NEW DELHI: The mutual admiration society comprising Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Narendra Modi of India was in full form at Delhi’s Hyderabad House on Monday afternoon, with the Israeli PM describing Modi as a “revolutionary leader”.
Netanyahu, who arrived on Sunday, was given the ceremonial guard of honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan in the morning, after which the two leaders moved to the Hyderabad house for summit-level talks.
After watching the exchange of nine MoUs, Modi began the joint press conference by greeting Netanyahu and declaring that his visit was “a long-anticipated moment in the journey of friendship between India and Israel, and a fitting climax to the commemoration of 25 years of diplomatic relations between India and Israel”.
Noting that both leaders were impatient to do more, Modi said: “Last year in Tel Aviv, you had expressed the intent to cut down bureaucratic red tape with a machete and forge ahead with speed. Prime Minister, I am happy to tell you that in India, we are well on our way to doing just that.”
The nine bilateral agreements
- MoU on cybersecurity cooperation
- MoU on cooperation in oil and gas sector
- Protocol on amendments to Air Transport Agreement
- Agreement on India-Israel film co-production
- MoU in the field of research in homeopathic medicine
- MoU in the field of space
- Memorandum of intent between Invest India and Invest in Israel
- Letter of intent for cooperation in the area of metal-air batteries
- Letter of Intent for cooperation in the area of concentrated solar thermal technologies
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu formally launched the maiden call for joint R&D projects under the ‘India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F)’ during the India-Israel Business Summit in Delhi on Monday.
India and Israel will make a contribution of $4 million each annually for five years to the fund, meant to promote bilateral Industrial R&D and Innovation cooperation in the fields of science and technology.
Describing Modi as a “dear friend of Israel and the Jewish state”, Netanyahu told the gathering of Israeli and Indian business leaders at the Taj hotel here that he admired two things that Modi was doing — economic reform and promotion of technology. “Economic reform is the key. If you are mired in very high taxes or very high bureaucracy, it is very difficult to move. Because people want to see the fruit of their labour, and for that you need a streamlined economy.”
“Let me tell you why PM Modi is hitting the nail right on the head. Because bureaucracy is a tremendous opportunity for growth,” he quipped. “Because when you remove it, it grows.”
“As for technology, there was no longer a distinction between hi-tech and low-tech because over time just about everything would be technology,” he said.
The Israeli PM then went ahead to give three examples on how his country created industries out of nothing in a few years. One, cyber tech. “We had the basis for doing it, but now Israel, a country of less than 9 million people, is receiving 20 per cent of the global private investment in cyber security.”
Second, cars. “In the last five years, we have a car industry because very soon the cost of a car will be 85 per cent software and 15 per cent hardware,” he said.
Third, digital health. Israel has a medical database of 98 per cent of its population for last 20 years. This had been further refined given the possibilities in personalised and preventive medicine.