Best Airlines of Singapore

Singapore despite its puny size is one of the biggest economies in the world. It is home to the largest number of millionaires on earth and almost every multinational organization worth its name has an office in Singapore. The nation is also the top notch tourist destination in the world. Of all the Singaporean companies and business organizations that have been helped keep the national economy in perfect shape, Singapore Airlines occupies a pride of place. Apart from SIA, there are five other air carriers in Singapore that have the license (as granted by Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore). These are the Jetstar Asia Airways, SilkAir, Scoot, Tigerair, and Valuair. Singapore Airlines Cargo is the only carrier in Singapore operating cargo flights.

About Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines or SIA is the flagship carrier of the country and rated as one of the best airlines in the world.  SIA is the world’s most favorite airlines in terms of quality of passenger service, total number of passengers flown, the number of destinations it flies to, the total number of daily flights it operates, and many other parameters.
Singapore Airlines operates out of its hub at the Changi International Airport which again is one of the busiest airports in the world in terms of passenger traffic. Singapore Airlines flies to almost all major cities of the world. It operates long haul flights, including trans-Atlantic flights and direct flights (with only stopovers for refueling) to many North American and European cities some of which are world’s longest commercial routes. The airline was incorporated in 1947 as Malayan Airways and starting operating passenger flights (civil aviation) from 1972.
Singapore Airlines flies to a total of 62 destinations based in 35 countries that cover all the six continents. The carrier flies to the maximum number of Southeast Asian locations and also operates more flights than any other airlines to Southeast Asian destinations. SIA has a major share of the international air traffic bound for Australia. The carrier flies to almost all major airports in Middle East Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America.

Jetstar Asia Airways
Jetstar Asia Airways popularly known as Jetstar Asia established in 2004 is a subsidiary of Jetstar Airways which again is an ancillary holding of QANTAS-national airlines of Australia. Jetstar Asia is a low-cost carrier. It mainly operates flights to neighbouring Southeast Asian destinations in Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Phillipines, Vietnam and Malaysia. It also flies to select destinations in Japan, China, and Australia.

Valuair
Valuair is also an economy carrier that presently operates flights only to Indonesian destinations of Surabaya, Denpasar, Jakarta, and Medan. The airlines was founded in 2004 and offers special facilities to fliers like free baggage exceeding 20 Kg, wide seats and high-quality in-flight meals.

Tigerair
Tigerair officially known as Tiger Airways Singapore Pte Ltd is another low-cost air carrier based in Singapore. Tigerair which was founded in 2003 concentrates on flying to destinations in India, China, Australia and some specific destinations in Southeast Asia. It was felicitated with the CAPA Low Cost Airline of the Year Award in 2010 and 2006.

SilkAir
SilkAir officially called SilkAir (Singapore) Private Ltd is a fully owned subsidiary holding of Singapore Airlines. It operates flights to 43 cities in Australia, China, South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Scoot
Scoot Pte Ltd better known as Scoot is a low-cost carrier owned by Singapore Airlines and flies to far off destinations in Australia, Japan, South Korea and China like Gold Coast, Perth, Sydney, Shenyang, Qingdao, Tokyo, and Seoul. It also flies to Bangkok, Hong Kong and Taipei. Scoot was incorporated in 2011.  Scoot uses a very arresting catchphrase for its marketing campaigns-‘Get Outta Here! Scoot!

Singapore’s Foreign Policy and Its Relations with Other Countries

Chief tenets of foreign policy of Singapore
If you want to understand the foreign policy of Singapore and its relations with the rest of the world, we have to first understand the chief tenets of Singapore’s foreign policy.  Firstly, Singapore is a small island state; secondly, the prime purpose of Singapore’s foreign policy is to ensure its survival, given its small size and its lack of resourcefulness; and thirdly, practical and power based “realpolitik” approach is active behind its wider foreign policy.

Establishment of ASEAN

Since Singapore got separated from Malaysia in 1965, and became an independent nation, its leaders soon realized that they were living in a world of economic interdependence and there was a need of institution building in the region, which was extremely important to propel the economic and political interests of Singapore.  So, Singapore took the leadership position in the region and became the founding member of ASEAN.  

