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India - Singapore Relations Bilateral Relations

India - Singapore Relations

India-Singapore Relations

The close ties between India and Singapore have a history rooted in strong commercial, cultural and people-to-people links across a millennium. The more modern relationship is attributed to Sir Stamford Raffles who, in 1819, established a trading station in Singapore on the route of the Straits of Malacca which later became a crown colony and governed from Kolkata till 1867. The colonial connection is reflected in institutions and practices, usage of English and presence of a large Indian community. India was one of the first countries to recognize Singapore in 1965.

Framework of the Bilateral Relationship

India-Singapore relations are based on shared values and approaches, economic opportunities and convergence of interests on key issues. Political engagement is regular. Defence relations are particularly strong. Economic and technological ties are extensive and growing. Cultural and human links are very vibrant. There are more than 20 regular bilateral mechanisms, dialogues and exercises. There is great convergence on a broad range of international issues and both are members of a number of forums, including East Asia Summit, G20, Commonwealth, IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association) and IONS (Indian Ocean Naval Symposium).

Agreements concluded between India and Singapore reflect the growing overall cooperation, which provides a larger framework for activities between the two Governments, commercial and people-to-people exchanges. Key agreements include the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (2005) and its Second Review (2018), Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (1994, Protocols signed in 2011), Bilateral Air Services Agreement (1968, revised in 2013), Defence Cooperation Agreement (2003, enhanced Agreement signed in 2015), MOU on Foreign Office Consultations (1994), Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (2005), Mutual Recognition Agreement on Nursing (2018) and cooperation in Fintech (2018), Agreement for Conduct of Joint Army Training and Exercises (renewed in 2019). There is a Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC), chaired by EAM and FM of Singapore and FoC at the Secretary level.

High Level Visits (2015-19)

The India-Singapore relationship was elevated to a Strategic Partnership in 2015 during the visit of PM Modi and on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

PM Modi visited Singapore twice in 2015. He visited on 29 March to attend the State Funeral of Founder of Singapore and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. PM's participation in the funeral along with the declaration of the funeral day as a day of mourning in India with flags flying half-mast, was deeply appreciated by Singapore. PM Modi paid an Official visit on 23-24 November 2015 where nine bilateral documents were concluded and a Joint Statement was issued. He paid homage to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose at the INA Memorial Marker, delivered the 37th Singapore Lecture titled 'India's Singapore Story', visited the Institute of Technical Education along with PM Lee, addressed the business community at the India-Singapore Economic Convention and the Indian community in Singapore.

India and Singapore added new momentum and direction in the Strategic Partnership in 2018, anchored in the Official visit of PM Modi to Singapore from 31 May-2 June and his second visit on 14-15 November for attending the ASEAN-India and related Summits. Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong also visited India on 25-26 January 2018 to participate in the Republic Day Celebrations in New Delhi and co-chaired the 2018 ASEAN India Commemorative Summit (AICS).

PM Modi’s official visit in May-June 2018 witnessed over 35 concrete outcomes in the forms of MoUs, agreements and new initiatives.  These included the Implementing Arrangement for Mutual Coordination of Logistics and Services Support to further boost bilateral naval cooperation; on the economic side, completion of the second review of the CECA pending since 2010 and signing of the associated Mutual Recognition Agreement on Nursing. There were several MoUs in areas like skills development, including one for collaboration in setting up the first Indian Institute of Skills; public administration and governance; urban planning and development, including in waste management and water recycling; trade and investment promotion; and, logistics and infrastructure. 

Science and technology and innovation, startups and fintech emerged as new areas of bilateral engagement during this visit. The two governments signed an agreement to set up a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fintech. PM witnessed the first international launch of India’s financial products - RuPay Card, BHIM-UPI App and UPI-based cross-border remittance App. PM witnessed several agreements between Nanyang Technological University and leading Indian institutions for cooperation in areas like new technologies (AI, Machine Learning, Blockchain) and space technology.

 As an innovative mechanism for promoting Indian handicrafts abroad and supporting rural livelihood, PM unveiled a platform at the Indian Heritage Centre (IHC) to bring Indian artisans to Singapore on a regular basis. Ahead of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, PM unveiled a plaque at the site of the immersion of a portion of Gandhiji’s ashes in Singapore in 1948. In a historic visit to Changi Naval Base, PM boarded a Singapore naval ship and an Indian naval ship and interacted with naval personnel.

