India and Israel – Brothers in Arms

Flags - India and Israel

Flags – India and Israel

Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi visits Israel from July 4-6 at the invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, making him the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the Jewish homeland. This historic moment is part of India’s modernisation, both in terms of the economy and foreign policy.

Indian Soldiers and the Battle of Haifa

During the Battle of Haifa, 23 September 1918, Indian soldiers attacked the rearguard forces of the Ottoman Empire that resulted in the capture of the towns of Haifa and Acre.

Three Indian naval ships, destroyer INS Mumbai, frigate INS Trishul and tanker INS Aditya, made a goodwill visit at the Haifa port in May 2017 to mark 25 years of full diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The Great Indian politics

The formation of India happened on secular lines, and so does our constitution say, but vote bank politics based on caste and religion were part of Indian political system right from the day we achieved independence. As such, Indian politics always favoured the minority community – although they did nothing for them.

In 1947 Albert Einstein wrote to Jawaharlal Nehru, asking him to support the creation of Israel. Nehru declined, saying “Palestine is essentially an Arab country, and must remain so.”

This was done because of the risk of angering the Indian Muslims, who live in a secular country like India but have a Muslim-centric view of the world.

The Conflict Within

India voted against the Partitioning of Palestine plan of 1947 and voted against Israel’s admission to the United Nations in 1949. But Hindu Mahasabha leader Vinayak Damodar Savarkar supported the creation of Israel on both moral and political grounds, and condemned India’s vote at the UN against Israel. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar admired Jewish nationalism and believed Palestine was the natural territory of the Jewish people, essential to their aspiration for nationhood.

On 17 September 1950, India officially recognised the State of Israel.  In 1953, Israel was permitted to open a consulate in Bombay (now Mumbai). However, the Nehru government did not want to pursue full diplomatic relations with Israel as it supported the Palestinian cause, and believed that permitting Israel to open an embassy in New Delhi would damage relations with the Arab world.

Till early 1990s, the relationship remained informal in nature. India’s opposition to official diplomatic relations with Israel stemmed from both domestic and foreign considerations. Domestically, politicians in India feared losing the Muslim vote if relations were normalised with Israel. Additionally, India did not want to jeopardise the large amount of its citizens working in Arab States of the Persian Gulf, who were helping India maintain its foreign-exchange reserves. India’s domestic need for energy was another reason for the lack of normalisation of ties with Israel, in terms of safeguarding the flow of oil from Arab nations.

India’s tilt towards the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and India’s desire to counter Pakistan’s influence over the Arab states was another reason why we maintained distance from Israel.

Change of Policy

India formally established relations with Israel in January 1992 and ties between the two nations have flourished since, primarily due to common strategic interests and security threats. The formation of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which allegedly neglected the sentiments of Indian Muslims, and the blocking of India by Pakistan from joining the OIC is the major cause for this diplomatic shift.

Help, Partnership and Beyond

  • War with Pakistan

Israel offered unconditional help to India during the 1971 and 1999 Kargil war.

  • Missile Technology

In September 2016, tests were conducted of the jointly developed Long Range Surface-to-Air Missile with a range of 70 km, intended to equip three guided-missile destroyers of the Indian Navy.

India successfully tested the Israeli-made SPYDER quick-reaction surface-to-air missile in May 2017. The Indian Air Force is planning to deploy this system on its western border.

  • Agriculture

In 2008, Israel and India finalised an agricultural plan introducing crops native to the Middle East and Mediterranean to India, with a focus on olives. Subsequently, around 112,000 olive trees were planted in the desert of Rajasthan. In 2014, more than 100 tonnes of olives were produced in Rajasthan.

An Indo-Israel agriculture action plan for 2015-18 is operational, and 15 of the proposed 26 centres of excellence in agriculture are being developed in India with Israel’s help to showcase the latest technology to Indian farmers.

  • Water Management

On June 28, 2017, the union cabinet approved a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Israel on the National Campaign for Water Conservation in India.

Technologically-adept Israel has developed water-management technologies, located as it is in a semi-arid region with limited sources of fresh drinking water.

  • Trade

As of 2014, India is the third-largest Asian trade partner of Israel, and tenth-largest trade partner overall. India is the largest buyer of Israeli military equipment and Israel is the second-largest defence supplier to India.

  • Space

In 2002, India and Israel signed a cooperative agreement promoting space collaboration between both nations.

In 2003, the Israel Space Agency, ISA, expressed interest in collaborating with ISRO, in using satellites for improved management of land and other resources.

In 2005, Israel decided to launch TecSAR, its first synthetic aperture radar imaging satellite, on India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, or PSLV

In 2009, India successfully launched RISAT-2, a synthetic aperture radar imaging satellite. RISAT-2 was manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries, or IAI, in conjunction with ISRO. The launch of the RISAT-2 satellite aimed to provide India with greater earth observation power, which would improve disaster management, and increase surveillance and defence capabilities. The acquisition and subsequent launch of the RISAT-2 satellite was accelerated after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, to boost India’s future surveillance capabilities.

