Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong kicked off his India visit yesterday in the IT hub of Hyderabad, where he met political and corporate leaders to gauge the business environment and explore opportunities for collaboration.
Mr Goh met Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao.
Since Mr Goh's last visit two years ago, there have been many changes in the city, which is home to MNCs such as Google and Microsoft.
Hyderabad is the joint capital city of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The latter is India's 29th and newest state, carved out of Andhra Pradesh early this year. Hyderabad will remain the joint capital for 10 years till Andhra Pradesh creates its own such.
Mr Naidu, who has had a long association with Mr Goh, greeted him warmly with a bouquet, a silk shawl and a silver desk ornament. He also sought Singapore's help in developing the state's capital city. "Chief Minister Naidu also elaborated on his plans for a new capital city which will be in the Vijayawada-Guntur region, and invited Singapore to share its experience and contribute to the development process," Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Mr Goh, who noted how Andhra Pradesh has become "very different" since his 2012 visit, asked Mr Naidu how he intended to overcome economic challenges, which include building new infrastructure.
Mr Naidu said he planned to develop ports and airports, apart from boosting tourism and manufacturing. Mr Goh encouraged Mr Naidu "to send his officials to Singapore to study our best practices and tap on our network of local and foreign investors" for the new capital city.
The Chief Minister formally announced last week that the new state capital would be in the Vijayawada region. He also said he was looking at developing three "mega cities" and 14 smart cities.
While issues facing the state were the main focus, Mr Goh and Mr Naidu also discussed the leadership change in India. Mr Naidu heads the Telugu Desam Party, an ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, and Mr Goh is often described as a mentor of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the time he was Gujarat's Chief Minister.
During his meeting with Mr Rao, Mr Goh asked the Telangana Chief Minister about his plans for the new state, which has many areas that are lagging behind in development.
Both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are seeking to attract foreign investments, particularly in infrastructure.
"The right atmosphere is there in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Both chief ministers are, in a positive way, competing with each other and want to develop both states," said GMR Group chairman G. M. Rao, who was among the corporate leaders invited to a business lunch with Mr Goh.
He said Singapore could help the two states in the area of city development, such as water and waste management.
Mr Goh left for New Delhi last night and is scheduled to meet Mr Modi tomorrow.
This article was first published on September 09, 2014.
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