PM Modi became the first Indian PM to deliver the keynote address at the annual Shangri La Dialogue on 01 June 2018. He outlined India's vision of the Indo-Pacific region and reflected India’s commitment to promoting peace and stability in the region.                                                                                                                  

During his second visit in November 2018, PM Modi participated in the multilateral Summits - ASEAN-India, RCEP and 13th East Asia Summit. He also became the first Head of Government to deliver the keynote address at the Singapore Fintech Festival, the world’s largest Fintech event. He projected India’s success in financial inclusion & digitalization as a means for economic progress & empowerment. He launched a global digital platform, APIX, to connect fintech companies and banks, starting with India and ASEAN.

Singapore PM Lee visited New Delhi on 25-26 January 2018 to participate in the Republic Day Celebrations and to co-chair the AICS, held to mark the culmination of the 25th Anniversary celebrations of India-ASEAN Dialogue Partnership. Singapore being the ASEAN Chair for 2018, PM Lee co-chaired the AICS with PM Modi. The theme for the Summit was “Shared Values, Common Destiny”. 

PM Lee had earlier made a Working Visit to India from 3-7 October 2016, accompanied by 3 senior Ministers. Three MoUs on collaboration in the field of technical & vocational education, training and cooperation in industrial property were signed. PM Lee visited Udaipur to inaugurate a Centre of Excellence for Tourism Management. He had paid State Visits to India in June 2005, July 2012 and in December 2012 for AICS celebrating 20th anniversary.

Both PMs met on the sidelines of G-20 Summit in Osaka in June and East Asia Summit in Bangkok in November 2019. PM Lee was one of the six world leaders invited by PM Modi to speak at a special event at UN in New York on 24 September 2019 to celebrate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

On October 30, 2021, PM Modi held a bilateral meeting with PM Lee on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Rome, Italy. This was their first in-person meeting in the post-pandemic period. Both leaders discussed global efforts to combat climate change and the forthcoming COP26. They also discussed ongoing efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic through expedited vaccination efforts and ensuring supply of critical medicines. In this context PM Modi appreciated Singapore’s outreach to assist with the procurement of relief material for India during the second wave. PM Lee congratulated PM Modi for the rapid vaccination drive in India. They also discussed ways to enhance people to people ties, including early normalization of movement between both countries.

Ministerial engagements (Pre-Covid)

EAM Dr. S Jaishankar; Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh; and, MoS for Housing and Urban Affairs, Civil Aviation and MoS, Commerce & industry Hardeep Singh Puri and then MoS for Home Affairs Shri Kiren Rijiju visited Singapore in 2019. EAM co-chaired the 6th meeting of Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) with FM Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan on 9 September 2019. RM co-chaired the annual Defence Ministers’ Dialogue with Defence Minister Dr. Ng Eng Hen on 20 November 2019.  

In addition, Chief Minister of Puducherry and state delegations from Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand visited for meetings with Businesses and Government and to conduct trade promotion activities including in fintech and tourism. A large number of delegations comprising MPs, Secretaries, senior officials and representatives of various national and regional trade & commerce chambers from India also visited Singapore.

From Singapore, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and then Finance Minister Mr. Heng Swee Keat paid his first visit in his capacity as DPM in October 2019. During the visit, DPM Heng met PM Modi and senior Ministers, co-chaired the India Economic Summit (IES) of the World Economic Forum (WEF) and paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat on 02 October. DPM Heng’s delegation included the Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development Mr. Desmond Lee, and MoS, Ministry of National Development and Ministry of Manpower, Mr. Zaqy Mohamad.

In addition, MOS for Foreign Affairs and Manpower Mr Sam Tan and Senior MoS, Ministry of Defence Foreign Affairs, Dr Maliki Osman in January; Minister for Communications and Information & Minister-in-Charge of Trade Relations, S. Iswaran visited in June and October; Minister for Home Affairs and Law Mr. K Shanmugam, Senior Minister of State for Ministries of Health and Law Mr. Edwin Tong visited in August and Education Minister Mr. Ong Ye Kung in June and September 2019 visited New Delhi and other cities in India.

Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam visited New Delhi and Mumbai in January 2020 where he called on PM, met senior ministers, CM of Maharashtra and delivered a lecture in Mumbai at the invitation of RBI. Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Chief of the Air Staff visited Singapore to participate in the 7th edition of Singapore Airshow 2020, which was held from 11 to 16 February 2020. This was the last high-level visit before both countries began their respective lockdowns to control COVID19 pandemic spread.

Recent visits and engagements

I) EAM-FM

FM Dr Balakrishnan virtually participated in the 6th Raisina Dialogue on 14 April 2021 and emphasized that India had a crucial role to play in helping shape the post COVID world. He praised India’s strong support to global vaccine cooperation at a time when the pandemic “had turbocharged protectionism and nationalism all over the world.”

On 27 September, 2021 EAM Dr Jaishankar met FM Dr Balakrishnan on the sidelines of the 76th UNGA session and discussed developments in the Indo-Pacific and overcoming COVID 19 challenges.

EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar visited Singapore from 16-20 November, 2021. During the visit he called on PM Lee and discussed the shared interests and convergent views between India and Singapore and the continuing efforts towards building an even stronger partnership. EAM also met ESM Goh Chok Tong, SM Tharman Shanmugaratnam, FM Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Transport S. Iswaran, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Home Affairs K. Shanmugam, Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong and discussed cooperation between the two countries across the different facets of the bilateral Strategic Partnership. Easing of travel restrictions featured prominently in the discussions. EAM also spoke at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in a session on "Great Power Competition: The Emerging World Order”.

On 22 February, 2022 EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar met Singapore FM Dr Vivian Balakrishnan on the sidelines of the EU Ministerial Forum on Indo-Pacific. Besides forum deliberations, they spoke about travel arrangements, economic cooperation and regional developments.

         FM Dr Vivian Balakrishnan visited India from 15 to 17 June 2022. He co-chaired the Special ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (SAIFMM) in New Delhi with EAM Dr S. Jaishankar on 16 June 2022. He also participated in the Ministerial Session of the Delhi Dialogue XII. During the visit, FM Vivian called on PM Modi along with the other ASEAN Foreign Ministers and ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi. He also met EAM Dr. S. Jaishankar, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, and Minister of Railways, Communications and Electronics & Information Technology Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw.

         On 06 July 2022, EAM Dr. S Jaishankar during a transit visit to Singapore enroute to Bali, met Singapore’s DPM and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, and Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

       On 04 August 2022, EAM Dr. S Jaishankar co-chaired the ASEAN-India Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AIFMM) with Singapore FM Vivian Balakrishnan in Phnom Penh.

II) FOC

On 11 August, 2021 the 15th India-Singapore Foreign Office Consultations (FoC) were held virtually. Secretary (East) Ms. Riva G. Das, & Permanent Secretary Mr. Chee Wee Kiong, MFA, Singapore led their respective delegations. They reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral issues & exchanged views on regional and international developments of mutual interest, with the overall objective of strengthening the Strategic Partnership.

On 19 August 2022, the 16th Foreign Office Consultations between India and Singapore were held in Singapore and were co-chaired by Shri Saurabh Kumar, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, India and Mr. Albert Chua, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore. During the FOCs, the two sides reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral relations and expressed satisfaction at the present level of engagements. Given that Singapore is the current country coordinator for India in ASEAN, the two sides exchanged views on India-ASEAN engagements and raising of the relationship to a higher level. Views were also exchanged on regional and international issues of mutual interest.

III) Other Ministers/Delegations - India to Singapore

          On 29 April, 2021 Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen called Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh to express support  to India’s efforts to deal with the COVID 19 second wave.

On 17 June, 2021 MOS Shri. V Muraleedharan had a virtual meeting with Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ms. Sim Ann.

On 15 January, 2022, Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Health of Singapore, had a virtual conversation with Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of Health and Family Welfare. While recollecting his meeting with Dr. Mandaviya in Rome in September 2021 on the sideline of G20 Health Minister’s meeting, Mr. Ong in a social media post stated that both the countries would continue to work on a stronger health care partnership and strengthen the close relationship between India and Singapore.

