Ambassador Gopinath Pillai
I particularly liked PM Modi’s characterisation of the relationship between India and Singapore as “the grace and majesty, and the roar, of the two lions”.
During PM Modi’s visit, he inaugurated a plaque on our waterfront marking where Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes were scattered off Clifford Pier in 1948.
PM Modi also visited the Sri Mariamman Temple on South Bridge Road, the Jamae Chulia Mosque, and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.
In fact, India’s ties with Southeast Asia go back even longer, more than a thousand years ago.
Written records of maritime links, in Sanskrit and Tamil, can be found from as early as the third and fourth century.
Today, about 20% of overseas Indians reside in Southeast Asia.
In January this year, we celebrated the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Singapore, which showcased the ancient links between India and Southeast Asia, as well as the strong ties that we have forged over the years.
Singapore, as ASEAN’s Chair this year, remains committed to advancing this partnership.
Re-Emergence of India and China
I am told that Chess was invented in India during that time – this might explain your expertise in strategising and negotiations!
Today, both countries are preparing to harness the full benefits of globalisation and of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
With the right training and economic environment, this will provide a skilled workforce that can power the Indian economy.
India is working on reforms to reduce poverty and achieve a higher standard of living for the people.
China too celebrates its 40th anniversary of reform and opening up this year.
Asia of cooperation will shape this century.” I am very much heartened by PM Modi’s stance.
We must strengthen our collaboration, under an open, balanced and inclusive regional architecture, so that we can complement one another and progress together.
Economic Opportunities and Linkages
PM Modi highlighted that over 10,000 measures had been introduced over the last two years to improve the ease of doing business in India. So India has moved up 30 spots in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index.
At the Shangri La Dialogue, PM Modi spoke of about how connectivity can unite a region and enhance trade and prosperity.
On that note, I would like to elaborate on “Four Connectivities” that we can work together on.
I remember fondly my days as Chief Negotiator of CECA and am pleased that it has brought about strong economic benefits to both sides.
Under CECA, Indian banks like the State Bank of India and ICICI, and Singapore banks such as DBS and UOB have been able to enter one another’s economy and help to support growth.
Together, we account for almost half of the world’s population, approximately 30% of global output and global trade, and a fifth of global foreign direct investment inflows based on 2016 figures.
And this will create much needed jobs for India’s youths.
We look forward to working closely with India to conclude the Agreement, hopefully by the end of this year.
This is in line with PM Modi’s vision of a “Clean India” - clean rivers, clean air and clean cities.
I learnt that it is already the sixth largest producer of renewable energy in the world!
I recently visited Japan and learnt about how they are leveraging on Industry 4.0 to work towards Society 5.0.
Society 5.0 is a vision of a smart city, where innovations like the Internet of Things, big data, artificial intelligence and robotics are used to develop solutions for better human life.
So I hope that Indian companies can join us for this Roundtable and look forward to additional ways to partner the Infrastructure Asia office.
This is certainly the case for Singapore.
There is scope to further develop India’s external connectivity as well, to realise India’s vision of being a global manufacturing hub and an attractive destination for investment and tourism.
Now almost every household has a bank account.
I was celebrating DBS’ 50th anniversary in Mumbai just two days ago. DBS itself is now being called the “Digital Bank of Singapore” and I think that is a very good development. CEO Piyush Gupta told me that digital banking has enabled him to realise significant economies of scale and scope.
This is a good way for us to improve financial inclusion.
In the longer term, such developments will form a network of innovation and collaboration between Singapore and India. We will work very closely with the Confederation of Indian Industries in this effort.
The collaboration will enable Indian travellers to make payments using RuPay at all NETS acceptance points in Singapore, bringing about greater convenience.
SWITCH is a leading platform in Asia to showcase the best ideas, technology and innovation from around the world, and it will be a great networking opportunity for entrepreneurs, corporates and funds in the region.
This festival has been very successful and is now the world’s largest platform for the global Fintech community.
It belongs to us.
It is up to us to be ambitious and bold to seize it.
This evening tells us that we are on the right path.
The two lions shall step into the future together.”