India Inc India Inc: Monday, 10 July 2017 11:43

Modi’s friendship with Netanyahu brings cheer to Indian farmers

Prime Minister Modi’s historic visit to Israel has set the course for core areas of collaboration between the two countries, writes India Inc. CEO Manoj Ladwa.

Historic, as we said last week, is a much misused word these days, but to describe Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s just concluded visit to Israel in any other way will be to miss the woods for the trees.

That’s because the two countries signed several agreements that can substantially change the lives of long-suffering class of Indians – farmers. It is not without reason that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “This is a marriage made in heaven; it is being celebrated on earth.”

Take the look at the range of the seven agreements signed:

  • Setting up an India-Israel Industrial R&D fund
  • Water conservation
  • Water utility reform in India
  • India-Israel Development Cooperation on Agriculture
  • Cooperation on atomic clocks
  • Setting up a Geo-Leo optical link
  • Cooperation on electric propulsion and small satellites

Notice: three of the seven agreements deal with water and agriculture development signaling that Modi is spending his hard-earned global goodwill on the uplift of Indian farmers.

Many of you may be unaware that significant parts of India are facing a water scarcity. In such a situation, Indian farmers must learn to grow greater amounts of crops using lesser amounts of water.

Israeli agricultural scientists have developed and mastered the science of drip irrigation, which has turned their once arid country – among the driest in the world – into a haven for farmers.

It is this technology that a government-to-government programme is transferring to Indian farmers to enable them to produce “more crop per drop”. The two countries have so far set up 15 Centres of Excellence in Agriculture as part of the India-Israel Agricultural Project, which is a three-way collaboration between the Government of India, the Government of Israel and an Indian state.

It is this collaboration that has enabled Indian farmers develop blooming mango orchards in semi-arid Haryana and thriving vegetable nurseries in the not-so-fertile regions of Gujarat.

These centres are also helping farmers in Bihar grow and improve yields of fruits such as lychee and mango, in Karnataka of pomegranates, mangoes and vegetables and in West Bengal of vegetables by providing seeds developed with the help of the latest agricultural technologies and by imparting knowledge on the best farming techniques, thereby, enabling Indian farmers to increase their incomes and improve their lives.

If the Modi-Netanyahu duo can facilitate this potentially dramatic change for half of India’s population, they will have changed the face of Indian society. Eleven more such centres will be built in future.

Then, an Israeli company will help clean a particularly dirty stretch of the River Yamuna where 8 km of sewage flows into the river and help restore the life of the now dying river.

Prime Minister Modi has promised to double farmer incomes by 2022. A much wider use of these latest Israeli farm technologies and procedures will almost certainly play a big role in helping the government meet that ambitious goal.

The visit also focussed on other core areas of concern to the two countries – such as security from terror and the deep defence relationship.

Here, to my mind are the five key takeaways from Modi’s visit to Israel:

  1. India and Israel agreed to elevate bilateral ties to the level of a strategic partnership, with a special focus on agricultural cooperation.
  2. The two sides agreed to protect each other’s strategic interests.
  3. The two Prime Ministers emphasised the importance of ensuring global peace. “Our talks focused on not just areas of bilateral opportunities but also how our cooperation can help cause of global peace and stability,” Modi said.
  4. Both nations will collaborate on cyber security and exchange knowledge and best practices to tackle terrorism in cyberspace.
  5. The personal chemistry that was evident between Modi and Netanyahu over the three days.

Manoj Ladwa is the founder of India Inc. and chief executive of MLS Chase Group @manojladwa

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