Two countries with vast differences but also many important similarities, India and Israel have been growing closer since the beginning of the century. Jonathan Spyer explains how New Delhi and Jerusalem are at present moving from a relationship based on military and civilian trade to a broader strategic alliance, which will ultimately benefit the U.S. as well:
India is now the largest consumer of Israeli military equipment—exports to India constitute 46 percent of Israel’s total arms exports. Israel, meanwhile, is the second-largest supplier of military equipment to India after Russia, New Delhi’s traditional arms provider.
Burgeoning India-Israel relations are not limited to defense spending. In agriculture and water management, Indian authorities have partnered with Mashav, Israel’s international development organization, to [find] methods to cope with an emergent water crisis. The purpose is to create structures for the rapid transfer of Israeli know-how in such crucial fields as drip irrigation, protected cultivation, and “fertigation” (the injection of fertilizers and water-soluble products into an irrigation system) to Indian farmers. The acquisition by the Adani group of Haifa port in 2022 is perhaps the most significant recent development in the commercial field.
India and Israel face a common challenge with other Western-aligned states as the U.S., the leader of the democratic world, is recalibrating and reducing its external commitments. . . . Indeed, it is within the overarching picture of India’s strategic transition from a non-aligned country to a U.S. ally, in the face of Chinese ambitions, that India’s improved relations with Israel [should] be seen.
Indian participation alongside Israel, for example, in the biennial Blue Flag air exercise in 2021 alongside U.S. and other Western air forces, is both an indication of the growing strategic relationship between Israel and India and of India’s broader strategy of “looking West,” and increasing cooperation with the U.S.