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On the 6th of August 2021, the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) organized the National Day Observance Ceremony and a dialogue session with Guest of Honour, Mr Vikram Nair, Member of Parliament, Sembawang GRC. The event was joined by Dr T Chandroo, Chairman, SICCI, the Directors of SICCI Cares, Ambassador Kesavapany, Mr Ameerali Abdeali, Mr Devendran; SICCI Directors, Mr Maneesh Tripathi and Mr Kishore Daryanani, Vice Chairmen, SICCI; Mr George Abraham, Treasurer, SICCI;Ms Shobha Tsering Bhalla, Chairperson SHE, Mr Johnson Paul, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), SICCI together with other Board of Directors of SICCI.

The event was also joined by presidents from various Singapore Indian Organizations. They were: Mr Hernaikh Singh, President, Khalsa Association; Mr G Thurasingham, President, Yathavar Association; Mr. Harikrishnan Muthusamy, President, GOPIO and President, Tamil Language and Cultural Society; Mr Sarabjeet Singh, President, Young Sikh Association; Mr Danapal Kumar, President, Singapore Tamil Teachers’ Union; Mr. Brijesh K Shukla, The Singapore North Indian Hindu Association; Mr Venkata Rathnaiah, Kannada Sangha (Singapore); Mr. Vashdev A Khialani, President, Singapore Sindhi Association and Mr Raja Mohamad, President, Singapore Kadayanallur Muslim League for their participation. The event began with all the participants singing the national anthem and reciting the pledge.

In his welcome speech, Mr Chandroo emphasized that Indian organizations in Singapore have played a critical role in upbuilding the Indian community there. He thanked them for their selfless service to the nation. In addition, he believed that this event was historic in that it was the first time that so many leaders from different Indian organizations were coming together to observe National Day. It was his wish that participants would take away something positive and useful from the dialogue with MP Vikram Nair.

Dr T Chandroo, Chairman SICCI said that “As an organization, SICCI is dedicated to helping businesses in Singapore achieve greater heights and go global. As we mark our 56th National Day, the Chamber will continue its efforts to serve the business community with diligence and dedication. Progress is never complete, just as the work of building a nation cannot be considered complete. We thank our leaders, Singaporeans, and all residents for their contributions to making Singapore what it is today.”

A number of questions were raised about promoting women’s entrepreneurship, reopening the economy, and building community spirit.

Vikram Nair commented that SICCI’s initiative for celebrating the 56th National Day with other Singapore Indian organizations represented a step in the right direction toward achieving community cohesiveness. Mrs Shobha Tserling Bhalla, Chairman, SHE@SICCI, asked if there were any special strategies for women entrepreneurs as their businesses were deeply affected by the pandemic. The majority of small and micro-businesses run by women are based at home. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has restricted movement, causing parents, spouses, and children to stay at home. Home-based operations have been burdened as a result. Many people don’t know where to go when they need monetary assistance or to resolve trade problems.

He responded that women entrepreneurs can receive the same grants as men entrepreneurs such as rental relief and payroll benefits regardless of the type of business they are running. Moreover, he said, the government has been working hard to ensure that community caregiving facilities such as childcare and daycare facilities, and schools are still available to make life more convenient for those taking care of their homes. Moreover, he said that the government also provides a variety of financial assistance to help reduce the burden on homemakers and small business owners.

A question was also asked about SICCI’s efforts to assist Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). Dr T Chandroo stated that In 2019, SICCI had created a council called the Covid Task Force that was responsible for SMEs who were affected by Covid. Over 3000 inquiries were received on how the chamber could help companies in need via a dedicated hotline and email. Additionally, SICCI worked closely with ESG and private banks and institutions; staff provided administrative support for grants, etc. SICCI has always promoted digital transformation for SMEs. During the current pandemic, many companies have taken advantage of grants for digitalization, even if they weren’t ready for it pre-covid. Several major changes need to be made with the way businesses and businessmen do business in order to survive a pandemic and to fit the needs of the current times. He concluded that eventually businessmen and entrepreneurs must have a new business model to survive.

Mr Vikram Nair shared that the government will take several precautions to reopen the economy before entering a new phase. This was dependent on the vaccination rate, especially among the elderly. According to him, the reopening of borders will take longer as the vaccination regimes must be recognized by countries and travel bubbles must be established. The “D” variant had presented a curveball in the recovery.

Photo and Article:  SICCI

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