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Israel's Ambassador to India: Homeland security agreement with India essential to ensure success
The agreement covers policing, counter-terrorism and forensics. Additionally, Alon Ushpiz discussed the need for a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries. He also extended Israel’s wholehearted support to the policies by the newly elected Indian government.

Mr. Alon Ushpiz, the Ambassador of Israel to India, explained the details of the recently signed agreement on homeland security between Israel and India. He said that this arrangement would cover a whole gamut of issues, from policing to counter-terrorism, forensics etc. Both the countries have jointly devised a working plan in which they’ve outlined fields that they would like to cooperate in, and create a structure in which Israelis and Indians communicate and implement these plans. He said this is essential in order to ensure success. 

Mr. Ushpiz also elaborated on the difference this agreement will make on the daily lives of the people in Israel and India. This move will give the people in Jerusalem and Delhi, Mumbai and Tel Aviv a strong feeling of security with the things that professionals on both sides will now be able to do together. 

In terms of agricultural cooperation between the two countries, Mr. Ushpiz discussed the highlights of the bilateral plans. He commended India’s ability to adapt to Israeli technology in farming and the development and multiplication of the center of excellence from one office to 20 centers in 10 different states in just two years. 

He also spoke about India’s openness towards collaborations. He appreciated the ability of the governments, states, the private sector and universities, to create a forest of platforms, jointly utilized by entrepreneurs and scientists from India and Israel. He confirmed that India is the only nation that receives special consideration from Israel. 

He established that Israel and India have finished laying the groundwork for all agreements on cooperation in public and internal security. And this has been an existential issue for both the countries. 

Talking about Israel’s cordial relations with India’s new Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, Mr. Ushpiz said that they have a very friendly and solid relationship with him. Israel and its corporate world have always looked at Gujarat as an attractive business destination. This state presents Israel with a wide spectrum of opportunities for businesses that range from diamonds to desalination, port infrastructure and agriculture. Gujarat is also home to a huge Jewish community, which gives Mr. Ushpiz the necessary boost. He reiterated that Mr. Modi, the then Chief Minister and his people were always very kind and generous to the Jewish community settled in Gujarat. Further, Mr. Ushpiz also said that he has found the Prime Minister and his people to be very patriotic, effective, focused and interested in doing things for the people of the country. 

While speaking about the 2012 attack on the Israeli diplomat in Delhi, he said, “ What happened here was very serious in which the government of Iran sent agents to assassinate an Israeli diplomat. The diplomat's life was saved also because of her driver, Manoj, who endangered his own life and dragged her away. This is not the first time Indians and Israelis were exposed to terrorist action by forces from outside that support terrorism - the same thing happened in Mumbai on 26/11. Immediately afterwards, Mr. S M Krishna, who was then the Minister for External Affairs called our foreign minister and told him justice will take its course.” He expressed his gratitude towards the work of the Indian agencies in cracking this terror attack and the security that they provided to the diplomat. Condemning the attack, he said that a government that supports terrorism is a terrorist government. Israel takes the Indian government's word very seriously, when they said that justice will take its course - justice has to be shown. All those involved should be put on trial and the courts should sentence them. India and Israel have shared 22 years of diplomatic relations. In all these years, the bond between the two countries has strengthened further. There has been an exchange of $5 billion in trade and cooperation in defense. In addition to this, there have been technological exchanges in the field of agriculture, which have no parallel in any country of the world. Both the countries have done phenomenal work in laying strong foundation for their homeland security. Israeli water companies have been very active in India too.

While discussing the future plans for bilateral relations, Mr. Ushpiz also spoke about the inflow of Israeli people in to India that has steadily risen for the past couple of years. He confirmed that there are over 40,000 Israelis coming in to India every year. He is of the opinion that if this trend continues, in about a decade, every Israeli household will have someone who has spent a couple of weeks or even a month in India at some point. This, he believes, will have a tremendous influence on the relations between the governments and the activities the two nations will undertake jointly in the future. 

As a tourism destination, India has emerged as the number one country in Asia for Israeli tourist. The Israeli government has opened an office in Mumbai to increase tourism activities. In addition to this, Mr. Ushpiz also stressed on signing a Free Trade Agreement between the two nations, not just to facilitate the large volume of trade, but also to shift focus to other things that Israel specializes in such as high technology. This move will definitely encourage the intensity of interactions between Indian and Israeli businessmen, he added. 

India and Israel have always maintained high-level diplomatic relations. Mr. Ushpiz believes that interactions between senior elected officials are indispensable. He said that, as talented as diplomats are, at the end of the day, elected officials represent the wishes of the people. There are things that have to be agreed at the highest levels of political leadership.He accompanied Mr. Krishna when he visited Israel where his conversations with the Israeli leadership were fantastic. Israeli government had some very rewarding visits by other political leaders from India to Israel that brought about practical achievements — the agreement on homeland security and public security started with a visit by the Minister for Public Security of Israel to Delhi, and his meetings with Mr. P Chidambaram and with the active support of Mr. Sushil Kumar Shinde.

In the recent years, Israel and India have also encouraged educational scholarships in their continuous efforts to build intellectual relations. Mr. Ushpiz also spoke about the post-doctorate scholarships that the Israeli government offers to international students. These scholarships are offered unilaterally to Indian and Chinese students. Out of the total number of international students that attend Israeli universities, 80% of these scholarships are offered to Indian post doctorates. This tradition began with the visit of the Israeli Finance Minister, said Mr. Ushpiz. In the same visit, the Finance minister also met with the then Indian Finance Minister, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee and started the Research and Development fund, which will come to an end in July 2014.

As a gesture of continuing progress and exchange between the two countries, Mr. Ushpiz assured the Indian government that Israeli government, companies and armed forces will support the policies of the new government. He said that Israeli companies have proven themselves to be extremely reliable partners and feel extremely comfortable sharing technology with India. They would like to encourage co-development and co-production in the future as well. He believes that together the two nations can do impressive things and get more out of the current situation.

Source: Times of India

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