From 24-26 April, 2022, a 12 member Indian Parliamentary Delegation, led by Speaker (Lok Sabha), Shri. Om Birla, visited Singapore. Among the bilateral meetings, the delegation led by Speaker called on Mr. Tan Chuan-Jin, Speaker, Parliament of Singapore. The delegation also called on Mr. Goh Chok Tong, Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) of Singapore. A reception was organised for the Indian community leaders in Singapore during the visit. Around 100 Indian community leaders from various walks of life were in audience. The delegation also payed their respects at the Indian National Army (INA) Memorial in Singapore.

         On 14 July 2022, Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman met DPM and Finance Minister Mr. Lawrence Wong, on the sidelines of G20 Finance Ministers and Central bank Governors Meeting in Bali. The two leaders had fruitful discussions on India-Singapore engagements and exchanged views on G20 agenda and global economic and financial matters.

IV) Singapore to India visits

From 24 to 26 April, 2022 Singapore’s Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Second Minister for Education Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman visited New Delhi to attend the 7th Raisina Dialogue. Minister Maliki spoke at a Raisina Dialogue fireside chat on 26 April 2022 titled “ASEAN and its Role in the Global Order”. Minister Maliki, accompanied by Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information Mr Tan Kiat How, met EAMMinister for Education and Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister for Information and Broadcasting and Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Shri Anurag Thakur, and other prominent Indian personalities. The Ministers discussed ways to further strengthen regional and bilateral cooperation.

   Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam made a working visit to India from 04 to 10 July 2022. In Delhi, SM Tharman delivered the inaugural Arun Jaitley Memorial Lecture on 08 July 2022. Speaking on the topic “Growth Through Inclusivity, Inclusivity Through Growth”, SM Tharman spoke of India's enormous opportunities in the next 25 years despite a confluence of global challenges. Whilst in Delhi, he had bilateral meetings with PM Modi, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Shri Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Finance, Minister of Corporate Affairs, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, EAM Dr S Jaishankar, and Minister of Commerce and Industry, Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, and Minister of Textiles, Shri Piyush Goyal. SM Tharman also met with several business and think tank leaders. SM Tharman earlier visited Guwahati, from 04 to 05 July, where he met with Chief Minister Shri Himanta Biswa Sarma and other Cabinet Ministers. During his meetings with the Assam Government, he discussed areas for potential collaboration, including skills training, healthcare innovation, tourism, capacity-building for government officials and potential business engagement in Assam’s connectivity and logistics projects.

V) ASEAN-India

          On 28 October, 2021 PM Lee, speaking at the virtual 18th ASEAN-India summit, identified digital transformation and public health cooperation as priority areas for India-ASEAN relations during Singapore’s country coordinatorship. He also noted that ASEAN members can leverage India’s “vibrant” technology and start-up scene to further initiatives that facilitate finance and trade. Other areas of cooperation flagged by PM Lee were smart cities, sustainable development, cyber security, climate change and environment issues. He emphasised the importance of promoting synergies between the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific and India’s IPOI to “enhance mutual trust, respect and benefit.” Calling for intensified efforts on the review of ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement (AITIGA), which he termed a crucial opportunity to liberalize trade and lower the barriers of entry for all, PM Lee stated that as key players in the global supply chain, ASEAN and India must ensure the continuity of their trade and investment flows while strengthening supply chain connectivity and resilience.

VI) India-Singapore Strategic Dialogue

       The 13th India-Singapore Strategic Dialogue took place virtually on 02 March, 2021. The delegations for this Track II dialogue were led by Mr. Jamshyd Godrej, Chairman, Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co Ltd. and Chairman, Ananta Centre, & Mr. Rajan Navani, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Jetline Group of Companies, from the Indian side; and Mr. Ong Keng Yong, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, and Executive Deputy Chairman, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU, from the Singapore side.

ECONOMY

Trade, Economic and Development Cooperation

          Five areas of cooperation (5S) were agreed in 2014 for specific focus - (i) Scale up Trade & Investment; (ii) Speed up Connectivity; (iii) Smart Cities & Urban Rejuvenation; (iv) Skill development; and (v) State focus. In 2018, FinTech & Innovation was recognized as the new driver of bilateral relationship.  Singapore is India’s largest trade partner in ASEAN. It is the leading source of FDI, among the largest sources of External Commercial Borrowings and Foreign Portfolio Investment. 

