India-Indonesia Relations

Sandarbha Desk
Sandarbha Desk



The name Indonesia derives from the Latin Indus, meaning “India”, and the Greek nesos, meaning “island”.

Indian-Indonesian relations refers to the bilateral relations of India and Indonesia. India and Indonesia are neighbors. India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Indonesia along the Andaman Sea.

The Indian-Indonesian relationship stretches back for almost two millennia. In 1950, the first President of Indonesia, Sukarno, called upon the peoples of Indonesia and India to “intensify the cordial relations” that had existed between the two countries “for more than 1000 years” before they had been “disrupted” by colonial powers.

The ties between Indonesia and India date back to the times of the Ramayana, “Yawadvipa” (Java) is mentioned in India’s earliest epic, the Ramayana. Sugriva, the chief of Rama’s army dispatched his men to Yawadvipa, the island of Java, in search of Sita.

Indians had visited Indonesia since ancient times, and ancient Indonesian (Austronesian people) has embarked in maritime trade in Southeast Asian seas and Indian Ocean. The Ancient Indians spread Hinduism and many other aspects of Indian culture.

Indianised Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms, such as Srivijaya, Medang, Sunda, and Majapahit were the predominant governments in Indonesia, and lasted from 200  to the 16th century, with the last remaining being in Bali.

In 1945—1949, during Indonesian National Revolution and the formation of the republic, India and Egypt were among the earliest nations that supported and recognized Indonesian independence and fostered diplomatic relations with the Republic of Indonesia.

India and Indonesia are among the largest democracies in the world. Both are member states of the G-20, the E7 (countries), the Non-aligned Movement, and the United Nations.

India and Indonesia officially opened the diplomatic relations on 3rd March 1951. In 1955, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Indonesian President Sukarno were among the five founders of the Non-aligned Movement.

President of Indonesia Sukarno was the first chief guest at the annual Republic Day parade of India in 1950. In the year 2011, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was the chief guest for the same event.


On 25 January 2011, after talks by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting President of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, India and Indonesia had signed business deals worth billions of dollars and set an ambitious target of doubling trade over the next five years.

India also has further economic ties with Indonesia through its free trade agreement with ASEAN, of which Indonesia is a member.

The two countries targeted to achieve bilateral trade of $25 billion by 2015, with cumulative Indian investments of $20 billion in Indonesia.


Historically, the Indonesian archipelago was heavily influenced by the dharmic civilization of India.

The cultural ties still continue, with popular Indonesian Dangdut music displaying the influence of Hindustani music’s very popular within the people of Indonesia especially middle-class to lower-class people that enjoy the tabla-beat music.

To promote Indian culture in Indonesia, the Jawaharlal Nehru Indian Cultural Centre was established in Jakarta in 1989, featuring a library and providing lessons on Indian culture, as well as promoting arts such as Yoga, Indian music, and dance.

CORPAT: (Co-Ordinated Patrol)

CORPAT is a bilateral maritime exercise held between India and Indonesia under the broad ambit of strategic partnership. Both countries have been carrying out maritime exercise twice a year since 2002.

The CORPAT exercise between the two navies carries search and rescue operations, institutes measure for vessels indulged in unlawful activities as well as control pollution.

The main aim of CORPAT is to keep the vital part of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) safe and secure for commercial shipping, International trade and legitimate marine activities.

The CORPAT has helped to strengthened understanding and interoperability between the two navies and also has promoted net maritime security in the region.


MoU on Youth and Sports Cooperation.

MoU on Standardization Cooperation.

Joint Communiqué on Voluntary International Cooperation to Combat Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) Fishing and to promote Sustainable Fisheries Governance.

MoU between India and Indonesia in the field of new and renewable energy. The MoU seeks to establish the basis for a cooperative institutional framework to promote and encourage technical bilateral cooperation on new and renewable energy issues. It would serve the commitments both nations made to reduce carbon emissions by 2030 by 35 (India) and 29 (Indonesia) percent respectively.

Cultural Exchange programme for three years from 2015 to 2018.

A pact for repatriation of wanted prisoners and cooperate in all criminal matters, including gathering evidence.

