India-Israel economic relations are poised for a decisive transformation, with the fusion of India’s size and scale with Israel’s sharpness and edge.Pitching economic ties onto a higher trajectory, India and Israel jointly launched the ‘I4Fund Call for Proposal’ website as part of the maiden call for the joint research and development (R&D) initiative. Under this $40 million fund, both sides will pursue technological innovations in areas such as water, agriculture, energy and digital technologies and create a support structure to convert “know-how” into “show-how”.
Speaking at the India-Israel Business Summit in New Delhi, which included 100 delegates from 74 Israeli companies, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised Israel’s “remarkable spirit of innovation, enterprise and perseverance” and underlined the shared commitment to connect the talent pool of both sides towards achieving path-breaking technological advances.
“The role of business and industry is crucial in the transformation of our ties. It is your combined efforts that will add real value to our interaction and produce concrete successes,” said Mr Modi.“Given the scale of the Indian economy and the relevance of cutting-edge Israeli technologies for us, even sky is not the limit for what we may achieve together!”
“India has size and scale. Israel has sharpness and edge. There would be many ideas and technologies that can be useful for or can be commercially scaled up in India,” he said.With Israel’s “sharpness and edge” in Water Tech, Agri-Tech and food processing and conservation techniques, India hopes to match its formidable demographics where 65% of the population is below 35 years.
“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”, the prime minister said.The government has been actively engaged in a Star-up promotion campaign and it hopes to harness the India-Israel Innovation Bridge to enable better linkages between the industries, start-ups and the academic institutions of both the countries.
Highlighting the improvement in India’s global rankings as a positive result of economic reforms like the introduction of GST and financial technologies and digital transactions, Mr Modi announced his vision of a “knowledge-based, skill-supported and technology-driven society” through initiatives like Digital-India and Skill-India. As a rising manufacturing hub, India has seen a 40% rise in FDI inflows with the government moving towards greater liberalization like opening up the defence sector, 100% automatic route FDI in single brand retail and construction development, and opening up the national carrier, Air India, to foreign investors. With a number of Israeli companies collaborating with their Indian counterparts under the Make in India programme, India and Israel together hope to utilize the full potential of innovation, adaptation and problem-solving capabilities.
Announcing the India-Israel Innovation and Technology Conclave to be held in India in July 2018, Mr Modi also encouraged active engagements in addressing challenges like environmental degradation, scarcity of water and food wastage.Israel’s Trade Commissioner Ohad Cohen struck a positive tone on economic relations, saying Mr Netanyahu’s visit would pave the way for the proposed Israel-India free-trade agreement.