Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India: Viewpoint

Viewpoint: Narendra Modi

India and Indonesia have been in collaboration on a global and regional level ever since the two countries were liberated in the 20th century. Over the past four years, our collaboration has increased further. The relationship between India and Indonesia has reached new heights on a diplomatic, strategic and economic level, as the two countries combat common challenges. India and Indonesia have now formed a comprehensive economic partnership. There is also a growing synergy between the two nations on security-related issues. Indonesia is India’s largest trading partner in ASEAN and bilateral trade has exceeded $18bn.

Indonesia’s Pancasila (five principles) philosophy is a testimony of the wisdom and foresight of the people of Indonesia. Indonesia has unified its cultural traditions with its religious beliefs. Our concerns are therefore similar, as both marine neighbours and strategic partners. It is our duty to ensure the safety and security of our maritime routes. It is also necessary to protect our economic interests. Our geostrategic location in the Indo-Pacific region places us in the midst of change. We are facing similar developments and environmental challenges, and have shared interests in each other’s progress. Thus we have agreed on a shared vision and principles for the Indo-Pacific region. India’s Act East policy aligns with President Joko Widodo’s Global Maritime Fulcrum policy to ensure security and growth for the region. In December 2016 during President Widodo’s visit to India we prepared a roadmap. The agreements we have made will help us to further improve our bilateral relations. To this end, we have upgraded our partnership to a comprehensive strategic partnership. We will double our efforts to increase bilateral trade to reach $50bn by 2025. I also appreciate the positive contribution of our CEO forum to help in these efforts.

India and Indonesia have long shared cultural similarities. In 2018 India’s Republic Day parade depicted the festival Bali Jatra (a voyage to Bali) held in Odisha state. This annual festival is one example of many years of cultural connection. In 2019 we celebrate the 70th anniversary of establishing our diplomatic relationship, which will be marked by festivals in both countries.

Indian tourists frequently visit Indonesia, particularly Bali. To further increase this exchange, the provinces of Uttarakhand and Bali have twinned. Both countries also have a large youth population, and are generating new employment opportunities to enable them to succeed. India and Indonesia can learn from each other in education and skills development. We have agreed to increase cooperation in education, and science and technology. For example, we are welcoming new ideas from Indonesia to develop the IT services sector, which will be a beneficial partnership for both countries.

We have also emphasised the need for minimum government and maximum governance. We are moving forward with a citizen first mantra. India is taking large administrative, financial and legal steps to ensure a corruption-free, citizen-centric and development friendly-government ecosystem. Indian citizens no longer have to wait for months or weeks for passports. People from 163 countries, including Indonesia, have also been granted e-visas. There has been an increase of approximately 150% in the number of tourists coming to India using an e-visa. Over 1400 outdated laws have also been abolished in India in the last few years. The Goods and Service Tax, introduced in 2017, has further improved India’s tax compliance and revenue system.

The partnership between India and ASEAN remains a force for peace and shared prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. We value the positive role of Indonesia in ASEAN. The efforts ASEAN has made to achieve comprehensive regional cooperation and integration is an example to follow. I have expressed our gratitude to President Widodo for the strong support of Indonesia in developing India’s strategic partnership with ASEAN.

The above is an abridged version of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement made on May 30, 2018 at a joint press conference with President Widodo in Jakarta.

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