SPEECH BY MS INDRANEE RAJAH, MINISTER, PRIME MINISTER’S
OFFICE, SECOND MINISTER FOR FINANCE AND NATIONAL
DEVELOPMENT AND PRESIDENT, SINDA, AT THE SINDA
EXCELLENCE AWARDS 2021 ON SATURDAY, 11 SEPTEMBER 2021
AT THE CIVIL SERVICE CLUB @ TESSENSOHN
Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies, and
Chairman, SINDA Board of Trustees, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam;
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law,
Mr Edwin Tong;
SINDA Board of Trustees and Executive Committee Members;
CEO, SINDA, Mr Anbarasu Rajendran;
Distinguished Guests, Award Recipients & Family Members;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
A very good morning to everyone and my heartiest congratulations to all
749 SINDA Excellence Awards recipients.
1. This year – the 30th anniversary of the SINDA Excellence Awards –
we celebrate each of you, the top-achieving Indian students across
the academic, arts and sports fields. Together as a cohort, across19 award categories, you represent the diverse talents and
outstanding qualities present in our students, and have
demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in your chosen
2. Another cause for celebration is that this year, we recognise our
largest cohort of recipients in the history of the SINDA Excellence
Awards. This achievement signals that more Indian students are
doing well. Importantly, this is also testament to your dedication and
resilience in what has been an incredibly challenging period over
the past two years.
Progressing as a Community
3. The pandemic has been the crisis of a generation that has
disrupted all facets of life and society. It also affected the education
system, with schools having to work quickly and ably to transition to
online lessons. As students you’ve had to adapt to a new style of
learning and that too, in a home-based learning environment.
Despite these trials, you and your peers have risen to the occasionand proven that no obstacle can impede you, on your path to
4. Your spirit of excellence and perseverance, and that of those who
came before you, have been pivotal to underlining the progress of
our Indian community. In the recently-released Census of
Population 2020, we saw that the Indian community had achieved
significant overall improvement in academic performance — 67.4%
of all Singaporean Indians hold a post-secondary, professional
qualification, diploma or university degree today, up from only
59.3% a decade ago. In mentioning this statistic, we are not
focusing on the paper qualification. Rather, the focus is on ensuring
that our people have the right knowledge, skills and aptitude to take
advantage of the opportunities that come their way.
5. These statistics also signal to us that the Indian community’s
academic performance is on a very positive, upward trend. This did
not happen on its own overnight. Instead, this is the fruit of many
years of focused efforts on education, as a community, in
partnership with national and government agencies – everyone working together to provide the best possible outcomes for our
6. While these achievements are significant, there is always room for
us to grow in bettering academic performance. As a community, we
must and will continue to build upon this positive growth, to ensure
that everyone, especially the students who come from
less-advantaged backgrounds, are strongly supported in their
pursuits and ambitions.
Many Hands Working Together
7. You would know that SINDA is a key organisation focused on our
community’s educational goals. While SINDA serves as an enabler,
I also want to laud and encourage the many who working alongside
the organisation – schools, teachers, community partners,
volunteers and of course, your parents, families and loved ones. I
am heartened by all your dedicated efforts and I urge you to
continue giving our students continued strong and able support to
allow them to thrive in the future landscape.
8. Each step on our children’s learning journeys shapes their
aspirations and guides their ambitions. Hence, it is important that
our youths enjoy a positive and nurturing environment – one that
empowers them and strengthens their self-belief, so that they have
the right mindset and attitude to accomplish their goals.
Youths as Agents of Change
9. Among the many achievers here today is the SEA cohort
valedictorian, Yarlagadda Sai Surya, who receives the award for the
NUS degree category. This is his third time receiving the SEA
award, having previously received it for his GCE O- and A-Levels
as well. Surya may only be 26, but he is already making his mark
not just in Singapore but also in the region. He is a very passionate
individual who aims to advance sustainability efforts in our country.
10. He has, at this relatively young age, already founded two start-ups
− Young Sustainable Impact Southeast Asia (YSI SEA) and
Interseed – which aim to empower social entrepreneurs to innovate
for sustainability. He’s organised a series of annual programmes to empower social entrepreneurs in the region and incubated 27
projects so far! I applaud Surya’s dedication in bettering our world
and I wish him the very best in his path ahead.
11. Just as Surya, all of you would have similar passions to bring about
positive change across many levels. I urge you to keep working on
furthering these passions into constructive action, so that you can
introduce equally positive change to our collective future. This is
also very much at the core of SG Together – a connected society,
where all of us work together, actively contribute ideas and efforts
and embark on a journey of shared success, as one Singapore.
12. As you take the next steps and progress in your pathways, there
will be continued opportunities for you to contribute towards helping
others and making Singapore a better place for everyone. Just as
we saw the many ground-up social efforts that sprung up in service
to our fellowmen throughout this pandemic, you too can find your
calling to contribute to meaningful causes. These will in return be
strong reflections of the compassionate, gracious and supportive
spirit that is within each Singaporean.
13. So, while we celebrate your successes today, I am also confident that your achievements would not stop here, and that you would go
on to make waves in the future and bring about meaningful impact.
I wish you every success in your endeavours and I look forward to
our combined contributions to our nation and our community, in the
years to come. Congratulations once again!
Article and photo courtesy: SINDA