AN ARIEL VIEW OF INDIA
The Pioneer, August 23, 2003
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has developed a coherent
strategy for Israel-India ties which an approving New Delhi
acknowledges as “constructive and problem-solving”. Mr.
Sharon appreciates the fact his Indian counterpart, Mr. Atal
Bihari Vajpayee, ha adopted an even-handed approach to
working towards a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The Sharon doctrine views Indians and Israelis as strategic
partners contributing to the stability, democracy and
economic and technological development of the region to
which both belong. Mr. Sharon and Mr. Vajpayee are
committed to maintaining the military edge of their nations
through defence cooperation. Mr. Sharon also believes India
has a future in keeping the momentum towards a comprehensive
peace in the Middle East.
A second dimension of the Sharon doctrine is that Indians
and Israelis (including their diasporas) should establish a
unique partnership for high-technology production. Third,
that both have enough diplomatic clout to resist pressure
from quarters that want appeasement and defeatism instead of
resolute opposition to repressive, tyrannical and terrorist
forces. The political, strategic and intellectual effort to
develop a joint Indo-Israeli counter-terrorism front has had
a promising start.
The Sharon doctrine’s fourth aspect is that India and Israel
should not only cooperate in gaining military victory, but
that they use their “civilisational resources” for public
diplomacy, so that they are oriented towards more distant
horizons in the 21st century. It is in the area
of long-range and coherent thinking that both Prime
Ministers are mindful of the importance of Jewish and Indian
intellectual traditions. The thoughts of Spinoza, Sri
Aurobindo and Tagore can inspire both countries to work
together to protect freedom in the 21st century.
Both Jews and Indians are equipped by their heritage to
focus on the central moral issues raised by technological
To date, most contacts have centred on the supply of Israeli
equipment to India, or Israeli upgrading of Indian
equipment. There is room for exploring more far-reaching
enterprises. A preliminary prima facie delineation
of areas amenable to mutual beneficial cooperation includes
development of means to enhance power projection –
particularly in terms of air and naval forces; ballistic
missile defence systems (BMD) including exploration of boost
phase intercept (BPI) technologies; cooperation in
contending with nuclear, chemical and biological threats
from non-state actors: and development of effective second
strike capabilities (particularly sea and submarine-borne),
essential for any credible no-first use nuclear policy.
On the practical level, recognition of the convergence of
Indo-Israeli interest with the US’s should lead to greater
American leniency in interpreting restrictions on technology
transfers to India.
Involving US companies in Indo-Israeli ventures may make
Washington more forthcoming in its attitude. The notion of
American participation in defence-related spheres raises the
question of whether it may not be broadened to include other
fields. As a catalyst for promotion of such trilateral
enterprises, the highly successful bilateral US-Israel funds
for industrial and agricultural research and development
(BIRD and BARD) may be useful models to emulate. These
business-to-business funds have proven their effectiveness,
clearly justifying the initial finance allocated to them.
BIRD established in 1979 with a budget of $ 75 million from
each participant, has generated business worth $ 2 billion I
the US itself. Tax revenues alone on this volume of
business have easily repaid the initial allocation.
Likewise, BARD has generated about 600 projects. There is
little to suggest that expanding the scope of similar funds
to include India would not yield even more impressive