Attending Republic Day and Independence Day celebrations are an important part of the annual calendar for NRIs. Both days, strong and sweet reminders of the motherland.
Select members of the Indian diaspora in Singapore had a great Republic Day. First at the unfurling of the Indian tricolour at the Indian High Commission and then a fabulous dinner at the Shangri La hotel.
India’s High Commissioner to Singapore, His Excellency Mr Jawed Ashraf played the gracious host, meeting most of his guests personally and thanking them for attending, while seeing them off.
The highly eloquent and energetic High Commissioner seems to be on an overdrive. Over the last five days alone, team Connected to India found themselves listening to him at three very different kinds of events. Prerna Award 2017, a languages competition, the networking night at SICCI ( Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and on January 26 at the Republic day celebrations.
Enthralling his audiences with compelling content and great delivery on each occasion.
Speaking on the occasion of India’s 68th Republic Day celebrations, he shed light on the importance of Republic Day when the country was gifted with world’s longest written Indian Constitution and became a Republic.
Talking about the attributes of Indian Constitution, Jawed Ashraf said, “It is a Constitution that nurtures our diversity and unites us as a people and a nation behind a common purpose and a shared future. It seeks to ensure that everyone, regardless of her faith and beliefs, language and culture, can be secure of her rights and confident of a life of dignity and opportunity.”
He then spoke about the miraculous story of India’s economic development despite global uncertainties. He said, “India has become the fastest growing major economy in the world, with a growth of 7.6 per cent last year. India has also emerged as a leading destination for Foreign Direct Investment, and inflows have grown by over 60% over the last two years, despite global uncertainties.”
The High Commissioner elaborated on the special relationship between India and Singapore. He said, “Bilateral trade remains robust for both the countries. For India, Singapore is the leading source and destination for investments; and a key partner in many areas of our development priorities. Now our economic ties look to the future, and are increasingly defined by innovation, digital networks, startups and small and medium enterprises.”
Jawed Ashraf also spoke about the Indian community living in Singapore and said, “Their contribution to Singapore’s progress and evolution as vibrant, harmonious and inclusive nation is admirable. All this is possible because of the values on which this great country is founded and the vision of its great leadership.” He also congratulated the Singapore Indian Association (SIA) for receiving the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (PBSA) and commended the Indian Woman’s Association (IWA) Singapore.
Guest of Honour at the Republic Day reception Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry in Singapore spoke about India’s stride in economic sphere. He said, “Over the past year, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has continued to make bold strides towards greater economic and social development. Initiatives such as ‘Clean India’, ‘Digital India’, and ‘Skill India’ have captured the public imagination, and are now being translated into tangible changes on the ground.”
Reflecting on the GST, he predicted, “The implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) this year, perhaps the most sweeping economic reform in a generation, will make good on longstanding calls for ‘one nation, one tax’ and add to India’s positive momentum.
He also spoke of Singapore’ continuous co-operation for development of India and observed,” As India forges ahead on its path to development, Singapore stands ready to collaborate wherever we can. Bilateral trade has almost doubled since we signed our Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement in 2005, and now stands at S$21.7 billion. Singapore’s investments in India have grown nearly 20 times over that same period, to S$19.4 billion. Singapore is now one of the top foreign investors in India, with quality investments in ports, logistics, manufacturing and an array of other sectors.
Dwelling on the present collaboration with India, the Minister said, “We are exploring collaboration to develop skills training in North East India. Another area in which Singapore is working closely with India is smart cities and urban solutions. Our companies helped masterplan Andhra Pradesh’s new capital city Amaravati, and are now bidding to develop the core of the city.
Both speeches were followed by the national anthems of alternate countries. High Commissioner Ashraf’s with ‘Majulah Singapura’ and Minister Lim’s with ‘Jana Gana Man’. Surprisingly the usually boisterous Indian crowd did not sing along.
Other dignitaries who were present on the occasion included Jessica Tan, MP for East Coast GRC, Vikram Nair, MP for Sembawang GRC and Chief of Singapore Army Major-General Melvyn Ong.