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President Tharman Shanmugaratnam addressed  over 600 business leaders, government officials,  members of parliament and the diplomatic corps at  the Gala Dinner. He highlighted the important role of  Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and  Industry (SICCI) in bringing together all segments of  the Indian business community in Singapore. 

These include businesses with roots and networks in  various parts of India, those long established in  Singapore and newly established enterprises in  Singapore.  The following are highlights of President Tharman’s  address:

 Adapting to evolving circumstances  “

SICCI’s roles have evolved quite dramatically over    the years. Its beginnings were in very different  times, when flows of produce, people, and cultures,  back and forth around Asia, defined much of  Singapore’s role as a colonial trading station. With  Singapore’s independence, and the development of  a multiracial national identity and a diverse and  internationalised economy, you have had to adapt in  major ways. SICCI has progressed to serve the  Indian business community in a broad range of  sectors, well beyond the trading community.” 

Embracing digitalisation, sustainability, and  internationalisation 

“It (SICCI) is playing an especially important role in  helping businesses to embrace the opportunities of  a digital and sustainable economy, and to invest and  operate abroad. And together with our other local  Chambers, SICCI thinks nationally, and represents  the interests of the wider business community.  Equally, as key representatives of the business  sector, our business chambers are responsible for  advancing the collective good of all our citizens”. 

Beyond Indian Businesses 

“You must also continue to actively promote  opportunities for collaboration with non-Indian  businesses in Singapore, including in venturing  abroad to India and elsewhere in the region. That  must be the case for all our other local business  chambers and trade associations. Seeking common  cause with each other and helping businesses with  different traditional backgrounds to collaborate  fruitfully in expanding Singapore’s presence abroad”. 

Strategic tie-ups with India   “In the digital space, Singapore has been the first to   tie up with India in fast retail payments (the   PayNow-UPI linkage), and there is opportunity to go   further to connect our digital economies. In   sustainability, where India has immense potential as   a renewable energy power. In India’s emerging   semiconductor sector, where Singapore’s   ecosystem, from chip fabrication to financing and   capacity building in smart manufacturing space can   add value. I encourage more of our Singapore   companies to visit India, and in particular to explore   different Indian states in more depth”.  

Business delegations to India 

 “SICCI has been active in promoting these   opportunities for our businesses. The business   delegations who participated in the investment   summits in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat in January this   year are a good example. At these summits,   Singapore companies announced a total of nearly   SGD 10 billion in committed investments into both   states across sectors such as sustainability,   infrastructure, and technology.”  

Spirit of adventure 

 “We have to promote an awareness of opportunities   in India among more Singaporeans. The awareness   is not widespread. We must build it up. Build up the   spirit of adventure. Not only among Indian   Singaporeans but Singaporeans of all ethnicities.” 

 Trailblazer for Singapore businesses 

 “An inspiring example is Andy Lim, who has been   based in Chennai for the past 17 years. He was a   fresh engineering graduate from Singapore   polytechnic when he decided to begin his career in      India. He was assigned to build up the sales portfolio   of Pro-Pack Materials, a Singapore company   manufacturing clean room and electrostatic   products. In fact, he based himself in Ambattur, an   hour’s drive from Chennai and far from the creature   comforts he was used to. He learnt quickly, did well   and eventually set up his own firm in India, with   several offices. For good measure, Andy speaks   conversational Tamil – his workers rate him 8 upon   10 – and a sprinkling of Hindi.” 

 Contributing to the community  

“I commend leaders of the Chamber, past and   present, for their contributions to Singapore’s   development. I am also encouraged by SICCI’s   efforts to work with its members to groom the next   generation of business leaders. Never forget though   that your ultimate responsibility is to the Singapore   community. I am glad you are working with SINDA,   the Singapore Indian Education Trust, Sree Narayana   Mission Singapore, and other bodies to serve those   in need and develop opportunity for all. That was the   instinct among our pioneer business leaders. They   saw themselves as serving the wider community.   And wanted the benefits of growth to be not just   kept by businesses and their owners, but to flow into   the wider community. I am reminded of something   that Rabindranath Tagore said: “I slept and dreamt   that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was   service. I acted, and behold, service was joy.”

  The Chairman and Board of Directors and all   members of SICCI express their deepest gratitude to   President Tharman Shanmugaratnam for his   inspiring speech to spur the Chamber to excel and   be a key player in the next phase of Singapore’s   economic transformation.  

Photos and Article: SICCI’s June newsletter

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