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    Israel's President Reuven Rivlin received a ceremonial welcome at the presidential palace in New Delhi, earlier today. Prime Minister Narandra Modi and senior members of his cabinet where present at the occasion as the visiting Israeli Head of State was given a Guard of Honour by the three services of Indian military. Hundreds of Israeli and Indian flags could be seen waving side-by-side along the route taken by the presidential motorcade in New Delhi. The grand ceremony accompanied by a thundering 21-gun salute is a fry cry from the dead-of-the-night  incognito "stop over" by the then Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan on a tarmac in Delhi, 40 years ago. Israel-India bilateral contacts in those days sounded more like Cold War spy thrillers than everyday diplomacy. Diplomatic relations between the two countries have indeed come a long way.

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was one of the first world leaders to congratulate President-elect Donald Trump on his stunning election victory. PM Modi wrote a series of tweets this morning expressing his hope of taking “India-US bilateral ties to a new heights” under Trump presidency. News of Republican candidate's victory also brought Hindu groups out on to the streets in India's capital New Delhi.

    Israel's President Reuven Rivlin will visit India on a six-day tour starting November 15. Israeli President will be accompanied by a “delegation of unprecedented size comprising businessmen and university officials”, Indian newspaper The Hindu reports. President Rivlin will become the second sitting Israeli President to visit the South Asian country since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two nations almost twenty-five years ago. President Rivlin and his Indian counterpart, President Pranab Mukherjee, will preside over the signing of a number of cooperation agreements ranging from agriculture to national security.

    Last night, the Indian Army carried out a series of covert operations targeting Jihadi bases along its border with Pakistan. According to official Indian sources, the counter-terrorism strikes killed 38 Islamists as well as couple of soldiers of Pakistan's regular army, who were overseeing these Jihadi bases. Indian Special Forces went 2-3 km inside Pakistan’s border destroying up to 6 Jihadi camps. No casualties were reported on the Indian side. The strikes come less than 2 weeks after Islamists attacked an Indian Army base in India's Kashmir region, killing 18 soldiers. India has faced a sustained terrorist campaign in its Muslim majority northern state of Kashmir since the 1990s. Terrorists have killed nearly 5,000 Indian civilians and over 2,000 Indian soldiers since 2001. Tonight's cross-border operation, first of its kind conducted by India, shows the change in country's military doctrine since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office 2 years ago.

    Prominent and ordinary Indians took to social media expressing their grief following the death of Israeli statesman and Nobel laureate at the age of 93:
    “It was during his service as the minister of foreign affairs in the 1990’s that Peres also began his special relationship with India. He was the first minister of foreign affairs to visit India following the establishment of diplomatic relations,” wrote Ambassador Daniel Carmon, Israel's envoy to India, in an article published yesterday in India newspaper Hindustan Times. “He visited India several times in various capacities, visits to be remembered and cherished by all those who met him here.”

    Today, around a million women work in India's Information Technology (IT) sector, with their strength expected to double in next couple of years. Engineering and technology sectors, previously regarded as male bastions, too have undergone change with 20-30 percent of engineering graduate now being women -- a rise from 2-8 percent back in the 80s. Despite such promising trends, women are still underrepresented among start up founders, tech entrepreneurs and corporate leaders in India. In IT sector alone, where women now make up 45 percent of all the new intakes, only 20 percent of the managerial positions are held by women. With series of initiatives in recent years, Israel is playing the role of a catalyst in fostering Indian women entrepreneurs and startup founders.

    An upcoming startup event promises to bring hundreds of Israeli and Indian entrepreneurs to collaborate in creating healthcare solutions for India. India's largest startup incubator T-Hub has tied up with Pears Foundation to organise the first ‘India-Israel Med4Dev Hackathon’ from July 22nd to 24th, 2016. The organisers expect more than 150 binational teams to participate in the startup event that takes place simultaneously in Tel Aviv, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai. Pegged presently at $100 billion, healthcare is one of the biggest and the fastest growing sectors in India. The two-trillion Asian economy is growing at a rate of 8 percent per annum. India's growing middle has created a huge market for modern and efficient healthcare. The healthcare sector in India is projected to reach $280 billion by 2020.

