Is Israel seeking ‘big data’ from India in the pretext of “revolutionising” Indian farm production?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu Monday held "wide- ranging and intensive" talks to bolster cooperation between the two countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu Monday held "wide- ranging and intensive" talks to bolster cooperation in key areas such as defence, counter-terrorism, cyber-threats and to “revolutionisation” of Indian farm production.

Speaking to the media about the developments of the bilateral discussions, Vijay Gokhale, Secretary in charge of economic relations in the Ministry of External Affairs, said Israel has proposed to access India’s “big data” with a promise of countering cyber-threats and “revolutionising” Indian farm production.

Vijay Gokhale said, when both sides concluded four agreements, Israel proposed to track individual Indian farmers, even as both sides joined hands to use a similar data-driven method to fight cybercrimes.

“The idea of big data was brought into the discussion by the Israeli side in the context of emphasising how technology can now be used to agglomerate vast amounts of information and then bear on individual field and individual [Indian] farmer’s efforts, to improve the yield. This was the idea that was discussed today, the specifics will be discussed with the Agriculture Ministry and we will plan that soon,” a report in the Hindu quoted Gokhale.

Minister for Agriculture Radhamohan Singh participated in the delegation-level talks on agriculture collaboration using Indian population’s big database, he said.

Gokhale, however, refused to elaborate whether India had safeguards in place to share Aadhaar-based data with Israel, but indicated that the data under consideration would be of a magnitude to facilitate monitoring of “individual farmers’ and ‘water utilisation, cutting of crop, plantation, and soil condition.”

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