India and Israel share an extensive economic and strategic relationship. In fact, defence and agriculture have been the two main pillars of bilateral engagement between the two countries. In recent years, this relationship has seen rapid growth across a broad spectrum of areas and the future vision of cooperation is of a strong hi-tech partnership which befits two knowledge economies.
India is a key trade partner of Israel. In fact, India is the third-largest trade partner of Israel from Asia. In the area of defence, India is currently the largest buyer of military equipment from Israel. As we all are aware, Israel draws its super technological military capabilities from its highly skilled domestic defence MSMEs and Start-ups. The Israeli Defence MSMEs and Start-ups are known for their cutting-edge technological capabilities across all major domains of defence manufacturing.
Given the scenario of threats both our nations face, it is necessary for us to think beyond the current battlefield situations and focus on future warfare challenges with innovative technologies. Hence, India and Israel defence cooperation must be focused on collaboration of deep tech companies too.
The future of Indian defence industry and its quest to achieve ‘AtmaNirbharta’ with indigenous capabilities lies on its R&D efforts, strengthening defence ecosystem including MSMEs and nurturing Start-ups and building collaboration and cooperation with technological giants like Israel.
In terms of defence industry cooperation, there are many successful JVs between Indian and Israel players. This industry partnership can be taken to the next level by giving opportunities to MSMEs and Start-ups to engage and collaborate.
Ministry of Defence, Government of India on its part has given much-needed push to promote innovation in defence manufacturing. The ‘Innovations for Defence Excellence – iDEX’ initiative is aimed to achieve self-sufficiency and foster innovation and technology development by actively engaging MSMEs, Start-ups and individual innovators. The initiative is well supported by the budgetary schemes.
The recent reforms by the Ministry of Defence have paved way for enhanced domestic procurement, which in turn provides excellent opportunities for foreign players from countries like Israel to forge partnership with Indian companies.
The author is Chairman, FICCI Defence and Aerospace Committee and Group President (Defence, Aero, Agri, Steel); Member of the Group Executive Board, Mahindra Group