Tammy Ben-Haim is the Consul General of Israel to South India, based in Bengaluru. Haim is a highly experienced diplomat with 18 years of experience in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and 25 years in the civil service. Most recently Haim was the Minister for Public Diplomacy in the Embassy of Israel in Washington DC. Between 2016 and 2018, Haim served on the South Asia Desk at the Ministry in Jerusalem, where she oversaw and coordinated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic, first-ever visit of an Indian leader to Israel, and the reciprocal visit of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to India. Interestingly, Haim had earlier also served in India as counselor for internal politics, liaising with the Indian parliament and lawmakers and fostering relationships with state leaders. During this stint, she had additional responsibilities for Sri Lanka and agricultural cooperation. Haim has a Master’s Degree in International Relations from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In an interaction with THE WEEK, she talks about the significant role the Israel Consulate is playing in improving collaboration of Indian companies especially the start ups with their Israeli counterparts in different fields such as agri tech, aerospace and water management etc.
What kind of collaboration is Israel aiming at with technology start ups based in Bengaluru and the the rest of South India? What kind of technology areas are being explored?
When the Israel Consulate for southern India was established in Bengaluru in 2012 we had eventually chosen the location over Chennai due to Bengaluru's reputation as the leading IT innovation spot in India. Bengaluru is not only a hub for innovation in India but also on a global scale. Israel has made efforts to create an ecosystem that is startup and innovation-friendly, similar to what is happening in Bengaluru and other cities like Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem. The presence of a high-tech ecosystem in Bengaluru was a decisive factor in choosing the location for the consulate. The consulate is focused on facilitating the collaboration of companies and promoting joint initiatives in ways that are suitable for them. The consulate does not dictate which fields or aspects companies should collaborate on, rather its role is to enable companies, governments, and academics who are interested in working together in India to achieve their objectives. Agri tech and water are some of the areas where cooperation is often observed, but the consulate is open to facilitating collaboration in any field that interests the parties involved.
What kind of collaboration is being worked up in the field of aerospace segment and in agri tech and water management?
Aerospace is definitely a growing sector in both Israel and India. In Israel, we have companies like Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit Systems, which are leaders in the aerospace and defense industries. Similarly in India there are companies such as the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Tata Advanced Systems, which are also making a mark in this field. There is definitely room for collaboration and partnership between Israeli and Indian companies in the aerospace sector, and I am sure we will see more of that in the future.
Israel has developed advanced technologies and methods for water conservation and management. This can be shared with neighboring countries facing similar challenges. The consulate sees potential for collaboration and partnerships beyond just India and Israel, extending to the wider region and even into Africa. The recent developments in the Gulf states present new opportunities for cooperation, particularly in the area of water management, where Israel's expertise can be of great value.
Recently we had a delegation from Kerala that included the Secretary of Agriculture and 27 farmers that visited Israel. This is a great example of the kind of exchange programs we are promoting between India and Israel. We want to facilitate the exchange of knowledge, expertise, and technology between the two countries and help them collaborate in areas such as agriculture, water, and high-tech areas. These visits and delegations provide an opportunity for people from both countries to learn from each other and establish long-lasting partnerships.
What kind of role is the Israel Consulate in South India playing in connecting Israeli companies with India's workforce and and vice versa?
The consulate plays a crucial role in connecting Israeli companies with India's workforce and vice versa. For instance, during a recent visit to India, an HR expert from Israel shared her knowledge with Indian companies about what they look for in personnel, helping to bridge the gap between the two countries' high-tech industries. The consulate is also in regular touch with Indian companies, governments, and academic institutions to foster collaboration. This includes maintaining contact with the governments of South Indian states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Pondicherry, as well as incubators, accelerators, NGOs, and academic institutions like IIT Madras, IIM Bangalore, and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore.
What are the other collaborative efforts on part of the Israel Consulate in south India?
The consulate's collaboration efforts extend beyond the institutions and organizations mentioned earlier. The consulate also partners with other universities and startups in India, and helps facilitate visits and exchanges between Israeli and Indian businesses. For instance, the consulate recently organized a visit for a venture capital delegation from Bengaluru to Israel, where they had the opportunity to meet with different companies and academic incubators across various industries.
What more can be done to improve relationship of Israel and Indian companies in South India?
I feel one of the major factors is that direct flights can definitely make traveling easier and more convenient and it can also contribute to strengthening the relationship between the high tech sectors in Bengaluru, rest of south India and and Israel. I hope that in the future, there will be more direct flights between the two countries to facilitate smoother business and cultural exchanges.