        Bilateral trade expanded after the conclusion of CECA from USD 6.7 billion in FY 2004-05 to USD 30.11 billion in 2021-22. India was Singapore’s 12th largest trade partner, for the year 2021-22 with a share of 2.3% in Singapore’s overall trade. Singapore is India’s 6th largest trade partner with a share of 2.9% of India’s overall trade (2021-22).

      In the year 2021-22, bilateral trade stood at USD 30.11 billion compared to USD 21.98 billion during 2020-21. Exports to Singapore for the same period stood at USD 11.15 billion vis-à-vis USD 8.7 billion during 2020-21- recording a growth of 28.53%.

Investment

        FDI equity inflows in India from Singapore during 2021-22 stood at USD 15.87 billion. Singapore continued to be the largest source of FDI into India, with FDI inflows of USD 17.42 bn in 2020-21 despite the Covid situation. The cumulative FDI inflows from Singapore to India stood at USD 130.96 billion (April 2000 – March 2022) which is 22 percent of total FDI inflows in India. Singapore is also amongst the largest sources of External Commercial Borrowings for India and Foreign Portfolio Investment from Singapore has been extremely important for India. Top sectors attracting FDI Equity inflows from Singapore are: Services Sector, Computer Software & Hardware, Trading, Telecommunications and Drugs & Pharmaceuticals.  The cumulative outward Indian FDI to Singapore was USD 80.92 billion (January 2008 – May 2022). The outward Indian FDI to Singapore stood at USD 7.18 billion in  FY 2021-22 and USD 3.49 billion in 2020-21.         More than 80 % of listed offshore bonds by Indian issuers are listed on Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX). Singapore-based investors have Assets Under Management (AUM) valued at over USD 100 billion in India. Temasek Holding, a Singapore Government Fund, invested USD 400 million in National Infrastructure Investment Fund of India in 2018, following the announcement during PM’s 2018 visit. The Singapore sovereign fund’s India portfolio stands currently at USD13 billion.

        About 9000 Indian companies are registered in Singapore. 6 PSUs, 9 banks, India Tourism, CII, FICCI, Air India, Jet Airways have their offices in Singapore. More than 440 companies from Singapore are registered in India. 2 banks, Enterprise Singapore (ES), Economic Development Board (EDB) and Singapore Tourism Board have their offices in India. The India-Singapore CEO Forum was launched in November 2018. DBS Bank announced the launch of its locally incorporated subsidiary, DBS Bank India (DBIL) in March 2019.

        The Mission organised region’s first international business & innovation summit on India on 09-10 September 2019, “India- Singapore: The Next Phase.” The event drew over 4500 registered participants.

        On 18 February 2021, the Second meeting of India-Singapore CEO’s Forum was organized on a virtual platform by FICCI and Singapore Business Federation. Minister of Railways and Commerce, Piyush Goyal and Minister in Charge of Trade relations S. Iswaran participated in the meeting. The Chairs presented a Joint Intention Document with proposals for collaboration for both sides to the Ministers.

        On 27 July, 2021, HCI in association with Invest India, organised  a virtual seminar titled - "Neo-Banking for Businesses – The Future of Digital Banking." HC spoke at the webinar and elaborated on the opportunities in Indian & Singapore markets created by Digital Banks, Role of FinTech in SEA’s economic growth, and the outlook on FinTech during and beyond COVID-19. Panel discussions were held on the topic ‘The next wave of Digital Innovation through Neo-Banking’ with representatives from NITI Aayog, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), SEA Group, and RazorpayX.

        On 11 August 2021, DPM Heng Swee  Keat spoke at the Opening Session of the CII Annual meeting held virtually during which he urged India to consider greater economic integration with South East Asia to unlock India’s vast potential. He highlighted that the region and India have many complementary strengths and India has an important role to play in contributing to the diversification of the global supply chain and making it more resilient. He spoke about enhancing digital connectivity and highlighted Singapore’s keenness to partner India to better integrate the digital economies and collaborate in areas like Fintech and sustainability. 

Speed up connectivity

         The Air Services Agreement was revised in 2005 and MoU on bilateral air services arrangements was signed in 2013. Singapore is now directly connected to 15 Indian cities by 8 airlines with more than 500 weekly flights both ways.  Vistara, a JV between Singapore Airlines and Tata Group, launched their first ever international flights from Singapore to Delhi and Mumbai in August 2019, while GoAir started their services from Bengaluru and Kolkata to Singapore in October 2019. In 2019, about 1.41 million Indian tourists visited Singapore, making India the third largest source of tourism for Singapore. The tourism arrivals in 2020 came to a grinding halt due to the pandemic. 

