Virtual, 8th & 9th December, 2021
India and Israel are two ancient nations, two proud democracies and two creative peoples. Together they can lead the way in developing innovation for the benefit two nations and the entire world, suggested Israeli President Isaac Herzog at the 14th edition of India-Israeli Forum.
“We must expand the circle of Israelis and Indians who are working together” and noted there is “great potential to expand cooperation in a range of fields, including health, trade, defense, environment and combating the COVID-19 pandemic,” pointed out Herzog.
Noting the historic Abraham Accords and the changes happening in the Middle East, the Israeli President said “let us imagine the power and potential of an alliance of countries committed to peace, progress and prosperity stretching from the Mediterranean to the Arabian Sea, from the Indian Ocean to the Bay of Bengal”.
The Forum hosted by Ananta Aspen Centre in partnership with Tel Aviv University and Confederation of Indian Industry, is the major bilateral mechanism bringing together over 40 senior leaders from government, business and the academia, with the aim of deepening relations between the two countries and creating new avenues of cooperation.
The Forum was also addressed by Israel’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Alternate Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, as well as the Israeli Ambassador to India Naor Gilon and the Indian Ambassador to Israel Sanjeev Singla.
Other participants included the Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Alon Ushpiz, the Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry Ron Malka, and the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Indian Government Professor K VijayRaghavan.
The major issues which were discussed in the forum were global and regional dynamics and the Israel-India relationship, research and academic ties, cooperation in the field of cyber security, and ways to expand and enhance economic and trade relations.
Singla, noting that next year will mark 30 years of diplomatic relations between India and Israel, said “Israel-India relations are coming into full fruition and we should start chasing new horizons”.
Pointing to the changes happening in the international system, he said it was “imperative that Israel and India work together to harness our technological and scientific strengths to prepare for these shifts”.
Professor Ariel Porat, President of Tel Aviv University, called for the establishment of mechanisms to support exchanges of students and researchers, and for the renewal of the bilateral research fund between the Israel Science Foundation and the University Grants Commission of India.
He together with Professor Raghavan noted the great potential to enhance research ties in areas such as quantum science, AI, cyber, health, sustainability, water and food security.
Jamshyd N Godrej, Chairman, Ananta Centre and Chairman & Managing Director, Godrej and Boyce Manufacturing Company Limited and co-chair of the India-Israel Forum suggested, “We need much greater publicity, knowledge, outreach and many more articles, interviews, editorials, etc. Most discussions about Israel are about water and defence, very little is understood about the innovation process and the type of challenge Israel has faced outside the political sphere.”
“India and Israel have a great people to people connect but we are lacking in the institution to institution connect. This is something that both countries could work together on. Exchanges between India and Israel on a regular basis would be greatly beneficial for both sides,” he further suggested.
Nikhil Sawhney, Managing Director, Triveni Turbine Limited and Director, Triveni Engineering and Industries Limited and also co-convenor of India-Israel Forum, noted, “Business to business and people to people connect is a real metric by which we can determine how the Indo-Israel relationship is actually functioning. And I believe that the greater focus that we do give to this at an individual level the greater would be the impact that we can find in our bilateral relations at every level.”
“High net worth individuals and pension funds and private equity shops and venture capitals invest into the Indian ecosystem. I don't think enough of this is happening today, but we need to facilitate that possibly through a common platform of kyc and other institutional metrics which can allow greater degree of transparency for these functions to take place.”
Sawhney noted, “When we look at the academic partnership, we should also look at the consequences of our democracies, and our democracies which very frankly have to deal with an increased amount of inequality which is coming out due to lack of employment opportunities or be it in terms of just the growing wealth gap. Therefore, this has to be addressed in some manner or the other.”
The Forum agreed to establish sub-groups to take forward the key priorities identified in the meeting, with the aim of achieving practical outcomes in the different fields. The next meeting of the Forum is due to take place in India in the second half of 2022.
About Ananta Aspen Centre:
Ananta Aspen Centre is a non-partisan and not-for-profit organization that focuses on values-based leadership development and open dialogue on important issues facing Indian society, to help foster its transformation. The organization has no political affiliation and serves to provide a platform and forum that engages civil society, business, governments and other stakeholders on issues of importance to India's development and national security.
The Centre, registered under 12A and 80G of the Income Tax Act, is headquartered in New Delhi.
Press Release -India Israel Forum.pdf