Bangalore: When Dov Segev-Steinberg, the acting Consul General of the Consulate of Israel, Bengaluru, found out that he would be returning to India (after a gap of 12 years), he was overjoyed.
Although, he is only staying for a few weeks, as an interim to his successor, he says he is enjoying every minute of it.
“I have been a member of the foreign services for the last 33 years, and have been stationed in six countries — the US, Egypt, India, China, Qatar and South Africa. I returned to Jerusalem (from South Africa) two years ago, and I am awaiting my next assignment. When I was asked by the Ministry to fill in as the Consul General in Bengaluru, for a few weeks, I almost jumped out of my skin! I was so happy to reconnect with people and a culture I love.”
The first time he came to India was in 1999, as a Consul General in Mumbai. He spent the next four years in the port city trying to establish ties between Israel and India.
“At that time, Bengaluru didn’t have a Consulate. Now there are six to seven all across the country. It shows how important we think this country, region and state are. We understand that the possibilities are enormous, whether it’s in the field of agriculture, water or technology.” He adds that Israel’s ties with Bengaluru are special because the City is the IT hub.
“We have Israeli companies working here and Indian ones who have gone there, and there are investments on both the sides.”
On his return, he was shocked at how fast the country and City have grown. “After 12 years, it’s amazing to see the changes. When you lead your day-to-day life, you don’t see the changes to that extent.”
Elaborating on these changes, he says, “The City has changed in terms of infrastructure, roads and more. Though the traffic is a problem, it is not unusual; this is a phenomenon we face in Israel as well. There are a growing number of cars and the population is increasing, but I’m happy to see, just like we do in Israel, people here are trying to face the challenge by building trains, highways, subways and so on. I remember when I first came to Bengaluru this time, we passed by MG Road and I was surprised to see the Metro; it didn’t exist 12 years back. It shows me that people are confronting the challenge.”
While he admits that such development comes at a cost, he says that every society has to find a way to fix the problems. “If we don’t fix these problems, we will pay the price, especially when it comes to the environment. But technology is the answer.” Giving an example, he adds, “When it comes to water, we need more of it with the increasing population but that also means an increase in water wastage. Israel is one of the countries where more than 80 per cent of this water is recycled. We would like to share our experiences with friends around the world.”
He emphasises on the importance of the two countries getting along because of their cultural similarities. “When we speak of culture, it includes a variety of things. In Israel, we have great admiration for India and her achievements.
While India is the largest democracy, Israel is one of the most vibrant ones. We are similar in terms of history as well — we got our independence half a year after India did, through similar conditions.”
This popularity of India translates in many ways, whether it’s the tributes paid to Bollywood in movies like ‘Desperado Square’ or famous streets in Tel Aviv being named after Indian personalities like Rabindranath Tagore.
For a better understanding of life in Israel, head over to the ‘Israeli Film Festival’, which is on till August 27, at Alliance Francaise, Suchitra Film Society and Bangalore International Center. Entry is free.