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Krupa Susan Varghese

India-Israel Relations: Viewing through the Human Security Lens

The relations between India and Israel have grown significantly over the past few decades. From officially recognizing each other to establishing partnerships in the defence and technology sectors, the relations have come a long way. This shift has been a result of changing scenarios at domestic and international levels. One of the prominent features of this relationship is people-to-people ties which existed before the formation of the official diplomatic ties in 1992. In 2022, both countries commemorated 30 years of diplomatic relations.

A few of the major highlights in the relations are the focus on defence and intelligence cooperation, agriculture-water cooperation, science and technology and R&D among many others. These fields have fostered cooperation and have paved the path for several others between both countries.

Securing Agriculture and Water sector 

One of the most prominent among them is agriculture and water cooperation where various centres of excellence have been inaugurated across India under the Indo-Israeli Agricultural Project (IIAP). The programs under the project aim to assist Indian agriculture and rural development followed by dry lands developments; enhancing water resources management; investment in entrepreneurship and innovations; healthcare; empowerment of women and education. These are approached through conventional (national) security aspects due to their significance in achieving national interest.

However, this emphasis has overlooked into human security dimension that could also be a way to look at India and Israel’s bilateral relations.  In context to defining human security, the goal of the project is to promote individual farmers’ better livelihood and thereby shift traditional to modern intensive farms along with the novel Israeli technologies. This emphasis on agriculture defines the importance given to human security in the relations. Human security could be considered the primary aspect of the relations as it focuses on agriculture and water technology, energy efficiency and climate resilience.

Compatible relationship on technological innovations

Cooperation on innovations has increased throughout recent years but has been only defined through national security perspective than giving a human security angle. Technology has been key in the relations which are implemented through India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund (I4F). This drive focussed on five sectors, namely, water, healthcare, agriculture, energy and information and communication technology (ICT).

National security is the primary drive for states to invest in technological innovations which helps towards progress in various sectors of national interest. Advancement in the technology sector will assist in the development of critical infrastructures that could be helpful during a natural calamity.

The above-discussed five sectors describe the importance of food security, healthcare, energy efficiency and technology in bilateral relations. On further approach to these sectors, it could be seen that human security is the central aspect due to its concentration on the necessities of the population. These focus areas lead to human development that improves human sustenance.

Collaboration on Defence and R&D

In any diplomatic relations countries seeks to uphold their national interest and security. Bilateral relations focus on these facets through defence-intelligence cooperation, enhancing food baskets and supporting R&D projects that help towards the achievement of national security. The crux of India and Israel’s bilateral relations on defence has been viewed from the perspective of hard-core national security concerns. The defence sector is considered to be one of the foremost parts of national security due to its assurance towards the protection of the territorial borders, sovereignty and national interest.

Apparently, this sector could be contemplated through a different angle of human security by approaching defence as a tool protecting citizens against violent non-state actors as well as intruders.

Concentration on the healthcare sector

Along with food security initiatives (implying agriculture), healthcare was another aspect which gained prominence during the pandemic. India and Israel have not only been confined to national security that was witnessed during the past years. One of the examples towards this regard is Israel’s humanitarian assistance to Kerala during the 2018 floods. IsraAID, a non-governmental humanitarian assistance organisation extended their support to Kerala floods that showcase the bond between the two countries which is beyond traditional security.

Committed response to human security needs

Human security is a paradigm that emphasizes on collective needs of the people that includes survival, livelihood, and dignity which are fundamentals for national security. The non-traditional threats directly affect the state of humans and then the security of the nation. This situation illustrates the significance of the human-centric approach.

In the wake of these relations, the central aspect is human security which is significant in studying the relationship between both countries. Human security perspectives reframe the discourse in security studies as it is more people-centric which brings countries together against countering common threats to security. This claim leads to the importance of non-traditional threats like food security, climate resilience, energy efficiency, technology and the health sector which could be enhanced through cooperation between both countries. In consideration of these, it could be asserted that human security has strategic relevance in India and Israel relations.

Conclusion

It is quite a task to distinguish human security from national security due to its interdependence. Moreover, even categorising the bilateral relationship into human security and national security is a tedious matter. Hence, it could be implied that India and Israel’s relations have shifted from national security to human security aspirations.

Cooperation on technology and innovation in bilateral relations have gained mutual benefit for both countries. Agriculture another key component in the relations has increased India’s food basket with the precise knowledge from Israel. Thus, India and Israel’s bilateral relations could be studied through human security approach.

About the Author
The author has completed her Masters in Geopolitics and International Relations from India. She resides in Kerala, India. She is an ardent reader about Israel along with her interest in India and Israel relations.
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