Speech by the President of India Shri K. R. Narayanan at the banquet in honour of the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Her Excellency Mrs Megawati Soekarnoputri  and Mr. Taufiq Kiemas

New Delhi - April 03, 2002

Your Excellency President Megawati Soekarnoputri,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour to welcome Your Excellency Megawati Soekarnoputri, President of Indonesia and His Excellency Mr. Taufiq Kiemas to India. I am also delighted to greet the distinguished members of your delegation. We are truly privileged to have you amongst us tonight on your first State visit to India after your election as the President of Indonesia. Your visit is a long awaited one and it assumes significance in the context of the momentous and far reaching changes taking place in the world and our region.

On 30th May 1950 in a letter to the Chief Ministers of our States our first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru referred to the friendship between India and Indonesia and wrote, “Today we look to each other with a degree of affection and comradeship which seldom goes from one country to another.” He added that, “…there was some destiny about it which brought us together and turned our minds and hearts to each other.” Excellency, your first visit to India as the President of the Republic of Indonesia rekindles these sentiments in us to-day.

We are the inheritors of an age-old relationship in terms of history, common culture and shared traditions and value systems. In the modern and contemporary era the pain and agony of foreign rule and oppression brought us together to fight not only for our independence and freedom but also for the larger cause of the exploited peoples of the world. Our first Prime Minister Pandit Nehru and your great father Dr. Soekarno, the first President of Indonesia, constituted the moving forces behind the emergence of Asian-African consciousness for liberation, national reconstruction and development.

Organisation of the Asian Relations Conference in 1947 and the convening of the eighteen nations Conference on Indonesia in 1949 in New Delhi by Prime Minister Nehru represented the awakening of Asian consciousness for fashioning the world order on a more equitable basis. He had declared then that challenge to Indonesian independence was a challenge to the emerging countries of Asia. The historic Bandung Conference of 1955 organised by your father was hailed by Prime Minister Nehru as “…part of a great movement of human history” and he described the participants in it “as agents of historic destiny”. Dr. Soekarno’s inaugural speech in that Conference proclaimed the spirit of resurgent Asia and underlined the need for the unity among Asians and Africans. The Conference recommended that Asian countries must reach out to one another for technical, financial and economic cooperation.

Animated by that spirit we are marching ahead and our goal will be realized to a great extent if we deepen our contacts and cooperation in the field of science and technology, agriculture, ecological conservation, information technology, bio-technology and other areas of common concern.

Indonesia is one of the founders of ASEAN and its most influential member. We would like to express our sincere appreciation for the support Indonesia has extended to the initiative to accept India as an ASEAN Summit partner. We value Indonesia’s continued support to us in this framework, so that our cooperation can be commensurate with our capacity to be useful partners in South-East Asia. ASEAN-India relations can mature only when India has the goodwill and cooperation of ASEAN’s largest member-country.

Excellency, your elevation to the presidential office in your country is itself a historic event not only for Indonesia but also for the world. I recall that Prime Minister Nehru after attending the Bandung Conference in 1955 wrote a detailed letter to the Chief Ministers of our States in which he described the exclamation of delegates about the freedom enjoyed by women in Indonesia. He wrote, “…their surprise was all the greater that Muslim women should be so free and should take so great part in public activities.” Earlier on 28th December 1947 Mahatma Gandhi in a message to the Indonesian Women’s League delegation attending the All India Women’s Conference in Chennai, then Madras, had briefly but very powerfully and indeed prophetically said, “Don’t waver. Victory is in sight.” Indeed you represent the victory and triumph of the people of Indonesia and the struggle of its women for empowerment and justice.

The intrinsic longing of the Indonesian people for a democratic way of life was vividly displayed in July last year during the smooth change over of its President. Successful democratic experiment in Indonesia with focus on reconciliation and understanding augurs well for its multi-religious and multi-ethnic society. Your Excellency had once eloquently said that “…to make Indonesia a modern and developed society without loosing the spirit of its own … is my dream.” We share your vision and insight to combine in a balanced manner the modern approach with the spiritual ethos.

Your Excellency, we emerged triumphant fighting colonialism. We will have to summon that spirit to decisively defeat the forces of terrorism which target civilians and democratic institutions the world over. The war against terrorism must eliminate terrorists wherever they may be. India and Indonesia are living examples of the co-existence of different cultures and religions. By defeating terrorism we can, in fact, enrich civilization and harmony in the world. India fully supports the unity, the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Indonesia. We are sure that Your Excellency’s peaceful and reconciliatory approach to problems will be successful. As a plural and secular democracy ourselves, India has a significant stake in your success as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation, with respect and tolerance for all faiths and creeds. Like Indonesia, our national motto, too, is Bhinneka Tunggal Eka or Unity in Diversity.

Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, we in India cherish the close personal associations of the Soekarno family with our country. Madame, I understand that you were named by your father as ‘Megawati’ on the suggestion of the late Shri Biju Patnaik who was a great leader of India and treated as a national hero in Indonesia for his monumental contributions to the freedom and independence of your country. Madame President and Hon’ble Kiemas will always be welcome in our midst as privileged and honoured guests. This also reflects the special empathy and affinity we in India feel for the people of Indonesia. With your visit, Madame President, I venture to hope that we have laid the basis for a truly enduring political and economic partnership for the future, a partnership that could play a major role in meeting the challenges of the new millennium.

Excellency, we believe that under your committed and charismatic leadership, the time, which Indonesia has long awaited, has come. We wish you, your family and your country all success, peace and prosperity.

Ladies & Gentlemen, May I now invite you to raise your glasses in a toast :

- to the health and well-being of Her Excellency, President Megawati Soekarnoputri,

- to the progress and prosperity of the friendly people of Indonesia and,

- to the further consolidation and strengthening of the traditional friendship between India and Indonesia.


Ministry Of External Affairs, India