This Article is From Aug 19, 2015

For PM Modi, Advice From Leader of 'Start-Up Nation'

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told NDTV both India and Israel have a strong entreprenurial spirit.

Tel Aviv: Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi won a huge victory in last year's election, ties between Israel and India have been in overdrive, with the two signing a series of defence and technology deals.

In October, President Pranab Mukherjee will become the first Indian head of state to visit Tel Aviv and Palestine.

Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu, are also likely to meet, like they did last year, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York next month.

Speaking exclusively to NDTV in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Netanyahu said the countries are forming "a wonderful friendship". Days after Mr Modi announced "Start Up India, Stand Up India" as a mission to launch and nurture entrepreneurs, Mr Netanyahu, whose country is known for its start-up culture, said, "As far as the 'start up-nation' (goes), I think this has a lot to do with entrepreneurial spirit. I have noticed that in Silicon Valley... You hear Indian dialects and you hear Hebrew... There is a lot of spirit for enterprise in both our countries."

Much of the new sweet talk between India and Israel is based on hard business - India is now the largest buyer of Israeli military equipment, while Israel is India's largest customer after Russia.

Late last year, the Cabinet cleared a long-delayed purchase of Israeli missiles for the Navy, India closed a $520 million deal to buy Israeli anti-tank missiles, and then a jointly-developed aerial defence system passed a major trial.

In 2006, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mr Modi visited Israel to explore new ideas in irrigation, an area of Israeli expertise.  Since becoming Prime Minister, he has openly cultivated warmer ties with Tel Aviv.

His predecessor, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, kept India's relationship with Israel at low profile. "Cynics in Israel would point out that Delhi was treating Tel Aviv like a mistress - engage in private but refuse to be seen with in public. The Modi government is having none of that," said C Raja Mohan, head of strategic studies at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi.

Earlier this year, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon visited Delhi and said a "behind the scene" relationship was now going public.

In July, India abstained at a United Nations vote that sought to condemn Israel for war crimes during last year's Gaza conflict. India insisted, however, that "there is no change in New Delhi's long-standing position on support to the Palestinian cause".