OPINION | Prime Minister Modi’s Visit to Israel: A Tryst with Destiny
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OPINION | Prime Minister Modi’s Visit to Israel: A Tryst with Destiny

By Amit Mukherjee
 PBC-Post Doctoral Research Fellowship 2015
National Security Studies Center,University of Haifa, Israel

OPINION | Prime Minister Modi’s Visit to Israel: A Tryst with Destiny

Cover Art Attribute: Portrait of PM Narendra Modi / Source: Wikimedia Commons 

Prime Minister Modi’s impending visit to Israel is a tryst with destiny. It highlights the commencement of a historically epitomic event in the continuing saga of growing India Israel relations. The significance of this visit moves past the symbolism of good and deepening partnership. This date marks the final step in the formal departure from former position that has been a corner stone of India’s one sided policy up until 29th January 1992, and has continued to show lingering effect even after, in various quarters of several establishments and their dealings as a result of the anachronistic legacy of prevalent mindset and policy compulsions from earlier times.

Although this visit is in continuation of other visitation by dignitaries including from the highest office of the Republic of India the President of India Dr. Pranab Mukherjee, and others like the Home Minister Shri. Rajnath Singh and the Minister for External Affairs Ms. Sushma Swaraj, it should put to rest any ambiguity or prevailing doubts that the establishment of cordial and formal relations of India and Israel is inimical to change beyond the cautious and selectively set and even somewhat secretive approach seen till recent past.

The immediate after effect has already been pre-empted by large-scale defense agreements between Indian and Israeli firms at the grounds of India’s largest Defense Expo 2016 in Goa, where 28 Israeli defense firms have set up booths[1]. Among various ongoing joint production ventures, R&D and buyer seller relations that have taken place previously and continue to do so brings the change that is set to become the established norm towards a robust India Israel relation through Private sector participation. India allowed private sector participation in defense in 2001 but the fruition towards orders, contracts and licenses to build weapons and weapons systems and equipment began in significance recently in mid 2015 when the present prime minister decided to grant license to 56 Indian firms under the promising 'Make In India' campaign’[2].

Image Attribute: State Bank of India, Ramat Gan, Israel / Source: Wikimedia Commons

Image Attribute: State Bank of India, Ramat Gan, Israel / Source: Wikimedia Commons

According to last years reports Israeli companies are wanting to create joint ventures in the defense sector[3]  & this has resulted into the signing of one of the biggest international private defense deals in India between Reliance Defense Industries and Rafael Advance Defense Systems who have recently inked a deal announced in the Defense Expo 2016 in Goa, and the completion of the intended joint venture programs has been valued at 10 billion USD in the next ten years.  

In another venture in late 2015 Rafael Advance Defense System has tied up with India’s Astra Microwave Products Limited that designs equipment for radio communication, electronic warfare systems and signals intelligence with an investment value for 2 years set at around 20 million USD. India is said to be moving towards an estimated allocation of around 680 Billion USD between 2014-2022, according to a subsidiary report of Federation of Chamber of commerce of India. Israel being the fifth largest arms exporter to India[4] opens the possibility of investments in the defense sector to the tune of one fifth of the entire value proportional to its present ratio. Even without making any definite projections the potential to reach somewhere in the vicinity of an amount proportional to the share in percentage that Israel exports to India, makes it many times the current deals that is pegged at around 1 billion USD[5] on average annually, past and present included. The entrenchment of Indian and Israeli defense relations and leading to an all encompassing relations is now moving rapidly towards normalcy between two sovereign states despite troubled international and domestic complexities[6]

Both India and Israel should now look to partner wherein Israel can provide technological contribution and India can provide mass manufacturing bases and infrastructure including manpower along with joint research and development and manufacturing initiatives and mechanisms. This has already been successfully implemented in the development of Barak 8 Surface to Air Missile system[7] and several other projects. The Indian establishment is already said to have been working on clearing defense deals worth 3 Billion USD so that it can be signed ceremoniously during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Israel. This deal is queued to include two IAI AWACS – Phalcon radars and 4 Aerostat radars, Spice precision bombs, Spike anti-tank guided missiles.

A-50EI (Il-76) of the Indian Air Force with the EL/W-2090

Image Attribute: A-50EI (Il-76) of the Indian Air Force with the EL/W-2090 / 

The present Indian government’s approach to build cordial relations and partnerships with all countries to boost trade and economic ties attempts to showcase India as rising power and an investment friendly destination. This has allowed it to build close ties with nations that have common security interests, especially Israel, in the past two decades. This visit would signify that India has been able to successfully maintain the delicate balance of having normal relations with Israel and it is not reflected at the cost of its relations with other nations that hold or have held objections to such an association with Israel. And even though skeptics shall caution the zeal, analysts will be subtle in their warnings and there will be those who would still resolutely stand opposed, the Prime minister’s visit shall seal India Israel relations that would embed the seeds of a long journey of cooperation for times to come from whence forward is the only way to go.

About The Author:

Amit Mukherjee (E-3696-2016), PBC-Post Doctoral Research Fellowship 2015. National Security Studies Center,University of Haifa, Israel



[1] http://www.israeldefense.co.il/en/content/record-number-28-israeli-companies-participating-defexpo-2016
[2] http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/boost-to-make-in-india-modi-govt-awards-56-defence-licences-to-private-cos-like-mahindra-tata-pipavav/articleshow/47837004.cms
[3] http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/make-in-india-push-israeli-companies-keen-to-partner-with-india-in-defence-fdi-a-sticking-point/articleshow/48877139.cms
[4] http://scroll.in/article/732983/why-israel-matters-to-india-and-modi
[5] http://inserbia.info/today/2016/02/india-ready-to-strike-weapons-deal-with-israel/
[6] http://thediplomat.com/tag/india-israel-relations/