India and Israel both survive in a very hostile neighbourhood and with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to the Jewish country, the two democracies are seeing a new high in relations. The one big lesson India needs to learn from Israel is to rise again from failures. Israel is also referred to as a ‘start-up nation’. Modi gave a clarion call that India should also ‘start up and stand up’. Modi says “innovation is the biggest goal towards the route of development. Israel has always promoted innovation and technology.” The one big thing that differentiates the Indian and Israeli innovation system is way the Israelis accept failure, and failed entrepreneurs are not stigmatised.
In the past, India and Israel have not looked eye-to-eye. For decades India was leaning towards Palestine and the relationship got transformed during the Kargil conflict, when Israel came to India’s rescue by supplying sophisticated weapons which helped push back the Pakistani infiltrators in the Kargil zone. Since then, the relationship has grown by leaps and bounds.
India launched an Israeli spy satellite, TecSAR, in 2008. India also bought a similar satellite from Israel, RISAT-2, to keep an eye on its hostile neighbours, this was cooperation at the government level. After the visit by Modi, the space agencies of the two countries can now start cooperating in earnest now. Today Israel is a power house of high technology. If India’s mission to succeed as ‘Start Up’ country has to go forward there is a lot to learn from the original ‘Start Up Nation’ Israel.
Many lessons need to be learnt like from seeing the working of one of the top ten most successful venture capital companies JVP, a technology powerhouse. Located in the heart of the Negev Desert where nothing grows, JVP Cyber Labs is rated one of the best. It nurtured infant ideas and in the last few years it helped create 120 companies worth $1.3 billion.
But, what gives Israel a unique start up ecosystem? YoavTzruya, Partner at JVP Cyber Labs at Beer Sheva in Israel said, “One of the basic cultural differences that exist in Israel as a start up nation is how we look at failure. In Israel we do not penalise failure per se. We look at the entrepreneurs, who created their companies that failed, as people who have gained from their experience.”
“We have been asked by many countries around the world to replicate it, the successful model of innovation, and always culture was an obstacle. People that founded start up and failed were looked down upon. It is critical actually to embrace failure, learn from it rather than look down upon it,” he said. Israel nurtures the start-up environment. Incubators are set up by the Israeli government, which used to give USD 600,000 risk free loan to promising starts ups. If companies fail they don’t need to pay back the loan but if they succeed they pay back a 3 per cent annual royalty.
Israel is an acknowledged world leader in the use of solar and water technology. Israel is a very dry country. Unlike India it is not blessed by the monsoons which bring bountiful rain for us. Israel may lack in rain, but the country has deployed high technology to catch every drop, even waste water is fully recycled. Today Israel is using water as a weapon of peace. Pipes are Israel’s weapons of defence against perpetual water shortage. Invented in Israel, drip irrigation is the most common thing in the country.
This spectacular success story has been emulated worldwide, where by drop by drop water is supplied to the roots of the plants. Every litre of water irrigates almost 10 times more area than in India. In the Middle East, it is not just oil that is inflammable, countries have gone to war over water. The lack of water is cause for constant tension but sharing technology could offer solutions.
Abraham Tenne, till recently chairman, Water Development Agency said, “Israel is a leader in water technologies. Today water is a bridge for peace and not a target for war. Israel is teaching its neighbours, Jordan and Palestine, techniques for saving water.” In Israel, it is a miracle seeing first-hand how the desert is blooming ever since Israel started using precision agriculture. Israel and India have a deep cooperation in the field of horticulture, with many farmers in Punjab and Gujarat beginning to use Israeli technology.
Juicy red tomatoes, coloured bell peppers are all grown in the deserts of Israel. The sun and sand of desert is fertilised with recycled water to bring about a green revolution in the parched soils. Lior Paster, water engineer, Igudanwater for agriculture facility said, “We collect sewage of 2.5 million people and treat it and send it to the south in good quality for agricultural use, appropriate for crops, vegetables, fruits and flowers.”
Despite Israel’s love for high technology, it has not permitted any genetically modified crop to be grown by its farmers. Today Israel exports fruits, vegetables and flowers to Europe from its parched landscape. Jack Gilron of Zukerbrg Institute for Water Research, SedeBoqer, said, “Israel is very water scarce. In the last 15 years, we drought-proofed the country using enough sea water desalination to take care of two-thirds of our domestic needs. We recycle 70 per cent of our municipal waste water for agriculture.”
“Between those two actions we have protected our country from drought. There are lot of companies here in Israel which are looking to collaborate with India in the area of water treatment and protecting water resources.” There are many lessons that India could learn from Israel. One big lesson being learning to accept failure as a stepping stone to success.