Close friends of Singapore

Singapore is a member of the United Nations as well and has strong defense ties with US, UK and Israel.  However, it does not allow its military ties with Western countries to instill insecurity in its neighbors, especially Malaysia and Indonesia.  Malaysia, earlier, had a water supply dispute with Singapore, which strained their relationships, but the new leaderships in both the countries have resolved this issue and moved on.

Relationship with Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia

Singapore’s initiative to form ASEAN reaffirmed its regional position and helped in boosting ties with its neighbors, especially with Malaysia and Indonesia.  Today, both Malaysia and Singapore are two rapidly developing nations and they need each other in their quest for progress.  Singapore also has friendly ties with Philippines, which is also one of its neighbors. Philippines Singapore Action Plan covers cooperation on trade, economy, education, tourism, capital market, defense, information technology and culture, etc.

Relationship with Australia and European countries

Singapore also has very good relationship with its neighbor Australia.  Besides maintaining a high commission in Australia, both the countries have signed Singapore Australia Free Trade Agreement.  Both the countries have strong ties in trade, defense and security.  Singapore maintains its embassies and high commissions in European countries as well, such as Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Vatican, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine and United Kingdom.

Relationship with UK

Singapore shares special relationship with UK, its erstwhile colonial ruler, as a member of Commonwealth and a defense partner.  Singapore has signed Five Power Defense Agreements (FPDA) with UK, Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia.

Relationship with India

Singapore also shares extremely cordial relationship with India.  The historic ties between the two countries and a 300,000 strong Indian community in Singapore are responsible for high level cooperation in economy, technology, security and culture.  Singapore is the largest foreign direct investor in India.

Relationship with US and Canada

Singapore shares excellent relationship with North American countries such as Canada and US.  Singapore has strong defense ties with the United States and it backs almost all the US military campaigns worldwide.  The US has its naval and air force base in Singapore and the two countries also share good bilateral relationships in health, education and economy.  United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement is the only agreement of its kind the US has with any eastern nation.

Relationship with China, Japan, and Taiwan

Singapore also has very good relationships with China, Japan, and Taiwan, etc.  Despite some stalemate with China over Taiwan, both China and Singapore share strong trade relationships.  The head of the states of both the countries keep visiting each other’s capitals.

Relationship with Other countries

Singapore also has good relationships with Mexico, Israel, New Zealand, South Africa, Egypt and Pakistan.  Apart from defense ties, Singapore and Israel share warm relationships as far as culture, technology, healthcare and arts are concerned.

Overview of Singapore Economy

The top rankings is the world
Singapore rose from a sleepy colonial city in the 60s, (when it got independence,) to a bustling, cosmopolitan city with a vibrant economy in the 90s. It is also been hailed as one of the most competitive economies in the world, where it is easy to do business.  It has also been honored as the number one country in the world to do business. In this matter, it is far ahead of even New Zealand and Hong Kong. 

Surprisingly, the tiny island state ranks third in the global competitiveness report prepared by the World Economic Forum; in this report Singapore comes just after Switzerland and Sweden, which occupy the top two spots.

Huge influx of FDI and MNCs in the 80s

The boom in the manufacturing sector in the 70s, led four small economies to explode and these were South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.  Consequently, it attracted huge FDI and multinational companies in the island state.  It became the steppingstone for Singapore to grow as one of the most advanced and technology oriented economies.  Tourism grew in Singapore as the byproduct of industrial revolution, as more and more business persons poured into the city.  Therefore, hotel industry grew parallel to manufacturing sector.

Third fastest growing economy
 
Recently, Singapore was ranked as the third fastest growing economy in the world with a GDP growth rate of as high as 14.5%.  Singapore is one of the best examples of a mixed economy, where the free market is complimented by the government controlled factors of production, such as capital resources, labor and land.  This is called famous Singapore Model of economy.

