India and Israel are celebrating 25 years of diplomatic ties this year and the mid-year visit of Prime Minister Naredra Modi would be history-making as he would be the first Prime Minister of India to visit Israel. Although both countries have cooperation in the defence and the security sectors, ‘conscious’ efforts are being made to make it a multi-dimensional relationship, and not merely ‘unifocal’. Modi’s visit is likely to be in the summer, and both sides are working on “every possible area of cooperation”. When Modi visits the Jewish nation, both countries are expected to hold talks in areas ranging from agriculture to defence to cyber security and innovations. Earlier President Pranab Mukherjee visited Israel in October, 2015, followed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit last year. Last November, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also visited India. Modi’s visit will move beyond the security relationship with Israel and into close bilateral cooperation in trade, agriculture and top-end technology. A free trade agreement is also being looked at as a possibility. Israel has bailed us out in tough times. We also have much to gain from Israel – their tech and agricultural best practices can help us turn our country around. Both nations are trying to establish a programme under our Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) project as there have programmes where Indian professors go and teach in Israel. The two countries have planned a series of events to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the diplomatic relationship this year. It has been decided to create Joint Coordination Committee to plan out the activities. This includes visits by business delegations and academic fora. Israel sits in an area of great concern and interest to India. New Delhi formally recognised Israel on 17th September, 1950. Embassies were opened in 1992 when full diplomatic relations were established. India owes a lot to Israel.
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