Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has achieved a lot. He took over in 2009 in the midst of a severe economic downturn and has since grown the economy by 50%, adding more than US$110 billion to gross domestic product.
Netanyahu arrived in India on Sunday for a six-day visit. If he is looking to boost ties with India to consolidate his economic record, however, that is simply not going to happen. The India roadshow is all talk and no substance.
The core of the problem lies not on the Israeli side. The Indian side, on the other hand, is where economic and human-resource delusions seem to have taken over the very highest levels of government, there being no separation between private and public assessments of what is achievable and what is not.
On Monday, nine memoranda of understanding were signed between the two governments covering cybersecurity, oil and natural gas, air transport, films, AYUSH (ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homeopathy), space, investment, metal-air batteries, and solar-thermal energy panels. Snickering over the fact that no deals were signed and that these are merely MoUs is misguided. “Deals” during state visits are common only in wealthy authoritarian states like China and Saudi Arabia that can afford to shower their guests with multibillion-dollar orders for such things as Airbus and Boeing aircraft.
Visits to constitutional democracies, on the other hand, do not bring “deals,” unless it is a desperate last-minute deal like New Delhi buying AH-64D helicopters from the US to assuage India fatigue in Washington during the last years of the Barack Obama administration.
What is important here is to assess each of these MoUs on its own merits, and right from the beginning, the incompatibility becomes clear. The MoUs can be divided into three clear categories of problems: Human-resource incompatibility, owing to different economies and human capital; political problems; and finally those that something may come out of but of minimal value addition to either party.
Getting cybersecurity right
Cybersecurity is perhaps the most salient feature of these incompatibilities. Consider one benchmark: smartphones, increasingly the preferred method of doing all things online, especially sensitive stuff like banking. Israel does not really have a market for low-end mobile devices. The market there is heavily in favor of high-end brands, with Samsung, Apple and LG accounting for 80% of the market.
India on the other hand is a heavily fragmented and price-sensitive market – preferring lower-end, highly vulnerable phones. The problem here is, given the Indian government’s focus on delivering last-mile connectivity through technology, how does one secure entry-level equipment and software with top-class security given its importance to the national socio-economic framework? There is a point to be made here that with Chinese brands, what security exists at the vendor/service-provider end can be overcome by malware on the user side.
The other problem with cybersecurity and the evolution of threats in the cybersphere is that the solution does not lie in technology but in people – in human resources and trust in the government. Governmental trust is important to ensure law enforcement and the prevention of industrial-secret leaks that may happen because of threat-information sharing by companies, while large centers of trained problem solvers are critical to fighting attacks as and when they happen.
The problem is that in India, neither are laws enforced when security breaches happen, nor is the government to be trusted with information, and, most important, an education system that focuses on rote learning, squeezing any iota of problem-solving ability out of a student. Where then is the compatibility?
Cooperation on science snd technology
Similarly in space, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which at one point might have spearheaded the country’s entry into space, is by all private accounts becoming monopolistic in its behavior and the biggest hindrance to the development of an MSME (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises) ecosystem around it.
The importance of such ecosystems is a critical feature of the Israeli economy, where smart MSMEs with significantly lower economies of scale to worry about are at the forefront of innovation. Almost invariably these companies complain bitterly about ISRO in private as given its monopolistic policies, they are unable to find suitable MSME partners in India to make the same template work and develop solutions unique to the Indian market.
This is where metal-air batteries and solar thermal panels also fit in. The lack of MSME depth in India prevents the kind of rapid innovation possible in Israel, and extreme price sensitivity means that Chinese economies of scale will always trump higher-efficiency, longer-life models that India-Israel cooperation may be able to produce if and when the MSME ecosystem issue is overcome.
Equally, the problem with India is one of scant regard for intellectual-property rights, which has severely affected Israeli MSME tech transfers to India in the space sector as well. This refusal to guarantee vendor protection based on the delusion that India can absorb technology, indigenize it, improve it and then export it within a short time frame despite having neither the human capital nor industrial ecosystem to do so creates problems across the board.
