2017 marked a historic year for Indo-Israel relations, marked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel (India’s first Prime Minister to visit Israel) and ever-growing bilateral cooperation between Israel and India in a number of fields. In order to strengthen this further, the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs organised a Discover Israel Programme, for which a Young Indian Leaders delegation went to Israel.
Well-known actress, Pranitha Subhash, recently adopted a government school in Hassan district in Bengaluru – and was invited to be a part of this delegation for being a change maker and social influencer.
We caught up with this PYT to learn more about her travel…
How did you get a chance to be a part of the Young India Leaders delegation that went to Israel?
I was invited by the Israel Consul General in India Dana Kursh, who was impressed by our Save Government Schools initiative here.
For how long were you a part of the trip?
It was for a week.
Who all did you travel with?
There were about 15 other people from different walks of life. Civil servants, social entrepreneurs, technocrats, authors, accomplished singer, educationists and so on. They ensured to have people from a lot of different fields.
What was your reaction when you became aware of the news that you are going to be a part of this?
I was quite excited and was looking forward to learn from the rich history of Israel which is also known as startup nation.
According to you, what was the main purpose of Discover Israel Programme that was organised by the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs?
The program was organised by the Ministry of External Affairs, Israel. It’s their ongoing effort to build strong ties between India and Israel.
You were a part of a dais that consisted of entrepreneurs, bureaucrats and thought leaders, what was your experience like?
It was amazing to learn from them. When you travel with different people, and get to speak to them candidly, there is a lot of learn from them. I enjoyed hearing about their experiences and getting to understand how they work.
Could you tell us about any learnings that you acquired from the programme?
Biggest learning was resilience – the way Israelis live their life and coming in terms with life, despite having live in existential threat.
What were the topics discussed during the programme?
Political history, cultural history, technology, innovation, cross boarder conflicts, irrigation projects, cyber security and so on.
What is your take on Israel being called as a startup country?
It’s certainly a startup nation. It was founded just 70 years ago and what they achieved in last 7 decades and how they still maintain that startup zeal makes sense to be called so.
Did you get a chance to explore the culture of Israel?
Yes, rich culture of Israel is a must to explore. Jerusalem is a place where three different faiths merge. I was awestruck by the ancient architecture of the old city of Jerusalem.
There is a lot of cultural values and history that the country holds, what all did you get to learn about them?
Israel has about 8.5 million people. 6.5 million Jewishs, 2.5 million Muslims, 0.5 million Christian and few others. Each faith has different view points of the world and different cultures. So it’s a paradise for intellectual researchers who enjoy the discovery. We were lucky enough to have got exposed to the two sides of the country – the conservative and the modern side.
How do you find the people of Israel?
The people there are very motivated and enthusiastic about life.
How would you describe them in three words?
Israelis are best story tellers.
Could you tell us which places did you visit?
- Tel Aviv, which is the business capital of Israel
- Jerusalem – Capital city with the Parliament, Supreme Court, etc.
- Haifa – another city with culture and universities.
- Dead Sea – one of the lowest point on earth.
We made sure we saw the Holocaust Museum, some Universities, the Parliament, local markets, the Business Centre, the Startup Ecosystem and so on.
Which was your favourite place that you visited?
My favourite was the old city in Jerusalem. Where there was Jesus’ Last Supper room, and the Zion Gate, at where he was taken to be crucified. The Queen Mary’s church, the entire walk through old city (there were huge walls on either side) with cute modern cafes here and there, The Lion’s Gate, the Shouks (flea market), etc. The whole city has so much character, that it felt like another world. The Western Wall is also very famous with the mosque, church and the Jewish prayer place – all in the same place. I really enjoyed my train ride here – it took us through the secret paths in the fort and was very informative. There were lots of traditional Jews who were dressed like that off the previous century. With tall black hats, black coats, boots, white curly locks and those glasses – it all added to the feeling. The night life is also amazing with lovely street art and some really old-school, party feels there.
What kind of food did you indulge in? Was there anything special?
The country is Vegan for religious reasons. So it’s dairy free also. But since I’m vegetation I really enjoyed the food. It’s very close to the food in middle East – hummus and breads, similar spices and flavours. The pizza places there were also amazing! A special mention to this Sustainable living restaurant where they buy unsold veggies from markets and prepare whatever is available in excess – one can eat there for free but you can also tip/donate if you wish. In short – Isreal is a delight for vegetarian people.
Tell us your experience in total about the trip?
Overall it was absolutely amazing – a new experience and also being a delegate made the trip more educational and enriching.
What is that one thing you’ve brought back from the trip?
Dead Sea mud (laughs) – being an actress, I love beauty products and what’s better than the wonderful Dead Sea mud to use as a face pack.
One advice to everyone who is visiting these places?
Advice would be to plan it, because there is a lot to see and do.