Indians have made good strides

Indians have made good strides
Interview with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana on 14 January 2015.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has expressed satisfaction that, along with Singapore's progress, Indians have achieved good progress.

The Singapore Indian Development Association's (SINDA) plans and programmes have achieved success, and Indian students are constantly doing better in school exams, he said.

Today, there are many Indians among successful professionals, Mr Lee added.

Mr Lee was commenting on the progress of Singapore's Indian community during a special interview he gave reporters to commemorate the completion of 10 years in office. It also marked Singapore's 50th birthday this year.

The interview was held at the Istana over two hours on Jan 14 and 15 and conducted in English first and then in Mandarin.

He discussed a wide range of topics, among them the highs and lows of his decade at Singapore's helm to new trends such as social media, the rise of special interest groups and the terror threat.

Mr Lee pointed out that many people have asked him why he does not speak about issues related to Indians during the annual National Day Rally speech.

"I would speak if there were issues of concern that needed immediate attention. However, generally, the Indian community has been progressing well," he said.

Mr Lee noted that many Indian Singaporeans are participating in SG50 related events. He spoke about the Heartbeat Of The Nation Tamil song recently composed and recorded by a group formed by Mr Logapreyan Renganathan.

However, he pointed out that, in some Indian families, certain children are facing difficulties. He said SINDA is taking care of these problems.

Mr Lee touched on how Singapore's unique identity had changed and spoke about dealing with tensions between Singaporeans and foreigners (see report at right).

He said there is some friction between Indian Singaporeans and migrant Indians and that it will take some time for them to integrate.

"Singapore has a unique identity in the world. However, this identity is not permanent; it's an identity that is constantly evolving.

"Singapore's first generation, the generation after independence and today's younger generation do not share the same notion of identity.

"The younger generation goes to school and national service together. They speak English. They live in integrated environments. Compared to the first generation, the youths are more integrated. Their identity is stronger.

"The talents and skills of immigrants and foreign workers who come here could strengthen our identity. They could integrate with the Singapore identity. However, that will take time.

"The Tamil people who have lived for many generations in Singapore keep in touch with Tamil Nadu.

"However, you can see differences in culture and behaviour between newcomers from the same Tamil Nadu and Singapore Indians. "When a Singapore Indian from my constituency went to Tamil Nadu, a person there observed the way he spoke and refused to believe him when he said that he was from Tamil Nadu.

The Singapore Indian's identity had clearly changed," Mr Lee explained.

The Prime Minister said the Chinese are also facing the same situation. "There will be some friction and incompatibility between locals and foreigners.

But, they can be solved over time," he said.

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