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Last Updated Friday November 22 2019 04:29 AM IST
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Golden Jubilee: It's celebration time in Singapore

P Kishore
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Merlion Park Merlion Park in Singapore (AFP file)

The celebrations in Singapore will last a year. On the golden jubilee of the formation of the country, they have a lot to cheer about. Unlike the lukewarm way India celebrated it's golden jubilee in 1997, Singapore, a tiny city-state is having a ball. And why not, what a sterling turn-around job they have done on a marshy land they inherited 50 summers ago in 1965!

Singapore is the biggest port in the world and the fourth largest financial centre. Singapore has the third largest per-capita income in the world,with the least amount of disparity in incomes. A city-state half the size of Kochi in Kerala, with just 718 square kilometers of area, is the high- tech manufacturing hub of the world. All major multinational corporations sets up their office here, as Singapore is the place to be.

When Singapore came into existence it had only 518 sq. kilometers of area. They added around 200 sq. kilometers by sea reclamation. By 2030 Singapore will have added another 100 square kilometers. In India we can only talk about such augmentation of land area through sea reclamation, as all the environment activists and foreign funded NGOs would be up in arms, the moment they get the wind of it. Singapore, in spite of having a population of 5.5 million, has one of the best housing systems in the world.

Singapore has another significance for India. It's the source of the largest FDI flowing to Indian investment sector. Last year $6 billion came from this lion's den (Singapore is Singapura in Malaya which literally means lion's den) This is the place which Narendra Modi made wanted to visit when he was the Chief minister of Gujarat. Singapore was the partner for Vibrant Gujarat global investor meet too.

When the 100 smart city project was announced by the Modi government Singapore was the first country to evince interest and send its foreign minister K. Shanmugham to explore the opportunities. After all, Singapore has the best expertise in the world in building one of the smartest cities. The knowledge city of Tianjin in China was built by Singapore. Best of city planning, waste disposal,water management, housing...you name it, they are the masters of it.

No wonder several chief ministers from India are making a bee-line to Singapore. Believe it or not but it was Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal who led the first bee-line. Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia, and Chandrasekhara Rao of Telengana followed suit. Delegations from states like Goa, Panjab,and Andhra followed. Mamatha Banerjee declared setting up a nodal office of Bengal industrial development corporation in Singapore to facilitate quick clearance for investments. She also shrewdly declared setting up Lee Kuan Yew centre for business and commerce in Kolkata named after the first Prime Minister of Singapore.

Kerala so far has done nothing in this direction. May be for the rulers of Kerala, Gulf and the Malayalee's hard earned money is enough to carry on with their merry ride. But then Singapore needs security of investment more than quick clearances. They need assurance that the money will be safe and things will get done. No obstruction to the work, no agitation or violence. Precisely the assurances Kerala would find hard to give.

Last Post: You can never spot a uniformed policeman in Singapore. But they are everywhere as shadow police. Secret cameras watch your every activity from every nook. There is a fine of $500 if you spit on the road. Many a Malayalee, go to Raffle Square, look around for cops, and when they see none, spit just for the heck of it. They get caught immediately. Singapore is no place for usual Malayalee habits.

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