#June 2017, #Last Word

The Indian PM’s visit to Washington will be crucial to determine how much the US President is in a mood to listen.

The Indian political leadership has, since Independence, rooted for a multi-polar world. Now, with Donald Trump’s US voluntarily pulling back from its role as world’s peace keeper of last resort, India is close to being granted its 70-year-old wish.

#June 2017, #Hot Spot

The Indian Prime Minister was on a packed tour of Germany, Spain, Russia and France in May/June and has returned with a slew of agreements and promising pacts for the future.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Berlin at the start of his European tour, the term used to describe the visit was the opening of a “new chapter” in the bilateral relations between India and Germany.

The PM set off for his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at her country retreat of Schloss Meseberg soon after landing. Both leaders discussed issues of mutual interest in an informal setting over dinner at the 18th century palace, 50 miles north-west of Berlin.

#Cover Story, #June 2017

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Israel in July, not only will he be bringing the otherwise warm relationship between the two countries out of the closet, he will also be marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of formal and full-fledged diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Modi’s visit, the first by an Indian Prime Minister to Israel, also marks the decisive de-hyphening of the relationship with India’s traditional support for the Palestine cause. Modi will not be visiting Palestine to “balance” India’s perceived tilt towards the Jewish state. This is causing angst among India’s chic left-wing ivory tower intellectuals who had, till recently, dictated India’s Middle East policy and aligned it firmly with Palestine’s interests.

#Cover Story, #June 2017

The Indian Ambassador based in Tel Aviv, Pavan Kapoor, is well-placed to provide some context to Narendra Modi’s historic visit to Israel in July – the first by an Indian Prime Minister.

Please give us an overview of where Indo-Israel ties stand.

I think India-Israel relations are on a very good wicket, at the political and economic level and also the cultural and people to people level. We have not had this scale of high level contact between the two countries for many years. In the last couple of years, we have had Heads of State visiting from India and Israel and we have had several ministerial delegations on either side.

#June 2017, #Emerging Markets

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy of renewing and redefining India’s millennia-old civilisational bonds with the Middle East are bearing concrete fruit in the form of strategic alliances and investments in India’s infrastructure sector.

Mention the Middle East to an Indian and he will immediately associate it with oil, deserts, Dubai and, very possibly, a non-resident relative stationed there. None of the above provides a misleading picture of the region; equally, none of them paints the complete picture either.

#Putting it in context, #June 2017

Prime Minister Modi’s historic visit to Israel has set the course for core areas of collaboration between the two countries, writes India Inc. CEO Manoj Ladwa.

Historic, as we said last week, is a much misused word these days, but to describe Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s just concluded visit to Israel in any other way will be to miss the woods for the trees.

That’s because the two countries signed several agreements that can substantially change the lives of long-suffering class of Indians – farmers. It is not without reason that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “This is a marriage made in heaven; it is being celebrated on earth.”

Take the look at the range of the seven agreements signed:

  • Setting up an India-Israel Industrial R&D fund
  • Water conservation
  • Water utility reform in India
  • India-Israel Development Cooperation on Agriculture
  • Cooperation on atomic clocks
  • Setting up a Geo-Leo optical link
  • Cooperation on electric propulsion and small satellites

Notice: three of the seven agreements deal with water and agriculture development signaling that Modi is spending his hard-earned global goodwill on the uplift of Indian farmers.

Many of you may be unaware that significant parts of India are facing a water scarcity. In such a situation, Indian farmers must learn to grow greater amounts of crops using lesser amounts of water.

Israeli agricultural scientists have developed and mastered the science of drip irrigation, which has turned their once arid country – among the driest in the world – into a haven for farmers.

It is this technology that a government-to-government programme is transferring to Indian farmers to enable them to produce “more crop per drop”. The two countries have so far set up 15 Centres of Excellence in Agriculture as part of the India-Israel Agricultural Project, which is a three-way collaboration between the Government of India, the Government of Israel and an Indian state.

It is this collaboration that has enabled Indian farmers develop blooming mango orchards in semi-arid Haryana and thriving vegetable nurseries in the not-so-fertile regions of Gujarat.

These centres are also helping farmers in Bihar grow and improve yields of fruits such as lychee and mango, in Karnataka of pomegranates, mangoes and vegetables and in West Bengal of vegetables by providing seeds developed with the help of the latest agricultural technologies and by imparting knowledge on the best farming techniques, thereby, enabling Indian farmers to increase their incomes and improve their lives.

If the Modi-Netanyahu duo can facilitate this potentially dramatic change for half of India’s population, they will have changed the face of Indian society. Eleven more such centres will be built in future.

Then, an Israeli company will help clean a particularly dirty stretch of the River Yamuna where 8 km of sewage flows into the river and help restore the life of the now dying river.

Prime Minister Modi has promised to double farmer incomes by 2022. A much wider use of these latest Israeli farm technologies and procedures will almost certainly play a big role in helping the government meet that ambitious goal.

The visit also focussed on other core areas of concern to the two countries – such as security from terror and the deep defence relationship.

Here, to my mind are the five key takeaways from Modi’s visit to Israel:

  1. India and Israel agreed to elevate bilateral ties to the level of a strategic partnership, with a special focus on agricultural cooperation.
  2. The two sides agreed to protect each other’s strategic interests.
  3. The two Prime Ministers emphasised the importance of ensuring global peace. “Our talks focused on not just areas of bilateral opportunities but also how our cooperation can help cause of global peace and stability,” Modi said.
  4. Both nations will collaborate on cyber security and exchange knowledge and best practices to tackle terrorism in cyberspace.
  5. The personal chemistry that was evident between Modi and Netanyahu over the three days.

Manoj Ladwa is the founder of India Inc. and chief executive of MLS Chase Group @manojladwa

#June 2017, #The Americas

The US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord will not have much impact on the fight against global warming as India and others take the lead in embracing renewable energy.

Just as US President Donald Trump’s repudiation of the Trans Pacific Partnership provided Chinese President Xi Jinping the opportunity to present himself as the prime defender of the globalised trading order, the US walkout of the Paris Climate Pact has presented Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi the rare chance of presenting India as the leader of the global fight against climate change.

#Special Edition – May 2017, #Last Word

A US Federal Reserve report forecasts that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has the potential to hike India’s GDP by nearly $100 billion.

The US Federal Reserve has confirmed what many people, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, have been saying for a long time.

Countering nay-sayers, they have maintained that the Goods & Services Tax (GST), which will come into force from July 1 this year, will push India into a higher growth trajectory and improve India’s GDP growth rate to 8 per cent and beyond.

Now, an International Financial Discussion Paper (IFDP) at the US Federal Reserve (FED) has calculated that the rollout of GST could increase India’s GDP by Rs 6.5 lakh crore ($100 billion) or 4.2 per cent. It did not mention the time frame by which this will be achieved. The additional output is almost double the government’s borrowing programme of Rs 3.48 lakh crore ($54 billion) for the current financial year.

#April 2017, #UK/Europe, #Special Edition – May 2017, #OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

From a silent film set to the tunes of the sitar at the Taj Mahal to a travelling exhibition celebrating Indian achievements in science, this year promises to take India-UK cultural collaboration to a whole new level.

The Taj Mahal will form the backdrop of a rare screening of a silent film set to live music by sitar maestro Anoushka Shankar as part of a wide range of celebrations to mark UK India Year of Culture 2017.