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PM Modi Has Visited 38 Countries So Far, Then Why Is He Reluctant To Visit Israel?

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By Sanjay Shukla:

modiisraelThe Indian President and the External Affairs Minister have visited Israel within a period of four months. This indicates a blossoming of relations between the world’s biggest democracy and the Middle East’s only democracy. The Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj was on a visit to Israel on the 17th and 18th of January while President Pranab Mukherjee visited the country on 15th October last year.

These are clear signs of India’s willingness to take bilateral relations to new heights. But at the same time, India does not want to build an entirely pro-Israel or Anti-Arab image. Significantly, Israel, due to its frequent conflicts with neighbouring countries like Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and others, and its anti-Muslim policy, does not have good relations with Arab countries. And since India imports most of its crude oil from Arab countries, and since many Indians work there, we are bound to maintain healthy relations with the Muslim world. Hence, India has not been able to openly express its friendship with Israel so far.

The visit by the President and External Affairs Minister to Israel were followed by a visits to Palestine. This may be seen as a balancing act.

Nevertheless, the question of the maiden visit by an Indian Prime Minister to the Jewish land still looms. On both occasions, before the President’s and the External Affairs Minister’s visit, the Prime Minister was expected to visit Israel. But each time, Indian foreign policy did not allow him to do so.

However, their visits have paved the way for the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu’s first visit to India. Although the official announcement of the visit is due, according to the Indian foreign ministry Netanyahu is set to visit India this year, which Sushma Swaraj has confirmed recently.

It is relevant here that since the ruling party, BJP, which is known as a pro-Israel party, swept to power in May 2014 the relations between both countries have become increasingly open. It was during the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee that for the first time an Indian foreign minister (Jaswant Singh) visited Israel. This was in the year 2000. That was followed by the Israeli Prime Minister’s visit to India for the first time in 2003.

The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been an admirer of Israel since he was Chief Minister of Gujarat, which has the maximum Israeli investment, is still reluctant to visit Israel.

Instead, this year, Modi is set to visit Saudi Arabia in what may be seen as an act to balance growing relations with Israel.

So far, India and Israel have maintained a time-tested covert relationship, due to international political and socio-economic reasons. But the effect of Modi’s expected visit to Israel on India’s relations with Gulf and other Muslim majority countries is worrisome. And what turbulence it would cause inside the country is also something worth considering?

Since Modi came to power, there has been an emphasis on foreign policy. He has visited over 30 countries in less than 20 months. He even paid a visit to nations like Mongolia and others which no Indian premier had ever visited.

As such, his visit to Israel has come to be expected by both sides. It has been due since 2003 when the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited India.

In order to not harm its relations with the Arab and Muslim world, and due to opposition within the country, the government is reluctant to show its predilection for Israel. This is why the Indian premier has been hesitant to visit Israel.

However, regardless of diplomatic visits, the bilateral ties between two countries are surging ahead in various fields like defence, science and technology, healthcare, cyber security, education etc.

Israel is one of the largest exporters of weapons which is worth billions in dollars. While excluding military exports, bilateral trade is around 4.52 billion which makes India Israel’s tenth largest trade partner overall.

Israel, which is a pioneer in the agricultural sector, has been engaged in many agricultural projects in India, providing advanced agricultural technology in arid and semi-arid areas. We can learn from Israel how they converted the desert into cultivable land with the help of technology. India could cooperate with Israel in the technology and security sector, as Israel has proven itself in those areas.

But at the same time, being historically a non-aligned nation, it will be a challenge for India to maintain that status for healthy international cooperation.

You must be to comment.
  1. saleem ahmad

    i m student of maharastra college


    India needs to strengthen ties with ISRAEL in Military, Renewable energy and Agriculture sector for our future requirements. Arab and Muslim world can give India only crude oil but they are not going to support us in any war like situation if it happens with china or Pakistan. In fact Muslim and Arab world have most of the time supported Muslim fanaticism in India. So Narendra Modi need not to afraid of Arab world if Modi work with Israel India will flourish.

  3. preethi

    modi should not go to israel…the problem creators of the world…

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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