With air transport the problem is a political one: Most Muslim countries between India and Iran ban direct flights to Israel. Consequently direct flights from Delhi will either have to fly east over China and take the circuitous northern route, or fly south over the Arabian Sea and into the Red Sea, turning what should be a 4,000-kilometer, five-hour flight into an excruciating 7,000km, eight-hour nightmare, with all the attendant fuel, staffing and weight issues.
This same issue becomes a problem with developing and importing Israeli oil and natural-gas (ONG) reserves. Fortunately, swap agreements being talked about (such as Japan getting access to Indian concessions in Sakhalin and India getting access to Japanese concessions in Qatar) provide a useful way out. The issue is, what can India provide to Israel in terms of technology that US and European ONG giants cannot and in terms of price that China cannot?
On balance, the problems of deeper growth between India and Israel lie almost entirely on the Indian side, and no amount of sentimentality can overcome this. Should India decide to get its act together, Israel could become India’s single most important partner. On the other hand, if India’s voodoo economics, blasé attitude toward fixing deep institutional problems, and severe misdiagnosis and self-delusion continue, then we can always look forward to the AYUSH and film agreements – hoping for Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor gyrating her pelvis on Herzliya Beach.
India (per Capita GDP $4000) simply cannot compete with China (per Capita GDP $9600), Indonesia perhaps (per Capita GDP $5200) — the two even share a common culture. On the economic and manufacturing front, genuine political will simply does not exist, and it would be foolhardy to think that matters will change anytime soon.
What is required is a deeper overhaul of the mentality in India which prides itself on the status quo. Until millions are lifted from poverty, and deeper reforms are not conducted, no amount of MOUs will do the "needful", to borrow local Indian jargon. Structural issues in terms of infrastructure, governance, economic inequality runs deeper than what the two main parties in India would like the masses to believe.
Until then, India will always be playing second fiddle to a much more dominant and powerful China. Let’s face it, China actually has what Israel wants, India not so much. With recent overtures from the Saudis towards Israel, India’s political act in ‘West Asia’ might end up yielding no results.
India moves slowly. Granted. That’s incredibly frustrating. One often feels like giving up.
It takes Indians so many slow decades to realise what Chinese understand and implement in a flash.
The Indian tongue moves fast, but the brain behind it is dead slow to move.
India is slow to recognise friends, very slow to take help even China is threatening it with extinction daily. American and Israeli offers of friendship get little enthusiasm in India, much suspicion. India has no sense of the dangerous situation it is in, with China getting ready to strike.
Nevertheless,India is better than it used to be. It was worse in 1975 !
Okay, I’ll bite, what makes you think that China is ready to attack India? It hasn’t had a war in decades. Is it because it builds roads in undeveloped areas? India is terrified of roads.
"The Indian army seems to have failed to learn its lesson from the Doklam standoff. If India continues making provocations, it should expect harsh punishment from the Chinese army. Confronting China entails an unbearably high strategic cost for India. New Delhi should cherish the amicable policy adopted by Beijing."
China’s "Global Times" yesterday.
India, the land of my birth, has been a laggard ever since it foresake its great ancient Hinduism that emphasized unity of mankind.
"He who sees the diversity, and not the unity behind the diversity, marches on from death to death." Katha Upanishad.
3,500 years ago foreign Aryans drove India into south, occupied the north, and imposed the divisive Caste System based on racism. Caste is "varna" in Sanskrit meaing skin colour, with light skinned being higher.
Ensuing division led to India being enslaved by Greeks, Arabs, Afghans, Turks, Moghuls, English.
For 700 years the colour blind Muslims and then 200 years the English tried to beat the caste out of India with no avail. Modi’s return to Hinduism would have been lauded had he gone to its ancient version and abolished Caste that he is unwilling or unable to do.
India has learnt no lesson from the Pakistan debacle began by Zia who sowed religious divisions in Pakistan leading to present civil war.
