Jakarta – Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday began his Indonesia visit by paying homage to the martyrs of that country’s independence struggle at the Kalibata National Heroes’ Cemetery in Jakarta.
Mr. Modi laid a wreath at the military cemetery that was built in 1953 and opened in November 1954 when the first burial took place.
The Prime Minister, who is in Jakarta on his first-ever official visit to Indonesia, met President Joko Widodo and discussed cooperation in a broad range of areas, including maritime, trade and investment.
Modi announces 30-day free visa for Indonesian citizens
Mr. Modi announced a 30-day free visa for Indonesian citizens and invited the diaspora to travel to their country of origin to experience the ‘new India’.
Addressing a gathering of Indian diaspora at the Jakarta Convention Centre, Mr. Modi said, “not only do the names of our nations rhyme but also there is a distinct rhythm in the India-Indonesia friendship. We will grant free of cost visa for Indonesian citizens for travel of up to 30 days,” Mr. Modi said, amid applause. Many of you may never have been to India. I invite you all to come to India for the Kumbh in Prayag next year.”
Taking a dig at the previous governments, Mr. Modi said his first priority as a government was to make the country corruption-free, citizen-centric and development friendly.
“Our government, has been making India ready according to the needs and expectations of the 21st century.
“We have gone a step ahead of ‘Ease of Doing Business.’ Our focus is ‘Ease of Living.’ Our processes are transparent and sensitive.
“We have to make a ‘New India’. We have to start working to realise the dream of New India by 2022, when India will celebrate 75 years of her independence.”
In the last two-and-a-half years, more than 9,000 start-ups have been registered in India, he said. The world’s second largest start-up ecosystem was built in India, he pointed out.
“And my friends living in Indonesia, these are happening, laws are the same, officers are the same, offices are the same, tables and chairs are the same, only the government has changed and the country is changing,” he said.
“If the policy is clear and intension pure, then development has to happen which we have shown,” he asserted.
Modi condemns Indonesia church attacks
Mr. Modi strongly condemned the recent terror strikes on three churches in Indonesia. He said India stood resolutely with Jakarta in its fight against terrorism.
“Friends, I am in grief over the deaths of innocent civilians of Indonesia in the recent terror attacks. India strongly condemns such attacks and stands with Indonesia in its fight against terrorism,” Mr. Modi said in a press statement after his talks with Mr. Widodo.
Six suicide bombers targeted three churches during services in Surabaya, the country’s second largest city early this month. At least seven people were killed and more than 40 others injured in the coordinated attacks.
The bombings were the worst attacks on churches in the last 18 years.
India, Indonesia for peaceful region
The two countries underlined the importance of a free, open, transparent, rules-based and peaceful Indo-Pacific region, amidst China flexing its military muscle in the strategic East and South China Sea.
Mr. Modi noted that both India and Indonesia were maritime neighbours and seafaring nations, He and Mr. Widodo issued the Shared Vision of the two countries on Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
The document, the first with any ASEAN country, outlines areas of maritime cooperation and envisages security architecture in the Indo-Pacific region, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
The document reiterated the importance of achieving a “free, open, transparent, rules-based, peaceful, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, where sovereignty and territorial integrity, international law, in particular UNCLOS, freedom of navigation and overflight, sustainable development and an open, free, fair and mutually beneficial trade and investment system are respected.”
The release of the document comes at a time when China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. Beijing has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region.
PM visits Istiqlal Mosque
Mr. Modi visited the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, the largest mosque in southeast Asia.
Glad to have visited the Istiqlal Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world. pic.twitter.com/3iCdBZaIsj
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 30, 2018
Mr. Modi and Mr. Widodo flew kites as they inaugurated the first joint kite exhibition themed on India’s largest epics Ramayana and Mahabharata at Jakarta’s National Monument here.
“Cultural connect touching the skies! Ramayana themed joint kite exhibit unveiled…Ahmedabad and Jakarta Kite Museums exchange MoU,” Mr. Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet.
“PM @narendramodi and Indonesian President @jokowi together taking the relationship to new heights!” he tweeted along with a picture of both the leaders flying their kites.
India, Indonesia agree to nearly triple bilateral trade to $50 billion
India and Indonesia agreed to double their efforts to boost bilateral trade to $ 50 billion by 2025, Mr. Modi said after holding comprehensive talks with Mr. Widodo.
At a joint press statement after the talks, Mr. Modi said India and Indonesia agreed to upgrade their ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
According to Indonesia’s Central Statistics Agency (BPS), trade between the two countries in 2016 was $ 12.9 billion. It rose 28.7 per cent to $ 18.13 billion in 2017 with Indonesia’s exports to India reaching $ 14.08 billion and its imports from India standing at $ 4.05 billion.
Signing of two major agreements
India and Indonesia signed two major agreements on defence and space, 13 MoUs on trade, culture, archaeology, etc. as Mr. Modi met Mr. Widodo.
An uptick in India-Indonesia relations will be a welcome development for both Mr. Widodo and Mr. Modi, who through their respective ‘Global Maritime Fulcrum’ and ‘Act East’ policies have envisaged sharper maritime collaboration in the region.
The visit comes against the backdrop of an offer from the Indonesian government to grant India access to its Sabang port for the development of the port and an economic zone.
India and Indonesia share multiple common concerns, one of which is China’s growing maritime footprint in the eastern Indian Ocean. Sabang, with its naval base, naval air station, and maintenance and repair facilities, has the potential to serve as the focal point of a budding strategic partnership between the two countries.
Modi at Kalibata
Mr. Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet: “Lest we forget…Paying homage to martyrs of Indonesian independence struggle! PM @narendramodi laying wreath at the Kalibata National Heroes’ Cemetery and signing the Visitor’s Book.”
Lest we forget…Paying homage to martyrs of Indonesian independence struggle! PM @narendramodi laying wreath at the Kalibata National Heroes’ Cemetry and signing the Visitor's Book. @Kemlu_RI pic.twitter.com/BjfVbDVefN
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) May 30, 2018
More than 7,000 people who are military casualties and veterans from Indonesian War of Independence are buried at the cemetery.
Mr. Modi arrived in Jakarta on the first leg of his three-nation tour to east Asia to cement the political, economic and strategic interest of the two friendly maritime neighbours.