It is quite possible that the most memorable part of the talk Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel gave to industry captains on Thursday morning in Mumbai, is his narration of the thin-man-fat–man story.
He talked about a game that most young soldiers are asked to play when they have just been recruited into the army (Israel has compulsory army training for 3-5 years for all its youngsters). All the cadets are asked to stand in a line. Then when they are facing the commander, they are asked to form pairs. The person on the left then picks up the person on the right. He has then to run across the field. There could be ditches, fences, walls and even barbed wire. All these must be overcome by the person carrying his companion.
Expectedly, the person who is small or thin but has to carry a big person, is the first to fall. The winner is usually one who is big, but has to carry a small man.
And there is a lesson for governments and businesses from this, said Netanyahu. If the government becomes very large and burdensome, the small man, usually the citizen or a business enterprise is bound to trip and fall. In order to win, governments have to learn to nourish the man carrying it, encourage him, and even give him oxygen if necessary. That oxygen, he said, was lower taxes.
At the same time, governments have to learn to go on a diet, become slimmer than they are today, and not become a burden on business. It has to learn to reduce the burden of regulations, make business easier and encourage competition.
This, he said, is what Israel had done. Its government had begun encouraging industry to grow, become more innovative, and even compete. Not surprisingly, Israel climbed the ranks in global competitiveness from No 27 to No 15 last year. And it is determined to rank among the top 10 most competitive countries within the next few years, he added. “Today, I see Singapore, Switzerland and the US ahead of us, and I see little reason why we should not be ahead of them,” said Netanyahu.
He spoke of the various ways in which India and Israel could work together. “We are not just friends, but we are ancient friends", he reminded the audience in Mumbai comprising industry and media. He pointed to the ancient links Jewish traders had with Indians, and the way both countries were two of the oldest civilisations in the world. Both countries are also democracies, and vibrant ones at that. Both can be extremely innovative too. Both countries face the common threat of terrorism, and had to cope with such threats constantly.
He said that he experienced his greatest moment of joy when visiting India this time when he met some farmers at one of the 20 Centres of Excellence(CoE) that both countries have partnered to set up in India. The farmers told him how the CoE had helped them increase their incomes four or five times. “I now want all the 20 CoEs to help farmers increase their incomes”, he said. He now wants to increase the number of CoEs to around 30 so that there is one in each state. He also said that he now wanted to see all farmers increase their incomes and benefit from the technology and the hand of friendship that Israel had held out to India.
The second incident which delighted him was when a 14-year-old boy showed how he had made his own drone and could identify objects from the pictures the drone sent back to the ground terminal. That boy represented innovation, and Netanyahu said that he asked India’s prime minister Narendra Modi to encourage such innovation, and even build an industry around such talent. These are brilliant minds, he said, and they needed to be nurtured and encouraged.
Netanyahu spoke about other efforts Israel and India would be taking to come closer together. Israel will have more direct flights to India, in much the same way it has direct flights to Silicon Valley and to China. India has promised to be more visa friendly to Israeli businessmen as they seek longer stay visas with the facility of multi entry.
He only expressed regret that Israel and India had not yet signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). “Both of us have been trying, but for one reason or the other, this has not happened. I am told it will happen soon”, he added.
Officials from the Israeli Consulate informed Firstpost that the Israeli prime minister would be unveiling his proposal for greater cooperation between the cinema industry in India and the multimedia and virtual reality industry in Israel.
“As I said before, we have an ancient friendship. It is a relationship that was made in heaven, and must now be consecrated on earth” he added.
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Updated Date: Jan 19, 2018 11:12:19 IST