The Singapore Model

There were obvious reasons for the development of the Singapore Model.  First of all, for a tiny country like Singapore, it became inevitable to integrate its economy with the external markets to boost its capacity and avail the global resources.  But, the unexpected events and the upheavals in the global markets exposed the vulnerability of this tiny country, which was largely dependent upon foreign capital, foreign companies and foreign resources.  The rulers of Singapore therefore developed a mixed model, in which the government had an active role to protect its industries and economy.  The government encouraged homegrown industries to survive and thrive, so that they can meet the demands of the global markets.

Singapore Inc.

Interestingly, Singapore is also referred to as Singapore Inc., the concept where the country seems to run as a corporation rather than a country.  The government has its interference in housing, media, and transportation, apart from social policies, which is seen as supplementary activities for the development of economy.  So, it is natural that the city state is called Singapore Incorporation.

An inspiration for many countries

Singapore Model has been a tremendous success so far.  Singapore Model has been an inspiration for many other states, both big and small, such as Dubai, Qatar, Bahrain, India, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Mauritius and Denmark.  It is because of this model that Singapore successfully survived the 1997 Asian financial crisis and global recession of 2008. 

The best country to do business

It still has AAA credit ratings and it also has the honor of being the only Asian country to have such ratings by the international agencies like Standard & Poor’s.  It is also been awarded the second freest economy in the world and has the reputation of one of the most corruption free states in the world.  You can start a business in Singapore in just three days as compared to the average 34 days in other global locations.  Singapore is blessed with highly skilled workforce, excellent infrastructure, favorable tax structure and the most conducive environment for the companies to grow and do business.

How to Handle Legal Implications in Singapore

Singapore has long been a top draw for tourists, business travellers and expatriates and continues to be so as the city-state has something to offer for every sort of visitor. In the present times when crime rates have gone up in almost every nation on the face of this earth and tourists are pervaded by a feeling of insecurity when they travel overseas, Singapore offers a save haven. In fact, Singapore is one of the safest countries in the world where even a heavily bedecked woman can criss-cross the city late at night without the fear of getting mugged.
Since Singapore used to be a British colony, the legal structure of the country has been modelled on the judicial setup of the English Parliamentary System. Many have termed Singapore as a police-state because of its rigorous law enforcement policies. You could be fined heavily even for petty misdemeanours like littering, jaywalking, chewing gum, smoking in the open or for leaving toilets un-flushed!

The Legal Framework in Singapore

The Singapore Police Force is entrusted with enforcing and safeguarding the laws and bringing culpable citizens to book. Before you can start planning your Singapore sojourn, it is imperative to be aware of the legal framework of the island-state and also have a fair idea of dealing with the legal niceties if you’re unwittingly caught on the wrong side of the law.
The principal segments of legal jurisprudence- administrative law, property law, trust law, equity law, tort law, and contract law are generally framed by judges. Nevertheless, criminal law, civil law, family law and company law are of a statutory (as enshrined in the Singapore Constitution) nature and amendments in these specific legal segments are made on the basis of past precedents. The entire legal structure (or infrastructure) of Singapore is supported by the four props of Constitution, Legislation, Auxiliary Legislation, and laws framed by Judges.

The Court System

The Supreme Court of Singapore is the apex court of the country headed by the Chief Justice. The Supreme Court is broadly sub-divided into High Court and Court of Appeal for hearing criminal and civil cases. The           ‘juvenile courts’, ‘district courts’, ‘coroners’ court’, ‘small claims tribunals, ‘magistrates’ courts’, ‘family courts’, ‘traffic courts’, syariah courts, ‘night courts’, and ‘community courts’ make up the rank and file of Subordinate Courts. Before you move the court against someone or before somebody can file a case against find out which court of law you should approach.

 About Dispute Resolution

It goes without saying that moving the court in Singapore could be pretty expensive as well as a very time consuming affair. So, you’d do well to know that no matter whatever the dispute you’re involved in (business, family, criminal or civil), you can go for an out of the court settlement via the procedures of Arbitration and Mediation. A mediator is an experienced legal professional who can help you negotiate with your adversary and arrive at a mutually agreeable solution. The Singapore Mediation Centre is the monitoring and regulatory body entrusted with appointing neutral mediators. Nearly 90% of cases settled through the mediation route have been resolved within a day. The mediation fee is a minimum of 900 SGD for each day for a single party.

