The following article appeared in Canada's national newspaper this weekend (National Post) about the strategic alignment between India & Israel and the remarkable parallels between these 2 countries. Interesting reading.
India, Israel 'made for each other'
WASHINGTON - It is coming up to a decade now -- Jan. 29, to be precise -- since India and Israel established formal diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level.
Since then, Israel has become India's No. 2 arms supplier (after Russia) and now Jerusalem is planning to sell it Phalcon airborne early-warning systems worth US$1-billion.
The news follows reports India has taken delivery of Green Pine radar of the Arrow system, upgraded cannons and unmanned aerial vehicles -- all useful weapons for guarding the line of control in Kashmir. In future, India and Israel will work together on developing drones and defence computers, as well as the military's bread-and-butter weaponry, such as advanced tanks, anti-ship missiles and attack-helicopters.
In the past 10 years, trade between the two has quintupled to US$1-billion a year, mostly in the high-tech agricultural sector where Israeli advances in sprinkler and drip irrigation, dryland farming and hybrid seeds are unsurpassed. Indeed, given the dozens of visits exchanged in recent years, there sometimes seems to be some sort of Hindu-Jewish mutual-appreciation society of ministers, soldiers and businessmen.
The Indo-Israel relationship is rather like the film, When Harry Met Sally, in that it took years for two diverse countries, who have so much in common, to realize they are "made for each other."
Both were established in 1947-48; both are surrounded by enemies, externally and internally; both are democracies; both are first-rate technological and intellectual powers; both are nuclear states, both possess English-speaking, educated middle classes (in India, no fewer than 100 million people); both are young states with ancient civilizations and both have British-based political structures. And both are members of a coalescing, Washington-centred, global anti-terrorist network.
India's long alienation from Israel never really made much sense.
Politics, of course, played a role: The old-time Congress party, which ruled India from 1947 to 1978, was permeated with Fabianist socialism, which, when combined with the corrosive acid of 1960s radicalism, eventually drove New Delhi into Third Worldism, that pro-Soviet front, the Non-Aligned Movement, and backing for the "anti-colonialist" revolutionary struggle, especially in Asia and the Middle East. Israel, the "Zionist, racist, imperialist" entity, topped the hate list.
Its geographic and economic position also obliged India to try to keep on the Arab/Muslim world's good side in order to counter-balance Pakistan's sway.
But, time and time again, Delhi's hopes were disappointed.
In the 1962 Indo-Chinese war, the Arab/Muslim world offered no backing to its friend, and that year went so far as to endorse a UN resolution backing Pakistan's position on Kashmir.
In the 1967 Six-Day War, India obediently denounced Jerusalem, only to discover two years later at the Rabat Conference that Delhi, despite being invited, was embarrassingly denied entry after Pakistan objected to its presence.
Economically, the 1973-74 oil crisis forced India to keep toeing the line for fear of falling afoul of the anti-Israel extortion scheme organized by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
In the 1980s, however, under Rajiv Gandhi, visits of Israeli officials travelling on "tourist visas" were frequently arranged. India quietly dropped official pronouncements on the Arab-Israeli conflict, instead confining itself to murmuring Israelis had a right to live in peace.
The outbreak of the Pakistani-backed terrorist insurgency in Kashmir in 1989, and Arab accusations India was "illegally occupying" Muslim lands, no doubt also helped persuade Indian politicians that the anti-colonialist revolutionary struggle was not quite so romantic when it was directed at oneself.
Like Turkey, which is also distrusted by the Arab world and has aligned itself with Israel, India totted up the costs and benefits and decided where its best interests lay.
I dumped at the gybe mark in strong winds when I looked up at a Porter Q400 on finals. Can't stop spotting.