GUWAHATI, May 1 - Israel’s Ambassador to India, Dr Ron Malka, who was in Guwahati today to deliver the 6th Professor Sarat Mahanta Memorial Lecture, said that Israel is looking forward to sharing its expertise and technology in various fields, including agriculture, energy and water management, with Assam. Dr Malka said that he had ‘fruitful discussions’ with Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in this regard and expressed confidence that Israel’s engagement with Assam will witness progress in future, stated a press release.
Speaking on ‘Israel’s Economy and India and Israel’s Bilateral Relations: Past, Present & the Future’ at the Royal Global University, Dr Malka said that even the sky is not the limit to enhancing cooperation in various fields between the two countries. “There is no limit to the help Israel will give to India, which is a precious friend,” he said.
Listing out the areas of cooperation between the two countries, the Israeli envoy said that various working groups have been set up to monitor progress and ensure implementation of MoUs in many sectors within a given time frame.
India and Israel share a long history. India recognised Israel without establishing formal relations in the 1950s, and it was only in 1992 that full diplomatic ties were established between the two countries. President Ezer Weizman was the first Israeli head of state to visit India in 1996, while Ariel Sharon was the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit India in 2003. Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Israel in 2015 was the first by an Indian President to that country, while President Rivlin visited India in 2016 and again in 2018. Prime Minister Modi visited Israel in 2017, followed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India in January 2018.
Dr Malka said that India and Israel are collaborating in the fields of water, agriculture, education, innovation, defence, HLS, cyber, finance, health, space, energy and tourism. In the water sector, the focus is on water management, conservation, desalination, recycling, enhancement and irrigation. There are many Israeli-led water projects in many Indian States, including Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
The Indo-Israeli agriculture projects involve 16 State partners, and there are 25 fully active centres of excellence spread over 16 States.
Dr Malka said that during President Reuven Rivlin’s 2016 visit to India, more than 20 MoUs were signed between 15 Israeli universities and academic institutions and their Indian counterparts. Jindal University and IIM Bangalore now offer Israel Studies programme. Indian students constitute 10 per cent of the total number of foreign students studying in Israel. More than 200 scholarships to study in Israel are offered to Indian students every year.
India and Israel are cooperating in air, maritime and land defence and in military communications and technology systems. There are more than 2000 start-ups among the 5,000 plus companies in Israel.
Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, in his speech at the event, said that the scope of collaboration between Assam and Israel in agriculture and other fields was vast.