NEW DELHI: In the India-Asean relationship, one tends to hear and read more about Singapore, Thailand and Myanmar than Indonesia, which frankly is odd. This sprawling land mass of 17,000 islands and over 270 million people is the big guy in the region with vast natural resources. And in a low profile way, Indonesia has been shoring up capacities to ensure it is not overwhelmed by China. These are some of the reasons why India has focused its attention on Jakarta, says Pankaj Saran, former deputy national security adviser who, while in the Prime Minister’s Office, steered key initiatives with that country. He told The Gist that the two countries are steadily layering their maritime cooperation, India is helping build the Subang Port in Aceh province and Jakarta has shown interest in the Brahmos missile. Saran argues that concerns about China are drawing the two closer but Jakarta would not want to be drawn into an overtly anti-China arrangement. This would suit India too, which despite face offs with the PLA in the high Himalayas, has tread a careful line with Beijing, and now thrown in its lot with the West.
December 3, 2023
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