The Arbitration process unlike Mediation is legally enforceable. However, you do not need to be present in a courtroom as the arbitrator presides over a case in a private setting. The arbitrator announces a verdict at his own discretion and the same is legally binding on both the parties. The SIAC (Singapore International Arbitration Centre) is the regulatory body that supervises only civil arbitration matters in Singapore. Family law and/or criminal law cases are handled by the respective courts meant for such disputes. The particular court you’ll approach for your dispute resolution will invariably depend upon the character of your case and the amount you’re claiming as compensation. Bear in mind that once a verdict has been declared, it is legally enforceable although you can always appeal against the sentence in a High Court or Court of Appeal.   

 Wedding Traditions in Singapore

A marriage ceremony or wedding has always been a traditional affair that has transcended national borders, race, caste, creed or religion and even time. So, needless to say even in the 21st century, a typical wedding ceremonial in Singapore no matter how avant-garde and trendy it may appear at the outset is steeped in age-old rituals and customs. Singapore is a melting potpourri of cultures and people with diverse ethnic cultures and practices have harmoniously co-existed in the country for decades.

So, it follows that inter-racial and cross-cultural nuptials and weddings are quite common in the city-state. A wedding in Singapore is Occidental or Western in form but essentially Oriental (traditional) in character. The following lines elucidate some conventional and time-honoured customs that are still zealously followed in a characteristic wedding ceremony in Singapore.

1)The Positioning of the Wedding Bed (An Chuang)

Just before the wedding ceremony, a well-to-do man is generally consulted as far as the positioning of the newly married couples’ bed is concerned. Thereafter, a male kid of a close relation is invited to lie down or roll on it. Such an activity (rolling on the bed or lying down on it) is carried out to sanctify or consecrate the wedding. A male child is selected so that the couple is blessed with a son. Fruits like dates and oranges and vegetables particularly red or green beans are also spread throughout the bed for auspiciousness.

2)Sending Betrothal Gifts (Guo Da Li)

The tradition or practice of sending betrothal gifts to the bride’s family has been handed down from generation to generation. Actually, the entire process (of sending wedding gifts) comprises of two stages. In the first stage, the prospective groom and a lady who is considered lucky, visits the would-be-bride’s home to handover the gifts basket. What goes into the basket depends upon the ancestral provinces of both the groom and the bride. In the stage or final stage, the bride’s family returns the basket out of courtesy. The parents of the bride are supposed to reciprocate the gesture by giving ‘return gifts’. The amount of gifts in the baskets should always add up to an even number.

3)The Ritual of Combing the Hair (Shang Tou)

Prior to the wedding ceremony, the hair of the groom and the locks of the bride are done up generally by a lady and this ritual of combing signals the transitioning of the couple from adolescence to adulthood. The hair is usually done up (or combed) four times and each round has a symbolic meaning. The first combing stands for the lasting of marriage; the second represents holy wedlock till one reaches his or her prime; the third round stands for fertility and the ultimate combing represents lasting prosperity.

4)Bringing the Bride to Her In-Laws Home

Traditionally, the bridegroom in order to fetch his would-be-wife visits her parental or family home along with some of his closest male friends (xiong di dui) and relatives. The entire episode of bringing the bride to her in-laws home is quite an elaborate affair. The groom along with his male buddies has to go through many trials and tribulations before he can get to the bride. The ‘jie meis’ (bridesmaids) make the groom profess his love for his bride by telling him to draw up a marriage contract and put his signature on it. 
 
5)Tea Ceremony (Feng Cha)

The newly married couple after paying homage to their predecessors offer cups of tea to the parents of the grooms. Thereafter, they offer tea to the groom’s elders. In return the couple are presented with red packets containing money.

6)The Banquet

Parents of both the bride and the bridegroom sponsor a lavish wedding banquet that   usually comprises of a 7-to-10 course dinner. The wedding banquet is a perfect way of commemorating the holy union.

7) The Home-Coming (San Chao Hui Men) 

It is customary for the newlyweds to visit the parental home of the bride three days post the wedding reception.    
 

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.

Movies shot in Singapore.

