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FIS Lecture Series on India-Israel Relations Features CGs of Both Countries

From left: Pradip Brahmbhatt, Harshith Marepalli, Parul Fernandes, Krishna Vavilala, Founder Chairman of FIS; Dr. Anupam Ray, Consul General of India; Gilad Katz, Consul General of Israel; Vishal Merchant, Raghavender Nednur, Nischal Bhan, Event Chair.

From left: Pradip Brahmbhatt, Harshith Marepalli, Parul Fernandes, Krishna Vavilala, Founder Chairman of FIS; Dr. Anupam Ray, Consul General of India; Gilad Katz, Consul General of Israel; Vishal Merchant, Raghavender Nednur, Nischal Bhan, Event Chair.

By Nish Bhan

HOUSTON: India House was the venue for a recent discussion of India-Israeli relations in the current geopolitical climate. Held on Sunday, February 18, the event was arranged by the Foundation for India Studies (FIS) under its Distinguished Lecture Series.

The distinguished speakers were Gilad Katz, Consul General of Israel in Houston, who was a former adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and  Dr. Anupam Ray, the Consul General of India in Houston.

In his welcoming address, FIS Chairman Krishna Vavilala spoke of FIS’ accomplishments in the past 12 years and said since not many details of the recently signed agreements between India and Israel were not adequately reported in the media,  FIS has invited both the CGs to come and speak on the subject.

CG Katz spoke first, tracing the ancient connections between India and Israel.  In particular, he highlighted a shared mutual respect, and genuine friendship between PM Netanyahu and PM Modi.

Katz stated that the relationship between India and Israel is one that focuses on the future, especially on technology and trade.
CG Dr. Ray echoed a number of Mr. Katz’s sentiments, and focused especially on the connections of security, technology and culture between the two nations.

Ray highlighted the fact that India is one of the few nations that has never had engaged in violence against Jews, and that both nations have deep historical connections.

Ray referred to his own close, personal friendship with Mr. Katz that was similar to the close relationship between PM Netanyahu and PM Modi.

 He also noted that both Israelis and Indians, especially Indo-Americans, have a strong focus on education.  Both CGs focused on the fact that the nations are spiritually, technologically and culturally aligned.

In particular, both highlighted the fact that India and Israel are homes to ancient civilizations, that are thousands of years old, but as nations have only existed for about 70 years.

This was a central theme of the relationship working together to tackle similar problems, while always favoring democracy, growth and education.  

After the speeches, the floor was opened to a Q&A session. Questions posed ranged from India’s management of its relationship with both Israel and Palestine, to how both nations would tackle food-security and agrarian distress in the future.

Both CGs gave insightful answers to the questions. In response to a question about security in Kashmir, both diplomats focused on the importance of coming to the table with a willingness to negotiate, using education and outreach to overcome obstacles, and making sure that security and diplomacy can be taken together.

At the conclusion of the event, mementos were presented to both the speakers in appreciation of their informative and thought provoking lectures.

FIS thanked the volunteers from the Youth Leadership Development Program (YLDP) for providing help at the event.

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