The interestingly-named I2U2 (India-Israel-United States-United Arab Emirates) grouping and the summit of its leaders offer a reflection of the past, a picture of the present and a sneak peek at the future. And from the looks of it, the summit has left something for everyone to cheer as it has decided to channel technologies, know-how and capital to address the pressing issues humankind faces today, and identified two of the immediate ones: food security and clean energy.
The first-ever summit of the four-nation grouping in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan participated has an agenda that prioritised the key problems of the world and prescribed possible solutions. The leaders talked of their intention to mobilise private sector capital and expertise in areas as vast and significant as infrastructure, health, climate change, physical connectivity, waste treatment, startups, critical emerging and green technologies. And these four nations have the technology, know-how, infrastructure and funds to launch some big-ticket experiments that will collectively benefit the world. Mr Modi has called it a positive and practical agenda that can address what he called was “a global insecurity”. And the model is the cooperative framework of nations.
In concrete terms, UAE will invest $2 billion to develop integrated food parks in India that will incorporate state-of-the-art climate-smart technologies provided by American and Israeli private companies. It has also been decided to set up a $300 million hybrid renewable energy project consisting of 300 megawatts of wind and solar capacity complemented by a battery energy storage system in Gujarat. The aim is to make India a global hub for alternate supply chains in the renewable energy sector.
One cannot miss the emphasis on the “critical knowledge and investment partners”, as the summit put it, who will be in the forefront of the efforts and the “determination to leverage well-established markets” to achieve its targets. In other words, India has reaffirmed its plan to open itself up for international capital and technologies to address its issues, especially in the key food and energy markets. This decision gels very well with the curve India took with the privatisation and globalisation process it launched some three decades ago.
The four leaders have also called for strengthening of peace and normalisation arrangements between Israel and the UAE as per the Abraham Accords which will result in more economic opportunities.
The summit has a charming historical shade to it. India and UAE have shared warm relations since long and the United States and Israel have been friends ever since the formation of the latter but it is not long ago that India normalised its ties with Israel; and the Israel-UAE relations are still a work in progress. That way, the summit reflects the quick changes that happen in international relations. It would have been unthinkable for Air Force One to take off from Israel to Saudi Arabia a decade ago.
History may have presented people with unpleasant memories but there is little point in nursing them. Heal them, and move forward for greater common good, is the message.