June 19, 2018
By Daniel Carmon, Israel’s Ambassador to India (2014-2018)
Four years ago, I set out to New Delhi for what promised to be an exciting tenure as Ambassador of Israel to India. My service as the head of MASHAV (Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation) prior to this posting had introduced me to the potential of the growing partnership between India and Israel through development. As ambassador, I soon learned just how strong and diverse the bond between our countries really is.
As a grand finale for my long diplomatic career, I have had the great privilege and fortune to serve as Ambassador of Israel in India during what some might term the most exciting four years of our relations. I was honored to take part in not one, but two historical first ever visits of the Indian President, Pranab Mukherjee, and the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to Israel. I also joined India in welcoming both President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in their reciprocal visits to India for the first time in over a decade. Together, we marked 25 years of diplomatic relations with one high level event after another.
These four visits in four years appear in the eyes of many to be a crescendo in our relations, but the truth is that they are only the peak on the tip of the iceberg. These visits were a celebration of our relations, our achievements and the potential for our joint future. They shone a spotlight on defense, agriculture, water, education, innovation, technology and people to people connections which have been growing and blooming between us for over 26 years.
The partnership between India and Israel is rooted in a deep friendship, and is based on mutual values, mutual interests, mutual challenges and mutual solutions. It is a bond between two ancient peoples proud of their heritage and history, and two vibrant democracies eager to grasp the future. It is a bond which can be felt, almost palpable, in every interaction between Indians and Israelis in India, in Israel and around the world.
Beside our deep historical roots going back thousands of years, the connection between our two nations can also be found in our drive for innovation. Both India and Israel have realized the central role innovation has to play in any field as we move toward the future. Even before innovation was highlighted during the visits, it had permeated every aspect of our relations throughout my tenure. As a diplomat on the ground, I saw innovation in agricultural practices and technologies, innovation in water management and solutions, innovation in academia and in trade, innovation everywhere.
Through innovation, India and Israel have forged a special partnership which is not only strategic but technological. Both countries know the value of development and its ongoing nature well, and their capabilities and needs are complementary. India’s vast economy and varied experience in a range of development issues provides an opportunity for Israel and its companies to grow and expand their range of solutions, while Israeli technology and innovation is easily tailored and remodeled to address Indian challenges. In this exchange, each country is enriched in different ways.
It is easy to speak of a partnership on paper, but the real test is implementation on the ground. I am proud to attest that by working together, we are able to implement all the grand promises of our leaders step by step. One of the things which allow us to do so is the special mechanism we have formed on the governmental level, creating a triangle between the Indian Federal Government, the State Governments, and Israel. This has worked well on projects such as the MASHAV Centers of excellence of the Indo-Israeli Agricultural Project, and can work in many other fields as well. In working groups meant to further projects in each region, we are able to steer a path of implementation for the visions of our leaders in an efficient manner. I have seen this with my own eyes on my many visits to various states in India, interacting with leaders and shapers and meeting the people on the ground who benefit from our cooperation.
However, the government cannot and does not work alone to make our dreams a reality. As technology becomes ever so crucial in our relations, the private sector developing it becomes an integral partner in our cooperation. Bringing the business communities and the peoples of our countries into the fold as partners and stakeholders in developing our relations and our countries is what makes our partnership sustainable. It ties us together in a shared vision for the future which we work together to make a reality, today.
Time after time, Israel has proven to be a reliable partner for India. Each challenge tackled together - solved, each promise made - kept. The tiny little Israel and the giant incredible India have proven to be of value to one another in practice and at heart. With the bond and trust which have been formed between us, tested and proven and stronger than ever, the next step is an easy leap of faith. It is now time to think bigger, dream larger and work together to change the world for the better. From development of food and water security, to pushing the envelope of innovation, science and technology, to joint space programs, even the sky is not the limit.
As I leave India at the end of these four incredible years, on the huge diplomatic achievement which is the Air India direct flight connecting New Delhi and Tel Aviv, I am filled with a positive hope for our future. Not only for the future of the people of India and the people of Israel, not only for the future of our bilateral relations, but also for the positive change we have created and can continue to create in the region and across the globe. I truly believe that this deep, strategic, technological, valuable and sustainable partnership will be able to change billions of lives for the better. With this positive note, I know I will carry India and everything we have accomplished together with me in my heart for the rest of my life.