Bonhomie as Netanyahu visits Delhi, but countries’ relations are complex

Author: SANJAY KUMARMon, 2018-01-15 03:00ID: 1515961513885932300NEW DELHI: Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed in Delhi amid much bonhomie on Sunday for a six-day tour that will cover three cities in India.
Breaking diplomatic protocol, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to the airport to receive Netanyahu, the second Israeli PM after Ariel Sharon to visit India since 2003.
Modi welcomed him with his trademark hug, symbolizing growing bonhomie between the two countries ever since he became PM in 2014.
The two leaders went to the Teen Murti monument in the capital to pay homage to the Indian soldiers of three regiments who died in Haifa in the World War II.
In 2018 the British Indian soldiers fighting against the joint forces of the Ottomans, Germany and Austro-Hungarian Empire captured Haifa city and that facilitated the essential supply to the beleaguered city.
Netanyahu will visit also Mumbai, Agra and Ahmadabad in the western Indian city of Gujarat, Modi’s home state, where he will hold a roadshow with the Indian PM.
In Mumbai the visiting leader will interact with the captains of the corporate world and also hold parleys with some important Bollywood stars to explore possibilities of film shoots in Israel.
Since the establishment of the diplomatic relationship between Israel and India in 1992 the relationship between the two governments has expanded in the areas of agriculture, water, science and technology, innovation, space, culture, homeland security and defense.
During Modi’s visit to Israel in July last year the relationship was upgraded to strategic level with special focus on agriculture and water.
The bilateral trade stands at $5 billion in 2016-17 with the balance of trade in favor of India.
“Our cooperation has gone into several areas. It started with agriculture in 1992 now we have a large area of cooperation, technology collaboration, research and development in science. These are qualitative engagements characterized by technological collaboration and innovation,” said Bala Bhaskar, a joint secretary in the Indian foreign ministry in a news conference.
Shortly after welcoming Netanyahu, the Indian Prime Minister tweeted that his visit would “further cement” bilateral ties.
The 130-member delegation traveling with the Israeli leader includes the head of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which lost a $500 million deal when India canceled it to buy Spike anti-tank guide missiles last year. There is an attempt to revive the deal.
Despite the apparent bonhomie that characterizes the emerging relations between Israel and India, analysts are wondering how deep the relationship between the two nations is.
“No doubt both the governments represent the exclusionary vision of nationalism based on selective reading of history and mythologization of the past. Both talk of a Muslim ‘other’ in their respective states and both do not hold the vision of a secular-inclusive society in great esteem.
Their respective ideologies are also a binding factor in their relationship,” said Sujata Ashwarya Cheema, an assistant professor in the Center for West Asian Studies in New Delhi Jamia Millia Islamia University.
Talking to Arab News, she said that despite the “high-pitched rhetoric the relationship with Israel will not be strategic but guided by economic and defense considerations. The bonding is a manifestation of the complex and nuanced way in which India’s foreign policy decisions are taken.
“Many domestic and external factors come into play. New Delhi shares deep economic and strategic relations with Iran and the Arab countries of the Gulf, each attuned to a particular set of interests. One set of relations does not necessarily impinge on the other.”
Main category: WorldTags: Narendra ModiBenjamin NetanyahuIndiaIsraelIndia-Israel tiesrelated_nodes: Israeli premier on 6-day visit to India to deepen tiesIsraeli PM visits India to mark 25 years of relationsModi, Netanyahu seek to deepen ties on first visit by an Indian PM

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