Date: 11/12/2013

Israel and India, two peace loving, progressive democratic infidel nations are the target of Islamists for annihilation. Sorry to say, in spite of democratic Israelis help our prime minister atheist Nehru went with Islamic Jihadis and introduced resolution against peace loving, Progressive and democratic Israel 67 times in the U.N. If Hindus were active, and assertive, Hindus could have supported Israel. What good is it in supporting Mohammedans? They are to tear apart India and Israel.
Date: Thu, 5 Dec 2013 16:37:57 -0500

When Israel was fighting for its survival against combined might of Arab nations in 1948, Sikhs under leadership of Master Tara Singh offered their services to Israel to fight against Arab Moslem horde21s. Israel however did not avail of their services for the simple reason, war was over in a short time and services of our Sikhs no longer needed.

Fortunately the relations between the two ancient nations, India and Israel go back into thousands of years, long before any such strategic need arose in more recent times. India became home for Jews when Romans burnt and destroyed King Solmon temple in Jerusalem. And India and Israel also share common history . Like what happened to Israel when a mosque was built on most holy site of Jews, the temple mount, India too had many of its holiest places destroyed , temples razed and mosques built exactly at the same spot which still to day remain as monuments of aggression and atrocities serving as ocular reminders to Kufrs.

The pseudo secularism that prevailed in India which as you know means upholding Shariat, kept natural alliance between India and Israel at bay,at abeyance for decades. Also the same policy,appeasement at any cost with 'sky as limit' ( the exact words of once Congress PM) the ocular reminders were kept intact despite emotional,sacred, and historical attachment of majority people of India, and this in turn kept the walls of separation between India's major communities, Hindu and Moslem intact as well . This suited the successors of British fine for the Congress too had vested interest in divide and rule policy. Only briefly India had truly pro-India leaders at the helm . Fortunately there is a qualitative change in international political atmosphere which in turn influenced events in India as well and hence ice got broken in relations between India and Israel especially with ascendancy of non Nehru-Gandhi leader as PM, P.V. Narasimha Rao . And this is only going to improve further with ascendancy further of Hindu nationalist leader.Fortunately the strategic relations continue to date getting strengthened as time goes by.
Sunday Edition Daily Pioneer New Delhi
World’s tiny teacher
Sunday, 01 December 2013

Chandan Mitra narrates his learning experience during a seven-day visit to Israel
It has almost become a cliché for Indians to say that we have a lot to learn from Israel, each time anybody comes back after visiting that tiny country of gigantic achievements. Its biggest achievement, no doubt, is survival itself. Not only has it fought several wars with its Arab neighbours since its formation in 1948, but even today it lives battling fierce hostility to its existence in the neighbourhood. Understandably, internal security is every Israeli’s prime concern.
As far as India and Indians go, few countries in the world are so well-disposed towards us. Everybody tells you that India is the only civilisation that welcomed Jews with open arms during centuries of persecution by other religious and political groups especially in the West; that India is among the rare countries where anti-Semitism is unheard of. Most Jews who had settled in India, especially in the Malabar region and Calcutta, have now migrated to the “Promised Land”, but their cultural links with India remain deep.

Imagine my surprise when I bumped into Isaac Ashkenazy, who studied with me at La Martiniere, Calcutta. Isaac was present at a gathering in the port city of Haifa, where he lives. We had gone there to commemorate the sacrifice of Indian soldiers of the Sikh Light Regiment in the Battle of Haifa of 1918 when Allied forces liberated the city. The annual memorial service to soldiers who died in the last known successful cavalry charge in the history of warfare has been revived by the Indian Embassy. This time, they asked our team of visiting MPs, which I led, to do the honours. Isaac didn’t know I would be there but hearing me speak to the gathering he realised my mannerisms had not changed since the time I debated in my school days in the late 1960s. We had not met since 1971 when I left school and Calcutta; so it was a most awesome reunion at the small park facing the port where a memorial plaque to Indian soldiers stands.

