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India in the Making of Singapore
 9810815395, 9789810815394

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Reproduced from India in the Making of Singapore by Asad-ul Iqbal Latif (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2008). This version was obtained electronically direct from the publisher on condition that copyright is not infringed. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Individual articles are available at < http:// bookshop.iseas.edu.sg >

In memory of my other parents Shri Parameshwara Raghava Kurup and Shrimati Nilima Kurup (nee Bose) who taught me to find Kolkata everywhere in India and find India everywhere in the world Vasudaiva Kutumbakkam

The Singapore Indian Association, established in 1923, seeks to fulfil the material, intellectual, cultural and recreational aspirations of the community. The IA left its mark on the destiny of the Indian community during the Great Depression, World War II, and the Japanese Occupation of Singapore. Since Singapore’s Independence in 1965, it has provided a link between Indians and the larger multi-racial community that constitutes the nation. With the rise of India, the IA is serving as a platform where new arrivals from India can socialize with settled Indians. The Singapore Indian Association Book Series is a new initiative to make available scholarly works on the Singapore Indian community to a wide audience, both Indian and non-Indian, whether in Singapore or abroad. Carefully researched and engagingly written, these books are part of the IA’s outreach efforts as it continues to identify itself with the needs and aspirations of Indians in a globalizing, multi-racial Singapore.

Singapore Indian Association Book Series No. 1

India In the Making of Singapore Asad-ul Iqbal Latif

SINGAPORE INDIAN ASSOCIATION 2008

First published in Singapore in 2008 by the Singapore Indian Association 69 Balestier Road Singapore 329677 Distributed worldwide by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) E-mail: [email protected] Website: http://bookshop.iseas.edu.sg All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author. © 2008 Asad-ul Iqbal Latif The responsibility for facts and opinions in this publication rests exclusively with the author and his interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views or the policy of the publisher or its supporters. Cataloguing-in-Publication Data Latif, Asad-ul Iqbal. India in the making of Singapore. (Singapore Indian Association book series ; no. 1) 1. Singapore—Relations—India. 2. India—Relations—Singapore. 3. Indians (Asian people)—Singapore. I. Title. I. Series. DS610.47 I4L35 2008 ISBN 978-981-08-1539-4 (hard cover) ISSN 1793-8325 Typeset by Superskill Graphics Pte Ltd Printed in Singapore by Utopia Press Pte Ltd

Contents Preface

ix

1

Raffles’ Bengal Connection

1

2

Workers and Soldiers

25

3

Chalo Delhi!

42

4

Looking West to India

62

5

Looking East to Singapore

75

6

Global Indians

90

Appendices

97

Bibliography

145

About the Author

154

Preface In 1995, Professor Tan Tai Yong and Dr Andrew J. Major wrote a path-breaking chapter, “India and Indians in the Making of Singapore”, in Singapore-India Relations: A Primer, edited by Yong Mun Cheong and V.V. Bhanoji Rao and published by Singapore University Press. I tried to follow up on the insights present in their work in my chapter, “From Mandalas to Microchips: The Indian Imprint on the Construction of Singapore”, included in the volume Rising India and Indian Communities in East Asia, edited by Ambassador K. Kesavapany, Professor A. Mani and Professor P. Ramasamy and published by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore. This monograph is an expanded version of my chapter in the volume. It limits itself to India; the role of Indians in the making of Singapore is covered comprehensively in Dr Akurathi Venkateswara Rao’s History of Indians in Singapore. I came to know of his book, which is being published by Osmania University Press, just as this monograph was about to go to press. I contacted Dr Rao. Very generously, he e-mailed me a soft copy of his manuscript, but it was too late for me to read it and incorporate its conclusions. What I would like to do here is to cite his book, which will add undoubtedly to existing scholarship on the subject. This monograph does not attempt a detailed history of India’s relations with Singapore. Instead, it highlights several turning points in that relationship: the role of Bengal in



Preface

Sir Stamford Raffles’ decision to set up a base in Singapore; the contribution of Indian labour to the construction of Singapore; the Singapore Mutiny of 1915; Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s arrival in wartime Singapore and the revitalization of the Indian National Army; independent Singapore’s early relations with India; the dramatic breakthrough in ties created by India’s Look East policy following the end of the Cold War; and the arrival of global Indians in Singapore. Footnotes have been kept to a minimum to appeal to a broad audience; the select bibliography reflects this choice. I am grateful to the Singapore Indian Association, and particularly to its President, Mr M.V. Rajendran, for publishing this monograph. I am grateful to Ambassador K. Kesavapany, my Director at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, for his encouragement and guidance. To Mr Deepak Nair at ISEAS, I owe my gratitude for his intellectual companionship and critical indulgence over the past two years. I would like to thank my colleague, Ms Sheryl Sin Bing Peng, for all her care and help. I thank Professor Sugata Bose of Harvard University for his kind permission to draw from a paper, co-authored by Ambassador Kesavapany and myself, that was presented at an international conference on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in Kolkata in 2007. May this humble volume contribute to continuing good relations between India, which was my country once, and Singapore, which is my home today.

Raffles’ Bengal Connection



1 Raffles’ Bengal Connection The English East India Company, the “Grandest Society of Merchants in the Universe”, was set up in London on 31 December 1600. Its history spans the reigns of Elizabeth and Victoria on a geography extending from southern Africa to north-west America.1 “As a commercial enterprise it came to control half the world’s trade and as a political entity it administered an embryonic empire. Without it there would have been no British India and no British Empire.”2 The British Library marked the 400th anniversary of the Company’s inception by organizing an exhibition that asked people to contemplate what would have happened to the world without it. “Imagine an England without tea in china cups, without pepper, chintz or chutney; imagine an India without cricket or gin and tonic, a world without Bombay or Singapore.”3 Or Calcutta, the capital of British India, which supported the idea of finding a new economic and strategic foothold for the Company east of India. It can be argued plausibly that India was “the reason behind the founding of Singapore”.4 Singapore was acquired by the Company in the 19th century because of Anglo-French rivalry in the Indian subcontinent; the rise of the British Raj; and its need to defend its commercial and military interests in the Bay of Bengal and the transoceanic route to the Malay Archipelago and



India in the Making of Singapore

China — a need that brought the British into conflict with the Dutch.5 In 1756, the Company moved from trading to revenuecollection in Bengal as part of its emergence as a territorial power in India. In 1756 began, as well, the Seven Years War between Britain and France, fought in Europe, Canada, the West Indies, India and the Philippines. After the war, Britain shifted its attention to the Bay of Bengal, where it wanted an all-year base free of the disarray that the north-east and south-west monsoons could wreak on naval movements. The British defeat in the War of American Independence (1778–83) gave new impetus to Britain’s search for a base eastward for its navy. This quest led to the founding of a British settlement in Penang in 1786 and the occupation of the Andaman Islands in 1788. The strategic significance of the Straits of Malacca had been apparent since the end of the Seven Years War in 1763, but the fact that the Dutch had sided with the French and the Spaniards during the War of American Independence impressed on the British the operational significance of the Straits of Malacca for the defence of India. The imperatives of trade contributed to the balance of power created by war. Britain’s control of resources in India, especially those in Bengal, enabled London to make the expansion of its China trade a prime object of national policy. The resources of Southeast Asia that lay outside the Dutch and Spanish zones of control were crucial to the advancement of the Company’s China trade. The security of the Bay of Bengal thus became inseparable from that of the South China Sea. The outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, and the Anglo-French War that followed, unleashed a chain of events

Raffles’ Bengal Connection



that threatened the British again in the Bay of Bengal and eastwards. From 1805–10, Penang became a major base for naval operations but then it receded in importance because the British decided to build up Trincomalee, in Ceylon, as their base for the defence of India. The Anglo-Dutch Convention of 1814 projected European politics on to Asia. The British wanted an accommodation with the Dutch that would enable them to trade peacefully. But the Dutch gained the opportunity to control the Straits of Malacca and the Sunda Straits, and they lost little time in doing so. It became clear to the British that they needed to protect their Indian empire from Dutch influence in Southeast Asia. The Vienna Peace Settlement of 1815 created a new European balance of power whose key lay in Britain’s global naval primacy. The British controlled the Indian Ocean. France possessed neither the naval power nor the political clout in India to challenge the British. Only the Dutch could do that from the eastern part of the Indian Ocean, where they drew power, not from their own strength, but from Britain’s support for Holland to reduce French power in and outside Europe. Something had to be done about Dutch aspirations. This is where Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles entered the next phase in the imperial scheme of things in Asia. Raffles in Calcutta Raffles was born to a ship’s captain at sea, off Jamaica, on 5 July 1781. He rose from a clerkship in the Company to become assistant secretary to the Governor in Penang in 1805. Lord Minto, the Governor-General of Bengal,



India in the Making of Singapore

appointed him Lieutenant-Governor of Java in 1811, following Java’s capture from the Dutch to prevent it from falling into the hands of Napoleonic France. He lost the governorship of Java in 1816, when it was returned to the Dutch, but he was knighted in 1817. As Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolen in Sumatra from 1818, he set about preventing the returning Dutch from monopolizing the trade of the Malay Archipelago.6 Raffles visited Calcutta early in October 1818. He had embarked on a small vessel with a tiny cabin in which he had shared his journey with centipedes and scorpions. The vessel lost a mast in the Bay of Bengal and, because of a drunken pilot, was stranded at the mouth of the river Hooghly, where Raffles remained until boats sent from Calcutta took him ashore.7 Following that rather dramatic arrival, he proceeded to meet Lord Hastings, the GovernorGeneral of Bengal, to brief him on matters concerning the Company’s fortunes. Among those matters was the need to secure, in Raffles’ own words, free passage for our trade with the Archipelago and China through the Straits of Malacca… In order to effect this, and at the same time to protect our political and commercial interests in the Eastern Seas generally, it was essential that some central station should be occupied by us, within the Archipelago, and to the southward of Malacca.8

In his capacity as Agent to the Governor-General, Raffles was appointed “to effect this important object if practicable, and generally to assume the charge of the British interests

Raffles’ Bengal Connection



to the eastward of the Straits of Malacca”.9 Hastings had his doubts about the project, especially since certain Company officials in London were bitterly hostile to Raffles and could be expected to oppose his ventures (which they did). However, Hastings believed that the Dutch in the Straits could not be left unchecked, and he thought that the enterprising Raffles could do it. “When Raffles left the Hooghly to discover a post south of Malacca, the die was cast.”10 Back in the Archipelago, Raffles led a flotilla on an expedition to find a viable port. The Karimun Islands, at the southern end of the Straits of Malacca, and Siak, on the east coast of Sumatra, were unsuitable. The ships then arrived in Singapore. Raffles cast anchor off the island on 28 January 1819, and stepped ashore the following day. The day after, he concluded a preliminary agreement with Temenggong Abdul Rahman, the local Malay chief, to set up a “factory”, or trading settlement, for an annual payment of 3,000 Spanish dollars. On 6 February 1819, he made a formal treaty with Sultan Hussein of Johor and the Temenggong confirming the Company’s right to establish a trading post there in return for an annual payment of 5,000 Spanish dollars to the Sultan. Raffles’ entourage included about 120 sepoys and lascars, assistants, domestic servants, and the Indian trader Narayana Pillay from Penang. Raffles thus secured for the Company in Singapore the strategic foothold that it needed in the Straits of Malacca to counter Dutch influence and to guard the Company’s commercial access to China. The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 codified Singapore’s formal cession to the British. Lord Canning, the Secretary for Foreign affairs who finalized



India in the Making of Singapore

the treaty, told the House of Commons that by securing the strategic command of the Straits of Malacca, Singapore was “the unum necessarium for making the British Empire in India complete”.11 In 1826, Singapore — along with Penang and Malacca — formed the Presidency of the Straits Settlements. From then to 1867, Singapore was effectively a part of India.12 Raffles of Singapore Raffles saw Singapore’s future as lying in becoming a great multiracial trading city, a city that he would bring into being; “it is a child of my own”.13 However, acutely aware of the obstructions that he had faced at the hands of his detractors in the Company, he was worried over whether his latest venture would succeed. In a letter penned in Singapore on 31 January 1819, he wrote: Here I am in Singapore, true to my word and in the enjoyment of all the pleasure which a footing on such classical ground must inspire. The lines of the old city, and of its defences, are still to be traced, and within its ramparts the British Union waves unmolested… This place possesses an excellent harbour and everything that can be desired for a British port…We are within a week’s sail of China, close to Siam, and in the very seat of the Malayan empire. This, therefore, will probably be my last attempt. If I am deserted now, I must fain return to Bencoolen and become philosopher… If I keep Singapore I shall be quite satisfied; and in a few years our influence over the Archipelago, as far as concerns our commerce, will be fully established.14

Raffles’ Bengal Connection



In a letter written in Singapore on 10 June 1819, Raffles reiterated the strategic nature of the enterprise that he had undertaken. Our object is not territory but trade; a great commercial emporium, and a fulcrum, whence we may extend our influence politically as circumstances may hereafter require. By taking immediate possession, we put a negative to the Dutch claim of exclusion, and at the same time revive the drooping confidence of our allies and friends. One free port in these seas must eventually destroy the spell of Dutch monopoly; and what Malta is in the West, that may Singapore become in the East.15

The immediate reaction to Raffles’ new venture was mixed. Company officials in London feared that his actions would upset their territorial negotiations with the Dutch. The Dutch, of course, were furious and would have attacked the tiny British force in Singapore but were persuaded to hold back because British officials in Calcutta would wash their hands off Raffles’ folly soon enough. However, Calcutta’s mercantile community and the Calcutta Journal urged full government support for the undertaking. Hastings agreed, as did British Secretary for Foreign Affairs Castlereagh, who was reluctant to cede to the Dutch control of the Straits of Malacca. On Hastings’ orders, James Bannerman, the Governor-General of Penang who had been unwilling to cooperate with Raffles, was obliged to provide Singapore with troops and money. The infant settlement survived. A new society began to take shape. It is important to note Ernest Chew’s point that Raffles did not found Singapore in isolation.16 What Raffles founded



India in the Making of Singapore

was a British “factory” on a narrow coastal strip of the island; it was William Farquhar, the first Resident (1819–23), who worked with the Malay authorities for the next four years to secure the survival and growth of the settlement. The second Resident, John Crawfurd (1823–26), made Singapore a British possession through a treaty with the Malay rajas on 2 August 1824. Raffles’ treaty of 6 February 1819 had acquired for the Company only treaty rights to establish a British enclave within what remained a Malay realm. Even the following agreement of 25 June 1819 that Raffles had signed had not involved the Malay rajas ceding sovereignty or even transferring property. Indeed, even the Convention of 7 June 1823, which had extended British control over the entire island except for the Sultan’s and the Temenggong’s reserves, had seen British rule becoming more direct but had stopped short of the cession of sovereignty to the British. It was Crawfurd who accomplished that. All this while, Raffles had supervised Farquhar’s administration of Singapore in fits and starts from his base in Bencoolen, visiting Singapore only thrice: for nine days in January–February 1819, about four weeks in May–June 1819 and, after an absence of three years, for eight months from October 1822 to June 1823. Chew declares that if Raffles is to be honoured as the founder and architect of Singapore, then commemoration is due also to Farquhar, Crawfurd, known Malay, Arab, Bugis, Chinese, Indian and European notables (who were mostly traders), and “the numberless, unnamed pioneering settlers”.17 Chew’s argument is undeniable because their contributions are incontrovertible, and they did modify Raffles’ plans. However, it was Raffles’ ideas that they modified within the scope of his vision, a vision that they worked on, whether he lived in Bencoolen or in Singapore. Indeed, it is a

Raffles’ Bengal Connection



vision that survived Raffles and can be recognized, in its fundamentals, in the policies of his colonial successors and even in those of the leaders of independent Singapore. Raffles was a reformer by the brutal standards of his times, remaining true to his conscience within the narrow confines that imperialism offered eager servants like him. The Company’s ghastly opium trade to China was a case in point. As history’s biggest drug trafficker, the East India Company was responsible for the deaths of 17 million Chinese from opium addiction. Debt-ridden tenant-farmers in Bengal grew the opium under a Company monopoly, whereupon British merchants carried it to Singapore. Singapore itself was inhabited by opium-wrecks, Chinese coolies, most of whom had probably never tasted the drug before leaving home.18 Acknowledging a necessary evil, Raffles taxed the sale of opium and liquor heavily. He shut down gambling dens. He also abolished the outright trade in slaves in territories under his control although, as Syed Hussein Alatas notes, the abolition of slavery and debt bondage was accompanied by contract labour and “slavery in the more rigorous form of a debt bondage”.19 Also, in leading to unemployment when masters could not absorb debt labour any more, the system would release cheap labour that was favourable to British economic interests in Bencoolen.20 Raffles was a reformer within the system created by imperial interests, not in opposition to them. Raffles’ contribution to education within the ambit of imperial pedagogy represents one of his legacies. In 1823, he set up the Singapore Institution, which was renamed in his honour. On 12 January 1823, he wrote that he had selected a spot for the College he intended to establish. He had proposed to the Sultan and Temenggong that their

10

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sons be sent to Calcutta for education, but they would not agree, and so he decided to establish a school in Singapore. At a meeting on 1 April 1823, he stated three objectives: to educate the sons of the “higher order of natives” and others; to afford means of instruction in the native languages to those Company servants and others who desired it; and to collect the “scattered literature and traditions” of the country, and publish and circulate the most important of its laws and customs, so as to raise the character of the institution and to be useful to the people.21 Raffles proposed setting up the institution even before the question of the permanency of the British settlement in Singapore had been decided with the Dutch. Launching a subscription to build the school, he made a personal donation of $2,000. This generous provision of seed money was of a piece with the scholarly interests that had seen Raffles study Malay, write a two-volume History of Java, and become the first president of the Zoological Society and a founder of the London Zoo. The 1824 Anglo-Dutch Treaty meant that Bencoolen would be exchanged for Dutch Malacca. Having lost his Bencoolen governorship already, Raffles returned to a pensioner’s life in Britain, where he died aged 45, embittered by his treatment at the Company’s hands but remaining one of the foremost servants of a company that owned a state — India. Company and Raj in India The British Library exhibition on the East India Company was attacked swiftly for whitewashing its misdeeds. Indians knew “John Company” well enough. Before the Battle of Plassey in 1957, at which Robert Clive defeated Siraj-ud-

