Bali: Vice-President Hamid Ansari on Wednesday addressed students of Udayana University in Bali, seeking to give them a comprehensive sense of why India and Indonesia are natural partners in education, culture, politics, economy, and spirit.
Vice-President Hamid Ansari visits the Tanah Lot temple, a shrine to Dewa Baruna carved out of sea rock, in Bali. Photo: Mihir Balantrapu
He unveiled a bust of Mahatma Gandhi on the campus and exchanged a Memorandum of Understanding with Rector Kekut Suastika for collaboration in Ayurveda research with India’s AYUSH Ministry. Earlier in the day, he visited the Tanah Lot temple, whose presiding deity is ‘Dewa Baruna.’
Drawing a historical roadmap of Indian cultural streams in Indonesia, Mr. Ansari told the students: “Our appreciation of the past determines how we shape our future. A shared heritage not only reminds us of our past cultural links but also nurtures our present interactions and promotes economic linkages between our two countries.”
He said the ancient Nalanda University had hosted several Indonesian scholars studying Buddhist philosophy. Indian texts, including the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, had become “part of the historical-cultural DNA of the people across Southeast Asia,” as evidenced by the “Balinese philosophy of Shiva-Buddha.”
Mr. Ansari underscored the importance of people-to-people contacts, pointing out that the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed in 2005 “provides us with a strong base upon which a towering edifice of friendship can be built.”
Laying stress on education as the key to success in the 21st century, he invited Balinese scholars to take part in capacity-building programmes hosted by India and engage in “South-South cooperation” by sharing expertise. India, he said, was keen on hosting Udayana University faculty members to conduct post-doctoral research in subjects of benefit to both nations.
Mr. Ansari pointed to the increasing number of Indian arrivals in Indonesia and underscored the potential of two-way tourism through direct flights, with cooperation between tourism stakeholders of both countries. He mentioned “magnificent destinations [in India] for Teerth Yaatris [pilgrims] seeking spiritual solace or a communion with nature.”
Gandhi was not unknown to the island of Bali, he said, crediting Ibu Ni Wayan Gedong Oka, a former Udayana faculty member and a “committed Gandhian,” with establishing Gandhi ashrams in Bali and Java. He urged the Udayana students to make use of ‘India Corner’ in the university library to discover the works of Indian authors on a variety of subjects.
Asked how India preserved Gandhi’s legacy and unity in diversity (Bhinneka Tunggal Ika) in its pluralistic society, Mr. Ansari said Gandhian values were the “unwritten subtext to the core of our Constitution,” which guaranteed the implementation of diversity in practice. He made an example of Indian currency notes, which state the fiat value in 18 languages, including Hindi and English.