India and Israel on Thursday signed a cultural agreement that outlines a three-year programme of cooperation to further strengthen their strategic bilateral relations by promoting greater people-to-people exchanges.
The agreement was signed between Israel's Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and India's Ambassador to Israel, Sanjeev Singla, at the foreign ministry here. "Both sides are convinced that this cooperation shall contribute to the development of their relations and to raising awareness, particularly among youth, of the history and culture of the people of both countries and agree to promote cooperation in order to improve and strengthen mutual understanding and friendship between the two countries," the agreement states.
"The cultural agreement with India is one of a series of agreements we have and it will be followed by the signing of a water agreement by our Ambassador in India. I am very excited to say that we are working on a mutual film production with the famous Bollywood industry of India," Ashkenazi said. Israel's Ambassador to India, Ron Malka, signed an agreement with the state of Uttar Pradesh earlier on Thursday to cooperate in the field of water utility on the Indo-Israel Bundelkhand water project.
The strategic relationship between India and Israel is on a qualitatively different trajectory since the historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel three years ago in July 2017. The agreement will give further impetus to enhance people-to-people relations, Ambassador Singla said after signing the agreement. This programme of cooperation between the two countries for the years 2020-23 is based on the cultural agreement signed between them on May 18, 1993, a little more than a year after they established full-fledged diplomatic relations.
The major areas of cooperation identified to promote cultural ties include the exchange of culture and art experts, encouraging cooperation in the protection of cultural heritage and archaeology with the help of Israel Antiquities Authority (IIA) and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and organising literary fests and book fairs while promoting the translation of famous works in each other's languages.
It also includes student exchanges through scholarships, encouraging the participation of films and film-makers in each other's international film festivals, devising youth exchange programmes and encouraging sports-related interaction among youth. The two sides have agreed to encourage the exchange of culture and art experts, performing arts festivals, plastic arts, photography and design, architecture, museums and exhibitions, music, dance, dance and theatre by enabling annual visits of experts, artists, producers and curators.
Both the countries will be also working jointly to promote the translation of contemporary prose, poetry and other literary works into the languages of the other side, besides supporting the participation of poets and writers in festivals and literary events. It has also been agreed to encourage direct contacts between book publishers and national libraries.
Cooperation in cinema and audio-visual has been given significant emphasis with both the countries working towards a co-production that was agreed upon during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to India in 2018. The agreement encourages the participation of films and film-makers in each other's international film festivals.
"The sides shall encourage holding film weeks of the other side's country in their own country. Each side shall encourage mutual visits of an expert or public figure in the field of cinema. For this purpose the sides may exchange annually two experts each in the fields of cinema and audiovisual", the agreement says. Cinema and television experts as well as film and television institutes will be encouraged to cooperate with each other.
Special emphasis will also be given to bring the youth of the two countries together through participation in youth festivals in each other's country, visits of the officials in charge of the Youth Affairs, sharing of experiences, skills, techniques, information and knowledge in the areas of cooperation in youth affairs.