    As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in Beijing this week, preaching the virtues of “peaceful resolution” of disputes between the neighbours in the South China Sea, fighter jets belonging to Chinese 'People's Liberation Army' carried out aggressive manoeuvres against a US plane. According to the U.S. Pacific Command, the reconnaissance plane was on a routine mission over the East China Sea when two Chinese J-10 fighters attempted an “unsafe intercept”, making it the second incident of this kind to take place in less than three weeks. Earlier in May, two Chinese fighter jets flew within 15 meters of a US reconnaissance plane flying over the South China Sea. As President Obama set about to reduce the U.S. footprint in the world and divert country’s military preparedness to chase the spectre of Climate Change -- seven years ago, Communist China has been investing in a massive project to build and militarise artificial islands beyond its recognised maritime borders. China now contests 80 percent of the South China Sea, staking its control over one of the busiest maritime route in the world.

    India's Foreign Minister Shushma Swaraj is expected to visit Israel in the second half of January. Indian news channel NDTV reported that the much awaited trip would take place around January 16-19, three months after the historic visit by first ever Indian head of state to Israel, when President Pranab Mukherjee visited to the Jewish State in October 2015. Jerusalem Post reported that some logistical issues need to be worked out before Israel can officially announce the visit, quoting government sources in Jerusalem. The announcement came on the heels of the successfully trial of a missile defense system jointly developed India and Israel. On Wednesday, Long Range Surface to Air Missile 'Barak 8' was test fired in Indian Ocean aboard the Indian naval destroyer INS Kolkata. Foreign Minister Swaraj, a former Supreme Court lawyer, has a long-standing ties to the Jewish State. She considers Israeli stateswomen Golda Meir as her role model. She served as the chairwoman of the Indo-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group from 2006-09.

    According to a press release issued by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Israeli Navy has successfully tested Barak 8 Air and Missile Defense system developed jointly by Israel and India. The 4.5 meter-long surface-to-air missile can carry a payload of up to 60 kg. The missile is built to counter comprehensive airborne threats including fighter jets, combat helicopters, incoming missiles, and weaponised drones. Jerusalem Post reports:
    Israel Aerospace Industries carried out on Thursday the first successful interception test of the next generation Barak 8 missile system, which is designed to protect naval ships and offshore gas rigs from hostile aircraft, missiles and rockets. In the test, the INS Lahav, a Sa’ar 5-class corvette, positioned just south of Haifa, fired a Barak 8 missile and destroyed a fast-moving, jet-powered drone at 7 a.m. It was the first time the missile was launched from a ship, Vice Admiral Eli Sharvit, navy chief-of-staff, told reporters. (...) The project has been in joint Israeli and Indian development in recent years, and is officially due to become operational in both navies within one to two years, he said.
    According to London-based newspaper The Guardian, Barak 8 is set to play a key role in securing the Israeli offshore gas fields.

    India’s largest corporate house Reliance Industries has announced its plans to make big and long-term investments in Israel. Reliance Industries, a Fortune 500 Company owned by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, is the largest private sector company in India with a market capitalisation of well over $40 billion. Founded in 1966, Reliance Industries made its initial fortune in oil and natural gas sector. Recently, the company has invested billions of dollars in building a telecommunications network across India. The state-of-the-art nationwide cellular network build at the cost of estimated $15 billion opens new possibilities in retail, finance and healthcare. The company is looking for Israeli know-how and talent to fully exploit these possibilities, creating services for 100-200 million potential customers across the Indian sub-continent. Talking to Israeli media, managing partner of the company’s venture capital arm GenNext, Vivek Rai Gupta said that his company was working to build a nationwide customer base and there would be “no limit” on company’s investment in Israel. Israeli financial news website Globes Einglish quoted Gupta saying:
    "We want to hook up to the Israeli ecosystem, and to discover more innovative companies that can enhance the value of the cellular network whose deployment we're completing right now," GenNext managing partner Vivek Rai Gupta, currently visiting Israel, said in "Globes" interview. "The network [mobile network reaching 800 cities] we're setting up is only a pipeline, and we're looking for interesting things through which we can provide value for our users in India."
    Mobile-based technology carries the promise of improving everyday life for millions of Indians living in rural and remotely accessible regions -- from proving healthcare, vocational education, banking to even coordinating disaster relief.