Raffles’ Bengal Connection

11

daulah, Bengal had enjoyed a favourable balance of trade against all nations. But a mere five years since the Company had secured control over Bengal in 1765, revenues from the land tax tripled, beggaring the people. Under the relentless eyes of a commercial venture that also ruled the land, the Bengal famine of 1769 killed about 10 million people, or a third of the population.22 The Permanent Settlement of 1794 codified the Company’s war on the peasantry. Artisans were not ignored, either. The same Company that had invoked principles of laissez-faire to justify its right to trade, placed restrictions on the ability of Bengal’s famed muslin weavers to trade freely with other merchants — imposing, for good measure, prices that were 40 per cent below the market rate. And, in one of the most egregious acts of commercial cruelty imaginable, the thumb and index finger of some of the best artisans were chopped off to prevent them from twisting finer yarns; other artisans chopped off their own finger-ends so that they would not be forced to wind silk for tyrannical middlemen.23 The population of Dacca, once a “state-of-the-art industrial city”, fell by half during the first century of British rule.24 As trade and taxation financed war and conquest, the systematic plunder of India’s wealth began. The Company’s rapine, whether corporate or carried out by employees engaged in private trade, first de-industrialized India and then shipped off the finance to fuel Britain’s industrial revolution. This drain of wealth continued till 1858, when the Company relinquished control over the country following the First Indian War of Independence of 1857, and thereafter under the British Raj till it was ejected from India in 1947. “In essence, the Honourable East India Company found India rich and left it poor.”25

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The economist Angus Maddison shows just how keenly the tables were turned on India by the Company’s rule and the British Raj that followed. In 1700, India’s share of world income, based on purchasing power parity, was 22.6 per cent, compared to Europe’s 23.3 per cent. The corresponding figures for 1820 were 15.7 per cent and 26.6 per cent; for 1890, 11 per cent and 40 per cent; and for 1952, 3.8 per cent and almost 30 per cent.26 Maddison’s work rekindled interest in the “drain” theory, promulgated by Indian nationalists such as Dadabhai Naoroji, Romesh Chunder Dutt, Rajani Palme Dutt and M.G. Ranade, who had argued that a large part of India’s wealth was being transferred to colonial Britain. The drain took the form of salaries and pensions commanded by British civil and military officials posted in India, interest on loans taken by the Indian Government, profits repatriated by British capitalists in India, and Home Charges, or expenses incurred by the Indian Government in Britain. The drain, which also took the form of “an excess of exports over imports for which India got no economic or material return”, amounted to half of government revenues, more than the entire collection from land revenues, and a third of the country’s total savings.27 Speaking at Oxford in 2005, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cited Maddison’s work in the larger context of his declaration that there was “no doubt that our grievances against the British Empire had a sound basis”.28 Deepak Lal, author of a book praising empires,29 questions Maddison’s figures by arguing that they reflect a relative and not an absolute decline in India’s standard of living. Lal notes that estimates made from various sources

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13

show that in 0 AD, India’s per capita income at US$550 (in 1990 U.S. dollars) was higher than China’s (US$450) and the Roman Empire’s (US$381). Income stagnated at this level till the fall of the Mughal Empire in the 18th century, when income had gone down to US$533, a level at which it remained till the second half of the Raj. Then, income rose to US$673 by 1913, and kept rising till 1930. The annual compound rate of growth of per capita income in the six decades between 1868–69 and 1930, Lal observes, was 0.60 per cent. Although modest when compared to independent India’s achievements, the figure reveals the end of the “millennial stagnation of India’s per capita income till the coming of the Raj”. There was a deceleration in the per capita income growth rate between 1902 and 1930, followed by a decline in the last 15 years of British rule, but these downturns are explained by the growth of India’s population in the period from 1920, itself the consequence of a dramatic reduction in mortality.30 Whatever the historical agency of Maddison’s figures, or of the particular claims made by the drain theory, a certain view of the economics of imperialism did underpin the Indian struggle for independence. The link was dramatized by Bengal’s Swadeshi movement, which called for the boycott of British goods in favour of indigenous products as a way of taking a political stand against colonialism. The movement “invested commodities — mundane articles of everyday use — with a new ideological charge”.31 It made it possible to think of the nation as a “locus of production”.32 It sought to bring “a national consciousness into the marketplace” to confront the “glamour of the imported commodity and the mystique of Western technology”. The two commodities in

14

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which Swadeshi had its greatest successes were salt and cloth, which affected the life of every Indian and were produced across the country.33 Today, Indian leaders recall how the East India Company left independent India suspicious of foreign trade. The suspicion found expression in “efforts to build a self-reliant economy wary of integration to the world economy”.34 Some of that wariness of the flag that follows trade is apparent in these times. “Far from being a dusty relic, the Company exemplifies the constant battle within corporations between the logic of exchange and the desire for domination,” Nick Robins writes. “Two centuries on, it demonstrates that the quest for corporate accountability is a perpetual exercise in directing the energies of merchants and entrepreneurs so that their private passions do not undermine the public interest.”35 The Singapore Variation In Singapore, memories of Stamford Raffles, servant of the East India Company that pillaged India, are not charged with the animosity that mention of the Company’s name provokes in India. True, Singapore was no tabula rasa when Raffles stepped on it on 29 January 1819. As he himself recognized, Singapura had been “the ancient maritime capital of the Malays”. However, it had lost its glory, it was sparsely populated, and it was but a fishing village with a few thousand people when he arrived. “Unlike continental India, with its settled indigenous population and long historical traditions, Singapore and Penang were almost uninhabited islands when they came under the East India Company, and they relied upon immigrants for settlement,

Raffles’ Bengal Connection

15

labour and capital.”36 Raffles’ vision of Singapore as a thriving free port and a cosmopolitan society of all races distinguishes his policies from the Company’s practices in India. By the mid-19th century, the Straits Settlements “offered striking justification of the theories of free trade, light taxation and laissez-faire government. Their development stood in strong contrast to the financial and political tribulations of the parent Company, with its increasingly unfashionable policy of commercial monopoly, restricted immigration and closed bureaucracy”.37 In the first 50 years after Singapore’s founding, it grew into a cosmopolitan port of 85,000 inhabitants; between 1830 and 1867, the population quadrupled. The settlement did suffer economic recessions, fires and floods, but the overall picture was one of prosperity and able administration. Singapore’s prosperity was built on three kinds of trade: transshipment, or the transfer of cargo from one ship to another; imports for local consumption and (minor) exports of local produce; and, most important, its global entrepot trade and the services related to it. Singapore prospered by acting as the intermediary for trade between the advanced industrial economies and countries that possessed lower levels of technical achievement. Since the majority of industrial nations that traded with Singapore before World War II were also the main colonial powers in Southeast Asia, “Singapore was the example par excellence of a colonial port that had prospered on global trade because its overlord had the wisdom not to confine its trade for narrow imperial gain”.38 By 1867, Singapore was second only to Calcutta among the Indian Government’s ports.39

16

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Severing the Bengal Connection That same year saw the severance of Singapore’s administrative links with Bengal. The reasons are interesting. In 1826, the Company had combined Singapore with Penang and Malacca to form the Presidency of the Straits Settlements, with its capital at Penang. “The formative years under Indian rule determined the nature of the Straits Settlements, affected their transition to the direct rule of the British crown and established many of the permanent characteristics of the society which survived throughout the British regime,” C.M. Turnbull acknowledges.40 However, the bureaucratic apparatus was a cumbersome one, and in 1830, the Straits Settlements were reduced to a residency, or sub-division, of the Presidency of Bengal. In spite of Singapore overtaking the other settlements in its value to the Company, Penang remained the capital until 1832 and the judicial headquarters right till 1856.41 Larger forces were forming around Singapore. European and Asian merchants were not opposed to being administered from Bengal, but the island was extremely vulnerable to external economic changes. This exposure created a feeling that its prosperity was artificial. The feeling “lasted throughout the period of Indian rule” and came to the fore in the merchants’ periodic fears that the government in India might undermine Singapore’s free-port status. “Politically the Straits Settlements had no protector,” Turnbull points out. “When the East India Company lost its monopoly of the China trade in 1833, the settlements ceased to have any value for Calcutta except as a dumping ground for convicts, while manufacturing and trading interests in Britain were

Raffles’ Bengal Connection

17

concerned to expand their own trade in the Far East and supported the cause of the Straits Settlements only when it coincided with their own interests.”42 Concurrently, European and Chinese commercial interests in Singapore found it disturbing that Singapore’s political status had been “degraded to that of being a sheer economic outpost within the Malay world”.43 This meant that Singapore’s interests would remain subservient to the Company’s. A case in point was that law officers sent to the Straits Settlements lacked an understanding of local customs and, in their zeal to implement Anglo-Saxon law, became “the major reason for the failure of law and order”.44 Also, the Bengal administration’s decision to standardize currencies, from the Spanish dollar to the Indian anna, in its dependencies raised protests from Straits merchants. They considered the action irresponsible because the Spanish dollar was the accepted medium of exchange and most of the regional trade was based on it. Their protests were ignored.45 The Singapore merchants’ restiveness increased when a depression hit the island in the 1840s. Increasingly unhappy at being excluded from political power, its business elite pondered a solution in the territory being administered directly as a Crown Colony. Also, the arrival of the steamship had made Singapore less dependent on Calcutta and tied more intimately to commercial and political interests in London. It was in London, rather than in Calcutta, where the parent firms of most of Singapore’s British-owned merchant houses were located by 1850. Also, by this time, Chinese and European businessmen in Singapore were making substantial investments in Malaya and Siam, particularly in states with extensive tin-ore reserves. Yet, since the East

18

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India Company’s policy towards Southeast Asia was based on mercantilism and not territorial expansion, it refused to take an interest in the local affairs of Malaya and Siam. The Singapore Chamber of Commerce believed that “mere trade relations without political intervention would never create the conducive politico-economic environment necessary to optimize the economic potential and the extraction of surplus from the Malay states”.46 In 1851, following a visit to Singapore, Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General of India, separated the Straits Settlements from Bengal and placed them directly under himself. In the following decade-and-a-half, demands increased to detach the Straits Settlements completely from administration from India and place them directly under the British Colonial Office. Among the reasons for the demands was Calcutta’s continuing attempt to levy port duties on Singapore. For this reason, but also to find a place other than fever-ridden Hong Kong to station British troops in Asia, London designated the Straits Settlements a Crown Colony on 1 April 1867.47 The breach between the Company’s mercantilism, and Singapore’s dependence on free trade; between Calcutta’s hands-off policy towards Malayan politics, and Singapore’s need for a political structure to underpin its economic expansion into the Archipelago; between the Raj and its outpost — this breach had proved unbridgeable. Severing political ties with India meant that Singapore would have an administration staffed by locally-trained administrators who understood and empathized with Southeast Asian tradition and culture. “The rise of the commercial class as a political force eventually led [to] Singapore’s march towards Merdeka (political independence),’’ Eswaran

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19

Ramasamy avers. Crown Colony status allowed Singapore “the breathing space to embark upon its ‘own development destiny’ ” and in turn helped a new class of Singaporeans to emerge and to spearhead the struggle for independence from Britain itself in the 20th century.48 The Legacy of Raffles In Raffles, British India found a pathway into Singapore’s history. Raffles is not very well known in India, but he is commemorated in the names of some of the city-state’s best-known centres of excellence: its financial district (Raffles Place), an elite school (Raffles Institution), a luxury hotel (Raffles Hotel), and the national airline’s business class (Singapore Airlines’ Raffles Class). To the extent that none of these institutions might have been born had Raffles not travelled to Calcutta to meet Lord Hastings, they embody India’s imprint on the construction of Singapore. More important, Raffles is officially considered to be the founder of modern Singapore. Lysa Hong observes archly the “irony” of the People’s Action Party, the party of independence, being anti-colonial and yet selecting Raffles as “the nation’s progenitor”.49 However, former Cabinet Minister S. Rajaratnam gave the reason for retaining, and indeed celebrating, the legacy of even a faithful servant of British imperialism. He declared: True, Raffles was an imperialist but …he did not loot the country he was in charge of. His rule was not marked by terror and savagery. He did not farm out the colony he founded for unbridled exploitation by friends and relatives… What lives on is his vision of

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Singapore as a great trading centre, open to all who are enterprising and willing to take their chances on the basis of merit and hard work.50

The legacy of Raffles had a direct bearing on the choices that Singapore made on independence. Founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew recalled a conversation that he had had with the Dutch economist Albert Winsemius, another foreigner who had contributed to Singapore’s fortunes. Winsemius asked him in 1961, as one of the pre-conditions of Singapore’s success, not to remove the statue of Stamford Raffles. Winsemius said we would need large-scale technical, managerial, entrepreneurial and marketing know-how from America and Europe. Investors wanted to see what the new socialist government in Singapore was going to do to the statue of Raffles. Letting it remain would be a symbol of public acceptance of the legacy of the British and could have a positive effect. I had not looked at it that way but I was quite happy to leave this monument because he was the founder of modern Singapore.51

And so Raffles remains, claiming his due in Singapore’s success, and its debt to India. Notes   1. John Keay, The Honourable Company: A History of the English East India Company (London: HarperCollins Publishers, 1993), p. xix.   2. Anthony Farrington, Trading Places: The East India Company & Asia (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002).

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  3. .   4. Tan Tai Yong and Andrew J. Major, “India and Indians in the Making of Singapore”, in Yong Mun Cheong and V.V. Bhanoji Rao, eds., Singapore-India Relations: A Primer (Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1995), p. 1.   5. Wong Lin Ken, “The Strategic Significance of Singapore in Modern History”, in Ernest C.T. Chew and Edwin Lee, eds., A History of Singapore (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 31. The following description of the historical context in which the British acquired Singapore is drawn from this chapter, pp. 17–35.   6. The foregoing account of his life is based on Ernest C.T. Chew, “Raffles Revisited: A Review & Reassessment of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, 1781–1826”, .   7. Demetrius Charles Boulger, The Life of Sir Stamford Raffles (Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur: The Pepin Press, 1999 reprint), p. 295.   8. Statement of the Services of Sir Stamford Raffles, with an introduction by John Bastin (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1978, Oxford in Asia Historical Reprints), p. 51.   9. Ibid. 10. Boulger, Life, op. cit., p. 297. 11. Wong, “The Strategic Significance of Singapore in Modern History”, op. cit., pp. 30–31. 12. Tan and Major, “India and Indians in the Making of Singapore”, op. cit., p. 5. 13. Boulger, Life, op. cit., pp. 308–09. 14. Ibid., p. 311. 15. Ibid., p. 309. 16. The material in this paragraph is drawn from Ernest C.T. Chew, “The Foundation of a British Settlement”, in Chew and Lee, eds., A History of Singapore, op. cit., pp. 36–40.

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17. Ibid., p. 38. 18. Carl A. Trocki, Opium and Empire: Chinese Society in Colonial Singapore, 1800–1910 (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1990), pp. 1–2. 19. Syed Hussein Alatas, Thomas Stamford Raffles 1781–1826: Schemer or Reformer? (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1971), p. 47. 20. Ibid., p. 48. 21. Charles Burton Buckley, An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1984), p. 122. 22. Nick Robins, “Loot: In Search of the East India Company”, 22 January 2003, openDemocracy. 23. Nick Robins, The Corporation that Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational (London and Ann Arbor: Pluto Press, 2006), p. 148. 24. Jon E. Wilson, “False and Dangerous”, The Guardian, 8 February 2003. 25. Nick Robins, “Loot”, op. cit. 26. Angus Maddison, cited in “India-China Trade Relations: Different Beds, Same Dreams”, Asia Source, Asia Society, 12 June 2003, . 27. Bipan Chandra, et al., India’s Struggle for Independence 1857–1947 (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 1989), pp. 96– 97. 28. Manmohan Singh, Address at Oxford University, The Hindu, . 29. Deepak Lal, In Praise of Empires: Globalization and Order (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004). 30. Deepak Lal, “Incomes actually rose during the Raj”, rediff. com, 30 August 2005, . 31. Satish Deshpande, Contemporary India: A Sociological View (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2004), p. 58.

Raffles’ Bengal Connection

23

32. Ibid., p. 63. 33. Ibid., p. 62. 34. Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Address at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington DC, on India’s strategic perspectives, 27 June 2005, . 35. Robins, The Corporation that Changed the World, op. cit., p. 18. 36. C.M. Turnbull, The Straits Settlements 1826–67: Indian Presidency to Crown Colony (London: The Athlone Press, 1972), p. 4. 37. Turnbull, The Straits Settlements, op. cit., p. 1. 38. Wong Lin Ken, “Commercial Growth Before the Second World War”, in Chew and Lee, eds., A History of Singapore, op. cit., p. 42. 39. Turnbull, The Straits Settlements, op. cit., p. 162. For an extensive treatment of Singapore’s economy in the Straits Settlement years, see pp. 160–209. 40. Ibid., p. 4. 41. Singapore: A Country Study, Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, . 42. Turnbull, The Straits Settlements, op. cit., p. 185. 43. Eswaran Ramasamy, “Political Development of Singapore: A Multi-Dimensional Approach”, Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts, Simon Fraser University, August 1989, p. 38. 44. Ibid., p. 39. 45. Turnbull, The Straits Settlements, op. cit., pp. 204–05. 46. Ramasamy, “Political Development of Singapore”, op. cit., p. 39. 47. Singapore: A Country Study, op. cit. 48. Ramasamy, “Political Development of Singapore”, op. cit.,

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p. 41. 49. Lysa Hong, Singapore and its Tensed Pasts: History and Nation-building, Asia Research Institute, Working Paper Series, No. 82, January 2007, p. 7. 50. Cited in ibid. 51. Lee Kuan Yew, From Third World to First: The Singapore Story, 1965–2000 (Singapore: Times Editions, 2000), pp. 66–67.