Movies shot in Singapore

Singapore has been a hot favorite destination of moviemakers from both Hollywood and Bollywood.  Numerous Hollywood movies have been shot in Singapore and recently Indian moviemakers and directors are also turning towards Singapore for the shooting of their movies.  The famous Indian movies being shot in Singapore are Aur Pyar Ho Gaya, Biwi # 1, De Danaa Dan, Krrish and Pyar Impossible etc.   

Aur Pyar Ho Gaya

This film was shot in 1997 with Aishwarya Roy and Bobby Deol in the lead.  Though, the film was shot at various international locations, including Germany and Switzerland, a few songs were shot in Singapore also. The song, “Ek Din Kahin Hum Tum Mile” was shot at Fountain of Wealth, Suntec City, Singapore, Merlion, Sentosa, Southern Islands, Singapore, Raffles Place, Singapore, Sentosa Island Fountain, Singapore, and Tiger Balm Gardens, Singapore.

Krrish

Hrithik Roshan’s ski-fi thriller Krrish with Priyanka Chopra in the lead was shot at many places in Singapore.  The scene where the movie superhero, Hrithik chases Naseeruddin Shah is shot at Cavenagh Bridge, Singapore and Fountain of Wealth, Suntec City, Singapore, and Lau Pa Sat Clock Tower, Singapore.  The song, “Koi Tumsa Nahi” was shot at Chain Bridge, Singapore. The scene in the movie where Hrithik (Rohit) meets Naseeruddin Shah is shot at Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore. The scene, where Hrithik is performing stunts on the street for the kid, and parts of the song, Koi Tumsa Nahi, were shot at Mica Building, Singapore.

Pyar Impossible

The movie was released in 2010 and was directed by Jugal Hansraj with Priyanka Chopra and Uday Chopra in the lead. In the movie Assumption University Suvarnabhumi Campus, Samutprakarn, Thailand is shown as Ankert University, California.  The title song Pyar Impossible is also shot here.  When Uday reaches Singapore, he is shown at Elgin Bridge, Singapore and when the hero Uday seeks legal advice, the venue shown is Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, Singapore. 

Apart from Bollywood lots of local and Hollywood movies are shot here.  The other movies shot at Singapore are as follows:
1. Ali Baba Bujang Lapok (Released in 1960)
2. 18 Grams of Love (Released in 2007)
3. Blood Ties (Released in 2009)
4. Becoming Royston (Released in 2007)
5. Being Human
6. 2000 AD (Released in 2000)
7. 4:30 (Released in 2005)
8. 881
9. Antara Dua Darjat (Released in 1960)
10. Bidasari (Released in 1965)
11. Ah Long Pte Ltd
12.  ALL CHANGE!!! (Released in 1999)
13. 15 (Released in 2003)
14. Ah Ma (Released in 2007)
15. A Month of Hungry Ghosts (Released in 2008)
16.  A New Life (Released in 2005)
17. Army Daze (Released in 1996)
18.  Avatar (Released in 2004)
19. 12 Storeys (Released in 1997)
20. All the Lines Flow Out (Released in 2011)
21. A Wicked Tale (Released in 2005)
22.  Abu Hassan Penchuri (Released in 1955)
23.  Be with Me (Released in 2005)
24.  Allen Ginsberg Gives Great Head (Released in 2007)
25.  Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid (Released in 1975)

Economic condition of Singapore 2013 -2014

The aggressive Asian tiger
Singapore is one of the most aggressive states financially.  Similar to Israel, its economy is much more robust and powerful than the economies of comparatively much bigger countries.  The economic tiger of the South East Asia is known for its corruption free business environment, price control, a much higher per capita GDP that surpasses the per capita GDP of most of the developed nations even.  It’s a free market economy and its government has made it a highly developed economy within a few decades.  Its economy is export oriented and it exports IT products, consumer electronics, pharmaceutical products, and a financial services sector.
                  
Singapore: the darling of foreign entrepreneurs

Gregory Wade was the chief of Asia Pacific headquarters of Canada based RIM (the producer of Blackberry mobiles) in Singapore. When his tenor was finished in Singapore, he didn’t leave the Island state and rather joined an equity firm.  He lauded the economic miracle of Singapore and asked the Canadian companies to come and open their counters in Singapore.  At present, he is also the VP of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Singapore.