    Rapid industrialisation and population growth of recent years has increasingly put pressure in India’s limited water resources. Earlier this week, China’s announcement to construct a mega-dam on Brahmaputra river, that also runs through the eastern part of India, has revived regional tensions between the two Asian giants -- once again reminding that water could well be the source of future conflicts, just as oil and energy resources today. Securing water demand for a billion-strong population is one of the biggest challenges facing India today. In recent years, Israel has become India’s leading partner in water management and clean technologies. During Indian President Pranab Mukherjee's historic visit to Israel earlier this month, both countries signed series of agreements aimed at expanding this bilateral technological cooperation. Indian news website Boom Live described the extent of water scarcity faced by the country and need for further strengthening the cooperation with Israel in water technology:

    As Indian President Pranab Mukherjee's 3-day historic visit to Israel comes to an end, Israel’s foreign policy is being redefined. During the first ever visit by an Indian head of state, both countries signed a series of agreements aimed at improving cooperation in commerce, technology and education. India, traditionally seen as a strong backer of the “Palestinian cause” at the world stage, has sharply changed its diplomatic position since Prime Minister Modi took office 17 months ago. Since his election, India has consistently voted against or abstained from anti-Israel resolutions tabled by Arab countries at UN and other international fora.  India’s recent pro-Israel stance has angered many Palestinians. During Indian President’s brief visit to the Al Quds University in Ramallah angry Palestinian demonstrators occupied the campus to register their protest. India, under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, wants to further intensify cooperation with Israel, despite continued objections by the Palestinian Authority as well as Muslim and left-wing groups in India. Prime Minister Modi is also expected to visit Israel next year. Indian Prime Minister sees Israel as a key global partner in his drive towards a modern and prosperous India. Addressing the Israeli Knesset on Wednesday, October 14, the Indian President emphasised the need for closer cooperation between both the countries in the field of technology, research and higher education [Jerusalem Post, October 15, 2015]:

    India-Israel diplomatic relations will turn a new chapter with the Indian President's historic state visit to Israel. Pranab Mukherjee became the first Indian Head of the State to visit the Jewish State. The state visit is an initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 17-month old government that seeks to strengthen commercial and diplomatic ties with Israel. However, right at the onset the Indian President’s visit was marred by a controversy, when media reports surfaced early this week that Mukherjee reportedly quoted Mahatma Gandhi during his stay to Jordan, saying, “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English and France to the French.” Jerusalem Post reports:
    Speaking in Amman at the University of Jordan, [President Mukherjee said],“India’s traditional support to the Palestinian cause remains steadfast and unwavering while we pursue strong relations with Israel. Our bilateral relations [with Israel] are independent of our relations with Palestine.”