For the last 70 years India has chosen wrong partners beginning with Soviets and now declining USA and besieged Israel. What a string of losers.
Should India not go back to its ancient pre-Aryan non-racist roots and join China’s BRI/New Silk Road that aims at unifying Europe, Asia, Africa into one land-mass market, for entire humanity irrespective of race, religion, or origin.
TWO MOST RACIST NATIONS INDIA AND ISRAEL LED BY MOST RACIST PRESIDENT OF AMERICA DONAL DUMP. imagin a racist world colabration
India’s rise of Hindu militant Nationalism does not get enough coverage. The RSS is central to it. I quote what its founder Madhav S. Gowlwalka stated and wrote which is the basic Doctrine of the RSS:
"There are only 3 courses open to foreign elements, merge with the national race (Hinduism) and adopt its culture, or to live at its mercy as the national race permits or quit the country at the will of the national race.
That is the only sound view and logical solution for minorities. That alone keeps the national life healthy and undisturbed…The foreign races in Hindustan must either adopt to the Hindu culture, hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of Hinduism.
The Hindu nation must lose their separate existence to merge with the Hindu race, wholly subordinate to the Hindu race, claiming nothing, deserving no priviledges or preferential treatment, not even citizen’s rights" [Page163. "India Shattering the Illusion" by Columbus Falco]
*per world bank 2016 India’s per capita GDP is ONLY US$1,709!!!! How did it become US$4000?????? Ref https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.CD
GDP per capita (PPP based) 
[PPP based: gross domestic product converted to international dollars using purchasing power parity rates and divided by total population.]
Every time I read the Asia Times, it is full of India bashing articles. Why? Is it published in Pakistan?
India gave the world the numbers we use daily, chess, philosophy, maths, logic. grammar. No country has contributed to world civilization like Hindu India.
Muhammad bin Qassiam invaded India in 712 CE to impose the fatalistic Islamic relgion whose founder is a pedophile. He believes in Adam and Eve and that the world is flat and and not Darwins evolutionary discovery. Man can walk on water and make 1 loaf of bread into 1,000 loaves. Charles Martel (730 CE) and his Christian Army killed mosr Muslim invaders from Europe and destroyed all the Mosques and forced the Muslim Arab invaders like Al Rahman to convert or they will be burnt alive by the Christian Army of Europe. It took the Europeans 700 years ( till 1492 CE) to wipe out Islam from Europe. Hindus did not do this when Muslims invaded India. Why? India and China are cultural brethren and have been brotherly for 2500 years. Why not continue this friendship. People to People friendship is important for brotherly relations between the world most civilised nations.
Dont forget… India gave the world "Drink cow piss"… "Sathi – Burn the women"… and now, the RAPE capital of the world – Women wanna get raped? Visit India.
"Bollywood gyrating its pelvis at Herlizya beach" in the end, thats all that matters to Delihi sultanates ????
Be afraid be very afraid!!
Murli Nair MURLI JAOOR BAJAY GEE RACIST AUR ACHOOT KEE
You mean the earlier Church driven fanaticism with ally islamic fanaticism was preferable? Many Indians didnt think so, hence the change at centre. The RSS is no worse than the Church & Madarsa system earliee.
Murli Nair The RSS Doctrine quoted above has no parralel in Christianity or Islam and is closer to that of Nazi Germany . Lines like this are extremely intolerant and meant to humiliate:
-…"or to live at its mercy as the national race permits or quit the country at the will of the national race."
– " must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of Hinduism."
-"wholly subordinate to the Hindu race, claiming nothing, deserving no priviledges or preferential treatment, not even citizen’s rights"
That kind of rhetoric leads to civil wars and revolutions.
Looks like a pure hate filled article by a Leftist rather than a constructive analysis of potential shortcomings.
Looks like Abhijit has a deep rooted ideological hatred for both Israel & India as is common with Leftist Journalists.
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