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Indian Indonesians

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Title: Indian Indonesians  
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Subject: Indians in Brunei, Tamil Indonesians, Indian settlement in the Philippines, Ethnic groups in Indonesia, Non-resident Indian and person of Indian origin
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Indian Indonesians

Indian Indonesians
Orang India Indonesia
இந்தியர்கள் இந்தோனேஷியா
इंडोनेशिया में भारतीयों
Total population
120,000 (2012)
Regions with significant populations
North Sumatera · Jakarta · Surabaya · Bandung · West Nusa Tenggara
Indonesian · English · Tamil · Hindi · Other Indian languages
Hinduism · Islam · Sikhism · Buddhism · Jainism · Roman Catholicism · Protestantism
Related ethnic groups
People of Indian origin, Malaysian Indians

Indian Indonesians are a group of people who live in Indonesia and whose ancestors originally came from the Indian subcontinent. Therefore this term can be regarded as a blanket term for not only Indonesian Indian proper, but also Indonesian Pakistanis etc. According to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, there are about 100,000 people of Indian origin as well as 9,000 Indian nationals living and working in Indonesia as of January 2012.[1] Most of them are concentrated in Medan (North Sumatra) and in the Javanese cities of Jakarta, Surabaya and Bandung.


Various people from the Indian subcontinent have frequented the Indonesian archipelago since the prehistoric era. In Bali, for example, remains of potteries from the first centuries C.E. have been recovered. In fact, the name Indonesia itself comes from the Latin Indus "India" and Greek nêsos "island" which literally means the ‘Indian archipelago’.

From the 4th and 5th centuries onwards, Indian cultural influences became more and more visible. The Sanskrit language was used on inscriptions. However, since the 7th century onwards, the Indian scripts were used more and more to write down indigenous languages which by now already contained many loans not only from Sanskrit, but also various prakrit and Tamil.

In addition to that, indigenous Indonesians began to embrace Hinduism and Buddhism.

It is believed that various Indian people also settled in Indonesia, mixed and assimilated with the local population. Because in the 9th century in an inscription from Central Java the names of various Indian people (and Southeast-Asian people) are mentioned:

[...] ikang warga kilalan kling ārya singhala pandikiri drawiḍa campa kmir […] (Brandes 1913:1021).
[...] the civilians of which one has the use are: people from Kalinga, Aryas, people from Pandiya kera = Pandiyas , Keralites ), Dravidians, Chams, and Khmer […]

Later on with the rise of the Islam, the Islam was brought to Indonesia by the Arabs from the 11th century onwards, first not to replace the existing religious systems, but to complement them.


Shri Mariamman Indian Hindu Temple in Medan

Today migrations of people from India still occur. In Medan, North Sumatra, there is a large (Tamil people) community estimated at 75,000 people. In all of Indonesia, various North Indians are found. Usually their professions are connected with the textile industries. But just like Chinese Indonesians, many are shop owners.

Though there are no official figures, it is estimated that there are around 25,000 PIOs/NRIs living in Indonesia, of whom the Indian expatriate community registered with the Embassy and the Consulate in Medan numbers around 75,000.

Indians have been living in Indonesia for centuries, from the time of the Sri Vijaya and Majaphit Empire, both of which were Hindu and heavily influenced by the subcontinent. Indians were later brought to Indonesia by the Dutch in the 19th century as indentured labourers to work on plantations located around Medan in Sumatra. While the majority of these came from South India, a significant number also came from the north. The Medan Indians included Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. They have now been in Indonesia for over four generations, and hold Indonesian passports. While local statistics continue to suggest that there are some 400 PIOs in Sumatra, the vast majority are now completely assimilated in Indonesian society, though some elements of the Tamil, Sikh and Bihari Communities still maintain their cultural traditions.

The Indian Diaspora also includes several thousand Sindhi families who constitute the second wave of Indian immigrants who made Indonesia their home in the first half of the 20th century. The Sindhi community is mainly engaged in trading and commerce.

Among these communities, Tamils and to a lesser extent Sikhs were primarily engaged in agriculture, while Sindhis and Punjabis mainly established themselves in the textile trade and the sports business.

The inflow of major Indian investments in Indonesia starting in the late 1970s drew a fresh wave of Indian investors and managers to this country. This group of entrepreneurs and business professionals has further expanded over the past two decades, and now includes engineers, consultants, chartered accountants, bankers, and other professionals.

The Indian community is very well regarded in Indonesia, is generally prosperous, and includes individuals holding senior positions in local and multinational companies.