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2 Workers and Soldiers When Stamford Raffles landed in Singapore in January 1819, his entourage included about 120 sepoys and lascars, assistants, domestic servants and the Indian trader Narayana Pillay from Penang.1 In the months following Raffles’ arrival, a small Indian colony grew within the new British settlement. It consisted of Indian troops, camp followers, traders and merchants who had journeyed from Penang to benefit from Singapore’s free-port status. The first few years of British Singapore did not attract many immigrants from India. In 1823, only 132 Indians (not counting soldiers and camp followers) were present out of a population of almost 5,000.2 The largest percentage of Singapore’s population that Indians have ever achieved to comprise was 15.9 in 1860, when the community accounted for 12,973 people out of 81,733.3 In the middle of the 19th century, most Indians in Singapore were labourers, primarily from South India. The majority of them worked on plantations and estates and in the government’s public works department. Their presence was marked in the harbour, transport and conservancy work-force along with the British naval and military bases.4 According to Kernial Singh Sandhu, in every phase of the development of the modern transport and communication system, particularly the rail, road and telecommunication network, Indians not only were the principle labourers, “but

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also together with the Ceylon Tamils, formed the bulk of the clerical, administrative and technical staff”.5 By the middle of the 19th century, however, the Indian presence extended beyond labour as the Indian merchant community expanded. South Indian Muslims, called Chuliahs locally, were retail traders. There were also the Malabar Muslims or Moplahs, also active in the retail trade. The Hindu Chettiars were an invaluable source of credit for small businessmen who had no collateral to offer in a period that lacked modern banks and cooperatives.6 After World War I, continuing Indian migration boasted Sikh, Gujrati and Sindhi merchants trading mostly in textiles who arrived to set up Singapore branches of their family business back home. As the Indian merchant community’s interests in Singapore expanded and deepened by the 1930s, new groups of Indians — proprietors and managers of wholesale and retail business, salesman, shop assistants and mercantile accountants–– arrived. It was only with the Great Depression that the influx tapered off. Immigration was restricted and sizeable numbers of Indians were actually repatriated. As trade recovered after the Depression, commercial migrants returned, but the Japanese invasion and occupation of Singapore caused many Indian firms to close down and send back their staff to India.7 Indians contributed to the infrastructure of colonial Singapore at several levels. At the elite level, as an administrative part of India, early Singapore’s civil service was staffed by former members of the Bengal service and officers of the Madras Army. The island’s administrative and legal systems were based largely on “British-India lineage”.8 The Indian Penal Code, adopted in that country in the 1860s, came into effect in Singapore in 1871. At other levels, the

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Johore Causeway, the Sembawang Naval Base and Seletar Air Base were produced by Indian labour, but Indian pioneers were represented strongly also in commerce, so much so that an Indian Chamber of Commerce was set up in 1935 to promote and protect the interests of the eponymous merchant community. In the civil service, Indians were prominent as administrators, clerks, teachers and policemen,9 contributing assiduously to the ideational life and might of the empire. However, there were also those marginalized and anonymous figures — the convict and the coolie, ghosts at the banquet of colonial history. As early as 1787, Indian convicts were transported occasionally to overseas penal colonies to serve time, a practice that was inaugurated in India soon after Australia had become a penal colony.10 R.B. Krishnan alludes to a period when Singapore, Malacca and Penang were the “Sydneys of India”, being convict stations first under the old John (East India) Company and later the Government of India. The first penal settlement was Bencoolen, which, on being transferred to the Dutch in 1825, necessitated the removal of the convicts to Penang and then to Malacca and Singapore.11 The convicts were “employed upon every conceivable job for the opening up of Singapore”. They filled up swampy grounds, reclaimed large plots of land, blasted rocks, erected sea and river walls, built bridges, viaducts and tunnels, and surveyed and constructed roads. Leaving their mark on both secular and religious architecture, they built the civil jail, the courthouse, public offices, the general hospital, the lunatic asylum, the pauper hospital and Government House, and erected the grand Mariamman Temple on South Bridge Road and St. Andrew’s Cathedral, one of the finest examples of ecclesiastical architecture in the East. In a neat illustration

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of their role in the imperial scheme of things, the convicts also built their own prison building.12 After the transfer of the Straits Settlements to the Colonial Office in 1867, Indian life-convicts in Singapore were transported to the Andaman Islands. Some of those pardoned unconditionally returned to India, but that country was no longer their piece of work; they could not recognize themselves there. So they turned towards the Straits again, now able to enter the colonial economy as shopkeepers, cow-keepers, cart-men and so on. Absorbed into the local population in Singapore, Penang and Malacca, none of them fell foul of the law and was re-convicted. Those who had been their “own warders” during their internment proved to be “much more reliable than free men” after their release.13 In the annals of India’s working class figure also the coolies who arrived in Singapore as indentured labourers. Large-scale voluntary immigration began only in the second half of the 19th century, when labour shortage in Singapore made the island, a part of the British empire, a natural destination for Indian labourers, mainly Tamils from South India. Low-caste agricultural and menial workers became indentured labourers, providing a constant supply of cheap and reliable labour. Being British subjects, the Indians were accustomed to colonial rule and were deemed therefore to possess greater aptitude for life in Singapore than other labourers, notably the Chinese.14 Singapore Mutiny The British should have known better than to believe in the fictitious national characteristics that they bestowed on their subjects. The myth of the docile native had been subverted by

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the first Indian War of Independence in 1857, but it lived on in colonial perceptions of the Indian presence in Singapore — till Indians armed to defend the eastern extension of the British Raj turned their guns on their astonished masters. In February 1915, in the middle of the Chinese New Year holiday, the Indian 5th Light Infantry Regiment mutineed on the eve of its departure for Hong Kong. Punjabi Muslims who comprised the 5th were bitter that Britain was fighting against Muslim Turkey. The soldiers’ Ottoman empathies found an outlet in Kassim Mansoor, a Gujarati Muslim coffee-shop owner who lived near the Alexandra barracks and who, in December 1914, had written to the Turkish Consul in Rangoon petitioning the Turks to send a warship to Singapore to collect pro-Turkish Indian Muslim troops. Muslims were not alone in their anger. They had become partners of Sikhs on the common anti-imperial platform created by the diasporic Indian, largely-Punjabi, Ghadar movement that was devoted to the violent overthrow of British rule in India. Originating among Indians in the United States and Canada, the movement had reached India and spread from Iran and Iraq to Japan and Singapore. Jagat Singh, a Sikh resident of Singapore, convinced the Sikh Malay States Guides, posted from Perak to bolster Singapore’s defence, that they should refuse to embark for active service in December 1914. In a local manifestation of the interplay of larger forces at work in World War I, interned Germans in Singapore fanned the 1915 revolt, which was fuelled by rumours that the troops were being taken, not to Hong Kong but to France or even Turkey. The Indian troops murdered their officers, took control of the Alexandra barracks, released German prisoners, and roamed the town in small groups, killing any

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Europeans whom they could find. The short-lived revolt failed to receive the support of the local population, and mopping-up operations lasted ten days. Kassim Mansoor was hanged, and 36 mutineers were shot, 77 transported, and 12 imprisoned. However, although the revolt was crushed decisively, it contained two warnings. The first was that home-based loyalties, even those stretching across religious boundaries, superseded salaried affiliations with imperial masters. The second warning was the fact that peace had been restored only with the help of Allied ships — two out of four warships that had come to British aid had been Japanese cruisers — and almost half of the civilian special constables had been Japanese. “In time of international crisis Singapore’s security rested on the AngloJapanese alliance, and the full implication of the lesson was to be driven home in Singapore on Chinese New Year’s Day twenty-seven years later,” Mary Turnbull writes.15 That is what occurred when, after a short siege following the landing of Japanese forces in Kota Baru on 8 December 1941, Britain surrendered its impregnable fortress on 15 February 1942. The Japanese set about rewriting Singapore’s place in time. The Age of Raffles ended. Komagata Maru Incident Following the Court of Enquiry’s Report in May 1915, colonialist historiography has sought to explain away the mutiny as a riot caused by indiscipline, factionalism and dissatisfaction over pay and promotions among Indian ranks, those factors being compounded by “a weak commanding officer in whom his British officers had no confidence” and whom his “his Indian officers did not respect”.16 While

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the mutiny’s material causes are undeniable, it had several political causes as well. A proximate cause was the treatment meted out to the passengers of the Komagata Maru, who became symbols of the victimization of colonial subjects in the Raj. In 1914, Gurdit Singh, a prosperous Sikh living in Hong Kong, chartered the Japanese steamliner Komagata Maru for a voyage to Vancouver to test the discriminatory laws that Canada had passed to discourage Indian immigration. Indians needed to carry at least $200 on their person to enter British Columbia, and they were subject to the Continuous Passage Act, which stipulated that they would have to arrive in Canada directly from India. Setting sail defiantly from Hong Kong, the Komgata Maru picked up more passengers in Shanghai and Yokohama till it had 376 passengers: 340 Sikhs, 12 Hindus and 24 Muslims, all British subjects. “We are British citizens and we consider we have a right to visit any part of the Empire,” Gurdit Singh declared. “We are determined to make this a test case and if we are refused entrance into your country, the matter will not end here.” The press picked up the news, and a Vancouver newspaper ran reports warning of “Boat Loads of Hindus on Way to Vancouver” and a “Hindu Invasion of Canada”. On their part, Indian immigrants in British Columbia united in support of the passengers who were on their way. They held meetings in Gurdwaras and collected money and provisions to help their fellow-Indians when they arrived in Vancouver. The Komagata Maru sailed into Burrard Inlet, near Vancouver, on 23 May 1914. Immigration officials refused to let the passengers land, using the Continuous Passage argument. Forced to anchor in the harbour, the ship stayed there for two dreadful and uncertain months during which

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living conditions on board deteriorated, relations between the Indian passengers and the Japanese crew frayed, political discussions were held among the Indians, and Ghadarite literature was distributed. Ashore, the Indian community in Canada mounted a furious legal challenge to the treatment of the passengers, but its opposition was futile and the ship had to leave for Calcutta with all but 24 of its original passengers on board.17 “This ship belongs to the whole of India, this is a symbol of the honour of India and if this was detained, there would be mutiny in the armies,” a passenger told a British officer.18 Little did the rebuffed passengers know what awaited them in India. As the Komagata Maru approached Calcutta on 26 September 1914, a European gunboat met it, put it under guard, and accompanied it to nearby Budge Budge. The passengers were told that they would be sent to Punjab by special train. Many of them did not want to go there because they had business to attend to in Calcutta, some wished to search for work there, and, most of all, the passengers wanted to place the Guru Granth Sahib in a Calcutta Gurdwara. They decided to march to Calcutta, but were persuaded to head back to Budge Budge, where they were ordered to board the ship again. They refused. A policeman tried to attack Baba Gurdit Singh, and a fellowpassenger stopped him. The police fired. Baba Gurdit Singh was carried to safety, but 20 died.19 In an illuminating study of the Komagata Maru incident and of the Singapore Mutiny from the perspective of Japan’s contemporary relations with Britain and Indian nationalism, Sho Kuwajima shows how Singapore “was surrounded by the political climate which the Komagata Maru created in Asia”.20 Not only had Gurdit Singh lived in Singapore in

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1913 — he had arrived in Malaya in 188521 — but the ship had arrived in Singapore on 16 September and had stayed there for three days.22 Although it was made to anchor three miles offshore and the passengers were not allowed to disembark, the colonial authorities failed to insulate the Indian community in Singapore from the impact of the incident. Indian networks had kept the community informed of the fate of the ship’s passengers and, in any case, many Ghadarites passed through Singapore by ship.23 Kuwajima argues that “the brusque attitude of the Government of the Straits Settlements towards the demands of the passengers was enough to divert the ‘loyalty’ of the Indian soldiers stationed in Singapore”.24 In December 1914, an anonymous letter sent by the Malay States Guides declared that they would not fight in any country except those mentioned in their terms of reference, that is, the Malay Peninsula and the Straits Settlements. They explained their refusal to serve in East Africa in the light of the tragic memory of the Komagata Maru at Budge Budge. Sarcastically, they said that we can never forget the kindness of the Indian Government for shooting and slaughtering those dead who lost their living in India, in the hopes of earning money and gaining a better living in America, from which country they were expelled, and were not allowed to land and returned. But the Indian Government again taking the poor dead people as seditious people, did not allow them to land at their own home even. When we have no right to walk freely on our own land then what do you want from us in other countries? As we are butchered in our own country we cannot expect better treatment from other countries

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and refuse to fight except on the terms mentioned in our agreement sheets.25

Ghadar Movement The travails of the Indians on the Komagata Maru became a powerful part of the Ghadar movement’s political arsenal, which drew on recent history. Pandit Paramanand wrote in his memoirs that he had spoken in front of 200 Indian officers and men stationed in Singapore, distributing Ghadar material and urging them to rise in mutiny as the Indian sipahis (sepoys) had done during the First Indian War of Independence in 1857. “The Ghadar movement surrounded the British stronghold in Singapore and had infiltrated it to a considerable extent on the eve of the Mutiny,” Kuwajima writes.26 The hallmark of the Ghadar Movement was its secular internationalism. Its secularism was seen in its insistence on the need for Hindu-Muslim-Sikh unity against the British. Har Dayal, a founder of the Ghadar Party, had visited Constantinople in September 1914, and the movement, in which Sikhs “used the Gurdwaras as if these were the branches of the Ghadar Party”, became connected closely with the pro-Turkish or pan-Islamic sentiments of Muslims being preached in mosques.27 The link was a secular desire for freedom from colonial rule, although those calls could be articulated in religious terms. The internationalism of the Ghadarites flowered in a remarkable declaration of solidarity with the victims of slavery and colonial subjugation everywhere. Not only did they sympathize with the struggle for freedom in Ireland,

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but they criticized the role that Indian lives and money played in bolstering the imperial aggression being committed in China, Afghanistan, Burma, Egypt and Persia. Sugata Bose charts the extent of the Indian Army’s contribution to upholding the British Empire. “During the high noon of colonialism in the late nineteenth century, the Indian Army protected Britain’s far-flung imperial interests worldwide, but with a special emphasis on the belt that stretched from North Africa to East Asia,” he writes. The army was instrumental in quelling the Mahdi uprisings of 1885–86 and 1896 in Sudan, and the Boxer Rebellion of 1899–1900 in China. Britian used Indian troops to intervene in Egypt in 1882, a move that “triggered the European rivalries culminating in the partition of Africa”. Closer home, the British Indian Army was employed in the Afghan war of the late 1870s and early 1880s, for the final conquest of Burma and the suppression of guerilla resistance there in the late 1880s, to impose British influence in Tibet in 1902–03, and to amplify British influence in the Persian Gulf region in the early 20th century.28 The irony was that the British Empire could not have existed without the presence of an army drawn from among Indians who were fighting against their own colonization by the British. In their anti-colonial struggle, the Ghadarites brought that irony to the forefront of Indian consciousness. A collection of revolutionary poems called Ghadar ki Gunj (the Ghadar’s Echo) included this exhortation: Oh, Brother, do not fight in a war against the Chinese. Beware of the enemy. He should not deceptively instigate you to fight your Chinese brothers. The enemy splits brothers and makes them kill each other. The

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people of Hind, China and Turkey are real brothers. The enemy should not be allowed to besmirch their brotherhood.29

Shanghai being one of the centres of Ghadar activities, the Ghadarites were conscious acutely of the need for solidarity between the Indian and Chinese peoples. Sun Yat Sen met some of the movement’s leaders. The historical importance of the Mutiny is that it brought Singapore into the conflict between Indian nationalism and British colonialism, centred on the Raj. “Though denied by the British, the genesis of the Singapore Mutiny can be traced to the ideology of the Indian revolutionary nationalists,” T.R. Sareen writes.”30 The Ghadarites and other revolutionaries broke with the collaborative posture adopted by the Congress Moderates, whose middle-class faith in the British sense of justice made them settle for a programme of achieving incremental political change through constitutional reform. The British welcomed this peaceful, and therefore non-threatening, nationalism, and cleverly co-opted the educated middle class in the very act of accommodating its demands. Elite nationalism was limited, in any case, by the detachment from it of the peasantry and the working class. It is to the masses, composed of these peasants and workers, that the revolutionary nationalists turned as they sought to broaden the base of Indian nationalism. The British Indian Army was of particular importance in the Ghadarite strategy. “British rule in India was distinct from that of precolonial predecessors in that it featured a centralized colonial state with a monolithic concept of sovereignty,” Bose writes. “Its key institutional feature was one of the largest European-style standing armies in the

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world, which came into being during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.”31 The loyalty of the army, whose footsoldiers were drawn largely from the peasantry, was the bedrock of the Empire’s security. It is that foundation which the Ghadarites attacked wherever Indians served Britain’s military might. Singapore was no exception. Concurring with Sareen, Sho writes: “The historical character of the Indian revolutionary movement was reflected in the nature of the Singapore Mutiny too.”32 Unfortunately, the Mutiny, which had its origins in Indian society, failed to resonate in Singapore society. The officers and men of the 5th Light Infantry did not display any solidarity towards other Asians in Singapore, who, in return, did not support them.33 Although Chinese fatalities — two killed by accident — were small compared to the number of British who were killed, Straits Chinese civilians played an important role in volunteering to trace, arrest and hand over the mutineers to the authorities. During the Mutiny, the Chinese continued with their New Year festivities.34 At the international level, what the Mutiny did was to highlight Singapore’s position in a broad constellation of forces formed by World War I. Sareen notes that the Ghadarites had a “much wider framework of achieving independence than the Indian National Congress”. They established wide-ranging international contacts and attracted sympathy for India’s freedom struggle from foreign powers that were hostile towards the British.35 In this context, Sho draws attention to Japan’s refusal to side with the Indian nationalists as a fellow-Asian nation. Instead, Japan actually went beyond the legal obligations demanded of it by the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, which stipulated joint action in international matters but not domestic affairs, and helped

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the British to quell a domestic eruption in their territory of Singapore. In the process, Japan dashed the hopes that its defeat of Russia in 1904–05 had aroused among Indian nationalists, who had seen in the victory of an Asian small power over a European big power the tidings of an age that was arriving. Sho points out that, in their exuberance, the Indian nationalists had missed the colonial connotations of the Russo-Japanese war, which had been fought in China at the cost of Korea. That imperial legacy lived on in Japan’s alliance with Britain, which resulted in Japanese troops handing over the Indian mutineers to the British authorities in Singapore. The Indians’ trust in the promise of Japanese nationalism collapsed. 36 Japan’s participation in the suppression of the Singapore Mutiny “was the starting point of tragic relations between Japan and Southeast Asia, which became catastrophic 30 years later”.37 The Singapore Mutiny was constrained from the beginning. German ambivalence contributed to its failure. However, it failed in an historically remarkable year: 1915 witnessed the Lahore Mutiny, the presentation of Japan’s 21-Point Demand to China, and the anti-Japanese boycott in China and Southeast Asia. “The Singapore Mutiny was not an isolated incident,” Sho believes. Although a failure, it offered the people of Singapore and Asians generally “a chance to re-consider the First World War and freedom”.38 The reckoning that arrived during World War I would be repeated soon — during World War II — in the form of a charismatic nationalist who would bring the war for India’s independence to Singapore and wage it from there.