The buzzing entrepreneurial energy

According to him, Singapore is buzzing with energy and you are bound to feel a vibe of growth here.  It encourages entrepreneurship and innovation as far as launching new products and services is concerned.  According to Wade, this kind of entrepreneurial energy is missing in his home country Canada.
     
Unparallel development

It’s really miraculous that a barren Island with a small population, with no natural resources witnessed such a booming growth and development in just a few decades.  It is unparallel in the history of the world.  It seems like its government runs the country like a profitable corporation.  They want nothing but the best—skilled workforce, the best professionals from around the world, expensive trainers and business leaders coupled with an open door policy, easy immigration laws and expat friendly environment.  The government of Singapore, unlike other democratic countries has a zero tolerance policy for protests, disruptions, and public dissent.

Growth despite global slowdown

Despite global recession of 2008-2010, Singapore has witnessed growth in almost every segment in the year 2012-13.  In the second quarter of the ongoing year 2013, the economy has registered 3.7% growth, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry.  It was just 0.2% in the first quarter of 2013.  On a quarter to quarter basis, the rate of economic growth was 15%, which is much higher as compared to the previous quarter.  The biggest beneficiaries were manufacturing sector, construction sector, and services sector.  These figures were achieved despite the slowdown in overseas markets and lack of demand in the European markets.

The future prospects

After a lackluster performance of international markets, the US market is expected to register mild growth, whereas Eurozone will remain struggling with recession.  Though, the economic activity in Eurozone is a good indicator.  Stable domestic demand is keeping ASEAN region in good shape.  Singapore economy is also expected to see a little growth this year.  The sectors driving the economy are manufacturing, transportation and storage.  The sectors which are domestically oriented in Singapore and don’t depend upon foreign demand such as construction and business services are also likely to see growth this year.

Singapore – Second largest FDI source

Singapore as a leading source of FDI for India

As far as India is concerned, Singapore’s economic growth comes as good news.  It is consistently the second largest source of FDI into India after Mauritius since 2008.  With a total investment of Rs 58,090 crore, its investment is mainly into telecom, offshoring services, oil refineries, power, food processing and electrical equipment. 
 
Increasing FDI since 2008

So, it’s way ahead of US, UK and Netherlands, the other top investors in India.  It’s quite surprising given the size of the country, which is much smaller as compared to the countries like US, UK and China.  Before 2008, the second position was occupied by the US. UK was third, which has slid to fourth position now.  In 2008, the FDI jumped by $1 billion, whereas FDI from US was just $300 million.  UK’s long-term investment flow was just $50 million. 
Before that the FDI from Singapore was below $600 million and it was much less than US and UK.   Earlier the contribution of US and UK used to be around $900 million and $1900 million respectively.  The credit crunch is also cited as one of the reasons for a downfall in investment from US and UK.
 
Temasek and GIC

The sudden inflow from the Island state is also associated with FDI from two major sovereign funds Temasek and GIC.  These funds were active private investors before, and with Temasek acquiring additional strength, the FDI in India boomed.  Just a year before, the two major funds were involved in financial deals in India worth $3.5 billion and it was a whopping one fifth of the total private equity deals made in 2007.  

A decade of investment

The total foreign direct investment from Singapore since year 2001 to year 2008 was just $6 billion, which was just next to Mauritius ($30 billion). Even during that period the investments from US and UK were just $5.5 billion and $4.5 billion respectively, which was way too less as compared to Singapore.  So, it’s clear that Singapore has always been a leading financial partner of India with heavy investments into our country. 
Till June, 2008, Singapore’s share in cumulative FDI in India was around 8% of the global investments, which makes it a leading FDI source country for India.  The major chunk of foreign direct investment in India went to sectors like services, IT, telecom, construction, metallurgy, automobiles and pharmaceuticals.  
   
Recent measures to improve FDI

Indian government liberalized FDI norms in 2012 after a huge slump in its FDI due to poor performance to economy.  FDI caps were modified in various sectors such as petroleum, natural gas, media and tea.  Certain sectors such as civil aviation, retail and power received the maximum benefits of liberalization.