Smart cities

    Singaporean companies continue to participate in a number of smart city, urban planning, logistics and infrastructure projects. Singapore is working with Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra in preparing Master Plans for townships. During PM Modi’s visit in May-June 2018, 3 MoUs in the areas of urban and rural development were signed by private and public sector institutions including NITI Aayog. In November 2019, a Singaporean company won award to develop 15000 homes in 4 cities of Gujarat while in April 2019, Singapore Sovereign fund GIC and Tata Group jointly entered India's airports sector with a total of INR 8,000 crore investment in GMR Airports Ltd.

Skill development

    Singapore is working with the Central and State Governments as well as Government organisations to establish skill development centres in various sectors.  A World Class Skill Centre (WCSC) has been set in Delhi in 2013. During PM Lee’s visit in October 2016, MoUs on collaboration in fields of skill development and vocational Training were signed. A Centre of Excellence for Tourism Management was inaugurated in Udaipur during PM Lee’s visit. North East Skill Centre was inaugurated in Guwahati in March 2019, which was handed over by the ITE Education Services (ITEES) to the Assam Government during SM Tharman’s visit to Guwahati from 04 to 05 July 2022. A WCSC has also been setup in Odisha with ADB support, with 6 ITE Professionals from Singapore working in it. Similar initiatives are being taken in Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. During the visit of PM Modi in May-June 2018, five agreements on skill development were concluded, including for future skills, and to set up first ever Indian Institute on Skills, as well as a string of National Trainers and Assessors Academies in India.

State focus

      State governments are working with Singapore in the Smart Cities & Urban Rejuvenation as well as Skills Development initiatives. Singapore has established a Joint Committee with Maharashtra. There are regular visits of state delegations at various levels to Singapore. Ministers from Singapore also visit states in India.   

FinTech & Innovation

       Cooperation in the areas of technology, innovation, fintech and startups have grown. A Pilot demo of BHIM UPI QR based payments was done in Singapore on 13 November during the 2019 Fintech Festival. Commercial and technical arrangements have also been worked out for the acceptance of RuPay domestic card in Singapore, in addition to the RuPay International Card, launched in June 2018.

          There is ongoing cooperation between leading Indian and Singaporean institutions in Innovation. The 3rd edition of High Commission’s startup engagement platform, “India-Singapore Entrepreneurship Bridge (InSpreneur)” was held along with India - Singapore: The Next Phase-Business & Innovation Summit. It featured discussion on innovation themes and an exhibition of 85 startups from India and Singapore. 120 university students from India and Singapore grouped into 20 teams participated in the second Joint Hackathon held in Chennai in September 2019 to develop solutions to challenges in education, healthcare, and green energy over 36 hours. Singapore’s Education Minister Mr. Ong Ye Kung visited India to participate in the awards ceremony presided over by PM Modi.

          Carrying forward the Inspreneur platform, on 1 December 2020, the High Commission organised Vector 1 - the first in a series of pitching sessions in partnership with NASSCOM. It was attended by 22 VCs and investors from Singapore. Seven Indian Startups from different sectors pitched their ideas. Similarly, Inspreneur Connect Vector 2.0 was organized by High Commission on 11 March 2021 in collaboration with NASSCOM and TiE. During the event, a pitching session was organized with Singapore investors for seven promising Indian start-ups in the areas of agri-tech, enterprise solutions, IOT hardware, mobility and retail tech. In 2022, ‘InSpreneur Connect’ was organised virtually on March 03, 2022. Startups from various sectors including Edtech, Enterprise Solutions, Healthtech, Retailtech and Sportstech, delivered their pitches during the event.

          FICCI Singapore organised the first meeting of the India Singapore Economic development Forum in a virtual format. Eminent business leaders from India and Singapore participated in the event and discussed identification of specific areas to work together to improve India Singapore trade and investment relations. The meeting was addressed by Mr Shyam S. Bhartia, Chairman, FICCI Singapore Council. Industry leaders from diverse sectors as Pharmaceuticals, R&D services, Proprietary Novel Drugs, Investments and Technology companies attended the event.