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Notes   1. For an overview of the Indian Ocean as the arena of flows of Indian capitalists, labourers and commodities during the British Empire, see Sugata Bose, A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2006), Chapter 3, pp. 72–121.   2. Kernial Singh Sandhu, “Indian Immigration and Settlement in Singapore”, in K.S. Sandhu and A. Mani, eds., Indian Communities in Southeast Asia (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1993), p. 774.   3. Saw Swee-Hock, Singapore Population in Transition (Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 1970), p. 57.   4. Tan and Major, “India and Indians in the Making of Singapore”, op. cit., p. 8.   5. Kernial Singh Sandhu, Indians in Malaya, p. 285, cited in ibid.   6. Tan and Major, “India and Indians in the Making of Singapore”, op. cit., pp. 8–9.   7. Ibid., pp. 10–11.   8. Ibid., p. 5.   9. T. Shanmugaratnam, “A Glimpse of History”, in Arpanam: A Dedication, edited and titled by Niru K. Pillai (Singapore: The Organizing Committee of a Dinner by the Indian Community in Honour of His Excellency President Ong Teng Cheong and and the First Lady, no date), pp. 15–16. 10. Tan and Major, “India and Indians in the Making of Singapore”, op. cit., p. 6. 11. R.B. Krishnan, Indians in Malaya: A Pageant of Greater India (Singapore: The Malayan Publishers, 1936), p. 15. 12. Ibid., pp. 16–17. 13. J.F.A. McNair, Prisoners — Their Own Warders, cited in

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ibid., pp. 17–18. 14. Tan and Major, “India and Indians in the Making of Singapore”, op. cit., pp. 7–8. 15. The foregoing account of the Mutiny is drawn largely from C.M. Turnbull, A History of Singapore: 1819–1988 (Singapore: Oxford University Press, second edition, 1989), pp. 125–27. 16. R.W.E. Harper and Harry Miller, Singapore Mutiny (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1984), p. vi. 17. Komagata Maru Heritage Foundation, . 18. . 19. . 20. Sho Kuwajima, Mutiny in Singapore: War, Anti-War and the War for India’s Independence (New Delhi: Rainbow Publishers, 2006), p. 28. 21. Ibid., p. 18. 22. Ibid., p. 28. 23. Ibid., p. 18. 24. Ibid., p. 30. 25. Ibid., pp. 30–31. 26. Cited in ibid., pp. 33–34. 27. Ibid., pp. 41–42. 28. Bose, A Hundred Horizons, op. cit., pp. 124–25. 29. Cited in Sho, Mutiny in Singapore, op. cit., p. 44. 30. T.R. Sareen, Secret Documents on Singapore Mutiny 1915, Volume I (New Delhi: Mounto Publishing House, 1995), p. 2. 31. Bose, A Hundred Horizons, op. cit., p. 123. 32. Sho, Mutiny in Singapore, op. cit., p. 47. 33. Ibid., pp. 79–80. 34. Ibid., pp. 97–98. 35. Sareen, Secret Documents, op. cit., p. 5.

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36. Sho, Mutiny in Singapore, op. cit., pp. 106–07. 37. Ibid., p. 110. 38. Ibid., p. 173.

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3 Chalo Delhi! Colonial India was plausibly the reason behind Stamford Raffles’ founding of Singapore.1 Given this connection, it is pointedly significant that the historical actor who embodies India’s relationship with Singapore as much as, if not more than, Raffles was a sworn enemy of the British Raj that had created the second colony in the service of the first.2 The success with which Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose mobilized the masses, and destroyed the imperial grip holding together the colonized imaginations of the Raj, makes him as much a part of Singapore’s history as of India’s.3 Bose had been rusticated from Calcutta’s elite Presidency College because he had reacted violently to racial comments made by the English rector, but he had proceeded to Cambridge University, where he had taken the Tripos in Moral Sciences. He shone in the examinations for entry to the Indian Civil Service, the steel frame of the British Raj, but resigned to join politics. He rose to the presidency of the Indian National Congress, only to resign when, at the beginning of World War II in Europe, other Congress leaders refused to go along with his call to seize independence by force. It was in wartime Singapore that Netaji brought together the destinies of South Asia and Southeast Asia. His arrival in Singapore in July 1943 revitalized the Indian Independence League and the Indian National Army (INA).4 He mesmerized the masses at a rally in July 1943; at another

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Singapore rally in October 1943, he proclaimed the formation of the Azad Hind, or provisional government of Free India, and declared war formally on Britain and the United States.5 “The people of Malaya had never before experienced a political presence in the mould of a giant of the Indian National Congress. Subhas Bose drew crowds to public rallies on an unprecedented scale: Chinese and Malays, as well as Indians… This was the true dawn of mass politics in Malaya,” Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper declare.6 Netaji appealed powerfully to Indians, particularly soldiers of the British Indian Army and plantation workers, who formed the backbone of the INA. Men, women and children flocked to hear him, donated money, jewellery or pocket-money, and signed up to his cause. The Rani of Jhansi Regiment, named after the heroine of the first Indian War of Independence in 1857, was set up in October 1943. It was headed by the young doctor Lakshmi Swaminathan (later Sehgal), who had arrived in Singapore shortly before the war. So much has been written on Netaji, particularly by way of the memoirs of INA partisans, that it is superfluous to tell that story again.7 However, the publication in 2007 of Chalo Delhi, a collection of Bose’s writings and speeches from 1943 to 1945 that constitutes the twelfth and final volume of his Collected Works,8 allows for a fresh look at what he himself thought was at stake for India and Singapore. In his general justification of armed struggle against the British, Bose said: “The enemy that has drawn the sword must be fought with the sword. Civil Disobedience must develop into armed struggle. And only when the Indian people receive the baptism of fire on a large scale will they

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qualify for their freedom.”9 Why was he looking to Japan? Bose recalled that Japan was the first country which prevented the people of an alien continent from committing aggression in the Asian continent. Japan’s victory over Russia in 1905 was the first harbinger of Asian resurgence. That victory was hailed with great joy not only by the Japanese but also by the Indians. Therefore, Indians feel that the existence of a strong Japan is essential for the reconstruction of Asia.10

He was being slightly disingenuous because, as the previous chapter shows, that effusive view of Japan in Indian nationalist circles had sobered by the time of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, World War I and the Singapore Mutiny. Bose was more authentic when he pointed out that the Tripartite Powers — Japan, Germany and Italy — had rendered India’s struggle for independence the greatest help “by waging war against our eternal foe”.11 Japan had declared repeatedly its support for Indian independence and “its firm resolve to see Anglo-American power and influence expelled from India”.12 “The British Empire, in spite of all its power and might, has been seeking and obtaining help from every possible quarter,” he noted. “It is, therefore, but natural that we, too, should look out for sympathy and assistance, wherever it is available.” The “logic of events” made the Tripartite Powers India’s “natural allies”.13 Making clear his break from Congress colleagues who believed that political pressure would make Britain quit India because the Empire was under duress in a global war, Bose said that even the fall of Singapore, which Winston

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Churchill had described as the greatest disaster in British military history, and the loss of Burma had not brought about any appreciable change in the British imperialists’ desire to rule India.14 Turning to his strategic choice of Singapore as the launching pad of the INA, Bose declared: During the whole history of British rule in India, it has never struck one single British general that at some time in the future some enemy of Britain may appear on the Eastern frontier of India. The whole attention of Britain’s military strategists had, therefore, been concentrated on the Northwestern frontier of India. Hence, with the naval fortress of Singapore in their possession, our rulers thought that India was safe and secure in their hands. But the phenomenal advance of the Japanese brought victory and opened the eyes of the world to the worthlessness of British strategy. Since then General Wavell has been making feverish attempts to put up fortifications on the Eastern frontier of India. But what the Indian people today are asking is this: ‘If it took 20 years to build Singapore, and only one week to lose it, how long will it take the ever-retreating British Commander-in-Chief or his successor to withdraw from his eastern fortification?’15

Since it was not possible for Indians in India to organize an armed revolution and “fight the British army of occupation with modern arms”, this task “must therefore devolve on Indians living abroad and particularly on Indians living in East Asia”.16 Bose’s strategy was this: Indians outside India — particularly, Indians in East

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Asia — are going to organize a fighting force which will be powerful enough to attack the British Army in India. When we do so, a revolution will break out, not only among the civil population at home, but also between the Indian Army, which is now standing under the British flag. When the British Government is thus attacked from both sides — from inside India and from outside — it will collapse and the Indian people will then regain their liberty.17

Echoing the cry of the First War of Indian Independence in 1857, he made the rousing call, Chalo Delhi — “Onward To Delhi” — and declared: When France declared war on Germany in 1939 and the campaign began, there was but one cry, which rose from the lips of German soldiers ‘To Paris, to Paris.’ When the brave soldiers of Nippon set out on their march in December 1941, there was but one cry, which rose from their lips ‘To Singapore, to Singapore.’ Comrades! My soldiers! Let your battle cry be — ‘To Delhi, to Delhi.’ How many of us will individually survive this war of Freedom, I do not know. But I do know this that we shall ultimately win and our task will not end until our surviving heroes hold the victory-parade on another graveyard of the British Empire — the Lal Kila or Red Fortress of ancient Delhi.18

In October 1944, Bose declared that India’s Eastern Frontier had become Britain’s new Maginot Line. The future fate of India will not be decided in the plains of Panipat, near Delhi, as in days old, but on the hills and in the jungles, where we have been fighting

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of late. The British know, as well as I do, that when this Maginot Line is broken the doom of the British Empire will be sealed… Moreover, when the British are once ousted from their Maginot Line on the Eastern Frontier, they will not be able to set up a new line of defence until they cross the western frontier of Bengal and go into Bihar and Orissa. From Imphal to the River Brahmaputra, the Azad Hind Fauj will have a route march. And after breaking the enemy’s improvised defence on the west bank of the Brahmaputra, the Azad Hind Fauj will have another route-march from the River Brahmaputra to the neighbourhood of Calcutta… The battle of Panipat for the capture of Delhi will be fought this time on the hills and in the jungles that bar the way to Imphal and Chittagong.19

The theme of Chalo Delhi runs like a lived motif through the rest of the 450-page volume.20 That motif is sometimes strident, as when the INA’s thrust into Burma goes well; it is cautious at moments of consolidation; it is sometimes plaintive, as when the failure of the Imphal campaign becomes clear; finally, it is laden with the calm recognition that success has been postponed indefinitely. But nowhere does Bose deviate from the defiant tone of his original promise. “I can offer you nothing except hunger, thirst, privation, forced marches and death”, he said, but “if you follow me in life and in death — as I am confident you will — I shall lead you to victory and freedom”.21 The march to Delhi was halted at Imphal in 1944 but when, in the winter of 1945, its soldiers were brought as prisoners to be tried in Delhi’s Red Fort, the Indian people turned them into heroes. Less than two years later, India was

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free. Bose was missing from the gathering of greats who greeted the dawn of independence, but the Indians whom he had roused from slumber, from Punjab to Singapore, understood the meaning of Chalo Delhi. No leader, however great, can promise his followers that he will lead them to a destination: The greatest of leaders give people a destination to make their own. On 15 August 1947, those who had responded to Chalo Delhi by taking the first impossible steps crossed the threshold finally into the free India of Bose’s belief, struggle and sacrifice. On 8 July 1945, Bose laid the foundation of the INA War Memorial at Singapore’s Waterfront, near City Hall, to commemorate the army’s “Unknown Warrior”. Inscribed on the memorial was the INA’s motto: Ittefaq (Unity), Etmad (Faith) and Kurbani (Sacrifice). Paying homage to the army’s martyrs, he said: The future generations of Indians who will be born, not as slaves but as free men, because of your colossal sacrifice, will bless your names and proudly proclaim to the world that you, their forbears, fought and suffered reverses in the battle of Manipur, Assam and Burma. But through temporary failure you paved the way to ultimate success and glory.

When the victorious British returned to Singapore in 1945, Lord Mountbatten, Head of the Southeast Asia Command, ordered the INA Memorial to be destroyed. However, in 1995, Singapore’s National Heritage Board marked the site where the memorial had stood.22

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Netaji’s Legacy Subhas Chandra Bose’s legacy in Singapore has several dimensions.23 The first, to repeat the point made by Bayly and Harper, is that his rallies in the region mark the dawn of mass politics in Malaya. Bose inaugurated an era that broke sharply with the patrician manoeuvrings of colonized elites as they sought terms of endearment with imperial Britain. He turned Indians in Southeast Asia from objects to subjects of history. Even if his presence in the region had achieved nothing else — which it had — the creation of a Singapore/Malayan Indian identity, not imposed from above but growing organically and expressed popularly from below, would have sufficed to prove his progressive credentials. A. Mani and P. Ramasamy describe the interplay of class and ethnicity in the creation of this identity. They write of how, in colonial Southeast Asia, Indians were conceived of as hailing from British India but were also classified into categories that allowed the government to control them better.24 In the colonial classification system, Sikhs and Pathans formed the soldiers, and Sikhs, Tamils and others populated the police force. Given the task of controlling labourers from the Madras Presidency, who spoke Tamil but were illiterate, were Tamil-knowing but Englishspeaking clerks whose mother tongue was Malayalam. The Ceylon Tamils, though Tamil-speaking, formed “a class by themselves” because of their work: white-collar administrative jobs below the British civil administration. Then there were financial and commercial caste groups from the Madras and Bombay presidencies.

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The war and the Japanese invasion destroyed the ligaments of that plural society, one in which occupation had corresponded generally to classified ethnicity. Indians sought transition to other jobs. The Sikhs in the Tanjung Priok Harbour of Jakarta, for example, who had worked as watchmen in the pre-War years, became contractors for Japanese naval ships. Other watchmen became employers and businessmen. In North Sumatra, many Tamils were trained to become truck drivers and contractors.25 Even as the disruption of the economy and administration allowed some Indians to move up, it forced others to move down. Wartime realities brought elements of the Indian administrative and clerical classes, who had looked down at Indian labourers through the lenses of the colonial economy, closer to their ethnic brethren. Having been forced to leave the towns and seek safety in the countryside, where they had to perform agrarian tasks to make a living, the middle class was humbled by its exposure to the underside of colonial life and began to identify with Indian labourers.26 All in all, the war years created a sense of Indian identity in Singapore and Malaya that had been lacking before the advent of the Indian Independence League and the INA. This palpable sense of identity was partly spontaneous and was enforced partly by the Japanese refusal to countenance sub-communal Indian identities in their effort to build a unified Southeast Asian Indian opposition to British rule in India. The point is that that identity cut across linguistic, regional, caste and religious lines.27 Corresponding with this revolutionary legacy is Bose’s second legacy: the rejuvenation of the very sense of India itself. His muscular nationalism lanced the image of a people whose bodies and minds were full of oozing

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sores left by successive waves of invasion, waves that had produced a supine, wretched and abject populace that India’s latest invaders claimed to rule in its own good. Breaking with the theory of martial races, the INA concentrated on Tamil Malayans and others to prove that India and Indians could fight on their own terms, not as foot-soldiers of others’ wars. No less important, the INA broke with communal theories and periodizations of Indian history. It merged in its ranks Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and others who, in the colonial dispensation, were fated apparently to tolerate one another at best and kill one another at worst. In achieving this transformation, the INA represented the possibilities of an India where nationalism would not have to contend with the false divisions exacerbated by divide-and-rule policies. Bose explained the issue with the simplicity of truth itself: “In my National Movement the religious question does not exist.”28 Within this general empowerment of the figure of the Indian lay Bose’s particular empowerment of women as equal partisans in an anti-colonial struggle. This struggle was waged ultimately against the entrenched structures of imperial patriarchy on which colonialism thrived. This was his third legacy: to empower the Indian female to the remarkable extent that, next to Netaji, it is the Rani of Jhansi who is inscribed as the most notable personality in the INA tradition in Southeast Asia today. The battlefields of Imphal and Kohima were great gender equalizers in this regard. Bose’s fourth legacy is a reminder of the timeless power of commitment, of how leadership is based not only on charisma but on sacrifice. Forgotten Armies cites a Singaporean INA recruit, P.K. Basu, as having said: “I

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did not believe that the INA would actually succeed, but I believed in the INA.”29 Singaporeans and Malayans believed in it because Bose promised them nothing but blood, sweat and toil if they believed in independence. His fifth legacy is more problematic: the reminder that one war can be composed of many wars, and that different ethnicities can be drawn quite legitimately into those different wars that set them apart. One War, Many Wars Let us consider the fifth legacy in some detail. The Bose phenomenon is important because it calls attention to the divergent attitudes that different communities in colonial Singapore had towards World War II. Those attitudes remained politically sensitive even after Singapore’s independence, but it is a mark of successful state-building that they have not obstructed the growth of Singapore as a single nation for all its citizens. The truth is that World War II was many wars in one. For the Chinese, “the war in Malaya was an extension of the war in China”.30 For China, World War II had begun, not with the German invasion of Poland in 1939 but with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria earlier back in 1931. It was only when the Second Sino-Japanese War that had begun in 1937 had merged into the Pacific War after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941 that Chinese travails at Japan’s imperial hands were elevated to membership of a global contest between fascism and democracy. The Japanese attack on China had galvanized the overseas Chinese in Singapore and Malaya to aid their

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besieged homeland. They paid a terrible price when the Japanese arrived in Singapore. However, geography was not the only marker of destiny: ethnicity was, too. Thus, even those Chinese in Singapore and Malaya who did not identify with China were not spared. Wang Gungwu observes that a Chinese could have been born in China; he could have arrived in Singapore or Malaya a few years earlier, having witnessed the Japanese depredations in China; or he could have been local-born, a Chinese who was third-, fourth-, or fifth-generation removed from China. It did not matter. It did not matter even if a Chinese spoke Malay and identified with Malaya: he became suspect as a pro-British Chinese hostile to the Japanese empire.31 When the Japanese arrived in Malaya, they simply brought the China war there with them — and the Chinese became natural victims. If for the Chinese — whether in China, Malaya or Singapore — World War II was an extension of Japan’s war on China, for Indians in India and Southeast Asia, the War was an extension of Britain’s war on its Indian subjects. As Janadas Devan writes, the Japanese were not occupying India; the British were. The British were not occupying China; the Japanese were. Different communities, therefore, responded differently to geopolitical events…32