Singapore, a leading investor in 2013

In April 2013, Singapore again infused US$1.3 billion in Indian market.  It was followed by Mauritius the largest investor and US; however their contribution was just a fraction of Singapore’s viz. US$ 350 million and US$ 175 million respectively. So, Singapore again emerged as a leading source of FDI in India. The island state’s financial prowess is considered to be auspicious for India.  Singapore has emerged as a boon for Indian economy.

Education In Singapore

Ministry of Education in Singapore

Ministry of Education is the body in Singapore, which manages education across this Island State.  It controls not only the government schools that receive funding, but also the private schools.  Therefore, it provides different levels of autonomy to the schools in terms of tuition, fees, admission policy and government funding.  Singapore is a state, where a hefty 90% of annual national budget goes towards education.  It means that the government gives extreme importance to education and is committed to education for all. 

Education for all

It also offers subsidized education and ensures primary education for all Singaporeans through different programs such as Edusave.  It has also passed the Compulsory Education Act, according to which if the parents fail to enroll their kids in school, then it would be cited as a criminal offense on behalf of parents.  However, there are certain exemptions such as enrolling for full-time religious education, but the citizens have to file the report to the Ministry of Education that they are exempted from this Act.

Medium of Instruction

The official language and the medium of instruction in Singapore is English, which is considered to be the first language and the official language of the state as well.  Almost 50% of children learn English by the time they get to the preschool, because English is used as the medium of instruction in all the primary schools.  The other official languages include Malay, Mandarin and Tamil, which are taught separately.  However, under the Special Assistance Plan (SAP), subjects are taught at some of the secondary schools in the native languages such as Mandarin.

Education that is employment oriented  

Singapore’s education system is highly rated in the word and in 2010 it was described as “the leading education system in the world” by the British Education Ministry.  The annual budget of education in Singapore is 7 billion Singaporean dollars.  The overall literacy level is 96%, out of which 98% are males.  The percentage of secondary diploma holders is 67% and that of the post secondary diploma holders is around 50%.  In the 1960s, Singapore education system was redesigned to produce skilled workforce.  It was survival driven and was aimed to minimize unemployment. 

Emphasis on quality

In the 1980s, when Singapore started moving on the growth curve, the government started to emphasize on quality more than quantity.  Various programs and courses were introduced, according to the individual abilities and more opportunities for vocational education were offered by the government. Academic and technical streams are separated to facilitate students.  In 1997, Singaporean government launched the vision, “Thinking Schools, Learning Nations”.  This vision became the driving force behind the Ministry of Education’s drive for greater autonomy to the institutes and schools as far as designing the curriculum and the development of niche areas is concerned.

The elementary and primary education in Singapore

Kindergartens are the schools, which are meant for children below six.  The primary education starts from age 7, with two main stages; “Primary and Orientation”.  Primary education is made compulsory by the government.  The “Orientation” stage lasts at 6th standard.  After primary education, secondary education begins.
In order to get admission in international schools in Singapore, the citizens have to take permission from the Ministry of Education.  Various names are given to secondary education tracks/streams such as “Express, Special and Normal”.  “Normal” includes technical education as well. 

Co-curricular activities.

Singapore government gives emphasis to co-curricular activities and has made it compulsory at the primary and secondary levels. It arranges activities such as Performing Arts, Clubs, Uniformed Groups and Sports Competitions.

Admission procedure for secondary education
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The secondary education is conducted through GCE ‘O’ level exam, which determines the institution you are going to get admission in.  It is followed by a two years course leading to ‘A’ level exam.  For technical education, you are several polytechnics in Singapore, along with the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).
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Education with commercial perspective

Singapore government has always considered education as the driving force for its economy.  Skilled workforce compensates for lack of natural resources in Singapore.  Moving over producing qualified workforce, Singapore government is now taking education as a source of revenue and foreign capital inflow.  Thus government is poised to make Singapore a “Global Schoolhouse”, attracting international students to supplement its foreign currency requirements.  The education sector is responsible for around 5% contribution towards Singapore’s economy.