A night to remember

SINGAPORE - THE tabla! and Tamil Murasu Integration Cup and Integration Night 2013, presented by UBS, not only celebrated the coming together of communities but also recognised two winners. The event was held on July 30 at the Singapore Island Country Club.

Singapore's ambassador to Jordan K. Kesavapany was presented the Indian Women's Association Ekta Integration Award, for his lifelong efforts in bringing the Indian community together. Mr Kesavapany was presented the award by former president of Singapore S.R. Nathan. The Integration Cup was presented to the winner of the golf tournament Samarth Dwivedi by Tamil Murasu chairman S. Chandra Das.

A total of 140 golfers participated in the tournament and nearly 400 guests attended the Integration Night celebration later in the day.

THE Intergration Night 2013, hosted by tabla! and Tamil Murasu and presented by UBS was a huge success. Nearly 400 guests enjoyed the night of integration and entertainment at the Grand Ballroom of Singapore Island Country Club (SICC). The event was supported by the National Integration Council.

The highlight of the night was the presence of the former president of Singapore Mr S.R. Nathan. He was the guest of honour and came along with his wife Urmila.

The Integration Night is held every year on July 30 and it follows the Integration Cup golf tournament which is held earlier in the day.

This year's Integration Cup golf trophy, donated by the chairman of Tamil Murasu S. Chandra Das, was presented to the winner, Mr Samarth Dwivedi, from India.

Mr Chandra Das said the concept of integration was to bring people together and that Integration Night is a celebration of the rich diversity that exists in the Indian community in Singapore.

"People from all corners of India have been coming to this tiny island since Stamford Raffles first set foot here in 1819. Indeed, Singapore Indians have contributed greatly to Singapore's success story," he added.

He stressed that moving from one country to another is never easy and adjustments have to be made, not only by newcomers but also by those who have lived here a long time.

"While there may always be differences, what is ultimately important is that we as Indians focus on the common ground that we share," he said.

Another special award was given on the night by the Indian Women's Association (IWA) to Singapore's ambassador to Jordan K. Kesavapany.

The Ekta Integration Award was presented to Mr Kesavapany, who is also the president of the Singapore Indian Association (IA), in recognition of his efforts to bring the Indian communities together.

After receiving the award from Mr Nathan, Mr Kesavapany said that he had fulfilled a life-long dream of "getting an award from Mr Nathan".

He told tabla!: "It was wonderful to receive the award from Mr Nathan who is a perfect example of integration. Mrs Nathan is a Bengali and his daughter is married to a Chinese. Both his children share balanced cultural views."

He added that the award also shows the scope for collaboration between the IA and IWA and the event showed that sports and social interaction are a great medium to break the ice between communities and bring them closer together.

Making a relevant reference to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's speech in early July where he had said "Get the politics right", Mr Kesavapany added: "By that Mr Lee meant something very fundamental to this country. Get our religious arrangements right, get our ethnic arrangements right and most importantly get the balance between the men and women right. The speech is very critical to how this country has to progress. Today, we enjoy peace, religious, ethnic and social harmony. It's because our founding fathers got the politics right and that is what we have to remember."

IWA president Piu Lahiri said it was a great privilege for the association to be a part of the Integration Cup and Night.

She added: "We applaud the vision of creating this platform where people from all races have come together."

Speaking of Mr Kesavapany, she said: "He has not only worked towards an integrated community but has gone beyond and worked at creating unity and harmony. He has been the living embodiment of the word Ekta. Ekta is a Sanskrit word which means oneness, unity and solidarity."

She stressed that Mr Kesavapany was a unifying force and that there are very few people who have not been touched by the generosity of his spirit and work in the field of integration.

Mr Edmund Koh, UBS' CEO Wealth Management (South-east Asia) and APAC Hub and Country Head, UBS Singapore, acknowledged that the Integration Cup is a great initiative by the two newspapers to bring members of the expatriate Indian and Singaporean community together for a night of great food and entertainment.

He added: "UBS is delighted to be the presenting sponsor for the Integration Cup for the second year. Singapore's role as a thriving cosmopolitan city is enriched by the diversity of our various communities coming together to forge new friendships and networks."

The guests at the Integration Night were treated to an Indian classical dance by bharatanatyam exponent Maalika Girish Panicker, whose troupe also performed to a foot-tapping Bollywood number later in the night. And much appreciated was the Raffles Junior College girls' fusion dance. While comedians Rishi Budhrani, Sharul Channa and emcee K.P. Sandhu kept the audience in splits throughout the night.

The event also managed to raise $16,500 for Singapore Indian Development Association's various programmes through a charity auction.

The pick of the auction items was a painting by Indian artist Neeraj Goswami titled Play, which was offered by the IWA. The artist was present at the event and his painting was snapped up by Mr Sanjay Thapar for $6,500. Other items auctioned were a Chivas Regal 1.75 litre bottle, a golf set from Royal Sporting House (RSH), a Glycine watch, a cricket bat signed by the 2011 Kings XI Punjab team, Mr Nathan's book 50 Stories From My Life and a hand-woven carpet.

HDFC country head Varna Jha, who attended the night's festivities, said the event was very well organised and had an interesting mix of cultural, entertainment and philanthropic activities.

She added: "Events like these help in bringing the communities together, understanding the other's perspective and looking beyond our innate differences."

Mr Dicky Goh was one of the non-Indians who attended the event and said that he enjoyed meeting new people and making friends. "I enjoyed the socialising at pre-dinner cocktails. It was a pleasant evening," he said.

The attendees also won prizes ranging from Titan watches, gift vouchers from Park Hotel Group and a pair of tickets to one of the destinations Jet Airways flies to in India from Singapore. RSH, which donated several golf items for the lucky draw, also sponsored golf equipment for those who took part in the Integration Cup.

 

ankitav@sph.com.sg


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