India has launched Indonesia’s second multi-spectral remote sensing satellite LAPAN A2/Orari.

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has approved the first set of loans totaling US 509 million dollars to finance projects to Indonesia. US 216.5 million dollars loan for a National Slum Upgrading Project.

India inked a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in services and investments with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), paving the mode for a more relaxed movement of professionals and additionally opening prospects for investments between India, Indonesia, and ASEAN.

10 South and Southeast Asian countries including India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka have come forward to ban smokeless tobacco products.


Indo-Indonesia Joint Training Exercise Garuda Shakti is conducted as part of military diplomacy between armies of both countries alternatively in India and Indonesia respectively. The first edition bilateral exercise was conducted on a reciprocal basis in 2012 in India.

India has participated in the Cobra Gold 2016 multilateral amphibious exercise hosted by Thailand after a 12 member Indian Army delegation joined it. India has accorded as an observer plus status. It is the largest Asia-Pacific military exercise held annually in Thailand. It was first held in 1982 in order to improve relations and coordination between the armed forces of Thailand and US in both humanitarian and hostile military efforts.

India and 21 other countries adopted an agreement at ameliorating communication at sea to cut down the possibility of conflict amid developing friction between a progressively assertive China and its neighbors. India is an observer at WPNS and China is one of the WPNS’ founding members.


The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Leaders’ Summit was held in Jakarta, capital of Indonesia from March 5 to 7, 2017.

Theme- ‘Strengthening Maritime Cooperation for a Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous Indian Ocean’.

IORA is an international organization consisting of coastal states bordering the Indian Ocean, established in 1997 to promote cooperation in the IOR.


The first-ever India Indonesia Energy Forum (IIEF) was held in Jakarta, Indonesia on April 20, 2017.

The Energy Forum was preceded by 2nd Joint Working Group (JWG) on Oil and Gas, 4th JWG on Coal and 1st JWG on New and Renewable Energy. The reports of three JWGs were presented to two Ministers during the Energy Forum.


The recent visit of PM of India to Indonesia is an uptick in India-Indonesia relations that will be a welcome development for both the nations who through their respective ‘Global Maritime Fulcrum’ and ‘Act East’ policies have envisaged sharper maritime collaboration in the region.

China, the common concern- 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 port:

  • Located at the mouth of the strategically important Strait of Malacca, Sabang is only 100 nautical miles from the southern tip of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • Sabang, with its naval base, naval air station, and maintenance and repair facilities.
  • Both countries value the key sea lines of communication (SLOCs) that connect the Indian Ocean to the Pacific.
  • The strategically important Straits of Malacca, Lombok, and Sunda fall under the Indian Navy’s primary area of interest, and access to Indonesian naval bases such as Sabang will significantly enhance the Indian Navy’s ability to maintain a forward presence and monitor movements in the Straits of Malacca.
  • The territorial dispute between China and Indonesia in the Natuna Sea is an issue.

Defense cooperation agreement

  • A multifaceted logistical agreement — on the lines of the deal which India signed with France earlier in the year.
  • Mutual logistical support and reciprocal berthing rights will facilitate a more intimate maritime security partnership.
  • This will allow India to gain access to naval bases in Lampung on the Sunda Strait, and Denpasar and Banyuwangi on the Lombok Strait, augmenting the Indian Navy’s operational breadth in the eastern Indian Ocean.

Areas of engagement

  • Indonesia, on its end, will also seek to negotiate the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone shared by the two nations in the Andaman Sea.
  • Additional facets of this partnership can involve information sharing on white shipping, and enabling India to partner Indonesia in tracking commercial cargo ships at choke points such as Malacca which is getting increasingly congested.
  • India’s inclusion in the programme would augment India’s existing maritime domain awareness in the region, while the eyes-in-the-sky component will allow India to jointly patrol the region with its maritime surveillance aircraft.
  • Chinese presence in these SLOCs is well known, and India’s ability to monitor Chinese naval movements in the locale will be a great boost to the Indian Navy’s security missions.
  • Moreover, access to the Jayapura naval base in West Papua will expand the Indian Navy’s operating capacity in the Western Pacific, and complement Indian access to French naval bases in French Polynesia and New Caledonia in the Southern Pacific.





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