Due to economic factors, most traders and businessmen among NRI spouses and undertakes charitable activities. There is a Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee in Jakarta, and Sindhis as well as Sikhs are associated with Gurudwara activities. The Economic Association of Indonesia and India (ECAII) brings together leading entrepreneurs from the Indian community with the objective of promoting bilateral economic relations, but has been largely inactive. Finally, there is the Indonesian Chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI).

Tamils have lived in Indonesia since the 1930s; though predominantly in Medan, Tamil business men have set up various enterprises. Waves of expatriates speaking Tamil language have set up home in Indonesia. Indonesia Tamil Manram, a social organisation is very active In Jakarta, under the able leadership of Mr Sundaraman, to maintain and promote the heritage of Tamil language and culture, create harmony and bridge between Indians and Indonesians through linguistic interests, providing opportunity for children of expatriates and persons of Indian origin to learn and develop their mother tongue (Tamil)

Indonesian Tamil Manram also teaches the Tamil language to children with Tamil as their mother tongue, conducts interesting programs involving Tamil language and culture, distributes Tamil literature and books to children, organizes Tamil debates, dramas, dance and music programs for local talent, and brings reputable artists from India in the fields of dance, music, drama, and other cultural fields.

Many Indian performers have achieved significant mainstream cultural success. Notable examples are the Punjabi brothers and the Azhari sisters.

Though away from India, the Sindhi community and the NRIs in Indonesia have not lost touch with their religious beliefs. Temples, Gurudwaras and prayer halls in Jakarta, Medan and other parts of Indonesia are centers for social gathering. The Shiva temple in Pluit, Jakarta is the center of Indian religious activities. Pluit Perumal is famous, with annual celebrations of brahmotsavam, weekly prayers, and a full-time priest to help devotees offer their prayers. Weekly satsangs, Mahasivarathri and other important days are also celebrated in the Shiva temple. The annual Aiyaapa pooja has been celebrated for over two decades, with devotees offering prayers with fervor. Other temples dedicated to the goddess Devi can be found in Tangareng, Kemoyaran, Cikarang and Medan in Sumatra. Another temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman in Jatiluhur, Indorama factory. Gurudwaras in Tanjung Priok, Pasar Baru have been in existence for over 5 decades, and are visited by people of all religions.

Love Medan Indians a Social wings of a the Holy Trinity Church, whose primary care and concerns are education and career building and placement for the less-fortunate Medan Tamils, while emphasizing learning Tamil language,English, art, music and culture led by Father Alegesan Moses, known more as Pastor Moses Alegesan who is also the Priest at the Holy Trinity Church, an Indian Community based church whose primary concern is to contextualize Christian worship in-line with the Rich, aauthentic, Orthodox relevant Indian fervor, without being sincretistic, he is frequently seen to call and challenge the local Pemko and Pemrovsu to give attention, care and concern to the Medan Indians.

List of notable Indonesian Indians

  • The Punjabi brothers; among others Raam Punjabi who is the most important Indonesian cineaste and media tycoon.
  • The Samtani family, producers (Gope T Samtani, Shankar Samtani, Chetan Ashok Samtani, Nisha Samtani, Sunil Samtani)
  • K.K. Dheeraj, producers
  • Chand Parwez Servia, produsers
  • Raam Soraya, producers
  • The Azhari sisters: actresses Ayu Azhari and Sara Azhari.
  • Gurnam Singh, an Indonesian athlete who won three gold medals in the 1962 Asian Games in Athletics.
  • H. S. Dillon, a somewhat prominent figure in Indonesian politics.
  • Sures Kumar, Founder-Indonesian Indian Entrepreneurs Association/INDEAS.
  • Sri Prakash Lohia, Billionaire businessman
  • Reverend Father James Bharatha Putra, designer, builder, architech of the Annaivelangkanni Shrine, in Tanjung Selamat, Medan,Sumatera Utara.
  • Reverend Father Alegesan Moses. MA, Founder of Love Medan Indians, priest in charge of the Holy Trinity Church, Medan. Initiator of the re-declaration in renaming of "KAMPUNG MADRAS", area in the Kelurahan Medan Polonia, Medan Sumatera Utara.

See also


  1. ^ Indian Ministry of External Affairs - INDIA-INDONESIA RELATIONS
  • J.L.A. Brandes, 1913, Oud-Javaansche oorkonden: nagelaten transscripties van wijlen J.L.A. Brandes ; uitgegeven door N.J. Krom. Batavia: Albrecht. (Old Javanese inscriptions, bequeathed by the late J.L.A. Brandes, edited by N.J. Krom).
  • Jan Gonda, 1952, Sanskrit in Indonesia. New Delhi: International Academy of Indian Culture.
  • Page of the Indian Embassy in Jakarta on Indonesia
  • Nilay Kothari

External links

  • http://nilaykotharis/orajkumarkothari
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