India and Indonesia, the two neighbours share a lot of similarities and strong cultural ties. Both India and Indonesia are among the largest democracies in the world and predicted to be the world’s top five economies in the near future.
India and Indonesia are member states of the G-20, the E7 (countries), the Non-aligned Movement, and the United Nations. Along with borders, India and Indonesia share a strong culture and history.
India and Indonesia
India and Indonesia, despite sharing a lot of similarities and strong cultural ties, are culturally and ethnically diverse. They both share a colonial background and have the same approach towards the future, well almost!
In Indonesia, 42% of the population is under the age of 25, while in India the figure is 45%. Based on a philosophy that has been developed for a couple of years, the two countries have focused a lot towards skilling the youth bulge, on overhauling their education systems and labour markets to account for the demographic reality. The key aim of both nations is to become a leader in the production and self-dependency.
As Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who like Modi has won a second mandate, stated the vision of transforming Indonesia’s economy into the fifth-largest in the world by 2045. When we talk about the amendments in the governmental policies we can observe that most of the measures are qualitative, and the five priorities for the second term are more centred on human development than on materialistic growth.
Both Modi and Widodo seek to fulfil the goal of human resource development as their primary concern.
Both Indonesia and India witnessed frequent street protests to which the government desperately attempted to address their problems and convert their energies into positive outcomes for their countries. The changes the two countries are seeking to implement cannot be successful without the support of the most active and dynamic part of their society.
Indonesia is walking towards making the country a safe, modern, flexible and open country. While India is trying to not descend towards ethnic- and religious-based nationalism. Both the countries with a Muslim population of 200 Million are trying to make a diverse, tolerable and modern society. If Indonesia can learn from India about opening up to the world, India can learn from Indonesia’s Pancasila spirit of “unity in diversity.”
Indonesia pacing towards economic growth has made a first and significant step toward showing its commitment to multilateralism. Jakarta is committed to strengthening both itself and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and to further developing a mesh of comprehensive economic, security, governance, political, and people-to-people architectures to keep the wider region safe.
Much of that has to do with bilateral cooperation with India. But much of its global security and economic arrangements are also based on the joint and concerted actions and positions with India.
At a time when trade relations are worsening and diplomatic rows proliferating around the world, India and Indonesia seem to be fostering closer ties. Their relationship strengthened after India, the world’s top buyer of palm oil, adjusted some import tariffs on the tropical product, which benefited Indonesian shipments. Now, Indonesia is trying to return the favour by potentially buying more sugar and yarn from India, a major producer of both.
Both the countries with great diplomacy as trying to put together with the East, West, and Third Way established and emerging powers, ranging from the US, the European Union and Saudi Arabia, to Japan, Australia, Vietnam and South Korea.
However, recently India declined to be a part of the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) due to its concerns about getting swamped by imports under the agreement which might put its domestic industry and agriculture at risk. This decision led to some criticism for the Modi government. However, India found its way out by working together with Indonesia toward reinforcing ASEAN.
ASEAN has become the main institutionalized form of Indo-Pacific cooperation. Although powers like Australia and Japan weren’t an integral part in the beginning, now they play an enabling and supporting role to the ASEAN core. However, the main roots holding the multilateral tie are the emerging powers i.e. India and Indonesia.
The main challenge to both the countries are to compete with the existing powers like China and the US in self-dependency and come out as leaders in the production and management. Both India and Indonesia are working towards projecting their patient and non-conflictual philosophy of power in the region and present them to the world.
Indonesia is looking to host an ASEAN Indo-Pacific Infrastructure and Connectivity Forum in 2020. Modi’s increasingly strong relationship with Saudi Arabia will undoubtedly attract Gulf financing for innovative human and infrastructure development projects.
MasterCard, among others, is joining the regional race for financial technology with a commitment of US$1 billion to India; and even Russian President Vladimir Putin is slated to visit Indonesia in 2020 to look at establishing a stronger relationship with potentially the world’s fifth-largest economy.
There is a need for the two emerging powers to get innovative and find ways out of being deeply and directly affected by international financial flows. Both the countries need to germinate their own ways to strengthen the finance in partnership with countries whose economic characteristics do not count volatility and financialization among their main features.
The potential of India and Indonesia to contribute regionally and internationally cannot be denied. The India-Indonesia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership could transform their commitment to parliamentary democracy into a non-Western-driven geopolitical concept, a regional and global strength revolving around the fresh emergence of an authentic form of democracy that can inspire the whole region.
Moreover, the Shared Vision on Maritime Cooperation could stand as the basis for ASEAN-India maritime cooperation. It is one of the most potent approaches to sovereignty and the security of regional interests to create a regionally integrated set of standards. This elevation of ambitions would easily attract the cooperation of the European Union and Indo-Pacific partners.
India and Indonesia can both individually or jointly take up opportunities to have a hand above the global leaders and compensate for other players’ instability. As the whole world expects to see a downturn in 2020 due to non cooperation between the superpowers, emerging powers like India and Indonesia can take over on multiple fronts: growth; manufacturing; connecting the population to the rest of the world through infrastructure and digital services; and redesigning their energy, food, health, and education systems in a way in which global crises and trade fighting no longer block the global economic flows.