While the Chinese thought — as they should have–– of Japanese atrocities in China and Southeast Asia, Indians thought naturally, too, of the manmade Bengal Famine of 1943, which killed half the number of humans who perished in the Holocaust. (To say this is not to downplay the enormity of the Holocaust but to place in perspective

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the enormity of the Famine.) As Indians in Malaya and Singapore contemplated the break in history that the INA had made possible, what was uppermost in their minds was the opportunity to drive the British from India. The Japanese defeat of the British in Southeast Asia provided the beachhead for that foray. There is no doubt that Bose’s alliance with imperial Japan, itself allied to Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, was problematic. The alliance made sense to Indians in the context of view of British imperialism, which they considered to be the central problem of their times. Yet, to Chinese and Eurasian victims of Japanese imperialism, the central problem of their times, Bose’s alliance could not but have been deeply disturbing. This is true. What can be said is that Bose genuinely hated imperialism in any form. He was concerned about the new German nationalism and had attacked Hitler’s racist diatribes against Indians and Hermann Goering’s disparaging remarks about Mahatma Gandhi.33 His admiration for Japan was not uncritical, either. In an article, “Japan’s Role in the Far East”, published originally in the Modern Review in October 1937, he had written: Japan has done great things for herself and for Asia. Her reawakening at the dawn of the present century sent a thrill throughout our Continent. Japan has shattered the white man’s prestige in the Far East and has put all the Western imperialist powers on the defensive — not only in the military but also in the economic sphere. She is extremely sensitive — and rightly so — about her self-respect as an Asiatic race. She is determined to drive out the Western powers from the

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Far East. But could not all this have been achieved without Imperialism, without dismembering the Chinese Republic, without humiliating another proud, cultured and ancient race? No, with all our admiration for Japan, where such admiration is due, our whole heart goes out to China in her hour of trial.34

The INA’s alliance with the Japanese was tactical. Bose made it clear that his loyalty was to India and that his objective was its freedom. The text of his broadcast from Tokyo on 24 June 1943 proclaims this loyalty in capital letters: I WOULD ASK THOSE COUNTRYMEN TO PUT THEIR TRUST IN ME. FOR THE POWERFUL BRITISH GOVERNMENT THAT HAS PERSECUTED ME ALL MY LIFE AND HAS IMPRISONED ME ELEVEN TIMES, HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO DEMORALISE ME. NO POWER ON EARTH CAN HOPE TO DO SO. AND IF THE WILY, CUNNING AND RESOURCEFUL BRITISH POLITICIANS HAVE FAILED TO CAJOLE AND CORRUPT ME, NOBODY ELSE CAN DO SO.35

Indeed, the tactical nature of Bose’s alliance with Japan reveals differences in objectives and expectations on both sides. “Japan’s major military concern was the overall strategy and prosecution of the Pacific War, in which India was a peripheral concern,” Romen Bose writes. “For Indians, military cooperation with Japan brought the goal of independence within the realm of possibility.”36 It is because of the differences between the goals of the INA and those of Japan that Bose believed at the end of World War II that “Japan’s surrender was not India’s surrender”.37 He then

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turned his attention towards the Soviet Union, a power that he considered anti-imperialist and on which his Provisional Government had never declared war (as it had done on Britain and the United States). Convinced that the tables would be turned soon on the “imperialist democracies”, and that the next war would be fought between the “old and the new imperialists”, Bose believed that India should take advantage of the “inter-imperialist feud”.38 These facts go some way towards dispelling the notion that Bose was inherently a fascist whose sympathies drew him to Germany and Japan. In fact, Bose’s problematic Japanese affiliations did not have a lasting influence on racial relations in Singapore and Malaya. This is because, if the War created the conditions necessary to make diasporic Indians think of themselves as one, it also introduced reasons for new Indians to draw closer to the new Chinese and others who had been produced by the War. For one thing, although the Japanese treated Indians and Malays far more leniently than they did Chinese and Eurasians, there were limits to their goodwill. The forced recruitment of even Japanese-friendly Indian labour, like hostile labour from other communities, for the construction of the infamous Death Railway from Siam to Burma was “the most unforgettable and tragic episode of the Occupation” for Indians.39 Between 1942 and 1943, more than 80,000 labourers were recruited forcibly with the cooperation of Asian intermediaries. Less than half returned to their families. Indian labourers, like labourers with other ethnicities, paid a price whose heaviness is exemplified by the fact that the Indian population fell by almost 100,000, or nearly 7 per cent, during the Occupation.40 When it came

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to indenture and worse, Japanese imperialism could be a close cousin of British colonialism, closer than either side would have cared to admit. It was the legacy of such burdens that, after the Japanese defeat in the War, created the basis for cooperation among diverse communities in Singapore and Malaya on driving out the returning British. In this effort, the INA found a partner in the Malayan Communist Party (MCP). Following the INA’s debacle at Imphal, Indians returning to Malaya were contacted by the MCP and were recruited later into left-wing organizations that were gearing up to fight British rule. In Michael Stenson’s words, “as hopes of an Indian liberation faded, thoughts turned to Malayan realities, to the struggle for survival and to specifically Malayan politics”.41 Indians who turned now towards the left continued their struggle against British imperialism that the INA had initiated. Indians and Chinese contributed to the spectacular growth of leftwing unionism that carried forward the common legacy of the INA’s and the MCP’s anti-colonial militancy. The new struggle provided a pathway into the fight for independence in Singapore and Malaya.42 In independent Singapore, the challenge was to acknowledge the different ethnic sources of its citizens, most of them immigrants, while pointing them towards a common destination that, while not race-free, would at least be race-neutral. Has Singapore succeeded? While nation-building anywhere, but particularly in ethnically diverse societies, cannot but be work-in-progress, it says something about the uses of history that Singaporeans can discuss freely the different pathways to their history represented by iconic personalities such as Raffles, Sun Yat

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Sen or Subhas Chandra Bose without accusing each other of disloyalty.43 Subhas Chandra Bose is as much a part of Singapore’s history as they are. He is also as much a part of Singapore’s history as he is of India’s — and of India’s contribution to the making of Singapore. Notes   1. Tan and Major, “India and Indians in the Making of Singapore”, op. cit., p. 1.   2. Asad-ul Iqbal Latif, “The Indian Imprint in the Construction of Singapore”, in K. Kesavapany, A. Mani and P. Ramasamy, eds., Indian Communities in East Asia (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, forthcoming).   3. Latif, ibid.   4. Turnbull, A History of Singapore, op. cit., pp. 209–12.   5. Ibid., p. 211.   6. Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper, Forgotten Armies: The Fall of British Asia 1941–1945 (London: Allen Lane, 2004), p. 322.   7. For a dramatic overview, see Sugata Bose, A Hundred Horizons, op. cit., pp. 170–92. Joyce C. Lebra, Jungle Alliance: Japan and the Indian National Army (Singapore: Asia Pacific Press, 1971) remains a classic, and was reprinted by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore, in 2008.   8. Subhas Chandra Bose, Chalo Delhi: Writings and Speeches 1943–1945, Netaji Collected Works, Volume 12, edited by Sisir K. Bose and Sugata Bose (Calcutta: Netaji Research Bureau and Delhi: Permanent Black, 2007).   9. Chalo Delhi, p. 18. 10. Ibid. 11. Ibid.

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12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23.

24.

25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30.

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Ibid., p. 23. Ibid., p. 42. Ibid., p. 24. Ibid., p. 22. Ibid., p. 27. Ibid., p. 53. Ibid., p. 46. Ibid., pp. 272–73. For Bose’s elaboration of the historical significance of the Road to Delhi, see ibid., pp. 169–71. Ibid., p. 48. National Archives of Singapore, “Historical Journey of the Indian National Army”, . This part of the chapter draws on K. Kesavapany and Asad-ul Iqbal Latif, “The Legacy of Subhas Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army: A Singapore Perspective”, paper presented at “The Second World War and Asian Independence”, Golden Jubilee Conference, Netaji Research Bureau, Kolkata, 21–23 January 2007. A. Mani and P. Ramasamy, “Subhas Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army: A Southeast Asian Perspective”, paper presented at a conference, “The Forgotten Army in a World at War: Subhas Chandra Bose’s INA and its Effect on Asia’s Independence”, Singapore, 13 August 2006. Ibid. Michael Stenson, Class, Race and Colonialism in West Malaysia (St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1980), p. 91. Mani and Ramasamy, “Subhas Chandra Bose”, op. cit. Bose, Chalo Delhi, op. cit., p. 35. Bayly and Harper, Forgotten Armies, op. cit., p. 327. P. Lim Pui Huen, “War and Ambivalence: Monuments and Memorials in Johor”, in P. Lim Pui Huen and Diana

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31. 32.

33.

34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42.

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Wong, eds., War and Memory in Malaysia and Singapore (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2000), p. 139. Wang Gungwu, “Memories of War: World War II in Asia”, in Lim and Wong, ibid., p. 17. Janadas Devan, “Forgetting to Remember”, in Kwok KianWoon, et al., eds., Our Place in Time: Exploring Heritage and Memory in Singapore (Singapore: Singapore Heritage Society, 1999), p. 31. T.R. Sareen, “Subhas Chandra Bose and Nazi Germany: An Assessment”, in S.R. Chakravarty and Madan C. Paul, eds., Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose: Relevance to Contemporary World (New Delhi: Har-Anand Publications, 2000), p. 143. Sisir K. Bose and Sugata Bose, eds., The Essential Writings of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 190. Bose, Chalo Delhi, op. cit., p. 30. Romen Bose, A Will for Freedom: Netaji and the Indian Independence Movement in Singapore and Southeast Asia 1942–1945 (Singapore: VJ Times, 1993), p. 50. Cited in Abul Kalam, “Subhas Chandra Bose: Strategic Thoughts and Practices”, in Chakravarty and Paul, eds., Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, op. cit., p. 85. R. Chakrabarti, “Subhas Chandra Bose and Internationalisation of India’s Struggle for Freedom”, in ibid., p. 134. P. Ramasamy, “Indian War Memory in Malaysia”, in Lim and Wong, op. cit., p. 93. Stenson, Class, Race and Colonialism in West Malaysia, op. cit., p. 90. Ibid., p. 100. For more on this point, see Collin Abraham, “The Finest Hour”: The Malaysian-MCP Peace Accord in Perspective (Petaling Jaya: Strategic Information, Research and

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Development Centre, 2006), p. 127. 43. On this point, see Asad-ul Iqbal Latif, “Singapore’s Missing War”, in David Koh Wee Hock, ed., Legacies of World War II in South and East Asia (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2007).

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4 Looking West to India Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, in a speech at the opening of the eponymous School of Public Policy at in Singapore on 4 April 2005, declared: I have taken a deep interest in both China and India ever since I started my political life in 1950. Like all democratic socialists of the 1950s, I have tried to analyse and forecast which giant would make the grade. I had hoped it would be democratic India, not communist China.1

Comparing the strengths and weaknesses of both systems as they had developed from the 1940s, modern Singapore’s founding-Prime Minister went on to discuss the prospects of China and India, both of which had moved towards economic liberalisation. Why the attraction to India? A key reason is that Mahatma Gandhi’s and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s leadership of India’s freedom struggle exercised a magnetic influence on Singapore’s anti-colonial leaders. The two Indian icons were among the Asian nationalists to whom the city-state’s early leaders looked up, as they waged their own struggle for independence from the British. Delivering the 37th Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture in New Delhi on 21 November 2005, Lee recalled having read Nehru’s The Discovery of India, which had grown out

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of his letters from prison to his daughter, Indira, and out of his speeches.2 Lee was a young student at Cambridge when, on 14 August 1947, Nehru made his broadcast on the eve of India’s independence. Lee found its opening “moving and unforgettable”. He was struck by Nehru’s vision of India’s destiny as a “modern, industrialised, democratic and secular” nation “that would take its place in the larger historic flows of the second half of the 20th Century”. Lee explained why he had been so moved by this vision: Nehru’s speeches resonated with me. I shared intellectual and emotional roots with Nehru because I had also experienced discrimination and subjugation under the British Raj and admired Nehru for his vision of a secular multiracial India, a country that does not discriminate between citizens because of their race, language, religion or culture.

Lee first visited New Delhi in 1959 for a conference of the International Commission of Jurists. Nehru, who opened the conference at Vigyan Bhavan, arrived in a “modest Hindustan”, a Morris Oxford made in India. Later, in April 1962, when Lee was Prime Minister of Singapore, Nehru gave him time for several discussions about Singapore’s merger with Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia. “He encouraged and supported my ideas.” Nehru received him again in February 1964 on his return from a visit to 17 countries in Africa.3 However, Lee broke sharply from one aspect of Nehru’s vision: his dependence on state planning and import substitution as the path to India’s industrialization. Like Nehru, I had been influenced by the ideas of

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the British Fabian society. But I soon realised that before distributing the pie I had first to bake it. So I departed from welfarism because it sapped a people’s self-reliance and their desire to excel and succeed. I also abandoned the model of industrialisation through import substitution. When most of the Third World was deeply suspicious of exploitation by western MNCs (multinational corporations), Singapore invited them in. They helped us grow, brought in technology and know-how, and raised productivity levels faster than any alternative strategy could.

Lee paid homage to Nehru’s “great vision for India and for Asia” and for “his elegant style of writing and speech” that “captivated many young minds in the British empire”. However, realizing this vision would prove to be difficult. He had insights into the causes of India’s problems, but, burdened by too many issues, he left the implementation of his ideas and policies to his ministers and secretaries. Sadly they did not achieve the results India deserved. Nehru’s ideal of democratic socialism was bureaucratised by Indian officials who were influenced by the Soviet model of central planning. That eventually led to the “Licence Raj”, corruption and slow growth.

In his earlier speech, Lee had compared the effects of central planning and bureaucratic socialism in China and India: At the start after World War II, China was behind India. China’s infrastructure and population were devastated by the Japanese occupation from 1937–45. Then a civil war followed. After the Communist victory in 1949, China adopted the system of governance

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and economic policies of the Soviet Union. At independence in August 1947, India had ample sterling balances, a good system of governance and many topclass institutions. It had functioning institutions for a democracy, the rule of law, a neutral highly-trained civil service, defence force and proficiency in the English language. The situation deteriorated over time. India adopted central planning with results nearly as damaging as those of China. India’s political leaders are determined to reform but the Indian bureaucracy has been slower and resistant to change. Regional jostling and corruption do not help. Furthermore, populist democracy makes Indian policies less consistent, with regular changes in ruling parties.4

Singapore’s second Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, who is credited widely with having taken the country’s relations with India to impressive heights, also remembered Pandit Nehru as a formative force in his life. For Asians, the name Jawaharlal Nehru holds special significance. As a school boy, I held him in awe and bought a copy of his monumental book “Discovery of India”. But I must confess that I lacked the diligence and wisdom to complete reading the book. Nevertheless, it sat proudly on my book-shelf beside my study table.5

To Goh, who represents Singapore’s second generation of leaders, Nehru was a cosmopolitan, a nationalist and an intellectual giant. Most of all, he was an inspiration to the generation that had fought to free themselves from colonial rule. Along with the Mahatma, Nehru

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taught Asians to stand up for their rights, and rediscover their heritage, dignity and self-worth. Unlike many who turned to revolutionary violence, Nehru walked the more difficult path of conciliation and peace towards independence, and made the difference. It was a uniquely Indian approach. Nehru persevered and triumphed.

According to Goh, Nehru’s achievements in India resonated throughout Asia. He made it easier for many of us living in colonies to follow in his footsteps, along the path he had created. India’s ability to accommodate and assimilate is justly celebrated in her illustrious history. Nehru embodied the essence of that enduring spirit. Although he received an English gentleman’s education and admired the achievements of Western civilization, Nehru was an Indian and an Asian at heart. Secure in his own Indian identity and roots, Nehru was able to enjoy the fruits of many cultures and to learn from them. In many ways, Singapore seeks to do the same — combining the best of western culture with our Asian roots and values.

Like Lee, Goh looked at independent Singapore’s early encounters with India. In the early days of Singapore’s independence, we looked to India for inspiration because India was a secular nation governed by the rule of law. I was told that Singapore’s first generation diplomats used to follow India’s lead when we were not sure what position to take at international meetings. This was

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because we trusted India’s principled stand on many issues.

Goh did not shy away from speaking on how paths soon diverged. However, during the Cold War, our strategic priorities diverged. Although both India and Singapore were members of the Non-Aligned Movement, our analysis of international developments and, therefore, positions on several issues, differed. India forged a path of self-reliance and independence in development and foreign policy. Economically, India’s leaders built a system of extensive public ownership and central planning. For Singapore, being a small country, agility and adaptability were essential traits for survival. We looked to global markets and relied on private enterprise, especially multi-national corporations, to drive our economy. Singapore’s need to leap-frog the region and our export-oriented economy also moved us closer to the West and Japan.

Economics Economics was an important aspect of India’s early relationship with Singapore after it became independent in 1965. New Delhi was dismissive towards Southeast Asia’s pro-capital, pro-America, “Coca Cola governments”.6 However, to consider just one example, Tata, India’s premier private-sector company, took keen interest in Singapore’s open economy. Syamal Gupta, a company veteran, recalls the Tata Group’s early days in Singapore:7 Two Tata visionaries — JRD Tata and Sumant

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Moolgaonkar, supported by Freddie Mehta — had had the farsightedness way back in the early 1970s to see the future of economics, manpower development and technology in this Asian land of opportunity. The Tata presence in Singapore today is the result of this vision. Tata gave of its expertise and experience, and in turn acquired knowledge of the latest developments in science and technology. A focal point of South East Asian sea routes, Singapore had a fairly big textile industry by the early 1970s and its book printing industry was growing. Foreign investors like GE had just set foot in Singapore, and their offerings included consumer products and engineering items. Other multinationals were also looking at investing there. The Singapore government realised that to attract hi-tech industries, it needed to improve its education system and offer high-speed training to its citizens. So, in 1972, when JRD Tata was on an exploratory visit to the city-state, then prime minister Lee Kuan Yew’s government requested him to set up a precision engineering unit and a training institute. Tata Precision Industries (TPI) was set up in 1972, supported by the Economic Development Board of Singapore (EDB). It was the first Tata manufacturing venture in Singapore, and the Development Bank of Singapore was a major shareholder. I was fortunate to be chosen to spearhead the operations.

