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India-Israel Relations: Strategically Inseparable?

India and Israel have shared diplomatic relations since 1992. Over the years, India's engagement with Israel has increased under the preconditions of mutual necessity. This article aims to justify why India needs close relations with Israel in the current period. The same can be justified by Israel's contribution to its trade with India using technology and next-generation industries focusing on clean energy, pharmaceuticals, and electronic machinery. In the case of defence relations, Israel has engaged with the defence-industrial sector that focuses on increasing India's capabilities by bridging the technological gap.

An Illustration on India-Israel Relations

 Illustration by The Geostrata


TRADE RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL

 

India shares a vital relationship with Israel, which focuses largely on electronic machinery, nuclear products and medical products, which has grown from U.S. $ 900 million in 2000 to U.S. $ 7.86 billion in 2016. However, the relations between the two countries cannot be considered only from the prism of exchange of goods and services.


The trade relations between the two countries need to be understood as a next-generation relationship focusing on investments in start-ups and tech ecosystems. 

The same can be justified with Israeli investments in many Indian defence projects. The value of which stands at U.S. $ 270 million in 2021. The top companies from Israel, like Teva Pharmaceuticals, Ecoppia and NaanDanJain, can become a source of investments in clean energy, health and water management sectors in India.


In recent years, India and Israel have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for increasing industrial research and development on technologies like aerospace, electronics instrumentation, engineering, ecology and environment.


 Therefore, the relation gives space for facilitating industries based on sectors like renewable energy and ICT that involve the participation of academia and businesses.

This will enhance the scope of the India-Israel Industrial R&D and Innovation Fund (I4F), which includes sectors like academia and businesses in the renewable energy space. 


The relations between India and Israel in the field of trade cannot be considered as a one-way street. India has emerged as one of the top exporters in the Israeli market. The major exports from India to Israel include diamonds, metals, chemical products, textiles and petroleum products. 

India has expanded its economic presence not only with the help of trade but also by building infrastructural facilities. In 2022, India's Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd. (APSEZ) signed a joint agreement with Israel's Gadot Chemical Tankers and Terminals Ltd to bid for Haifa Port amounting to U.S. $ 1.18 billion. It has also reflected the intention of Indian companies to invest in strategic centres in Israel to expand their relative presence and pave the way for further investments in technology and manufacturing. In the current period, India's investment in Israel amounts to U.S. $ 118 million, with major Indian companies having high stakes.

 

DEFENCE RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL

 

The defence relations between Israel and India have moved a long way since 1992, when Israel had assisted India during the Kargil War in 1999


Currently, the defence relations between the two countries stand at U.S. $ 4.2 billion. India has made arms purchases to bridge its existing technological gaps in the defence realm.The country has imported aerial vehicles, missiles, and radar systems.

Israel's engagement with India in the defence field cannot be considered a benefit to Israel alone. The relation has boosted India's existing capabilities in surveillance technology, especially in volatile Indian states like Kashmir. Sensors, drones and thermal imaging devices from Israel gave India an edge in conducting anti-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the hinterlands of Kashmir Valley.


Israel and India's cooperation has resulted not only in defence relations but also involves the engagement of advanced weapons and joint development programs that increase the existing capabilities of India's defence industrial base.

Such capabilities can be proven by the success of the Barak-8 air and missile defence system developed jointly by the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO). The bourgeoning relations between the two countries have also helped the capabilities of India's defence units like the Indian Air Force. Such a statement can be justified by the collaboration of IAI and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which aims to convert a civilian aircraft (Boeing-767) into a mid-air refueller for the Indian Air Force.


Israel has also supported the Indian government in building India's defence-industrial capabilities by developing partnerships with the private sector. In recent years, Israeli companies like IAI, Elbit Systems and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems partnered with Bharat Forge, Tech Mahindra, Adani Group and Tata Advanced Systems to produce systems for advancing homeland security.

This involved advancing collaboration to advancing communication systems and electronic warfare. Therefore, the collaboration with Israel will lead to growth in the indigenised defence industrial base with a greater role played by India's private sector. The collaboration between Bharat Forge and Elbit Systems suggests the increased role of India's private defence industrial base in producing critical weaponry involving artillery guns, guided munitions and mortar systems.  


The relations between the two countries also involve defence relations in sectors like missile development, which have been used in combat.

In 2019, the Indian Army used 'Spice 2000' missiles co-developed by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense System and Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems (KRAS) against militants a few days after the Pulwama suicide bombing incident in Kashmir that killed more than forty Indian soldiers.


However, the defence relations between the two countries cannot be considered a way of collaboration. Indian companies have provided technological understandings with Israeli companies in electro-optics technology. In the case of Bangalore-based Tombo Imaging has provided Israel with technological guidance concerned with powering its precision-guided bombs. Therefore, India and Israel's defence relations signify a point where the two countries assist each other in developing weapon systems for combat.


CONCLUSION



In conclusion, India's collaboration with Israel has benefited India in defence and trade. In this case, the growing relations will benefit the research and development capabilities of both countries. The growing relations have proved strategically advantageous for both India and Israel. The collaboration in the field of defence will boost capabilities related to water management, counterterrorism and emerging technologies in both countries. Therefore, the relations between Israel and India have proved strategically inseparable in the recent period.


 

BY ANIRBAN DUTTA

TEAM GEOSTRATA

 

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