Bhubaneswar: Odisha Governor SC Jamir has stressed the historical and civilizational links that are shared by the eastern Indian state and Indonesia.
Addressing the opening of the three-day Kalinga-Indonesia dialogue in the Odisha capital of Bhubaneswar on November 14, Jamir said people of Kalinga were the pioneers of Indian colonization in South-East Asia, particularly in Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar.
“Indian traders, adventurers, teachers and priests had a dominating influence in South-East Asia. Hinduism and Buddhism spread to these regions from India and for many centuries, existed there with mutual toleration,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the sectors of tourism, manufacturing, mineral processing and information technology can be cornerstones for an emergent economic partnership between Odisha and Indonesia, reports The Indian Express.
The immense human resources potential of Odisha which has been perfected through skill development programs can spur the growing economy of Indonesia, he said. Naveen says a direct flight from Bhubaneswar to Jakarta or Bali could become a potential game-changer in cementing the ties for the future generations.
Federal Minister of State for Petroleum and Gas Dharmendra Pradhan said, “This dialogue will relate us to our glorious past and pave way for great future. We need to use our glorious past and cultural linkages as the foundation for taking up trade and development to a new dimension.’’
With textile market sliding southward from China, Odisha can act as a major raw material supplier, and Paradip with its significant port operations in the recent past, would stand as a primary gateway to South-East Asia, Pradhan added.
The program was organized by Kalinga Lanka Foundation in association with Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Department of Culture and Ravenshaw University.
Among others, Tourism Minister Ashok Panda, Chairman of Kalinga-Indonesia Dialogue Lalit Mansingh, former Ambassador of India to Indonesia Navrekha Sharma, Director General, ICCR Amarendra Khatua, Ambassador of Indonesia in India Rizali Indrakesuma, Vice-Chancellor, Ravenshaw University, Prof Prakash Chandra Sarangi and president of Kalinga Lanka Foundation DP Bagchi also spoke.
Every year on the full moon day in November, the people of Odisha observe the age-old tradition of leaving miniature papers boats or boats made of stems of banana tree, with earthen lamps or candle lights and marigold flowers, in the river and ponds to commemorate the state’s hallowed past of maritime trade with the islands of Java, Sumatra, and Bali. This festive tradition is called Bali Yatra (voyage to Bali).
The high-profile international conference on November 14 was mooted by Ambassador Lalit Mansingh and supported by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, the Odisha government, and the premier Ravenshaw University.
Odisha’s Patnaik family and Indonesia’s Sukarno family share an enduring relationship, continuing and carrying forward the civilisational and cultural connect between Indonesia and Odisha. It is believed that Biju Patnaik, a friend of former Indonesian President Sukarno, had suggested the name of his daughter, Megawati Sukarnoputri who subsequently became the president of Indonesia.
The senior Patnaik had reached out to Indonesia during the incipient years of India’s Independence and decolonization when Indonesia was under the repression of the Dutch rule. He flew in Indonesian Prime Minister Sutan Sjahrir from Indonesia to New Delhi to enable him to participate in the Inter-Asia Conference in March 1947 to gather support for the cause of Indonesia’s independence.
Historians and researchers point out rich archaeological and literary evidences that prove Odisha’s ancient maritime trade with Southeast Asian nations.
A stone carving of ships on the Brahmeswara Temple in Bhubaneswar is a testimony of the sea voyage of the people of Kalinga. This stone carving is preserved in the State Museum of Odisha in Bhubaneswar. Similar archeological evidence is also available at the Sun Temple in Konark and the Jagannath Temple in Puri. Stone carvings collected from Konark and preserved at the National Museum in Kolkata also point to the existence of maritime trade of the ancient Odisha with the countries of Southeast Asia.
Odisha’s influence is seen Indonesian folklore and legends.
Indonesia occupies third position in India’s coal import. Odisha’s ports of Paradip and Dhamra Port offer a good opportunity for shipment of coal from Indonesia.