India and Singapore ‘Stepping into the Future’ through forging partnerships in Innovation and Enterprise

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The Sands Ballroom at Marina Bay was to greet about 1500 people as it hosted Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi. However the numbers soon tripled and then grew some more! The audience munched on generously provided ‘Made in India’ snacks and sipped on water. We explained what the healthy delicious ‘khakara’ was to our Chinese neighbour as we munched on it and watched the cultural programmes in the hour or so before the arrival of the Guest of Honour.

The screen came alive with live images as PM Modi accompanied by his Singaporean counterpart PM Lee Hsien Long, toured the Inspreneur event, where they met up with tech start ups and understood their innovations in various fields. Both the PM’s listened intently and seemed engrossed in what these Innovative Inspreneurs of both Indian and Singaporean origin had to share. He then bid adieu to PM Lee and proceeded on to the Sands Ballroom where the audience had already surged to its feet and was chanting ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ with an unbridled patriotism seldom seen in the restrained audience on this red dot.

PM Narendra Modi walked into an ecstatic Ballroom filled with almost 5000 people chanting his name in almost cult-like intensity. The charismatic leader who is no stranger to adulation was at his enigmatic best as he interacted with the crowd with grace. A ‘yogasana’ cum ‘bharatanatyam’ performance choreographed specially for this occasion by Apsaras Arts Dance Company and appropriately titled “Anushasan” or discipline – which is a key word stressed and practised by Modiji – was an audio visual delight presented to PM Modi.

The event started with Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Industry Dr. S. Iswaran highlighting the timeline of India-Singapore relationships since Modi. He gave specific mentions to the Pune metropolitan region master-plan in conjunction with Singapore and talked about improving the air connectivity of the two countries. The minister was greeted with overwhelming applause for his quote, “We want the young Singaporeans to be India Ready by fostering internships with India through 3 Singaporean universities!”

Prime Minister Modi launched three notable initiatives yesterday, Apps named RuPay, BHIM and UPI; with RuPay being the prominent cashless transaction platform, which will be usable at NETS merchants in Singapore easing life for Indian nationals, visitors and tourists. A number of MOU’s were signed including bilateral ties with Maharashtra state Government, Start Ups, Innovation, Education, Digital India, Space Programs, Artificial Intelligence, Innovation for Social Impact among others. All these will take synergy from the multicultural democratic society which forms a common thread that can bind Singapore and India. Additionally the Singapore India Innovation Network and Singapore India Incubation Programmes to enable start-ups in Singapore to enter India were announced. These initiatives were received with cheers and applause by the audience. Singapore is an exciting incubator and India a vast laboratory”, Mr. Iswaran quoted.

PM Modi spoke in English which he read via a TelePrompter. Though not like his Hindi speeches which are fluent, flavorful and full of anecdotes; the Desi-English speech in no way could dilute the hard facts that he presented with panache. The confidence-inducing momentum of change, the awe-inspiring pace of development in infrastructure, the goose-bump inducing patriotic fervour, the pride in India and in being Indian is seen as never before seen under any Prime Minister of India – or dare we say the world. Modi concluded his address by stating that, “There is no bigger opportunity for Singapore other than India!”

The entire speech by Minister S Iswaran and PM Modi is available at this link : https://www.facebook.com/narendramodi/videos/10160508754210165/

Joint Coverage by Sreyus Palliyani and Lakshmy Iyer.

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