Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to embark on a two-nation tour on Tuesday. The trip to Indonesia and Singapore is expected to mark a new phase of engagement between India and Southeast Asia, which is looking towards more business synergies from the world's fastest expanding market, according to political observers.
Modi will arrive in Indonesia on 29 May and leave for Singapore from Jakarta on 31 May for a three-day visit. This will be the prime minister’s first official visit to Indonesia and his second official visit to Singapore.
In Indonesia, a slew of pacts and arrangements — especially in the defence sector — are expected to be concluded during the visit that will also witness two leaders focussing on counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation initiatives, a report in The Economic Times said. While Modi will seek to enhance Indian investments in Indonesia during his meet with the business community in Jakarta, his itinerary also includes participation at a kite flying event near the capital city.
However, the report added, his visit to Borobudur temple was postponed due to a volcanic eruption in Mount Merapi. Borobudur is the world’s biggest Buddhist temple, which India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited in 1950.
The prime minister is expected to update Indonesian president Joko Widowo on his one-on-one dialogues with the Chinese, Russian and other leaders. Both countries have "strong bilateral relationship" and new developments could see a big push for tourism-related projects from Indian islands in the Andaman Sea to Sumatra.
In Singapore, Modi is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with his Singaporean counterpart and deliver the keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue, which is expected to be attended by top leaders from several countries across the region.
Modi will be addressing the world for the first time since his extensive one-to-one dialogues with leaders of China, Russia, France and Commonwealth heads of governments that had gathered in London during his UK visit in Apri this year. It will also be a first time for the Shangri-La Dialogue to hear an Indian prime minister deliver a speech.
The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, first convened in 2002, is an annual meeting of defence ministers, military chiefs and top-ranking defence officials from across the Asia-Pacific, and other countries concerned with the region's security.
The prime minister will also unveil a plaque at the Clifford Pier in Singapore to commemorate the immersion of Mahatma Gandhi's ashes in the country's waters. In 1948, Gandhi's ashes were sent to various parts of India and the world, including Singapore. Clifford Pier was Singapore's seafront landmark under the colonial government. It had since been renovated and currently serves as a restaurant under the same namesake "The Clifford Pier".
Modi will visit three temples on South Bridge Road to highlight old links between India and Singapore. These temples were built by early Indian settlers in Singapore as community projects over a century ago, and are now regarded as national monuments.
Modi will also visit the Indian Heritage Centre in Little India to see the exhibit and inaugurate a permanent platform for Indian craftsmen to visit Singapore from India for short durations to exhibit their work. Little India is a precinct of Indian-origin small businesses in Singapore.
Modi's visit to Indonesia and Singapore is also expected to mark the coming-of-age of India's Act East policy, announced in Naypyidaw in November 2014, says Dr Amitendu Palit, a senior research fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies, a think tank of National University of Singapore. "Modi's visit to the region will be closely watched for various reasons," Palit said.
India sees Singapore as a bigger base for businesses, and Modi is likely to focus on the strongly-growing business and cultural links. Observers expect both countries to seal the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) which has been under reviews for the past six years.
The reviewed CECA is expected to see more Indian banks and professionals getting opportunities in Singapore while more and more businesses from Singapore venturing into the Indian market.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: May 28, 2018 10:08 AM