India's role in Indonesia's revolution and Freedom Movement


Oct 8, 2009
India's role in Indonesia's revolution (Part 1 of 2) | The Jakarta Post

On Jan. 26, 2011, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will be chief guest at India's 61th Republic Day. The visit is an opportunity to recall a forgotten slice of history.

President Sukarno was chief guest at India's first Republic day in 1950. The Netherlands had just recognized Indonesia's independence and he came to thank India for help in fighting Indonesia's revolution (1945–1949).

In these four bitterly contested years of facing the Kingdom of The Netherlands, India made several logistical and diplomatic interventions in the Republic's support.

From the mid 1960s, her role has unfortunately been discounted and even ignored by vested interests, often of the third part.

However, Asia's rising profile demands that her two largest democracies develop a closer relation-ship, for which a common understanding of their shared past is a prerequisite.

The Republic of Indonesia's first breakthrough came when it was accepted as a legitimate negotiating partner by The Netherlands, overcoming an earlier boycott of Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta, the infant Republic's president and vice president, as fascists and collaborators of Imperial Japan's occupation administration (1942-1945).

A second breakthrough occurred when Indonesia's cause was recognized by the UN as the first case of decolonization, thus ending her isolation. On both occasions, India's role was critical.

This by no means implies that India's motives were only altruistic: indeed, as in all good diplomacy, an element of realism was present in them too, but it does mean that without these interventions,
the Revolution could have taken longer.

On Sept. 29, 1945, weeks after the Allied victory over Japan, Lt. Gen. Sir Philip Christison arrived in Batavia (now Jakarta) as British commander of a temporary occupation force.

Its mission was twofold: Accepting the surrender of the Japanese forces and taking care of the released prisoners of war and civilian internees.

In the process, unavoidably but rather hesitantly the British assisted in the restoration of Dutch colonial rule under an agreement signed with The Netherlands.

On the other hand, the infant Republic of Indonesia's assistance was requested to carry out their twofold mission, implying an indirect de facto recognition a nationwide clamor against the use of Indian troops in Indonesia caused the British to go slow in the early stages, but later, as the surreptitious inflow of Dutch troops increased, their real intentions became apparent.

The number of towns under British occupation was increased on one pretext or other and Dutch civil administrators (NICA) invited to take them over. When the Dutch navy installed itself between Java and Sumatra and choked off interstate trade to the Republic, its prospects looked bleak indeed.

But, despite its weakening position, by mid-November 1946 Britain had pressured The Netherlands to recognize the Republic as a negotiating partner and to sign the Linggadjati Agreement! Much of the credit goes to the Indonesian's own wisdom and administrative competence and the courage demonstrated in the Battle of Surabaya. It was wise of the Republic's top leaders to save Dutch face by vacating their posts and appointing Sutan Sjahrir (who was untainted by charges of collaborating with the Japanese) as prime minister and chief negotiator. But the Indians too, by mobilizing agitations, striking at ports and stopping Dutch over-flights, maintained strong and consistent pressure on Britain to stop using their troops as pawns to further Dutch mercantile interests and, to recognize the Republic's aspirations as legitimate. Orchestrating it all was Jawaharlal Nehru.

Immediately following the War, the world was still Eurocentric and the US was guided by Britain on matters concerning the eastern colonies. Britain in her turn, was then engaged in a delicate end-game over her "Jewel In Their Crown" and could not afford to ruffle feathers of India's leaders: This was Nehru's advantage.

On the eve of Aug. 17, 1946, while greeting the Republic on its first anniversary (before India had become independent herself!) he boldly announced a plan to hold an Asian Relations Conference (ARC) in New Delhi. The announcement boosted the Republic's sagging morale. Sukarno was so pleased with India's support that he ordered her tricolor to be flown with the Merah Putih at anniversary celebrations in Yogyakarta! Yogyakarta was then the Republic's emergency capital. To Nehru, he wrote: "Your country and your people are linked to us by ties of blood and culture which date back to the very beginning of history. The word 'India' must necessarily be a part of our life for it forms the first two syllables of the name we have chosen for our land and race"¦"

By March 1947, the Linggadjati Agreement had been ratified and signed, giving the Republic de facto rights over Java, Sumatra and Madura. Flush with victory, Sjahrir flew to New Delhi for the close of the ARC in a plane piloted by Biju Patnaik, later Orissa's former chief minister.

On Purana Qila's grounds, he pleaded for Asian solidarity and said, "many as our faults are, we Indonesians have never been and never will be, guilty of ingratitude. We owe all of you [conference delegates in general, India in particular] a great debt "¦". Delegates lustily cheered him as the "Bomb of Asia"!

But the Dutch had ratified the Linggadjati Agreement only to buy time for arranging overwhelming troop superiority, to enable return to their pre-war sugar, tobacco and rubber plantations. Spurious objections over Linggadjati's implementation were raised and, on July 20, 1947, The Netherlands East-Indies Lt. Governor-General DR Hubertus van Mook ordered a full-scale attack to "crush" the Republic. But he had not contended with Nehru's tenacity. A cat and mouse game began!

Prime minister Sjahrir's recent brainwave to offer rice to India's famine victims had opened up travel opportunities for the Republic and a letter carried by a rice delegation to New Delhi alerted Nehru to the possibility of a Dutch attack early in July 1947. Sjahrir asked, could India approach the United Nations in this eventuality?

Thus forewarned, Nehru on July 8 advised Britain to impress upon The Netherlands the need for third party arbitration as foreseen in the Linggadjati Agreement. The Dutch response was that the arbitration clause was irrelevant "as it applied only to disputes over interpretation." Retorting that this made no sense, Nehru said, "Political difficulties "¦ are not likely to be resolved by too legalistic an approach."

