Turn New Delhi-Jakarta tie into Asia’s defining relationship – The Hindu

Dec 13, 2016
India PM Narendra Modi (lef) and Indonesia President Joko Widodo.
India PM Narendra Modi (lef) and Indonesia President Joko Widodo.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, or Jokowi as he is known, began his official two-day visit to Delhi since Monday.

Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Jokowi met on the sidelines of the 9th East Asia Summit in Myanmar in 2014, this is the first time in the two years that they had been in power that they would meet substantively.

This in itself reflects a lack of priority attached to the India-Indonesia relationship so far.

Terror fight

The India-Indonesia relationship has been one of potential rather than realisation.

Notwithstanding the efforts made during the tenures of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the partnership has not yet gathered traction.

Both countries should ensure that this visit is not just another diplomatic formality but is utilised to turn the relationship into one of the defining ones in Asia.

Strengthening ties

There are strong bases for India to do so.

First, Indonesia is a latent Asian power.

It is the world’s largest archipelago, straddling the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

It can potentially control virtually all the straits linking the southern Indian Ocean to the South China Sea.

Indonesia does not seem to have articulated a strategic vision of what to do with its extraordinary location, but the kernel of such a vision can be found in the words of, most recently, President Jokowi.

He sees the country as a “maritime axis” requiring a strong naval force to protect its territorial integrity, fishing waters and energy interests, supported and funded by strong economic growth. – The Hindu