    Recently, refusing to take any Syrian refugees, Fahad Alshalami, a senior official of Kuwait explained to the media that “it is not right for us [Kuwait and other Gulf States] to accept a people that are different from us. We don’t want people that suffer from internal stress and trauma in our country.” Alshalami glossed over the fact that 800,000 migrant Indian workers living in his country too might be suffering from the same “internal stress and trauma.” About 40 percent of Kuwait’s 4 million population comprises of Asian workers. In total about 7 million Indians work in the 6 oil-rich nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain). They are often at the mercy of their employers and work under dangerous conditions. According to an investigative report published by IndiaSpend, at an average an Indian living in Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Kuwait is “at ten times the risk of death, compared to an Indian living in the US”:
    On an average, there are 53.6 deaths per 100,000 [expat Indians] annually. However, this number conceals a sharp discrepancy. The average for the six GCC nations is 69.2 deaths, while the figure for rest of the world is 26.5 deaths, almost 60% lower. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman and Kuwait report between 65 and 78 deaths per 100,000 Indian workers.
    Indian government that heavily benefits from remittances, worth billions of dollar from Gulf States annually, is reluctant to raise concerns about the safety and wellbeing of its citizens.

    With many European campuses and lecture halls serving as training grounds for anti-Israel activism and boycott campaigns, Universities and research institutions in India are queuing up to cooperate with Israel. This week, Tel Aviv University signed cooperation agreements with three leading academic institutions in India. University of Mumbai, Wellingkar Institute of Management and Amity University agreed on series of joint programmes including short-term faculty exchange, holding joint research workshops and exchanging doctoral candidates. This move would strengthen Tel Aviv University's existing extensive cooperation with Indian educational institutions. Engineering students from India already attend summer courses in cyber security and entrepreneurship at Tel Aviv University -- both areas of vital importance to India. India too brings its own set of strengths on the table. Indian educational and research institutions offer a talent pool that is comparable to any major developed country in the world. Recently, Israel's IDC Herzliya also signed wide-ranging agreements with several leading Indian universities and academic institutions. India, once dubbed as the “23rd Arab State” for its unwavering support for the “Palestinian Cause”, has moved closer to Israel in recent years.

    Recently, the Indian city of Calcutta witnessed a large demonstration marking the 69th anniversary of an infamous event, noted in the history books as the Great Calcutta Killings, and The Week of Long Knives. The initial riots in Calcutta alone claimed some 10,000 lives. In subsequent weeks and months a million more across British-controlled India would follow -- a long lost saga of mass-graves, rape and ethnic cleansing. Hushed up by subsequent Indian governments and left-wing historians, today this genocide is all but forgotten and relegated to a footnote in the history. In 1946, anticipating a British withdrawal from India, the political bloc representing Muslims of India, Muslim League made its intentions clear that it did not want Muslims to be part of a democratic and multi-cultural India. To make the resolve known Muslim League called for the “Direct Action Day” on August 16, 1946. City of Calcutta was the epicentre of the genocide in East India that killed at least a million people and displacing about 14 million. Since India’s independence in 1947, the subsequent Indian governments stonewalled the memory of Hindu suffering to appease the minority Muslim population. There is not a single national memorial to mark their suffering or even a day of remembrance to recall their plight. In pursuit of Islamist supremacy, Muslim League brought suffering upon millions of Muslims in India as well, who bore the brunt of Hindu and Sikh retaliation. Some 70 years on, young Hindus are trying to reclaim the memory of their ancestors. They are urging the government to mark the “Noakhali Day”, named after a district in West Bengal that witnessed the most brutal atrocities during that time.

    If you are following mainstream media in the U.S. or Europe, you will get an impression that a thuggish Indian government is shaking down the helpless environmental activist group Greenpeace. The UK-based Guardian newspaper ran a story recently titled “India’s war on Greenpeace”, detailing a long litany of charges alleging India of investigating against “environmental activists”, freezing their funds and restricting their movement. In that article, a leading Greenpeace staffer describes peril of Greenpeace in India to The Guardian:
    The weeks (...) had been the hardest Greenpeace India had ever faced. (…) Greenpeace’s registration was newly imperilled. Morale had plummeted. In all likelihood, the shakedown of Greenpeace, and of other civil society groups, will continue. It is in the character of this government to persecute its adversaries, and the convolutions of the law provide many ways for the state to install difficulties in their paths.
    However, in reality it is Greenpeace holding India ransom; threatening dire consequences unless the country reviews its stand on coal.
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