India, S'pore can do a lot more together

IN A candid exchange of views, Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Reserve Bank of India's governor Raghuram Rajan had some 250 businessmen, industrialists and policymakers glued to their seats for more than an hour.

The two were part of an interactive session at the Singapore Symposium 2016 held in Mumbai on April 7. Themed Partnering for Growth in Uncertain Times, the symposium was organised by the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), National University of Singapore.

In his opening address, Mr Tharman noted that Singapore and India could do a lot more together. Mr Tharman, who is also the Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, listed the following areas of further collaboration - productivity and finance; air connectivity; education and skills training; and smart cities development.

"It frankly gives me confidence in India, not just based on what's been happening in the last few years - GDP growth being about 7 per cent - I have confidence that this is now a new journey, and a journey that we in Singapore want to be part of, want to contribute to and want to benefit from at the same time."

Singapore and India share a close bilateral political and economic relationship. Recent collaborations include developing two townships and setting up a skills centre in the northern state of Rajasthan and helping southern Andhra Pradesh state to build its new capital city. In the past 10 years Singapore's investments in India grew from $653 million to $12.2 billion.

At the interactive session later with Mr Rajan, Mr Tharman called for greater coordination against exchange rate volatility. "We can't keep hoping that the US Fed will postpone normalisation of interest rates," he said.

The Singapore Symposium series provides a platform for Singapore leaders to engage with Indian political, business and academic communities.

The first two series were held in Delhi in 2009 and 2012. The inaugural Singapore Symposium was helmed by Singapore's first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and the second by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The Singapore Symposium 2016 is the fourth edition of the series in India and fifth in the South Asian region. The Confederation of Indian Industry was the co-partner in Mumbai. Book launch On the same evening, DPM Tharman launched a commemorative book in Delhi along with India's minister of state for power, coal, new and renewable energy Piyush Goyal at The Growth Net Summit 2016.

The book is to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between India and Singapore. Titled, Looking Ahead: India And Singapore In The New Millennium, the book is a joint publication by ISAS and Ananta Aspen Centre in Delhi. Historian and board member of ISAS Professor Tan Tai Yong is co- editor of the volume, together with Mr A.K. Bhattacharya, from India.

Sithara Doriasamy is head of communications and strategic events at ISAS, NUS.

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