India, Indonesia to boost bilateral ties in coming years

Public TV English
Public TV English
11 Min Read

JAKARTA: India and Indonesia, maritime neighbours and strategic partners, had civilizational links for more than two thousand years. Both countries have excellent relations and these relations have the huge potential to grow further in the coming years.

India and Indonesia are democratic countries and have pluralistic societies where different religions, ethnic groups and cultures co-exist and live in harmony.

Right from their freedom struggles against their colonial masters in the 1940s, both India and Indonesia helped each other and remained close friends.

“Relations between India and Indonesia stand strong during both good and difficult times. In 2018, when Indonesia was affected by an earthquake, we immediately started operation SamudraMaitri,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while addressing a gathering of Indian Diaspora living in Indonesia and Friends of India in Indonesia in Bali on Tuesday.

“That year when I came to Jakarta, I had said that India and Indonesia may be 90 nautical miles apart, but in reality, we are not 90 nautical miles apart but 90 nautical miles close,” Modi further said.

Modi mentioned Odisha’s Bali Jatra, a maritime journey from Odisha to Indonesia’s Bali in the past, an annual trade and commerce fair on the banks of the Mahanadi river in Cuttack to commemorate the rich maritime history of the state.

“When people of Indonesia see photos of this year’s Bali Jatra on the internet, they’ll be proud and happy. Due to the issues arising due to COVID, some hurdles had cropped up. After several years, Bali JatraMahotsav is being celebrated on a grand scale with mass participation in Odisha,” said Modi.

Indonesia, a Muslim majority country, has not prevented Indonesia from embracing the Ramayana in unique ways — each and every interpretation deserves careful study and analysis. The performers of the famous Ramayana ballet at the Prambanan temple in Central Java are all Muslims.

The Indian Epics — the Ramayana and the Mahabarata — play an important role in Indonesian culture and history, and are popular amongst Indonesians today.

Prambanan is one of the largest temple complexes in Southeast Asia which has various kinds of statues and reliefs.

This temple complex is located in Prambanan Village, close to Yogyakarta, in Klaten regency in Central Java.
Prambanan temple complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991, is the second biggest Hindu temple in Southeast Asia after the Angkor Vat temple in Cambodia. It is also known as RaraJonggrang or Lara Jonggrang.

The Prambanan temple complex, which was dedicated to Lord Shiva, was built around 856 AD. It was built by King Rakai Pikatan from the Sanjaya dynasty of the Medang Kingdom in Central Java. But it was not completed during his period but completed the construction work in 856 A.D. by his successor King Loka Pala.

Prambanan has many kinds of relief that produce various stories and symbols. The story of Rama – Sinta is one that is depicted in the Prambanan relief. There are also other reliefs in Prambanan temples, such as the mystical bird Garuda which is depicted as half human and half bird.

Garuda is the national symbol of the Indonesian state. There are three main temples — Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva temples – in the Prambanan temple complex, which symbolize Trimurti in Hindu belief.

Each temple faces east and is adjacent to the accompanying temple facing west. Nandini for Shiva, Swan for Brahma, and Garuda for Vishnu. In addition, there are 2 flank temples, 4 kelir temples, and 4 corner temples. Meanwhile, the second courtyard has 224 temples. The main temples in the Prambanan complex rise up to 47 meters, five meters higher than the Borobodur Buddhist temple, in Yogyakarta.

Indonesia’s fascination with Ramayana is not new the country has taken inspiration from both Sage Valmiki’s Ramayana and Tamil poet Kamban’s Ramayana and thus, the Ramayana remains in the imagination and cultural milieu of the country.

Not only the Prambanan temple but numerous Hindu temples can also be found on Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan and Bali islands. Bali is currently a Hindu majority island in Indonesia.

Numerous inscriptions in the Sanskrit language in Pallava script were found in various locations in Indonesia. We can also visit the National Museum in Jakarta to find various amazing archaeological evidence of Indonesia’s history. In front of the Museum, you can see the magnificent Statue of Arjuna’s Chariot in Jakarta.

From the 3rd century to the 16th century, we had numerous Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms throughout Indonesia. To this day, Indonesia uses many expressions of Sanskrit and the Hindu names from Ramayana and Mahabarata are very common throughout the country.

Indonesia’s state ideology Pancasila (Five Principles), state motto BhinnekaTinggalIka (Unity in Diversity), and Indonesian Navy’s slogan Jalasveva Jayamahai (On the Sea, We are glorious) are some of the Sanskrit expressions in Indonesia.

Bollywood movies and yoga from India are very popular in Indonesia.

Cultural admiration is not one-sided. However, Indians also relate closely to Indonesian culture, including Hindu Balinese culture. During his visit to Java and Bali in 1927, Indian Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore was so enamoured with Bali and said “Wherever I go on the island, I see God”.

In 1950, Indian Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru praised Bali as the “Morning of the World.

Nehru and Indonesian first President Sukarno worked together to organize the famous 1955 Bandung Asian- African Conference, which led to the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in 1961.

In 1991, India adopted its “Look East policy” to engage more with Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia. Under the dynamic Prime Minister Modi, India adopted its “Act East Policy” to enhance further India’s ties with Southeast Asian countries.

The relations between India and Indonesia reached their peak in 2018 when Modi visited Indonesia. Both President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Modi flew kites into the National Monument (Monas) square in a personal affection between the two leaders. Many important agreements were signed to improve the relations.

In 2016, Jokowi visited India to boost bilateral relations between the two countries. He also visited India in January 2018 to attend the India-ASEAN Summit meeting.

The economic relations between India and Indonesia have been growing by leaps and bounds. Indonesia has risen to become India’s second-largest trading partner in the ASEAN region after Singapore. India-Indonesia bilateral trade increased from USD 6.9 billion in 2007 to USD 21.01 billion in 2021.

With its USD 17.93 billion in exports to India during the first nine months of this year, Indonesia created a history turning India into its fourth largest export destination in the world. The total bilateral trade during the first nine months of this year reached a record USD 25.46 billion.

India is Indonesia’s largest buyer of crude palm oil, as well as a major importer of coal, minerals, rubber, pulp and paper, and hydrocarbon reserves. Indonesia buys refined petroleum products, maize, commercial vehicles, telecommunications equipment, oil seeds, animal feed, cotton, steel products, and plastics from India. India also exports pharmaceuticals and formulations in bulk to Indonesia.

Indian cumulative direct foreign direct investments reached more than $20 billion. In the future, more Indian investments will come to Indonesia.

Both countries have set a trade target of $50 billion by 2025. Given the booming ties, including economic ties, this target can easily be achieved.

In the defence sector, both countries have been working closely. They organize Samudra Shakti, a bilateral maritime exercise, and Garuda Shakti, a joint military exercise, every year. Indonesia has significantly stepped up naval cooperation with India, including joint exercises and port visits by warships, as part of Jakarta’s focus on maritime security across the Indian Ocean.

What is now needed is a futuristic strategic dimension to cement these soft power relations into civilizational pillars.

The people to contacts between India and Indonesia must be enhanced. Indian tourists can visit beautiful Indonesia to see the cultural and historic Hindu-Buddhist remnants.

In 2019, around 657,000 Indian tourists visited Indonesia. This figure may be doubled in the coming years given the potential of Indonesian tourism.

Indian tourists will feel at home if they visit Indonesia.

On Wednesday, Jokowi officially handed over the G20 presidency to Modi. India will be the G20 president in 2023. Jokowi said that Indonesia fully supports India’s G20 presidency.

The ties between India and Indonesia are currently booming and they may reach new strategic heights in the coming years. (ANI)

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