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Today, you will read Current Affair Topic:
Singapore consolidates India at ASEAN
Bilateral relations between India and Singapore have traditionally been strong, cordial and friendly. The convergence of economic and political interests between India and Singapore is the basis cordial relations between them. The process of economic reforms in India since the early 1990s has created a strong basis of cooperation with Singapore, opening up possibilities for significant presence in each other’s’ economies.
For India, Singapore has played the role of a bridge in reconnecting it to the countries of South East Asia since the inception of our Look East Policy in the early 1990s. Singapore is one of the most important trading points in Asia and serves as the gateway of India to the Far East.
For Singapore too, India had been an important ally since its independence in 1965 when it looked for closer ties with India to thwart the communist threat from China as well as domination from then relatively stronger countries Malaysia and Indonesia.
Due to difference in attitude during the cold war era towards former USSR and the USA, warmth between India and Singapore was little reduced but since the end of cold war and initiation of Look East policy by India, lukewarm relations between two natural allies is now characterised by warmth. In 2015, India and Singapore will celebrate 50th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations which would serve as a springboard to raise the partnership to new heights. India –Singapore bilateral trade amounted to US$ 19.3 billion in 2013–14 making Singapore the 7th largest trade partner of India globally.
Since increased interaction of India with the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations), role of Singapore has further increased in cementing the ties of India and ASEAN. As the ASEAN is the de facto financial capital of ASEAN, several Indian companies are opening their regional headquarters in Singapore. About 6,000 registered ‘Indian’ companies are estimated to be present in Singapore including nine Indian banks having operations in Singapore which are - Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, UCO Bank, Indian Bank, Axis Bank, and State Bank of India, ICICI, EXIM Bank and Bank of Baroda.
Ethnic groups in Singapore
Singapore has also played an important role in bringing India closer to ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations). Singapore is India's largest trade and investment partner in ASEAN contributing around one third of the India-ASEAN bilateral trade. After the signing of Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) in 2005, most important agreement between two nations, economic and trade relations between India and Singapore have further soared.
This landmark agreement was India's first ever CECA and Singapore's first comprehensive bilateral economic agreement with a South Asia economy. The objective of CECA was to strengthen and enhance the economic, trade and investment cooperation; liberalize and promote trade in goods and services; establish transparent, predictable and facilitative investment regime; explore new areas of economic cooperation and last but not the least, to facilitate and enhance regional economic cooperation and integration to serve as a pathfinder for the India-ASEAN free trade agreement.
Though the members of ASEAN most of which are small island nations are not considered as powerful nations but since they have formed ASEAN, importance of these nations is increased manifold in global diplomacy. All major countries of the world are looking for enhanced ties with ASEAN and India’s close relations with Singapore would definitely help in forging good ties with ASEAN. Since Singapore is the most developed nation in ASEAN, it has better say in the grouping.
Apart from CECA, other major agreements signed between India and Singapore include - Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement, DTAA (1994), Bilateral Air Services Agreement (1968), Defence Cooperation Agreement (2003), MOU on Foreign Office Consultations (1994), and Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (2005). Cooperation between India and Singapore has now expanded to military cooperation where both the nations regularly engage in joint military exercises.
Around 9 percent of the total population in Singapore constitutes Indian Diasporas and this has helped in enhancing the cultural ties between two nations. Tamil is one of the four official languages of Singapore. A number of cultural societies (i.e., Temple of Fine Arts, Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society, Nrityalaya, Kalamandir), promote Indian classical dance and arts in Singapore.
Other area where India and Singapore could and should assist each other is the maritime security. Indian Ocean is instrumental in prospering the economics of both the nations. Therefore both the nations should jointly monitor the important passages of the ocean and keep them secure from pirates and other potential dangers. Other issues such as terrorism, fundamentalism also poses danger to all the societies across the world. Regional power like India and Singapore should come together to thwart such threats posing danger to the regional as well as global peace. As far as ASEAN is considered, Singapore is most important force in the consolidation of grouping and India engagement with Singapore will also help in consolidation of Indian ties with ASEAN.
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