India Singapore Relations

History of India Singapore relationship

Singapore has long-standing bilateral, cultural and trade ties with India.  It’s a part of historical “Greater India”, which existed between Indian Subcontinent and Far East Islands and has strong historical and cultural relationships with India for many centuries.  According to a popular myth, The ancient king of the Srivijaya Empire at Sumatra, (now Indonesia) Saang Nila Uttama went to the expedition of the Island state and saw a huge lion there. Lion is called “singh” in Sanskrit and thus he named the island “Singapura,” with “pura” or “puram” being the Sanskrit version of the city.  So, the very name of the island state is of Indian origin.
The strongest proponent of India’s Look East Policy in ASEAN

Recently, because of the strategic location and historical ties between Singapore and India, both countries have developed a strong relationship, which involves cooperation in trade, security, tourism and defense.  India introduced Look East policy, post-Cold War era and Singapore responded positively to this warm gesture from their old friend.
Inroads into ASEAN through Singapore

It happened at a time when India chose the path of liberalization and export promotion.  Singapore also had a keen interest in India because of its Mild India Fever programs.  Singapore played an instrumental role in including India into the ASEAN Regional Forum. ASEAN India Summit meetings were also initiated through the mediation efforts of Singapore.  India is also a partner of the East Asia Summit and it is because of the efforts of Singapore and Japan, though, China and Malaysia opposed it. 

Indo-Singapore strategic partnership

Singapore is a country, which advocates India’s presence and participation in the affairs of Asia-Pacific region.  Because of Singapore’s drive for trade regionalization, India signed its maiden free trade agreement with the island state for the first time in the Asia-Pacific region.  Singapore needed to counter the Chinese communist threat, after its independence in 1965, and the government of Singapore found a reliable partner in India.  India and China were strong adversaries at the time, because of 1962 war.  Because of this, Singapore also supported India, when the latter went into a war with Pakistan. 

Cold War era differences

However, India’s position in the Cold War era and its non-aligned diplomacy was responsible for decreasing the chances of an active strategic partnership between the two states.  India had favored communist Soviet Union in the past, so it backed up Vietnam against America. ASEAN was against Vietnam and therefore the relationship between India and Singapore went sore.  But, when the Cold War ended in 1990s, India and Singapore again came together to strengthen the relationship.  Singapore became the first country to support India’s Look East policy and offered a platform for India to penetrate and form strong regional ties with other countries in this region.

Political strategic and defense relationships

Since Singapore’s independence in 1965, both the countries shared a common understanding and as a result, the bilateral cooperation further forged ASEAN centric regional partnerships.  Singapore’s Prime Minister Mr. Yew visited India three times between 1965 and 1975 and it was reciprocated by the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.  Singapore has always supported India’s geostrategic presence in the ASEAN region as a balancing force against China. 
India’s strong international ally

It also supported India’s claim to the membership of United Nations Security Council.  In the recent years, both the countries have also signed up various defense agreements and partnerships, including joint naval exercises and transfer of defense technology.  This partnership has become stronger in the wake of the common security concerns and the terrorist threat present in the both countries.

The second largest foreign investor in India

You can imagine the depth of Indo-Singapore relationship from the fact that Singapore is the second largest foreign investor in India at the moment.  And it is the single largest investor after Mauritius that is way ahead of United States and United Kingdom.

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