Indian High Commissioner to Singapore Jawed Ashraf has been the cornerstone of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Act East’ policy and has been at the forefront of the tremendous growth in India-Singapore relations over the last few years.
The diplomat is now set to leave the shores of Singapore to head to Paris but before he winds up operations in the island nation, Connected to India sat down with the man himself to gain insights into his time and experiences in Singapore over the last three years.
In that time Mr Ashraf had close interactions with a range of ministers in the Singapore government and he had only words of praise for their conduct and the relationship he built with them.
“They are extremely open, friendly and accessible. I might say I have a bit of advantage over others because quite often I meet them on weekends. At various community-related events or various festivals or grassroots events into which I am also invited. Partly because you know, we have such a huge diaspora, so it's helped me build a very strong relationship with many of them,” Mr Ashraf told Connected to India. “ I'd say they are extremely open, friendly and accessible. They are not very hierarchical as though they are ministers and they don't wear their ministership on their sleeves.”
“They are extremely competent and very knowledgeable in their fields. You are sometimes amazed at how much they know both in terms of details, but also the vision that they have in their respective areas,” he added.
Mr Ashraf also spoke about how forward thinking Singapore’s ministers are in their vision for the country.
“They are very much focused on the future. It's not something that you very often see in ministers. I think as much as they spend time thinking about the present, they spend as much time thinking about what the future will be for Singapore. And how do they prepare the country to face that future,” he told Connected to India. “I think in some sense, this is really the reason for Singapore sustaining its success in a changing world.”
Multiculturalism and the ability of multiple religions to coexist harmoniously has always been a matter of pride for Singapore. However, the communal harmony and spirit of co-existence is also a result of the hard work put in by those in positions of power. Mr Ashraf explained just how much work goes into community outreach at the ministerial level.
“The other side, which probably is not very well known outside, is how much time they spend in community outreach, in constituency work. I don't think they take Saturdays and Sundays off, and the priority they attach to sustaining and deepening the harmonial social fabric of Singapore, its multiculturalism, its multi-religious Society. I see ministers attending festivals of diverse faiths. I see them going to different places of worship without any hesitation,” said HE Jawed Ashraf.
Watch the complete interview with High Commissioner of India to Singapore, Jawed Ashraf here.