DRIVING SOUTHEAST of Bikaner, Rajasthan, all that meets one’s eyes is the sand and shrubs. Vegetation is scarce, agriculture of any kind non-existent and the only green one can see are a few patches of grass in the sand. Two hours ahead, taking a left from the NH-65, on the road to Didwana, the dry brown landscape suddenly changes colour. Olive trees, around 14,000 of them spread across 30 hectares, dot the desert land. This is the Bakliya farms, one of seven such farms in Rajasthan, result of an Indo-Israeli agricultural venture.
Three days before the Persian New Year of Nowruz, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed delegates of the pro-Palestine pressure group Global March to Jerusalem at his presidential palace in Tehran. Ahmadinejad was livid. Just two days earlier news reports had surfaced about Obama administration’s alleged threat with sanctions to India and other Asian countries if they don’t stop trading with Iran. “The Zionists are trying to damage our relationship with neighbouring countries,” he said. “They have tried to destroy Iran’s relationship with Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt.” On India, however, he remains quite optimistic. “Don’t worry. We are on the right track,” he told Tehelka.