He told me there was an Association of Indian Jews in almost every Israeli city and they get together regularly. He comes to Calcutta every year because one of his brothers lives in Shillong and meets his acquaintances in the city both of us call our hometown. I mention this to emphasise that the Indian association will continue to run deep at least as long as our generation lasts. Like the US, Israel is a country built by émigrés; more are still trickling in, especially African Jews who have been permitted to migrate in significant numbers in recent years.

Organised by Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research (CPR), the Governance and Public Policy Initiative (GPPI) headed by former journalist Ramesh Chandran and the Israeli Foreign Ministry, our group of MPs consisted of Agatha Sangma, former MoS from the NCP, Jose K Mani of Kerala Congress, Dr Anoop Saha from CPI(M), Ponnam Prabhakar of the Congress (an exuberant Telangana votary, who treated us to a lavish dinner the day the Union Cabinet’s nod for Telangana was announced) and myself. Needless to add, Ramesh Chandran was the mover and shaker of the visit.

Unlike other visits hosted by Ramesh, which are usually academic or foreign policy oriented, this was focused on development. We were eager to learn more about two areas in which Israel has emerged as world leader — drip irrigation and seawater desalination. Of course, we also had a chance to see great pilgrimage sites such as Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall and the Al Asqa mosque which stand cheek-by-jowl, revered by Jews and Christians and Muslims respectively. Unfortunately, we could not float on the Dead Sea due to time constraints, but caught a glimpse of its still, salt-laden waters from the edge of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, located atop a hill. Similarly, we didn’t make it to Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus Christ. But devout Christian Jose K Mani was adamant. He went alone, waking up at 6 am and checking out of the hotel at that early hour on the day of our departure and reached the Ben-Gurion airport directly to join us.

Another moving experience was the visit to the Yad va Shem or Holocaust Museum, which documents the barbaric suffering of the Jewish community during Hitler’s rule in Germany. Sadly, India has no museum comparable in terms of documentation, photographs or audio-visual sequencing of our freedom struggle. Walking through the cobbled streets of Jerusalem city was a delight for many of us. History was all around us — on the ramparts of the gated walled city, its pavements under which lay buried thousands of years of history and the Wailing Wall, praying at which is mandatory for every Jew. Skull-cap on their heads and wearing black robes, long beards fluttering in the breeze, Rabbis were busy conducting a service for newborns standing close to the Wall, touching it occasionally. The Church of Nativity with its magnificent stained glass windows was equally fascinating. It is said Jesus Christ’s body was brought there from the crucifixion site atop the hill, placed on a block of stone inside the Church while the coffin bearers rested before taking the body for burial. Thousands of Christians from all over the world throng the Church every day and reverentially pray at the block.

After laying a wreath and briefly addressing those gathered at the Indian Soldiers’ Memorial next day at Haifa, we changed gears and moved to explore development alternatives crafted by Israeli scientists. The country is in a sense obsessed with conserving water or better still distilling it from the sea. Urban water management is a huge priority. We visited the offices of a company doing this management. It was astonishing to find the meticulous management of urban water supply, which is monitored by computerised meters all along distribution pipes. The water managers have real time inputs on water pressure, leaks in the pipeline, any other disruption in supply, and attendant issues. These problems are rectified by engineers of a flying squad who rush to the spot on bikes. The flow of water is regulated so that every household gets an assured minimum quantity throughout the year. Apart from whatever natural water resources (such as the scanty rainfall and snow in the hills) are available, urban water management is heavily dependent on recycling every drop including sewage water. Officials proudly told us that they know it is criminal to waste even the smallest amount of water and so over 90 per cent of used water is treated and supplied back to households. Amazingly, even in isolated houses in near-desert conditions, surrounded by a sea of sand peppered with shrubs, water and electricity shortages are unheard of.

In addition to recycling, fresh water is now increasingly obtained through massive desalination plants on the coastline. In a few years, desalinated sea water will account for 80 per cent of Israel’s water supply both for domestic and agricultural use. We visited the giant IDE desalination complex, consisting of three separate plants, which supply most of Tel Aviv’s water. Water is pumped from about a km from the coast through underwater pipes. This is stored in massive tanks for purification. Once the impurities settle down, tank water is sent gushing through rows of oxidation rollers. By the time water emerges out of these rollers, it is fit to drink. We tasted a bit to convince ourselves; there was no trace of saltiness and it was not possible to distinguish between normal water and its desalinated variety.