The writer has served as India's ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia. She is completing a book on India–Indonesia bilateral relations.


Oct 8, 2009
India's role in Indonesia's revolution (Part 2 of 2) | The Jakarta Post

Although the attack of July 20, 1947, was not a complete surprise, Nehru's outrage was genuine. "The sudden attack by the Dutch in Indonesia is an astounding thing which the new spirit of Asia will not tolerate," he thundered"¦ "No European country...has any business to use its army in Asia"¦if other members of the United Nations tolerate this or remain inactive, then the United Nations Organization ceases to be"¦"

For Jawaharlal Nehru, the Dutch action was an insult to Asia and a danger to world peace. On July 22, 1947, he said, India would "in all probability" take the matter to the UN if Britain was unable to do so."

However, far from being provoked by Nehru to condemn the attack, HMG (His Majesty's Government)'s government (and the US) only offered their "good offices" to both sides!

The Dutch coolly "took note" of their offers but said it would depend on developments, "whether and if so when" they availed of them!

On July 25, Nehru cabled Krishna Menon, Nehru's representative in London, "No one in India or elsewhere in Asia," he said, "Believes that if governments of UK or US really desired to bring this conflict to an end, they could not do it immediately without military intervention. "¦The time for formal
offers of mediation is passed...if HMG are unable to take effective action to end hostilities.. We shall have no option but to take the matter before the United Nations Security Council."

By July 28, no new ideas had come from UK and US and Indian domestic opinion was mounting. Nehru announced India's decision to approach the Security Council on July 29.

Britain's foreign minister Ernest Bevin suddenly requested postponement of India's approach by "at least 24 hours, while Britain makes a final appeal to the Dutch". Although deeply skeptical, Nehru gave in.

On July 30, when our case had already gone to New York, there was a flurry of messages from the British Foreign Office!

In one, India was advised to go to the UN General Assembly (which was not due to meet for six weeks!) where "the volume of sympathy with Indonesia would be greater and the motion would probably be carried before the end of the session, while at the Security Council it could get prolonged especially if the Americans wished it"! Nehru scorned this advice.

In another, India was asked to act under Chapter VI and not Chapter VII, which she had done anyway.

Thus it was that on July 30, the Security Council received two notices, India's under Chapter VI — and Australia's under Chapter VII! Professor George Kahin, Cornell University's well known authority on Indonesia, says Australia's intervention took precedence over India's as it was based on the contention of a breach of peace (Article 39) while India's said that international peace and security was endangered (Article 34). Following Kahin's lead, recorded history highlights Australia's intervention while India's gets a passing reference.

Was there prior understanding between Britain and Australia that if the Indians could not be kept from the Security Council, Australia should approach it too and on a "higher" platform? More importantly, was India asked to delay her intervention by a day while Australia prepared hers? Without records, one can only speculate!

But regardless of its priority, the fact remains that Indonesia's dispute with the Netherlands became internationalized primarily because of Nehru's dogged persistence.

When Maguwo Airport (now Adi Sutjipto), near the Republic's emergency capital, Yogyakarta, was attacked on July 20, 1947, Patnaik miraculously managed to escape with Sutan Sjahrir aboard his Dakota plane. Sjahrir had by then resigned as prime minister and was appointed by president Sukarno as his special envoy.

"Indonesia's dispute with the Netherlands became internationalized primarily because of Nehru's dogged persistence."

They flew to Singapore on the way to New Delhi. A young Indonesian diplomat, Darusman, working at the recently opened Indonesia Office in Singapore was present at the airport when Patnaik's Dakota arrived. He remembered Sjahrir descended with no personal luggage and had only the clothing he was wearing: A simple pair of trousers and short sleeved shirt. Darusman rushed him to a tailor.

In New Delhi, Sjahrir was welcomed by the Indonesian Representative Dr. Soedarsono who arranged the intensive consultations between Sjahrir and Nehru. A synchronized diplomatic strategy was forged by the two Asian leaders.

Sjahrir left New Delhi and flew to New York City with a stop over in Cairo to be joined by Foreign Minister Agus Salim. The fluently Arab speaking Agus Salim had lobbied for the support of the Arab League member countries.

It so happened that the UN Security Council Chairman for the month of August 1947 was Syria's permanent representative Faris Elkhouri. Syria was an active member of the Arab League.

On Aug. 14, 1947, Sjahrir delivered a remarkably eloquent presentation to the Security Council meeting at the temporary UN Headquarters in Lake Success, Long Island, New York. India's Representative was seated by his side.

The next morning, in the Aug. 15 edition, the influential New York Herald Tribune newspaper commented on Sjahrir's speech: "...One of the most moving statement ever heard here in Lake Success."

By 1948/1949 the Cold War was settling in and, when a communist revolt that broke out in September 1948 was suppressed in Madiun, East Java, Indonesia's importance to the West increased manifold.

With the US now firmly in the lead, it was only a matter of time before The Netherlands was forced to free her colony of 300 years.

Therefore, another Nehruvian initiative, the convening of the New Delhi Conference on Indonesia in January 1949 to protest the Second Dutch attack on Dec. 19, 1948, while rather better known, is possibly less significant in strategic terms than the two events highlighted here.

But it was important enough to alert the Dutch against undertaking any serious negotiations with Indonesia in India's proximity. When the Round Table Conference for a settlement of the Dutch-Indonesia conflict was held from mid-August to early November 1949, the Dutch ensured they took place in the Netherlands, thousands of miles away from Nehru's watchful eye!

The writer has served as India's ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia. She is completing a book on India-Indonesia bilateral relations.


Senior Member
Jan 9, 2012
No, we don't have right to do business with any muslims duniya .yyyy,, coz islami duniya ka thakedar is pakizstan. We should take permission from her before we do any business with any islami duniya.

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