in defense between the two countries.
As part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to the country, 25 years after both nations established diplomatic relations, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said India signed several agreements with Israel on science, agriculture and technology.
Establishment of a strategic partnership in water and agriculture to focus on water conservation, waste-water treatment and its reuse for agriculture and desalination, among other deals and creation of a bilateral technology innovation fund worth $40 million for research in industrial development were part of the agreements.
While Israel has historically been a supplier of defense equipment to India, the two countries have natural synergies in other areas, said Richard Rossow, senior adviser and Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies at CSIS.
"Israel's becoming a more important defense partner for India, a source of great technology, not just in the defense space, but in biotechnology (and) agriculture," he said in a TV interview. "A lot of the things were reflected in that joint statement."
More investments from both countries could be the result of the closer ties, Rossow said.
"India's good at large-scale things, like call centers and software development, but Israel's doing package software. India's doing back-office biotech research, but Israel actually has products that are out there in the global markets more than India does," he said.
"So it could be Israeli companies looking for a larger production base, in which case India's ready to go."
Conversely, Indian companies could make acquisitions in Israel as they would be looking to get access to higher-end technologies than what was available domestically, Rossow said. "It's a good complementary relationship between the two countries," he said.
Also, in areas including atomic clocks and electric propulsion for small satellites, India and Israel also signed cooperation pacts between their respective space agencies.
However, a key factor in the India-Israeli relationship was still defense. Earlier this years, arms deals with India totaling over $2.6 billion have been signed by Israeli companies, led by government-owned aerospace giant Israel Aircraft Industries.
"The defense relationship has been the main driver of the rapprochement between India and Israel," Nicolas Blarel, assistant professor at the Institute of Political Science in Leiden University, said.
"Israel was one of the main suppliers for India during the Kargil war with Pakistan. It showed its reputation as a strong, stable supplier, even in times of duress. So since then, there have been a lot of major, important deals," said Blarel.
Joint development of defense products that include transfer of technology from Israel, with an emphasis on Modi's signature 'Make in India' initiative, should be the focus of future developments in defense cooperation between the countries, according to the joint statement.
In Asia, India was one of the largest defense spenders. In 2016, 2.5 percent of India's gross domestic product (GDP) went to military expenditure, shows data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. In the same period, China spent about 1.9 percent of its GDP, in comparison.