This was the beginning of a very productive relationship. Mr Tata frequently visited Singapore and encouraged and supported TPI. It was his foresight to enter into the manufacture of components for disk drives, computers and computer peripherals which continue

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to form part of TPI’s current business. His vision was to make Singapore a centre for developing relations in the Asia Pacific region. The Tata Government Training Centre (TGTC), supported by the Singapore government, was the first training institute of its kind in Singapore. Tool making, precision machining, electrical and hydraulic installation, as well as mould making, millwright work and other trades were included in the curriculum. Set up by TPI in technical collaboration with Telco, it produced technicians who were skilled in tool making and design. The institute was later merged with the Nanyang Polytechnic, one of the country’s premier technical institutions.

Looking back, Gupta spoke of how much had been achieved. By the time I moved on to my next assignment 10 years later, Singapore had transformed itself from manufacturing textiles to attracting investment in hitech industries such as semiconductors, electronics and what was then an exciting new field — computer peripherals. TPI had evolved too. Market research showed that there was a big demand for sophisticated items such as precision engineering components, and these became part of the company’s product portfolio. It designed and developed engineering components for multinationals like Texas Instruments, National Semiconductors, IBM, Siemens and others. The severe foreign exchange restrictions then in force in India meant the company had to raise capital locally. To increase business, we undertook work for American Semiconductor Tools, to fulfil the company’s global requirements. Today, the Tata brand is well known and

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respected in Singapore… What started over 30 years ago as a developmental activity to support Singapore’s precision engineering industry, has grown to cover all of the group’s major businesses in IT, automobiles, telecommunications and steel. TPI has built for itself a reputation for integrity, quality and reliability.8

Politics India refused to provide newly-independent Singapore with a military adviser to help it build up five battalions because New Delhi did not want to take sides against Malaysia.9 Nevertheless, India and Singapore enjoyed close political relations, with the city-state supporting India during its conflicts with Pakistan, and the Tashkent Declaration. The Indian scholar Kripa Sridharan, who has written extensively on India’s relations with ASEAN in general and with Singapore in particular, notes that the decade from Singapore’s independence in 1965 included several high-level visits and “an active exchange of views between the two sides on questions of security and stability in Southeast Asia”.10 Among significant bilateral visits, she cites Lee’s trips to India in 1966, 1970 and 1971. Indian former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi paid an official trip to Singapore in 1968, and was followed by Indian former Deputy Prime Minister Morarji Desai in 1969. The Indian and Singapore Foreign Ministers made official trips twice during that period.11 In the wake of the withdrawal of Western powers from Southeast Asia in the late 1960s, Lee was interested in an Indian presence in the region, either in the form of a

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multilateral security arrangement or by “the enunciation of an ‘Asian Monroe Doctrine’ to dissuade possible ‘poaching’ in Asia”. He envisaged for India the role of a regional “guardian”. Also, Singapore found it “useful to cultivate India as a possible counterweight” to constellations of international forces or to countries that did not wish it well.12 Unfortunately, this role — which took shape in a tentative regional security proposal for Southeast Asia that New Delhi put forward in 1968 — did not materialize. Speaking of Lee’s trip to India in 1970, Sridharan notes that New Delhi was not persuaded entirely by his anxiety over the possible power vacuum that the British military withdrawal from Southeast Asia would create. “Accordingly, India did not feel compelled to promote any specific security scheme for the region other than suggesting that broadbased economic cooperation arrangements could assuage the security problem within the smaller Southeast Asian countries in the long run,” she writes.13 Cold War Interlude The Cold War period led, as Goh said, to a divergence of strategic priorities between India and Singapore. This divergence was evident seen in the Third World’s overarching association, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). According to Sisir Gupta, the movement was dedicated to preventing the West from “promoting a post-imperial international system under which the Western powers would organise the entire non-Communist world as a single political area, integrated through military pacts and alliances and

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through other forms of regional associations”.14 However, the Third World countries displayed a great deal of diversity in their approaches to the super powers, and those differences were amplified when China rose from among the Third World states to challenge both the United States and the Soviet Union. Gupta makes the important point that, certainly before the Soviet Union decided to embark on a policy of peaceful coexistence with the West, the communist powers appealed to the anti-status quo part of the Third World’s consciousness, while the Western powers appealed to the status quo elements of the Third World’s consciousness. The West warned non-aligned nations of the risks that they would be posing for their internal political systems, the local power balance, and the global power balance by collaborating with the communists.15 Indeed, even after Moscow chose peaceful coexistence with the West, NAM came under the competing pulls exerted by the two super powers. Singapore and India found themselves almost at opposite ends of the Non-Aligned spectrum. The Cold War gulf between India and Singapore was at its widest and deepest following the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1978 and their occupation of that country. India’s rather benign view of the Vietnamese action was fuelled by a common closeness to the Soviet Union and by a common wariness of China. That view contrasted sharply with Singapore’s implacable opposition to the violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity, of a smaller country in particular, by a larger and more powerful neighbour. Singapore and Thailand led the charge in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) against the Vietnamese action and against international attempts to make it a fait

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accompli. China’s invasion of Vietnam in 1979 as a form of retributive military action and Beijing’s diplomatic support of the ASEAN position proved invaluable to the regional grouping, particularly to Thailand, which feared that Vietnam would invade it next. India’s relations with ASEAN plummeted; its ties with Singapore reached their nadir. However, both recovered after the end of the Cold War in 1991. Notes   1. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, “Managing Globalization: Lessons from China and India”, Keynote Speech at the Official Opening of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Shangri-la Hotel, 4 April 2005, .   2. For the text of the speech, from which the following extracts are drawn, see Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, “India in an Asian Renaissance”, Media Resource Centre, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore, .   3. The second volume of Lee’s memoirs discusses his interactions with other Indian leaders. See Lee Kuan Yew, From Third World to First: The Singapore Story 1965–2000, op. cit., pp. 449–60.   4. .   5. Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, Acceptance Address, Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi, 9 July 2004, .   6. J.N. Dixit, Makers of India’s Foreign Policy: Raja Ram Mohun Roy to Yashwant Sinha (New Delhi: HarperCollins

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Publishers India and the India Today Group, 2004), p. 12.   7. Syamal Gupta speaking to Christabelle Noronha, , uploaded on 29 March 2006.   8. Ibid.   9. Lee Kuan Yew, From Third World to First, op. cit., pp. 30–31. 10. Kripa Sridharan, “The Evolution and Growth of IndiaSingapore Relations”, in Yong Mun Cheong and V.V. Bhanoji Rao, eds., Singapore-India Relations: A Primer, op. cit., p. 22. See also Kripa Sridharan, The ASEAN Region in India’s Foreign Policy (Aldershot and Brookfield: Dartmouth, 1996). 11. Sridharan, ibid., p. 23. 12. Ibid. 13. Ibid., p. 24. For Sridharan’s account of other phases of the India-Singapore relationship, see ibid., pp. 26–39. 14. Sisir Gupta, “Great Power Relations and the Third World”, in Carsten Holbraad, ed., Super Powers and World Order (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1971), p. 111. 15. Ibid.

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5 Looking East to Singapore The implosion of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War in 1991 were accompanied by dramatic adjustments on India’s domestic and foreign policy fronts. New Delhi began to liberalize the economy and seek foreign investments and foreign markets, much as Singapore had done once. India also embarked on a forward policy based on recovering its role in its extended neighbourhood.1 Perhaps the most successful form of that forward outlook was India’s Look East policy, which Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao formulated in 1992 and unveiled in Singapore in 1994. Narasimha Rao’s initiative possessed an ancient lineage in Southeast Asia. For example, India’s relations with Indonesia are part of the history and folklore of both countries. Every year in October–November on Kartik Purnima, the full moon during the month of Kartik, Orissa celebrates Bali Yatra, or the voyage to Bali. The festival recalls a fine maritime tradition in which merchants from Kalinga sailed to Bali, Java, Sumatra, Borneo and elsewhere. The merchants, called sadhabas, embarked on their voyage after ritual worship and offerings and prayers by their womenfolk for their safe journey.2 Also known as the BoitaBandana festival, Bali Yatra today sees people gathering near riverbanks or seashores to float miniature boats (boita) in symbolic homage to their seafaring ancestors. Bali Yatra also marks the culmination of the religious festivities held

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during Kartik.3 In 1992, the Oriya leader Biju Patnaik took the initiative to launch a special Kalinga-Bali voyage to retrace the ancient sea route between Orissa and Indonesia.4 He had taken a different route himself. During Indonesia’s independence struggle, Dutch forces had laid siege to Jakarta. Daring the colonialists to shoot down his single-engined Dakota plane, he had flown it from Singapore to Indonesia and flown out two senior Indonesian leaders, Muhammad Hatta and Sultan Sjahrir, to Delhi. That act earned him the title of bhoomiputra, independent Indonesia’s highest civilian award. India is no foreigner to Indonesian history. Narasimha Rao’s Look East policy revitalized India’s historical links with Southeast Asia and gave them contemporary agency. Indian policy began to reflect the Indian scholar Mohammed Ayoob’s astringent remark in India and Southeast Asia that “India’s standing in the international hierarchy of power will depend crucially on the success or failure of New Delhi’s Asia-Pacific strategy”.5 New Delhi had no intention of failing. In making ASEAN a special object of its attention, India found in Singapore an eager partner. In the early 1990s, the city-state had been one of the first countries to recognize the importance of India’s economic reforms. It had encouraged them repeatedly, particularly when the political will to push them ahead had faltered in New Delhi. Singapore’s efforts bore fruit, and were embodied in the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement in 2005. Then Trade and Industry Minister George Yeo emphasized CECA’s strategic importance even before the agreement had been signed. “The CECA will make Singapore the eastward extension of India

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into East Asia,” he said. “From a historical perspective, this restores an old relationship when the British East India Company established from Bengal a trading post in Singapore for the China trade.”6 On another occasion, he said: “The analogy of Singapore becoming for India what Hong Kong is to China is very relevant and we are working through the CECA on the modalities to achieve it.”7 The city-state also had invited India to move beyond its already central role in South Asia and contribute to Southeast Asian security. India’s influence began to expand when, between 1992 and 1996, it first became a sectoral dialogue partner and then a full dialogue partner of ASEAN. India joined the ASEAN Regional Forum in 1996 after hard lobbying by Singapore overcame concerns that New Delhi’s entry would import the sub-continent’s political and military tensions into the forum. Within a decade, from 1987 to 1996, India became a stable participant in the ASEAN process, and the first India-ASEAN summit was held in Phnom Penh in 2002.8 Singapore played an important role as well in bringing India into the East Asian Summit process, which began in 2005.9 Satu P. Limaye goes so far as to say that “Singapore has accepted the role of India’s ‘sponsor’ in Southeast Asia”.10 In doing so, Singapore returned the compliment that India had paid to it in the very making of the city-state. Simultaneously, India’s growing role in Southeast Asia revived questions about its potential as an Asian power. Interestingly, these questions about the future harked back to the origins of India’s quest for power and influence. Names both old and new came to the fore in an unfolding story.

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From Curzon and Panikkar to Kissinger and Raja Mohan George Nathaniel Curzon, First Marquess of Kedleston, Viceroy of India and British Foreign Secretary, is remembered in India for his partition of Bengal in 1905, a move that was resented so bitterly that it was revoked in 1911. But while Lord Curzon partitioned a province within India, his vision of imperial India in the world was nothing but grandly inclusive. In his 1909 book, The Place of India in the Empire, he explained the geopolitical significance of the country without which there would have been no British Empire. It is obvious indeed, that the master of India, must, under modern conditions, be the greatest power in the Asiatic Continent, and therefore, it may be added, in the world. The central position of India, its magnificent resources, its teeming multitude of men, its great trading harbours, its reserve of military strength, supplying an army always in a high state of efficiency and capable of being hurled at a moment’s notice upon any point either of Asia or Africa — all these are assets of precious value. On the West, India must exercise a predominant influence over the destinies of Persia and Afghanistan; on the north, it can veto any rival in Tibet; on the north-east and east it can exert great pressure upon China, and it is one of the guardians of the autonomous existence of Siam. On the high seas it commands the routes to Australia and to the China Seas.11

This vision must be kept in historical perspective. It was articulated when the British Empire was strong and

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when Persia and Afghanistan, Tibet and even China were relatively weak. However, Curzon’s instinctive grasp of India’s centrality in Asian affairs was undeniable. So was his understanding of India’s position in the Indian Ocean, in particular. Britain maintained its empire by securing India through the exercise of naval supremacy from Aden to Singapore, turning the Indian Ocean effectively into a British lake. Writing in 1945, the great Indian strategist K.M. Panikkar endorsed the fundamental features of Curzon’s political geography by noting that India’s security would remain woefully inadequate without it playing a preponderant role in the Indian Ocean. In India and the Indian Ocean, he showed that ever since the sixteenth century, from which time the Indian Ocean became the scene of a struggle for the control of the sea, the future of India has been determined not on the land frontiers, but on the oceanic expanse which washes the three sides of India.12

What Indian history demonstrated was that he who controlled the seas would rule shortly on land as well. There had been invasions and conquests of India from the land side on many previous occasions. But such invasions and conquests have either led to transient political changes, or to the foundation of new dynasties, which in a very short time became national and Indian.13

The invasions from the sea — by the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French and, most lastingly, by the British — were different. India could not absorb those invaders: Instead, they absorbed it into their larger world designs. The seas

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had made all the difference. In fact it may truly be said that India never lost her independence till she lost the command of the sea in the first decade of the sixteenth century.14

Indeed, World War II had underscored an historical lesson. The ease of Japan’s conquest of Singapore, and its control of the Bay of Bengal, showed that India could be threatened more easily from the East than from the West. Hence, the strategic area in Indian warfare was not so much the Burmese frontier as it was Malaya, Singapore and the Andamans. Panikkar wrote dramatically: The Gulf of Malacca is like the mouth of a crocodile, the Peninsula of Malaya being the upper and the jutting end of Sumatra being the lower jaw. The entry to the Gulf can be controlled by the Nicobars and the narrow end is dominated by the island of Singapore.15

True, Japan had been eliminated as a naval power after the War, but this development had not resolved the problem because China could not be expected to neglect its naval interests in the future.16 Looking ahead, Panikkar drew on the works of two great strategists, the American Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan and the British geographer Halford Mackinder. He applied their insights to India, whose “peninsular character” and the dependence of whose trade on maritime traffic meant that “the economic life of India will be completely at the mercy of the power which controls the seas”.17 Warning against an exclusively land-based defence, he said that the “freedom of India will hardly be worth a day’s purchase, if Indian interests in the Indian Ocean are

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not to be defended from India”.18 The opening years of the 21st century offered India an opportunity to recover Curzon’s vision — shed of its imperial designs, of course — and adopt a maritime view of the national destiny that Panikkar had expressed so eloquently. One reason for this change was that the United States and India, which had viewed with suspicion each other’s influence in the Indian Ocean, drew close against the backdrop of a rising China. Washington now encouraged New Delhi to pick up where the British had left Asia following their military retrenchment East of Suez in the 1970s. India’s size, population, economic potential, secular democratic polity, military strength — amplified by its nuclear tests in 1998 — and position as the key swing state between America and China made Washington look at New Delhi as the most likely new candidate for partnership in an era of China’s rise. In an article written soon after the 1998 nuclear explosions, Ayoob noted perceptively: As the lone superpower and major provider of public goods in the international system, the United States has come to realize the importance of pivotal regional powers and the fact that international order can attain legitimacy and stability only if these same qualities are first achieved within regional orders.19

Hence it made sense for Washington to help New Delhi become South Asia’s “regional security manager, and to acquire the capabilities needed to counterbalance China in the wider Asian region”.20 Since the U.S. should build alliances with other Asian powers “in case of future clashes with China”, India is “a logical choice” because its interests

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vis-à-vis China complement American interests and because India can counter Chinese dominance. Since New Delhi shared Washington’s objective of “balancing China’s power in Asia, India would willingly work with the United States toward this end outside of South Asia, especially in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean”.21 Americans responded warmly to such overtures. One American statesman who hailed India’s credentials for partnership was U.S. former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a master of realpolitik who was as much a player of the Great Game in the Cold War as Lord Curzon had been in his time. Kissinger declared that there was compatibility between American interests and India’s avowed desire to prevent another dominant power from emerging between Singapore and Aden.22 India’s and America’s “parallel interests” from Aden to Singapore included energy security, safeguarding sea-lanes, political stability, economic modernization and religious moderation.23 The threat of global terrorism was a major factor that drew the two countries closer. Clearly with Britain’s legacy in mind, Kissinger lent a helping hand to neo-Curzonians for whom India’s strategic neighbourhood stretches from West Asia to Southeast Asia. Indeed, he said pointedly that he expected India to conduct its strategic Aden-to-Singapore policy in China’s neighbourhood.24 In a response to Kissinger, K. Subrahmanyam cautioned against a replay of Curzon’s imperial thinking because it belonged to the 19th century. Then, the Royal Navy and the British Indian Army had needed only to contend with “autocratic kings and sheikhs with armies of little competence” whom they had coerced into accepting the

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arc of British supremacy from Aden to Singapore.25 That era had come to an end with decolonization and the rise of nationalism. “Vietnam, Afghanistan and now Iraq prove that the kind of overlordship the Royal Navy and the British Indian Army exercised over the arc from Aden to Singapore cannot be repeated in the 21st century,” Subrahmanyam argued, adding for good measure: Presumably Kissinger has lost sight of the fact that Singapore is now at the heart of a ten nation grouping — the ASEAN — which is wisely cultivating a multifaceted security relationship with all the major powers of the world.26

Keeping such caveats in view, C. Raja Mohan has argued for the relevance to contemporary India of a non-imperial version of Curzon’s worldview — and Panikkar’s vision, it might be added. In an article authored jointly, Raja Mohan writes that India’s neo-Curzonian worldview is the logical heir to one of the nation’s strategic ur-texts, Kautilya’s fourthcentury B.C. Arthashastras, which locates India at the nucleus of concentric rings of potential friends and foes. A neo-Curzonian foreign policy is premised on the logic of Indian centrality, permitting multidirectional engagement — or “multi-alignment” — with all major powers and seeking access and leverage from East Africa to Pacific Asia. Such a forward foreign policy emphasizes the revival of commercial cooperation; building institutional, physical and political links with neighboring regions to circumvent buffer states; developing energy supplies and assets; and pursuing