  • Tourism

Around 40,000 Israelis, many of whom have just finished military service, visit India annually. There are dozens of Chabad-operated community centres in India, where many Israelis celebrate holidays and observe religious traditions. Popular destinations for Israelis include Goa, the Himalayas, Old Manali, Vashisht, Naggar, Kasol, and the villages surrounding Dharamsala. In many of these areas, Hebrew signs on businesses and public transportation are widely noticeable.

  • Judaism in India

The history of the Jewish people in India dates back to ancient times. Judaism was one of the first foreign religions to arrive in India in recorded history

An estimated 85,000 Jews of Indian-origin live in Israel, the majority being from Maharashtra (Bene Israelis), with some from Kerala (Cochini Jews) and Kolkata (Baghdadi Jews).

  • Moshe Holtzberg

Moshe Holtzberg had survived the 26/11 carnage at the age of two, having lost his parents to the terror attack on the Nariman House. Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, who was five months pregnant, were killed during the November 2008 Mumbai attacks by Pakistani Islamic terrorists. Their two-year-old son Moshe survived the attack after being rescued by his Indian nanny, Sandra Samuel.

India and Israel are ‘brothers in arms’, we are both surrounded by hostile neighbours and have been at the receiving end of radical Islamic terror. We both face an existential threat from forces within and outside our community. Sharing information and technology will not only bring peace and prosperity in our respective countries but in the world at-large, and this is what makes us natural partners. The visit of Indian Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi to Israel is historic and has the potential to take Indo-Israeli ties to a new high. Shalom.

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Benefits of Yoga

Yoga

Today being international yoga day, I felt it only necessary to write a couple of lines about yoga and its benefits.

What is yoga?

Yoga is a way of living that aims towards ‘a healthy mind residing in a healthy body’. Contrary to the belief, it is not a religion. Which means that even if you hate Hinduism you can still safely practice yoga. Although just like everything that has originated in this country and been there since millenniums, yoga has its roots in the Hindu culture.

What is the use of yoga?

The benefits of yoga mostly depend on the lifestyle one follows and the kind of asanas one practices. But even after regularly practicing yoga for just a few weeks, here are some of the benefits one may experience:

  1. Improved flexibility
  2. Muscle strength
  3. Better posture
  4. Better blood circulation
  5. Lower stress levels
  6. Relaxed body and mind
  7. Better focus

What are the advantages of yoga?

The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome. Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia. The various poses and deep breaths help the heart do its job, increasing blood flow throughout the body, and improving the entire circulatory system. Yoga is also known to relieve stress, reduces muscle tension, strain, and inflammation. It also sharpens attention and concentration.

Can yoga get you in shape?

While yoga is not an intense workout as running or aerobics would be, but you can still get in shape if you stick to a regular workout schedule.

What is the ultimate purpose of yoga?

The goal of yoga is to help the individual transcend the self and attain enlightenment.

यदा विनियतं चित्तमात्मन्येवावतिष्ठते |

नि:स्पृह: सर्वकामेभ्यो युक्त इत्युच्यते तदा ||

Which means, when a perfectly disciplined mind gets freedom from all desires and becomes absorbed in the self alone, a person is said to have achieved yoga.

But this is easier said than done and takes years of devotion, practice, dietary restrictions and control over senses to reach such a state. As for the ordinary person, it improves circulation, posture, flexibility, muscle strength, helps relax the body and the mind, brings down stress levels and helps sleep better.

In 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested United Nations to celebrate June 21 as the International Yoga Day as it is the summer solstice; the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

“Yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition. This tradition is 5000 years old. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help in wellbeing. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day.” — Narendra Modi, UN General Assembly, September 2014.

If you still haven’t welcomed yoga into your life, it’s never too late.

The road to success passes through the fields of failure

failure

Everyone passes through a period in their lives when nothing works in their favour. Whether you are a programmer or a politician, sometimes you pass through a phase when it seems that everyone is conspiring against you and that is why you are not succeeding.

The truth is, the road to success passes through the fields of failure. If you haven’t ever failed in your life, you can never be successful. All great people have failed in their life, at one point or the other, but failure did not stop them from working hard.

Henry Ford, the founder of world famous Ford motors failed many times before becoming a success. As a child Albert Einstein was slow to talk, and according to some he did not start speaking until the age of 4. Einstein did not grow up to become a world famous orator, but the talk about modern physics without his contribution is difficult, if not impossible.

Amitabh Bachchan.jpg

Miracles and success stories just don’t happen in the west. The story of Amitabh Bachchan is all inspiring, especially his second innings. The Indian cine legend faced financial crisis at the age of 57 in the year 2000. But he used his skill to his advantage and was the highest individual tax payer in the financial year 2012-2013. He is still one of the most sought after Bollywood actor.

Narendra Damodardas Modi is yet another example. He was blamed for the Godhra violence, one of the bloodiest controversies in the country’s history. But after investigations his name was cleared and he is the present Prime Minister of India.

Not to forget a failed lawyer, also called a half-naked fakir by some, used peaceful means to liberate India, and its neighbours, from the clutches of Britain, a warmongering nation.

Success Beckons.jpg

The simple fact of life is the road to success passes through the fields of failure. These stinking, sludge filled fields of failure are not easy to cross, but if you have the patience and determination to cross these marshy lands, success beckons you.