Defence Cooperation

In the area of defence, India and Singapore have a longstanding and comprehensive partnership, which includes, Annual Ministerial and Secretary level dialogues; Staff level talks between three wings of Armed forces; training of Singapore Army and Air force in India (10th edition in 2019) every year; annual exercises including India’s longest uninterrupted naval exercise with any other country (26th edition in 2019); ship visits from Navy and Coast Guard. Singapore participates in IONS and multilateral Exercise MILAN hosted by Indian Navy. Singapore’s membership of IORA and India’s membership of ADMM+ (ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting - Plus) provides a platform for both countries to coordinate positions on regional issues of mutual concern.

New developments include the inaugural Trilateral Maritime Exercise between India, Singapore and Thailand (SITMEX), announced by PM Modi in his Keynote address at the 2018 Shangri La Dialogue in September 2019. Indian Naval Ship Sagardhwani visited Singapore in August 2019 to promote scientific collaboration between Indian agencies including DRDO and Singaporean agencies.

The 13th meeting of India- Singapore Defence Working Group (DWG) took place virtually on 30 June 2020.

The 12th IAF-RSAF Air Force Staff Talks (AST) was held via VC on 3 July 2020. While the annual exercises for Army and Air Force could not be conducted in 2020, the 27th edition of the Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX) was conducted on no-contact format in November 2020.  Similarly, the second edition of Trilateral Maritime Exercise between India, Singapore and Thailand (SITMEX) was also held from 20-21 November 2020. The sphere of defence engagements was also enhanced through signing of bilateral agreements in the fields of HADR, Submarine Rescue Support, Conduct of Weapon Firings in India and reciprocal arrangements for availing military training.

The 5th India-Singapore Defence Minister’s Dialogue was held via VC on January 2020. The Implementing Agreement on Submarine Rescue Support and Cooperation between the two navies was signed to extend rescue facilities to each other’s submarines. 

On 4 February, 2021 Minister of Defense Ng Eng Hen participated in the inaugural Indian Ocean Region Defence Ministers’ Conclave (DMC). In a pre-recorded message, the Minister highlighted the importance of keeping Sea Lines of Communication above the fray of sovereign disputes and contestations especially for maritime nations like India and Singapore who depend on the global commons for trade and movement of essential supplies. He also conveyed Singapore’s support to India’s leadership to foster a rule based maritime order in the Indian Ocean region.

From 2 to 4 September, 2021, Singapore Navy (RSN) and Indian Navy (IN) conducted the annual Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercise (SIMBEX). SIMBEX 2021 involved a virtual planning phase followed by a 'contactless' sea phase in the southern reaches of the South China Sea within international waters.

      A 44 member IAF contingent was in Singapore to present India's indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas at the four-day Singapore Airshow from 15-18 February 2022. Three Tejas MK1 aircrafts were on display during the show.

From 25 February to 4 March, 2022, Singapore Navy participated in the 11th edition of MILAN, the multilateral naval exercise hosted by the Indian Navy. Ships, aircraft and participants from more than 40 countries took part in the exercise held in Visakhapatnam and the Bay of Bengal.

From 04-06 April 2022, Chief of Army Staff General (GEN) M.M. Naravane was on an official visit to Singapore. He called on Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen at the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF). During their meeting, GEN Naravane and Dr Ng reaffirmed the strong and long-standing bilateral defence relationship between India and Singapore, and discussed regional geopolitical developments. After inspecting the guard of Honor at Mindef's Bukit Gombak headquarters, GEN Naravane called on Singapore’s Chief of Army Brigadier-General David Neo. He also visited the Changi Regional HADR Coordination Centre and Information Fusion Centre at Changi Naval Base.  

      From 14-17 August 2022, INS Saryu made a visit to Changi Naval Base Singapore to commemorate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.

JWG on Combating Terrorism and Transnational Crime

          The 4th meeting of India-Singapore Joint Working Group on Counter-terrorism was held in Singapore on 18-19 May 2022. Both sides condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and shared experiences in preventing and countering terrorism, radicalisation, drug trafficking, cyber crimes, cross border terrorist movement and financing of terrorism.