All these years since desalination technology evolved, it is the cost that acted as a deterrent. It is not only the expenses involved in setting up complex plants but also the running cost, as the plants consume loads of energy and it is expensive to lay pipelines to carry it from the coast to inland cities. But the technology is improving rapidly, and plant managers gave us a figure that corresponded to three paise for every litre desalinated, which is reasonably affordable. Considering Chennai households buy water at Rs 10 or more per bucket in the summer months, desalination seems to be the most viable way of ensuring uninterrupted supply to the city. Similarly, at present bottled water has to be ferried by boat to Lakshadweep with its myriad tiny islands. Small desalination plants are probably the only way to cut costs and provide regular supply of potable water to the islanders. Who knows, in the years to come, it may just be possible to carry water for irrigation to interior districts that are perennially subject to crippling drought. Arguably, Israel is a tiny country with a small population and short distances between the coast and big towns. But many Indian cities in the peninsular region are also located along the coast. At least for the southern part of our country, desalination is not only desirable but probably the only long-term solution to the water crisis. Maybe the Cauvery waters dispute will then get buried and the height of the Alamati Dam won’t be a source of inter-State dispute.
Drip irrigation techniques too are constantly evolving. On a visit to the Netafim drip irrigation plant and research centre, we were shown the production centre for their patented technology. The authorities insisted on absolute secrecy, politely asking us to leave mobile phones in the office lest somebody capture the process of manufacturing a plastic clip inserted on the water-carrying tubes. In the clips are interspersed tiny holes through which water drips on to the ground. Years of research have enabled scientists to develop liquid nutrients for crops, mixing the right dosage of liquid fertilisers and pesticides into the water before it is carried to the fields by the tubes. So sensitive is the technology and such is the fear of contamination, that we had to drop the clip samples into waste box before leaving the factory. “There are many bacteria that can be passed on to the water by the touch of human skin. We can’t risk any kind of contamination as plants catch diseases easily and that may spread like an epidemic,” said an engineer.
This factory has innovated upon a new method whereby drip irrigation tubes are laid a few inches below the ground surface. At regular (although rather long) intervals, some droplets or water are released under the plants which are grown at neat intervals enabling precise calculation of the points where water droplets are to be discharged. We noticed that the soil was moist only around the stem of the plants and nowhere else. “Sprinklers and earlier methods of drip irrigation were usage inefficient. Actually, only the roots of plants need moisture and nutrients. The crop will grow perfectly well even if the leaves don’t receive water directly. This way we have saved nearly 50 per cent water consumption on the truly modernised plants,” the manager informed us.
Our Israel visit was indeed a most comprehensive one. Besides irrigation technology, the phenomenal achievements of Kibbutz — rural communities grouped together to benefit from collective development — and the sights and sounds of the past, we also had time to engage in intellectual discourse. A dinner meeting with celebrated Israeli writer and philosopher AB Yehoshua was a truly illuminating experience. His recent paper on nationality versus identity caused a storm in Israel. In it the intellectual (whose first novel, later made into a successful film, was based on a visit to India) has argued that Jews lost global clout by being confined to a nation. Once a people become a nation, the state takes over. So a Jew can now punish a fellow Jew because a state must be based on secular laws. “Had Israel become a nation-state before the Holocaust in which at least 20 million died, such a country would have been a strong power. But now it’s just a small republic” he told me to my amazement. But at the same time, he remains a devout and proud Jew although he laments the declining power of the Jewish people, now that their identity is primarily reflected through the Israeli state.

That evening’s animated discourse brought alive to me the mosaic that is Israel and its vibrant democracy. Its unwritten constitution, based only on a certain consensus reached by its founding fathers in the Constituent Assembly, has ensured no single party can ever dominate politics. The List system of elections ensures coalitions are a permanent fixture of Israeli politics. Governments come and go frequently, but governance continues uninterrupted. Indeed India has a lot to learn from our only true friend in the Middle East!