It is the thirtieth year of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between India and Israel. In 1992, Kobbi Shoshani, visited India for the first time to help establish the diplomatic mission in New Delhi. Since then, his admiration and love for India has not diminished and he has visited our country on numerous occasions before finally being appointed Consul General of his country in mid-west India. We had interviewed his predecessors also to know about the areas of cooperation between two great friendly nations, India and Israel. To carry forward the tradition of knowing about the future plans of both the countries, Shri Kobbi Shoshani was interviewed by Organiser representative Rajan Khanna at the Mumbai Consulate. Excerpts:
Ever since your appointment as Consul General of your country in Mumbai, you have been routinely touring India. What are your views about Indian people?
I simply do not find myself as an outsider in this country. I feel I have extraordinary bonding with wonderful Indian people.
Which direction the relations between Israel and India are heading for?
There is a lot of synergy between the two countries and we are fully confident that in future the relations will touch new heights. I would like to add that after 2014, when the new Government took over, the ties between Israel and India have become a lot better.
In the defence sector, are any joint ventures going to be announced?
Yes, a lot of cooperation is taking place in the said area. We wholeheartedly support the “Make in India” initiative. Technology transfer is also taking place. India has some of the best entrepreneurs; Israeli companies are synergising with them.
Israel has signed the Abraham Accords; what are the implications for India?
We have a long-standing friendship with the USA; now the UAE has also joined the ranks through the Abraham Accords. Bahrain, too, is on board. India has deep economic and cultural ties with this region. A large number of Indians have made Arabian Gulf as their home. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given tremendous importance to this region. I believe that the quadrilateral relations between the US, Israel, the UAE and India have a big potential. In strategic terms, too, the said accord benefits India.
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How cooperation is taking place in the field of cyber security?
Israel is one of the few countries in the world which had recognised the importance of cyber security long ago. We have developed a robust research and development programme. In the past also we have been sharing technology with India in this sector. Now we are helping India establish a centre of excellence in cyber technology in Pune. India as an IT and services powerhouse and Israel as a global cyber hub can go a long way hand in hand.
How do you think cultural ties between the two countries can be improved?
Both countries are very old civilisations. When Israelis come to India they do not find themselves as strangers. There are a lot of similarities between the two people. Indian people carry a tremendous amount of goodwill towards Israeli visitors. More people-to-people interactions will help concrete cultural ties too.
Israeli companies have been providing water technologies; any new development in this arena?
Yes, a lot of companies had technological tie-ups. It is not a secret that there is a huge water scarcity in Israel. However, with diligent water management programmes, we are successful in providing a reasonable amount to our citizens for consumption and various activities including agriculture. I believe that for long term conservation of water, we have to reduce its consumption. There is no other alternative.
The last time when former PM Netanyahu visited Mumbai, a lot of people from the film industry were invited for a get-together with him. Any progress on that front?
Some Indian film producers are shooting in Israel. It will help people of India know about the beautiful locations of our country. A joint movie production at the Government level is also going on. We hope we can have more joint ventures coming up in the next few years.
The US recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. What are your expectations from India?
Jerusalem to be recognised as the capital of Israel by the rest of the world is a dream of every Israeli. India is an all-weather friend of Israel. Obviously, we wish India to step into the shoes of the US; sooner than later. I am optimistic to see the Indian Embassy in Israel moving to the holy city of Jerusalem in the near future.
You attended as a guest at the Vijayadashmi event addressed by Sarsanghchalak Shri Mohan Rao Bhagwatji. What inspired you to attend the function?
During my previous visits to India, I had heard a lot about the RSS work; I had opportunities to visit a few projects run by RSS functionaries. I was hugely impressed and wanted to get an insight into the organisation; hence decided to attend the function in Nagpur. I have gathered an impression that the RSS is a nationalist organisation and is involved in the work of nation-building. I feel it is not against any other religion and firmly believes in the peaceful coexistence of human beings.