Science & Technology Cooperation

          ISRO launched Singapore’s first indigenously built micro-satellite in 2011; 2 more in 2014 and 6 in 2015. During PM’s visit to Singapore in June 2018, six MoUs were concluded by NTU for research & exchange partnership with NITI Aayog in the area of artificial intelligence, machine learning, cognitive computing and big data analytics to improve healthcare, cybersecurity, automation, mobility, smart energy systems and e-governance, joint PhD and research with IITs and IISc Bengaluru, space research with Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) and establishment of an endowment for Indian research scholars coming to Singapore.

           On 23 February, 2022, India and Singapore signed an MoU on Cooperation in the Fields of Science, Technology, and Innovation at the inaugural session of the India-Singapore Technology Summit 2022. The Summit was held virtually and co-organised by Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), India's Department of Science and Technology (DST) and CII.  MTI said the agreement would "encourage, develop and facilitate collaborative projects in fields of mutual interest". These projects could advance progress in research, innovation and technological development in sectors such as advanced engineering and manufacturing, health and other emerging technologies. Singapore's Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations and Minister for Transport, identified key areas where the two countries could "push the boundaries" by combining their research and development talent and resources, including Deeptech, Cleantech, and Genome and bioinformatics research. The summit also saw the signing of an implementation agreement between Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and India's Department of Science and Technology (DST), to bring together corporates and startups from both countries to collaborate on developing new innovative technologies and solutions.

Second wave of COVID 19 in India and logistic support from Singapore

     The second wave of the pandemic which struck India gave rise to a large disproportionate demand for emergency relief supplies especially related to oxygen- tanks, cylinders, concentrators, ventilators etc. Singapore’s position as a logistic hub enabled both the public and private sector to source these materials from Singapore. On 28 April, 2021 High Commissioner and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister in PMO Dr Maliki Osman flagged off a consignment of 256 refillable 47 ltr oxygen cylinders which were flown to India by 2 RSAF C 130 planes from the Paya Lebar Base. Till the end of June 2021, 26 Indian Air Force sorties and 04 Indian Navy Ships transported significant quantity of Covid relief material to India.

Donations & Fund Raising in Singapore for Covid Mitigation Efforts in India

The Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) and the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association (Lisha) launched the India Covid Relief Fund on 26 April 2021 and raised more than SGD 1 million for the fund. The two organisations presented a cheque of the said amount to Singapore Red Cross (SRC) on June 3, 2021. The money went towards securing medical equipment and supplies for India's fight against Covid-19, and delivered by the Indian Red Cross to several hard-hit states in India. Several community organizations and members of the public contributed generously towards the fund. Various other organizations like the TiE Singapore, IIT Alumni Association, Pan IIM Alumni association also mobilized assistance for COVID mitigation efforts in India.

Vande Bharat Mission

         The first repatriation flight of Air India under the Vande Bharat Mission left Singapore for Delhi with 234 passengers on 8 May 2020. Till the last VBM flight on November 28, 2021, a total of 1,25,296 passengers were repatriated from Singapore to India in 856 flights.

Cultural Cooperation

    Regular cultural exchanges include performing arts, theatre, museum exchanges, art, languages, and youth exchanges happen between India and Singapore. Inter-governmental cooperation in culture is governed by a 1993 MoU and Executive Programmes for specified periods. Singapore’s large Indian diaspora through a number of cultural societies and Singapore’s official support, sustained a high level of cultural activity in Singapore, supported by ICCR and the Mission. The cultural activities briefly slowed down during the COVID period, but have now picked up with the beginning of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations. With the gradual relaxation of COVID restrictions in Singapore, the Mission has organised and supported over 65 events as part of AKAM celebrations, including the Independence Day 2022 celebrations.

Diaspora and Indian Community

Ethnic Indians constitute about 9.1 % or around 3.5 lakhs of the resident population of 3.9 million in Singapore. In addition, among the 1.6 million foreigners residing in Singapore, around 2.5 lakhs are estimated to be Indian expatriates holding Indian passports, serving in financial services, IT, as students, and in the construction and marine sectors. Singapore has the highest concentration of IIT and IIM alumni in any one city outside India. Tamil is one of the four official languages of Singapore. 

Useful Resources

Website: www.hcisingapore.gov.in

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IndiaInSingapore

Twitter: https://twitter.com/IndiainSingapor

Fortnightly E-Newsletter ‘India Focus’:

https://www.hcisingapore.gov.in/news_letter.php?nid=all

(September 2022)