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multistate defense agreements and contracts.27

Raja Mohan and Parag Khanna believe that this expansion is occurring. Today, India has recovered this 360-degree vision, looking west to boost investment from Europe and the Persian Gulf, north to secure stable energy supplies from Central Asia (including Iran), and east for partnerships and free trade agreements with South Korea and Australia. It engages actively in regional fora such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) while not shying away from potential strategic competition with neighbors such as Pakistan and China. Furthermore, it has transitioned from demanding respect on the basis of its nuclear status to proving greatness on the basis of its political and economic accomplishments.28

Again, a sense of perspective is essential here. In India & Southeast Asia: Towards Security Convergence, the veteran Indian diplomat Sudhir Devare argues convincingly that “India does not and should not seek closer military ties with Southeast Asia as a bulwark against China or Pakistan”.29 Devare — a former Secretary in India’s Ministry of External Affairs who was associated closely with the formulation of its Asia-Pacific policy — notes that, unlike during the Cold War, India-Southeast Asia ties are driven by internal rather than by external factors today.30 Instead of being attempts to restrict China’s role in Southeast Asia, India’s engagement with the region actually makes it a safer place for all powers, including Beijing, he points out. The importance of not turning Southeast Asia into a zero-

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sum game between India and China is undeniable. Kripa Sridharan underscores this need when she writes: Beijing’s isolation is not a preferred choice for either Singapore or India. They would like to see a China acting more in tune with prevailing international norms. China’s ‘socialization’ rather than marginalization is perceived by both to be more stabilizing in the long run.31

That said, it is no less important for India to engage Southeast Asia, as China is doing assiduously. Bengal Again? In a thought-provoking article, Raja Mohan calls on the government of India’s eastern state of West Bengal to restore its capital, Kolkata’s pristine economic position in a region that spans parts of the sub-continent, China, Myanmar and Southeast Asia. Doing so would call for “greater activism” by West Bengal in shaping India’s foreign policy. Purists will raise their eyebrows at the suggestion of a foreign policy for Kolkata. But for all the claims to monopoly from national governments on foreign policy making, interests of states — especially those on the borders — have always shaped diplomacy over the centuries. In India, too, politics in Tamil Nadu has always coloured the national policy towards Sri Lanka. Similarly political classes in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have long had influence on India’s Nepal policy.32

Raja Mohan notes that West Bengal shares a long border

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with Bangladesh and provides key trade and transport links to Nepal and Bhutan, and once was the natural outlet for goods and people from western China, including Tibet. He concludes by asking West Bengal to take the initiative in economic and cultural diplomacy to advance India’s Look East policy. In thinking creatively about economic integration in the eastern subcontinent and boldly envisaging a global Bengal, [West Bengal Chief Minister] Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee can help reclaim the old glory of Kolkata. Economic and cultural diplomacy from a vibrant Kolkata will lend new capabilities to India’s foreign policy.33

Singapore is at heart of that eastern flank of India’s world vision. The distinguished Singapore diplomat K. Kesavapany declares that Singapore could fit strategically into India’s plans because “India has de facto inherited the British security role” stretching from Aden to Singapore”.34 Singapore welcomed the Indian aircraft carrier Viraat in July 2005 when it docked at Changi Naval Base after conducting its first exercise in the South China Sea with the Republic of Singapore Navy. The presence of the carrier battle group showed that India was serious in giving its Look East policy a genuine naval dimension. The seaborne Indian role in the making of Singapore took a step into the future. Notes   1. C. Raja Mohan, Crossing the Rubicon: The Shaping of India’s New Foreign Policy (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2005), p. 207.   2. Sarojini Nayak, “Baliyatra: Festival of Boats”, The Day

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After, .   3. .   4. Sarojini Nayak, “Baliyatra: Festival of Boats”, op. cit.   5. Mohammed Ayoob, India and Southeast Asia: Indian Perceptions and Policies (London and New York: Routledge, 1990), p. 96. The book was published under the auspices of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore. See also Frederic Grare and Amitabh Mattoo, India and ASEAN: The Politics of India’s Look East Policy (New Delhi: Manohar, 2001).   6. Trade and Industry Minister George Yeo, Speech at Confederation of Indian Industry event, 18 February 2004, .   7. Yusman Ahmad, “Singapore romances India”, Malaysian Business, 1 April 2004.   8. J.N. Dixit, “Courting South East Asia”, , 11 November 2002, .   9. For a comprehensive analysis of Singapore’s engagement with India, see Asad-ul Iqbal Latif, Between Rising Powers: China, Singapore and India (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2007), particularly pp. 234-84. 10. Satu P. Limaye, “2004: A Year of Living Actively”, Comparative Connections, Pacific Forum CSIS, . 11. Lord Curzon of Kedleston, The Place of India in the Empire (London: John Murray, 1909), p. 12, cited in Raja Mohan, Crossing the Rubicon, op. cit., pp. 204–05. 12. K.M. Panikkar, India and the Indian Ocean: An Essay on the Influence of Sea Power on Indian History (Bombay: George Allen & Unwin [India], 1971), p. 7. The book was first published in Britain in 1945, and a second edition appeared in 1961.

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13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27.

28. 29. 30. 31.

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Ibid. Ibid. Ibid., p. 21. Ibid., pp. 83–85. Ibid., p. 14. Ibid., p. 90. Mohammed Ayoob, “Potential Partners: India and the United States”, Asia Pacific Issues, No. 42 (Honolulu: East-West Centre, December 1999), p. 5. Ibid., p. 9. Ibid., p. 7. The Indian Express, 16 November 2004. C. Raja Mohan, “Jaswant and Lord Curzon’s Legacy”, The Hindu, 28 January 2002. Indian Express, 16 November 2004. K. Subrahmanyam, “The Aden-Singapore Illusion”, Indian Express, 11 December 2004. Ibid. Parag Khanna and C. Raja Mohan, “Getting India Right”, 13 February 2006, RealClear Politics, . Ibid. Sudhir Devare, India & Southeast Asia: Towards Security Convergence (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2006), p. 72. Ibid., p. 210. Kripa Sridharan, “Transcending the Region: Singapore’s India Policy”, in N.N. Vohra, ed., Emerging Asia: Challenges for India and Singapore (New Delhi: India International Centre and Manohar, 2003), p. 30. C. Raja Mohan, “A Foreign Policy for Kolkata”, Indian Express, 23 August 2005.

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33. Ibid. 34. K. Kesavapany, India’s Tryst With Asia (New Delhi: Asian Institute of Transport Development, 2006), p. 48.

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6 Global Indians Singapore –– Singapura in Malay — derives its name from a Sanskrit term that means “Lion City”; pre-colonial Singapore was territorially part of Indianized kingdoms such as the Srivijaya;1 and Singapore has been an important part of India’s diasporic footprint since the time of Raffles. These connections, which are preserved in Singapore’s thriving Little India district, moved forward dramatically in the 1990s, when great numbers of information technology and other professionals from India arrived in Singapore, accompanied by their families. Also arriving in Singapore were substantial numbers of Indian students, attracted by scholarships to universities, junior colleges and polytechnics. So great was the latest wave of Indian immigration that three Indian schools opened in Singapore to cater to the children of the professionals.2 These “new Indians” form India’s latest contribution to the making of Singapore. Their labours are invaluable in enabling it to re-engineer and reinvent itself to thrive in a competitive global economy. The “new Indians” — talented, confident, cosmopolitan and globally mobile — illustrate the timeless soft power of India: its ability to influence other cultures not through the use or threat of force but through the benign attractiveness of its cultural and social models.3 Indianized kingdoms once represented India’s civilizational reach into Southeast Asia without the use of military

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conquest, annexation or even political control.4 Today, Bollywood blockbusters carry India’s image abroad without colonizing imaginations from San Francisco to Singapore. The “new Indians” arriving in Singapore constitute the intellectual cutting edge of a legacy that stretches from classical India to Krish.5 “Old Indians”, settled in Singapore for generations, have welcomed the “new Indians” by and large because the arriving Indians and their children have raised the community’s economic and educational profile. Thanks largely to immigration from India, Indians constituted 8.7 per cent of Singapore’s population in 2005, against 7.1 per cent in 2000.6 Writing in 2005, Zafar Anjum noted that until the high-tech boom, the Indian labour pool comprised principally blue-collar construction workers and domestic help. Fewer than nine per cent of Indian expatriates — those with permanent residency — in 1990 possessed a college degree. By contrast, in 2000, almost 51 per cent of Indian permanent residents were college-educated. Given that fewer than eight per cent of Singapore Indian citizens had a college degree, and since expatriate Indians accounted for almost a quarter of Singapore’s Indian population, “the new, educated, high income Indian professionals have altered the overall community demographics in dramatic ways”. Anjum said also that, over the past ten years, the proportion of Indian blue-collar workers had halved from about 15 per cent to eight per cent, while the proportion of professionals and managerial workers had doubled from about 22 per cent to 43 per cent of the total Indian workforce, “revolutionizing the image of Indians” in Singapore society.7 All this is good news, but the Indian community in

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Singapore would be stronger if the global Indians interacted more closely with the settled Indians instead of staying apart as an expatriate community that identifies itself with other expatriate communities. Unfortunately, this is yet to be the case. Shashi Tharoor, who first lived in Singapore as a United Nations official in the early 1980s, came to the country in 2008 to participate in the India Se-India Club Literary Salon. He was very pleased by the existence of the first Southeast Asian literary platform for South Asian writers, and by the fact that it was sponsored by India Se, a magazine whose very name exuded the new expatriate pride in India.8 However, Tharoor noted something else as well. He found some Non-Resident Indians, who had moved to Singapore from India recently, basking in India’s reflected glory and hesitant to identify themselves with local Indians, particularly Tamils. This expatriate Indian-local Indian divide worried Tharoor. “There seems to be little mixing between the two groups — Indians from India still see themselves essentially as expatriates and have few friendships with local Singaporean Indians, other than the affluent elite amongst the latter,” he wrote. “This is a particularly Singaporean problem with few parallels elsewhere…” He believed that a solution might arrive when the expatriates settled down in Singapore permanently, “but I wouldn’t necessarily bet on it”.9 This is a pity, not least because “Singapore is perhaps the country with the greatest affinity for, and interest in, contemporary India”; indeed, it is doubtful that “there is a government anywhere in the world that takes the trouble to understand India the way Singapore does”.10 Of course, class differences between expatriate and

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local Indians cannot be wished away; these differences exist within each of these groups, as they do in Singapore at large. Sunanda K. Datta-Ray — former Editor of The Statesman who had three stints in Singapore as an editorial consultant, educator and researcher — focused on the role of class in the locals versus expatriates debate. “The debate is over the lifestyle and social preferences of the approximately 90,000 well-placed, well-educated expats employed by banks, multinationals and information technology firms,” he wrote. “They would not have been posted to Singapore if they were not the best of their line.” Locals and expatriates “can meet at levels where class and lifestyle coincide but not across chasms of education and income. That’s life.”11 Class differences are real, therefore. However, they are not insurmountable. The Singapore Indian Development Association — a self-help group formed in 1991 to address pressing educational and socio-economic issues facing the community — provides a valuable platform for voluntary work that can bring “old” and “new” Indians together. Then, there is sports, a great equalizer. The Singapore Indian Association, formed in 1923, possesses an illustrious record in the promotion of cricket, soccer and hockey. It provides another platform for Indians, whether newly-arrived or settled, to establish recreational links. Global Indians are a boon for Singapore. But the adage — “Think globally, act locally” — applies to them as it does to everyone else, as India continues to contribute to the making of Singapore. There is reason to believe that they will think globally but act locally. Too much should not be made of the divide between global Indians and settled Indians. After all, the ancestors of many settled Indians, too, had arrived as

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foreigners once. Given time, the teething problems of the new immigrants will pass, and global Indians will become an essential part of the landscape in globalizing Singapore. Notes   1. Balaji Sadasivan, Senior Minister of State, Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Ministry for Information, Communication and the Arts, Keynote Address at the Global Entrepolis Singapore 2007, Global Indian Business Summit, 15 November 2007, .   2. This chapter does not go into details of the new wave of Indian immigration because a subsequent volume in this series will be devoted entirely to that subject. For a recent study of economic relations, see Faizal bin Yahya, Economic Cooperation between Singapore and India: An Alliance in the Making? (London: Routledge, 2008).   3. For a study of India’s advantages, see Amit Gupta, “India’s Soft Power”, Indian Foreign Affairs Journal 1, no. 1 (January–March 2006): 45–57.   4. G. Coedes, The Indianized States of Southeast Asia, edited by Walter F. Vella and translated by Susan Brown Cowing (Honolulu: The University Press of Hawaii, 1968), p. 34.   5. This film was shot in Singapore.   6. Sunanda K. Datta-Ray, “The Poor Rich NRIs”, rediff NEWS, 14 October 2006, .   7. Zafar Anjum, “Indians Roar In The Lion City”, 12 November 2005, .   8. Shashi Tharoor, “Many Indias in Singapore”, The Hindu, 16 March 2008.   9. Ibid.

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10. Ibid. 11. Sunanda K. Datta-Ray, “Sorry Macaulay”, Business Standard, 26 April 2008.

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Appendix I Singapore Lecture 1994 INDIA AND THE ASIA-PACIFIC Forging a New Relationship Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao Singapore Conference Hall 8 September 1994

Mr Chairman, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Prime Minister, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. I am grateful to my friend and senior statesman Lee Kuan Yew for his kind remarks. This is a truly historic moment for all of us, not merely in a temporal, but also in a historical sense. Although my own association with Southeast Asia and Singapore goes back to a decade and a half, the ties that bind India and Southeast and East Asia are so old that they are still being fully traced by historians, who increasingly have to get the assistance of archaeologists. Singapore has graciously hosted Alamkara, an exposition titled “Five Thousand Years of India”. It was conceived as a presentation not merely of the ancient Indian civilization but a reaffirmation of the ties that bound our ancestors together. You may be interested to know that even the name of your city is very common in India and I know at least two villages close to my own with the

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same name. And I myself carry part of your city in my own name. I am sure you cannot think of another guest so closely identified with you. I was therefore not a little perplexed when I faced the task of drafting an address to this distinguished gathering on the “new relationship” India is forging with the Asia-Pacific. I suppose the connotation has something to do with the fact that in Asia, the industrial and technological revolution was heralded only late in this century, but the advances in development have been so rapid in recent decades or even years that it would be fair to say that it is not the reality that is changing, but change which is becoming a reality. So let us address the seeming paradox of this “new relationship”. In 1941, just before he died, the great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore had this to say in his work, “The Crisis in Civilisation”: I had at one time believed that the springs of Civilisation would issue out of the heart of Europe. But today when I am about to quit the world, that faith has gone bankrupt altogether.... And yet I shall not commit the grievous sin of losing faith in Man.… I would rather look forward to the opening of a new chapter in his history, after the cataclysm is over and the atmosphere rendered clean with the spirit of service and sacrifice. Perhaps that dawn will come from this horizon, from the East where the sun rises.

After the cataclysm of World War II we have continued to see much turbulence through the period of the Cold War, which dominated political and strategic perceptions. By the end of that struggle, by 1992, Jane’s Defence Weekly had identified a total of 73 hot-spots worldwide, including ongoing and potential conflicts.

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Asia has had its share of troubles, apart from the continuing suffering and humiliation we had to put up with during the phase of our colonial history. Permit me another quote which reads as follows: But there is yet another spirit of Asia today. As we all know, Asia is no longer passive today; it had been passive enough in the past.… It is no more a submissive Asia…! It has tolerated submissiveness for so long. Asia of today is dynamic.

