Tel Aviv, Jan 10 (ANI): External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Tuesday said India and Israel have made impressive strides in areas of critical importance to both countries ranging from agriculture and water management to latest the hi-tech applications in communications, health and energy.
Krishna in his remarks at the at the reception to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between India and Israel, said: "Twenty years may appear to be a short period but the impressive and multi-faceted development of our bilateral relationship shows how much can be achieved even in a few years given the necessary commitment and goodwill."
"Impressive strides have been made in areas of critical importance to both our countries - from agriculture and water management to latest the hi-tech applications in communications, health and energy. The reasons for this remarkable cooperation are not far to seek: both our countries share common democratic values which are demonstrated by an active and representative Parliament, a strong judiciary based on Common law principles and an independent media," he added.
Krishna said both the sides successfully focused efforts on human resource development, particularly in scientific and technological fields. And India, like Israel, sets great store by innovation as a game changer to bring about radical and rapid change. If Israel is known as the Start-up Nation, then India too has declared the present decade as the Decade of Innovation," said Krishna.
"Economic complementarities, which allow the remarkable R and D achievements of Israel to find full play in an open, democratic and growing economy like India, will further enhance the potential of this relationship," he added.
Krishna said that this cooperation would not have been possible if there did not exist a wealth of goodwill and cultural empathy between the people of our two countries, demonstrated most obviously by the large number of Israelis tourists visiting India today.
Krishna further said Indians and Israelis have shared the pain arising from loss of innocent lives in the dastardly act of terror in Mumbai in 2008 and are determined to fight the forces of terror together.
"It is pertinent to note that Jewish people have been a part of the multi-religious and multi-ethnic mosaic of India for centuries. 70,000 of them who have migrated to Israel have not done so from any sense of persecution. They are, in fact, today a strong bridge between the two countries, participating in nation building in Israel while holding fast to the cultural roots and traditions of the mother country," said Krishna.
Krishna said is India is fully engaged in meeting the challenges of poverty eradication and putting the country on the path of high, self-supporting, sustainable and inclusive long-term growth.
"We note with some sense of satisfaction that we have averaged over six percent growth over the last twenty years and have accelerated this to between eight to nine percent in the last five years. Despite the global economic downturn, the fundamentals of the Indian economy remain intact, and the growth story is poised to continue," he added.
Emphasizing that there are huge challenges ahead to sustain the high rate of growth, Krishna said: " For instance, India needs world class infrastructure and that needs an investment estimated at 1 trillion US Dollars over the next five years. Not all of this investment can be funded domestically; despite the very high saving rate of 35 percent, and increasingly we have to look abroad for these resources."
"Similarly, more than half of our population still depends on agriculture for its livelihood and up gradation of agricultural productivity, agricultural infrastructure and food processing facilities remain major requirements. To sustain our growth pattern, we need very significant energy inputs from abroad both from conventional energy resources and through new and renewable sources of energy," he added.
The External Affairs Minister said innovative solutions are needed to solve problems related to people's health, rural communications, agriculture and animal husbandry, green energy, health delivery systems and so on.
"India's integration with the global economy - about 40 percent of our GDP is today related to external economy - allows us to create opportunities for trade and investment with countries like Israel to meet the challenges that I have outlined," said Krishna.
Asserting that there is ample potential to multiply the bilateral trade figure of five billion dollars that we have achieved last year as well as to increase the level of investment between the two countries, Krishna said: "The Free Trade Agreement now under negotiation is clearly a step in the right direction. It will give a boost to our economic and commercial ties."
Calling for a long and fruitful partnership ahead, Krishna said : "I am aware that our Embassy has planned out several events, just as your Embassy has in India, for the coming year. These events aim to intensify our political engagement in several spheres, give further impetus to economic cooperation, infrastructure building and a partnership in innovation."
"Particular focus will continue to be on strengthening people-to-people links through a colourful cultural festival and tourism promotion. In all these efforts, we look forward to receiving the full cooperation of our Israeli partners as in the past," he added.
The External Affairs Minister also reiterated India's commitment to usher in a comprehensive and long-term partnership with Israel in diverse areas for the mutual benefit of the people. (ANI)