‘I feel at home in India ’

Daniel Carmon, ambassador of Israel to India, talks to Shubh Yatra about Indo-Israel ties, his love for chapatis and Air India’s new direct flight to Tel Aviv

When did you come to India? How has the experience been so far?

I will complete four years in July 2018 and my time here has been wonderful. I feel at home in India. It has been like living with friends and acquaintances in a place that is both hospitable and rich in history and culture. Incredible India is not just a tagline – the country is, indeed, incredible for citizens and visitors alike. Learning about India, exploring parts of the country, partnering with the people here – every moment has been amazing. The past few years have also been wonderful professionally. I will be completing my tenure here in a few months, and will return to Israel with beautiful memories.

What are the similarities you find between India and Israel?

Both countries boast a rich heritage, having nurtured and preserved their traditions. India and Israel are also relatively young democracies, having attained Independence in 1947 and 1948 respectively. I see similarities in the youth too, who are eager to succeed and ready to take on the future. Despite the differences in location and population, the two nations have found a way to complement each other. This is perhaps a reason why partnerships between the two

countries are not just restricted to business. Had you been to India earlier?

I had visited India in 2013. At that time, I was heading MASHA V, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, which, along with the Government of India, is currently operating 22 centres of excellence across India and still counting. I had come to inaugurate a centre in Haryana with the state’s chief minister and the former Israel ambassador. When I saw the impact the centre had on the farmers, I decided to submit my candidature for the position of ambassador.

Where have you travelled to in India?

Even though most of my visits have been for work, I have been able to travel quite a lot here. I have been to Dharamsala (Dharamshala) in Himachal Pradesh, Mumbai in Maharashtra, Mangaluru in Karnataka, Kolkata in West Bengal, Agra and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, Hyderabad and states such as Bihar, Gujarat, Punjab and Mizoram. I have also enjoyed family vacations in Goa and Shimla.

Is there any place in the country that you wish to travel to?

I would like to go higher in the mountains, which I haven’t been able to do yet. I would also like to visit Dehradun, Mussoorie, Odisha and Hampi. I would also like to travel to Kerala, specifically Kochi, and visit the Jewish community there. I would like to go and visit the synagogues in the state, and hope to do all this in the few months I have left in my India tenure.

What would you suggest an Israeli do in India?

It all depends on how much time one is planning to spend in the country. I would suggest diversifying – dividing a trip into various experiences. Do not try to cover the entire country in two weeks – it is not possible to do so, and one would not get a real taste of India. One should meet locals, learn about the country’s history and gain deeper insight into its culture.

What would you suggest an Indian do in Israel?

I would suggest something similar to an Indian visiting Israel – interact with people; learn about the history, culture, diversity and traditions; and see the beautiful natural landscape. An Indian will be able to explore Israel in a few days. The longest drive you can take in the country is a four-hour one from the south to the north.

What would you like to say about Air India’s new direct flight to Tel Aviv?

The flight has been a real breakthrough for both countries. A year ago, I would have said that connectivity was a challenge, but this new direct flight has changed things dramatically.

– As told to S Mallik

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