Elections in India and Israel – An Opportunity for the Youth

During a recent discussion at Arutz Sheva Pre-Election Conference, Maj. Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan has said: “this election is actually about of our future.” He talked about his vision on how Israel will look like in 2048, a year when it will be celebrating its 100th Independence Day with a demographic dividend of close to 20 million people. It is amazing that Mr. Uzi Dayan whose age is equal to the age of Israel holds a vision for the day when Israel will turn 100, something about which young candidates in Israeli politics does not prefer to talk of. The situation is somewhat similar in India too, on which a senior cabinet minister of Modi government Arun Jaitley commented by saying that: “political opportunists only look at the next day’s headlines while nation-builders look at the next century.” In a democracy, counting challenges and crisis a country is facing, commenting and creating new headlines every day is often easier than developing a vision for its future, this is something about which the community of new age leaders on both sides still need to work on.

As India and Israel are going to face general elections, on both sides some interesting developments related to election campaigns are taking shape. Modi and Netanyahu both have an astonishing report card to put before the public, which left their opponents with fewer options and the standard of political debates is degraded to a new low. But at the same time, all these events reminds that both countries are blessed with a vibrant democratic environment, something for which their surrounding states always crave for but could never able to achieve. Interestingly, as both countries are parliamentary democracies, the pattern of election campaigns, coalition formations (pre and post elections), and the people’s way of responding to all these events are somewhere quite similar in nature.

The world is watching Indian and Israeli elections carefully. Presence of strong leadership in India and Israel is crucial for not only the future of the Middle East and South Asia but for the health of the global economic environment too. Both countries are at a crucial juncture of their transformation and there is a general consensus that the journey of economic reforms and culture of diplomatic engagements which Modi and Netanyahu have started in their highly successful tenures should continue with the same energy and spirit.

On 21st February 2019, Israel’s first lunar spacecraft mission, Beresheet is successfully launched. Israeli startup SpaceIL and IAI’s joint initiative Beresheet will establish Israel as the world’s fourth country to land on the moon. In 2011, three young Israeli engineers Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub founded SpaceIL organization with an aim to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon. The successful launch of Beresheet reflects the scale of young Israeli aspirations and the tremendous opportunities today they have in the state of Israel. But it was not always the case, earlier there was a strong influence of socialist culture in the Israeli economy too. Israel which once had a number of government controlled and union controlled companies is now writing a new history and sending the symbols of its cultural heritage in a digital ‘time capsule’ on moon through its Startup ecosystem, an environment for which Netanyahu’s free-market push and policy/economic reforms should be given some credit to.

India is making an unprecedented transformation too. In less than five years of Modi government, India has made significant improvements in all international rankings, which includes a historic jump in EODB index from 142 to 77 in just four years. To promote innovation culture among teenagers, Prime Minister Modi has started a network of hundreds of Atal Tinkering labs across the country. Launched with the mission of creating 1 million child innovators, Atal Tinkering Labs provide the dedicated works spaces where school students learn innovation skills and develop new ideas with state-of-the-art equipment such as 3D printers, robotics & electronics development tools, IoT & sensors etc. The environment for innovation in India is rapidly improving, so do the number of patents issued, while between 2013-14 only around 4000 patents were issued, during 2017-18 approximately 13,045 patents were granted in India. The numbers of trade-marks registered has also gone up from around 68000 in 2013-14 to around 2.5 lakh in 2016-17. In India’s startup revolution its small towns and rural youths are also participating, 44% of startups registered in India are from tier 2 and tier 3 cities.

The 2019 election will determine whether the momentum of growth set by Modi and Netanyahu will continue or the cycle will get reversed back to the point, from where it all started. This time, the onus of it should be on the shoulders of the youth community. Indian and Israeli youth are known for their innovative and intellectual capabilities worldwide. Last year during his visit to India, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu had famously remarked that:” in Silicon Valley, there are two dialects you hear – Hindi and Hebrew and only a little English.”  In the upcoming general elections, these Millennials and ‘Generation Z’ of both sides have an opportunity to play their part.

Both countries are blessed with an innovative vibrant youth community, which is embracing advanced technologies/innovations and at the same time holds a sense of appreciation for others. With the Election Day approaching the political debates on both sides will get accelerate and the opponents of current leadership on each side will try to portrait a dark picture of the country’s present socio-economic situation. But by nature, Indian and Israeli youth are rational, which itself is visible from the fact that both nations have strong technology and startup culture. It will be interesting to see whether these young minds will apply their wisdom in electing a right leader, someone who can sustain the current momentum and keep the country on the right track.

About the Author
Devsena Mishra promotes advanced technologies, startup ecosystems and Indian government’s business and technology related initiatives like Digital India, Make in India and Startup India etc. through her portals, articles, videos, and books.
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