PM Modi’s 2018 Singapore visit enhanced India’s presence in ASEAN: Indian diplomat

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s three-day visit to Singapore in 2018 went a long way in enhancing India’s presence in the ASEAN region, outgoing Indian High Commissioner to Singapore Jawed Ashraf has said.

The 56-year-old career diplomat who served in Singapore for 43 months will leave on Sunday for his next posting to France.

“PM Modi’s visits to Singapore went a long way in enhancing India’s presence in the region, in sending a strong signal of our commitment to the region and in several concrete outcomes that have significantly deepened India’s strategic partnership with Singapore and ASEAN,” he said in a farewell interview with Singapore’s Friday weekly Tabla.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional intergovernmental organisation comprising 10 Southeast Asian countries, which promotes intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational, and socio-cultural integration among its members and other Asian states.

The ASEAN members are Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, The Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Brunei and Laos.

“What we have achieved is the result of teamwork between both governments and by tapping the talent and resources outside,” Ashraf said.

The India-Singapore strategic partnership made progress across several areas, thanks entirely to the vision and leadership of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Prime Minister Modi and is driven by all the ministers on both sides, he said.

“I believe it has enormous potential for growth, which can bring great economic and strategic benefits to Singapore and India. I hope I have done my bit among a whole set of leaders, institutions and stakeholders who shape the relationship,” he said.

K V Rao, resident director (ASEAN) at Tata Sons admired Ashraf’s contribution in strengthening India-Singapore ties.

“He is multi-faceted and highly energetic. He raised the political, economic, cultural, social and artistic spheres of the Singapore-India relationship to another level. An outstanding orator and a great friend who endeared himself to so many of us, he will be sorely missed. Our loss is France’s gain,” said Rao.

Ashraf played a key role in Indian fintech startups connecting with Singapore and getting global exposure.

“Singapore is a leading country in this area and a natural partner for India. The Monetary Authority of Singapore, especially its Managing Director Ravi Menon and Chief Fintech Officer Sopnendu Mohanty and his team, played a pioneering role. We also have a joint working group to steer this cooperation,” he said.

Ashraf also praised the Indian diaspora in Singapore as “very talented, socially committed and deeply connected with both India and Singapore”.

“He was a symbol of racial harmony and unity in diversity. He went out of his way to help the needy during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Atul Temurnikar, chairman of Global Schools Foundation, said of Ashraf.

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