Mr Chairman, these words were spoken by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru not far from here, at the Asian-African Conference in Bandung in April 1955. It is remarkable how true and relevant these words continue to be today. We cannot ignore the fact that while the world has become a smaller place, thanks largely to the technologies of travel and telecommunications, the hiatus between regions, nations and even communities may be said to have increased in one sense. If ideological rigidities have been jettisoned or at least largely muted, with the end of the Cold War by most of the contenders, new barriers are in evidence, in the form of tariff and non-tariff walls, immigration laws, cartelization of technological capabilities to ensure domination over nations which are slightly behind in the race, and several other ingenious innovations. It seems ironic that man has changed everything except his own mind and proclivities. The reason is not far to seek. It is much easier to change dead matter than to alter mental attitudes formed over many centuries, even millennia. In any event, while the effort to transform matter has been massive and continuous, a matching effort to adapt the human mind so as to be in tune with material changes

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has not been undertaken, except in a very few awakened societies. It takes a good deal of statesmanship to proceed on the path of nation-building along democratic lines while ensuring that the nation remains a worthy member of the international community. The problems are both endogenous and exogenous. The first category includes: 1. The massive challenges of development: In cases such as India’s, feeding, clothing and educating hundreds of millions whose eyes have still to adjust to the bright light of the twentieth century, and who are already being rushed into the mysterious twenty-first; 2. The challenge to human values thrown up everywhere by rapid changes. Prime Minister Goh alluded to this last month in his speech on Singapore’s National Day when he stated: “But societies change. They change with affluence, with technology, with politics. Sometimes changes are for the better but sometimes changes make a society lose its vitality, its solidarity, make a people soft and decline….” 3. The emergence of an attitude which seeks to define an individual’s social, and increasingly political, identity more on ethnic, religious and sometimes geographical lines, with the pernicious motivation of organizing forces for ostensibly economic, but in reality for political and even personal ends. In the exogenous category, some of the main elements which I could identify are: 1. The temptation, to which several political elites increasingly tend to succumb, of blaming their own

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internal problems, some of which I have just outlined, entirely on supposed events or attitudes abroad; 2. Friction between cultures. Although I would not go so far as to subscribe to the thesis that we are seeing a clash between Western and non-Western civilizations, there are unmistakable “fault lines” in some parts of the world, which are still to be repaired. This could, and sometimes does, lead to the export and import of fundamentalism and the assertion that religion has some overriding, transnational and supra-sovereign validity. This dangerous theory needs to be contained effectively. 3. The increasing tendency on the part of dominant powers today to assume that they can not only define the means, but even the ends, of collective international endeavour. This has been revealed to us in recent years in the form of intrusive prescriptions in the areas of social regulation, dissemination of knowledge, technological development and even domestic administration. The worst part of this tendency is that on closer scrutiny, it can be easily shown to be based on unsympathetic half-knowledge, and often even total ignorance. 4. Worldwide criminal networks of drug smugglers, terrorists, money launderers and other such elements who have no stake in peace and real prosperity but manage to suborn governments to ensure the furtherance of their own interests. Mr Chairman, I have dwelt at some length on these global issues before I come to the Asia-Pacific. This is because I sincerely believe that the nations that comprise the Asia-Pacific today must address these problems in their

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totality; because this region, if it can be referred to as a region, encompasses well over half the world’s population and wealth, and is today a primary source of the dynamism that impels global activity. The Asia-Pacific region is rather loosely defined, I understand. While organizations such as APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) and ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum) have a membership based more or less on geographic criteria, there can be no gainsaying that political and economic imperatives have mainly contributed to the process of the coming together of these nation-states. The constitution and the vitality of these fora speak well of the diplomatic and political maturity of the concerned governments. The issues are formidable: – interpretations of sovereignty, whether over the oceans, in outer space, over territory, resources, etc.; – frictions arising out of differing cultural perceptions — as we witnessed in the case of Michael Fay; – massive needs and demands of relatively underdeveloped populations and migratory tendencies, with no respect for national boundaries; – confrontational postures on a broad range of fundamental issues related to trade barriers, currency stabilization, international aid and investment flows; – intensification of the debate over linkages between issues such as human rights, labour laws, environmental protection and resource management, liberal information flows, etc., in political and economic relationships. The Asia-Pacific region is fairly disparate in the levels of economic development and physical size of the constituent

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states, as well as in terms of political attitudes, given the incredible racial, ethnic and religious diversity of its populations. While India has been observing the Asia-Pacific objectively, we cannot ignore the fact that our civilizations are organically linked to those which have founded so many of the nation-states of East and Southeast Asia. The evidence lies in the temples of Java, Indochina and Thailand, in the manifestations of the great religions of Buddhism and Hinduism that spread across this vast continent, and more aptly today, in the physical origin of ASEAN and other countries of the Asia-Pacific region. In these communities living here in peace with others, we have a true example of the Asian symbiosis. But we must look beyond our own continent, and you have started doing so. With the organizational bonds you have established with Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA and some of the Latin American countries, Asia has transcended the boundaries that were imposed by the Pacific. These boundaries were not merely physical but psychological and political as well. Enlightened leaderships of the region have realized that co-operation is fully compatible with healthy competition. If I may quote Pandit Nehru’s Bandung speech again: We send out greetings to Australia and New Zealand. And indeed Australia and New Zealand are almost in our region…. They are next to us and I should like indeed Australia and New Zealand to come nearer to Asia.

Mr Chairman, I repeat, these words were spoken in 1955 by a man who almost had an intuition of the Asia-Pacific

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as it evolves today. While in those days, the Cold War was at its peak, and therefore the superpowers were looked upon with some caution mixed with suspicion, it is gratifying to note that ASEAN can today speak from a position of strength at the same table with the United States, Russia, China and Japan. The equations have indeed altered. While one cannot deny the overwhelming military superiority of the United States, one cannot ignore the significant military development of China, Japan and Australia. The stakes in the Asia-Pacific region are indeed high. They involve rights of passage through crucial waterways, security of navigation from piracy, claims over disputed lands, maritime zones and resources, and hostilities through history that have been defused but not dispelled. Recently, there have been attempts to depict India, along with China and Japan, as a potential power which could fill the vacuum created by the withdrawal of the United States with the end of the Cold War. This theory was partially rejected by American and Southeast Asian strategic thinkers and even in the Australian Senate report of 1991. George Tanham, in his essay entitled “Indian Strategic Thought”, prepared for the U.S. Department of Defence in 1991, stated: India retains a long-term unshakeable commitment to strategic independence and autonomy in its decisionmaking and military capabilities, although its economic, industrial, and technological shortcomings continue to limit the success of such a strategic design….

It is these shortcomings which we are striving to remove with single-minded attention.

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India could well appear as a large enigma located between an interactive Asia-Pacific and the somewhat unclear West-Central Asian attempts at regional integration. This is understandable. But there is no cause whatsoever for the alarmist views propounded about India’s alleged expansionist designs, or its blue water navy. On any basis of rational and impartial comparison, it will be crystal clear that India has not coveted any land or other asset belonging to any other country, leave alone having any expansionist design through military might. Indeed, India has been an oft-invaded land throughout history. I do not know what a Prime Minister should feel about this, but I am citing it as an undeniable fact. In the first place, it is difficult to conceive of a navy that does not sail in blue waters, by anyone’s definition. I hardly need to describe to this gathering the magnitude of India’s territory; the distance of its island territories from the mainland; its maritime boundaries which are demarcated with those of ASEAN; and the enormous resource base which has to be protected, whether it be our fisheries, offshore oil and gas or even under-sea mineral deposits in the area we have been allotted in the Indian Ocean as a pioneer investor recognized under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Any country’s strategic policy can be analysed in terms of its interests, intentions and infrastructure. India’s interests are patent. A careful study of the past fifty years will convince anyone that India has, in fact, been subjected to considerable burdens on account of migrations of populations, terrorist attacks, smuggling, and so forth. Our interests lie in peace and harmony which will enable

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us to improve our standards of living. Our intentions are also evident from our recent policies, as also the fact that in terms of per capita expenditure and as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), our defence expenditure is perhaps among the lowest of any country that maintains an armed capability even half our size. The Australian Senate Report of 1991 has also concluded that India does not have the capability of sustained force projection far beyond its boundaries; and capability reflects intention. Having said this, I must add that, while India can be said to have been confined to its own strategic defence, this does not detract from its ability and willingness to exercise its role in global affairs. Our armed forces have participated in peace-keeping operations from Cambodia to Congo, and have recently shed blood in Somalia. We have not shrunk from our commitment to the cause of global peace and we shall not do so in future. At the same time, we do not accept any agenda that seeks peace at the cost of any country’s self-respect. We are willing to contribute troops to a U.N. standby force but would reserve the right to object to the deployment of such forces under circumstances that would make such deployment look like that of an aggressor. Mr Chairman, I have only reiterated what I consider our firm policy. I also think that the Non-aligned Movement is fully relevant today except in the minds of those who see no self-respect in it and seek to predicate it only in terms of the existence of rival blocs. In point of fact, however, its principles have not really been diluted by the recent strategic changes — we continue with the determination to decide our own destiny independently according to our rights, and to ensure genuine international consensus on matters that concern the world community.

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This view may be supported by some, rejected by others. Indeed, the approach adopted in the ARF may well contribute to overall regional security. For this to happen, however, there must be a thorough consensus among all the powers, big or small, who have a stake. Security cannot be compartmentalized when the global reach of weapons, and the scope for rapid deployment of forces has increased to the point where the threat of armed intervention and conflict can never be ruled out in any part of the world, and where the struggle for sovereignty over territory and resources is getting more and more acute. Mr Chairman, India’s preoccupation with economic development and its determination to withstand the onslaught of inimical internal and external forces, have together wrought a political economy which has a self-respecting GDP and a technological base which is the envy of many other countries. But as the second most populous country in the world, India’s special problems need to be noted carefully, before prescriptions of unsuitable models of development are accepted without adequate forethought. India’s economic imperatives should be seen both in short-term and long-term perspectives. Right now, the necessity of massive investments in infrastructure looms large. We need huge investments in power, oil, telecommunications, fertilizers and, of course, agriculture and irrigation, apart from roads, railways and ports. I have come to extend my hand of partnership in this venture — a partnership having so much in common, and so close already in multi-faceted co-operation. Investment is coming from several industrialized countries already. My present endeavour is to draw, as much as possible, investment and co-operation from the Asia-Pacific countries, in consonance

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with our common concept and solidarity and my faith in our common destiny. This, of course, will bring large-scale employment to India’s young people at different levels — skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled. When we in India look at employment in the long-term perspective, the question of the right technology confronts us. If we take to gigantism in order to attain the economies of scale, we accept increasingly sophisticated technology which, in many cases, replaces man with machine, accentuating unemployment and imposing unacceptable social costs in a populous country. On the other hand, if we accept the route of large-scale employment with old technology and low wages, the large mass of people, as well as their economic activity, including the product thereof, would remain at an unacceptably primitive level in quality. Obviously, both these positions are unacceptable. There are six factors involved here: size, environmental acceptability, cost, quality, technology and employment potential. Environmental acceptability and quality are obviously a sine qua non. If the objective is to maximize employment and minimize the per unit size at more or less the same cost, the only imponderable that remains to be determined is technology. I see no alternative for populous developing countries except to develop these technologies of the future. One may perhaps call them the “Laptop technologies”, taking the analogy of the computers, wherein all the six factors listed above are integrated. I invite the technology experts here and everywhere to ponder over this particular aspect of our necessity and direct their research and innovation to this end, working in co-operation with us. Coming back to the present situation, until recently, we laid emphasis on self-reliance and trade with traditional

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partners. This is changing now. In the calendar year 1993, proposals from APEC economies, excluding the United States, constituted over 20 per cent of the total foreign investment collaborations approved by the Government of India. Between January 1991 and June 1994, a total of 1,904 foreign collaborations were approved with APEC economies. During this period, direct investment from APEC in India amounted to approximately 54 per cent of the total foreign investment received. These figures are indeed revealing. On the other hand, Indian businessmen have established joint ventures all over the Asia-Pacific — 148 in the APEC economies. The overseas Indian community, which retains strong links with its homeland, but prefers to live and work abroad, constitutes a vital link between India and the countries of the Asia-Pacific. We have a stake in their prosperity, as they have a stake in our future. From April 1993 to March 1994, APEC economies accounted for 45 per cent of India’s exports and 30 per cent of its imports. But all this trade amounted to only about 1 per cent of intra-APEC trade. We are acutely aware of the considerable potential that exists, considering India’s natural resources, its growing infrastructure, human resources, a well-developed legal system and an increasingly open financial and investment regime. Last year, we commenced an economic dialogue with ASEAN. My visit to Singapore and earlier visits to other ASEAN countries have convinced me that the potential for India’s partnership with this nucleus organization in the Asia-Pacific is immeasurable. Already, we find Indian enterprises prospecting oil, constructing railroads, building power plants, setting up

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enterprises to manufacture engineering goods, process agricultural products and trade all over the region. At the moment, however, all this is on a minuscule scale. Much more is possible and desirable. India therefore wants a real and sizeable jump. India’s premier railway construction enterprise has rehabilitated, electrified and built several hundred kilometres of railway track in Malaysia. I found it significant when last month a leading Malaysian company presented me with a proposal to construct a 10,000 kilometre toll highway on a “build-operate-transfer” basis, linking India’s major cities. Yet another Indian company, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, has set up thousands of megawatts of generating capacity in the Asia-Pacific region, in those very countries from where we are now receiving offers to set up power plants in India. Is it a paradox that Indian companies are exerting themselves abroad to execute projects of a nature which firms from those countries are attempting to set up in India? Far from being a paradox, I think this is the essence of eclectic enterprise — business that constantly seeks to move beyond its boundaries. This has been the key to success in the Asia-Pacific and a valuable lesson we have learned from you. The creation of wealth in this region, particularly in those countries which were eclipsed for two to three centuries by colonial rule, is an example to mankind everywhere. It has also aroused sufficient interest among the developed members of APEC for them to have realized that a partnership with Asia is not only desirable but inevitable. Speaking for a developing country, I feel we must not barter our advantage without ensuring that we can become equal partners with equal say in the eventual codification of international laws and regulations that will

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govern international political, economic and social activity in the next century. What we see in the Asia-Pacific region cannot be called a clash of civilizations but a mesh, interwoven with religious, ethnic, racial, linguistic and professional strands. And it is this diversity which gives the resilience that enables this mesh to sustain the almost unbelievable growth rates that Asia has seen in the past decade and will continue to see well into the next century. Mr Chairman, I am consciously including India in this reality and this vision of the Asia-Pacific that I propound. If a new relationship is to be forged, it is only the visible superstructure that needs to be erected over the very sound and solid foundation that already exists. This superstructure will include increasing levels of interaction through travel and communication links. Rural Indian homes today receive TV programmes in Indian languages beamed from Hong Kong and Moscow. We expect that in the not-too-distant future, programmes made in India will be beamed over the Asia-Pacific. We in India are conscious of the dangers posed by commercial media networks whose indiscriminate satellite footprints stamp over our cultural sensitivities and disrupt our social ethos. But we have full faith in our cultural heritage and believe that it will survive all onslaughts from outside, integrating healthy influences and also influencing external factors in the process. The information revolution should have, as its natural corollary, an enlightened understanding of our cultural affinities and differences. The more we know of each other, the better we understand each other. Geographical, linguistic and legal barriers must come down. I realize India has a big responsibility in this regard

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and I assure you that we will not shirk this responsibility. We will vindicate the cardinal principle of responsible media projection, namely, that profit must be predicated on propriety. Mr Chairman, India has already taken steps to liberalize its currency regime, open the economy to more imports and investment, and educate its people on the benefits of exposure to the outside world. The Asia-Pacific could be the springboard for our leap into the global market-place. Much has been reported recently, as you pointed out, Mr Chairman, very interestingly just now, including in the Singapore press, about the slowing down of India’s economic reforms. May I clarify that if we appear to have slowed down, it may only be because the pace of reforms over the past three years has been extremely rapid. Only last month my government further liberalized the currency regime to make the rupee convertible on current account. Meanwhile, the Bombay Stock Exchange continues its bull run. With regard to our labour policy, one has to understand the Indian situation, and spare a thought for the hundreds of millions of people who face the prospect of unemployment. A hire-and-fire policy in India would not only be inhumane, it would be economically unwise — this can be proved, this can be demonstrated. At the same time, businessmen who are planning future investments have little to worry about, because unlike established businesses whose work-force may have over-grown for various reasons, and not be germane to results, new business can always assess its manpower requirements accurately so as to avoid the risk of becoming uneconomic on that score. I can assure this gathering that India not only welcomes but is also worth your time and money. Investment in

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India is an investment in the future — a future not only for the investor but for a population of one billion which will remain a force for stability in the world. In return, countries of the Asia-Pacific will find in India a reliable partner, a vast market, the process of whose development will simultaneously involve the renaissance of a great and noble civilization which we all share in some measure. Mr Chairman, before I conclude, I would like to revert to my earlier quotation, what our great poet Rabindranath Tagore said about the new dawn coming from the horizon of the East, where the sun rises. Those were the days of World War II, of the horror that made no sense to anyone. The war ended only to give rise to the Cold War. That too has ended, only to leave the world in a flux of a different kind. The world has no big war now, hot or cold; yet it has no peace either. Thus, the transition to the post-Cold War world, welcome as it is, is likely to be equally difficult, if not more. The days of celebrating the demise of a system are over. The contours of a different world have begun to emerge, a world so different from the world of blocs and deterrents that we had hardly expected it even to exist. But Cold War attitudes persist — not because there is anything permanently valid or inevitable about them, but because their removal takes time and even more than time, the genuine realization that the change in human destiny needs a corresponding change in man’s own mindset. I firmly believe that beyond the processes of diplomacy and inter-state relations that occupy our attention most of the time, there is an immeasurably vast area in which all the tiny specks that make up humanity are surprisingly equal. We have to capture the spirit and quality of that equality and realize the unity of man. This is the challenge of the unipolarity which

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we witness today. This challenge is an opportunity which history does not often throw up. We miss it at our own peril. And we can capture it, through the essentially Asian ethos of compassion, harmony and a sense of sharing, where the individual and the collective entities are beautifully blended to make life a consistent whole. I am happy to have had this opportunity to enunciate my belief in this vision of a new relationship between India and the Asia-Pacific from Singapore, which I consider the geographic and symbolic centre of the Asia-Pacific. I trust this vision will be realized in the near future and that the next century will be a century of partnership for us all. Thank you very much.

Appendix II

INDIA IN AN ASIAN RENAISSANCE Speech by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew at the 37th Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture in New Delhi, 21 November 2005

I thank the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, Mrs Sonia Gandhi (its Chairperson) for inviting me to give the Nehru Lecture. I belong to that generation of Asian nationalists who looked up to India’s freedom struggle and its leaders Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. I had read Nehru’s books like The Discovery of India, culled from his letters from prison to his daughter Indira and many of his speeches. On 14 August 1947, when I was a young student in Cambridge, I remember vividly the moving and unforgettable opening of Nehru’s broadcast on the eve of independence, “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.” The destiny Nehru envisaged was of a modern, industrialised, democratic and secular India that would take its place in the larger historic flows of the second half of

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the 20th century. Nehru never doubted India’s place in the world. When imprisoned in Ahmadnager Fort during the Second World War, he wrote: “Though not directly a Pacific state, India will inevitably exercise an important influence there… Her position gives an economic and strategic importance in a part of the world which is going to develop rapidly in the future.” Nehru’s speeches resonated with me. I shared intellectual and emotional roots with Nehru because I had also experienced discrimination and subjugation under the British Raj and admired Nehru for his vision of a secular multiracial India, a country that does not discriminate between citizens because of their race, language, religion or culture. I first visited New Delhi in 1959 for a conference of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ). Nehru opened the conference at the Vigyan Bhavan. He arrived in a modest Hindustan (Morris Oxford, Made in India). Later in April 1962, when I was Prime Minister of Singapore, Nehru gave me time for several discussions about Singapore’s merger with Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia. He encouraged and supported my ideas. Nehru received me again in February 1964 on my return from a visit to 17 countries in Africa. Like Nehru, I had been influenced by the ideas of the British Fabian society. But I soon realised that before distributing the pie I had first to bake it. So I departed from welfarism because it sapped a people’s self-reliance and their desire to excel and succeed. I also abandoned the model of industrialisation through import substitution. When most of the Third World was deeply suspicious of

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exploitation by western MNCs (multinational corporations), Singapore invited them in. They helped us grow, brought in technology and know-how, and raised productivity levels faster than any alternative strategy could. Nehru had a great vision for India and for Asia and his elegant style of writing and speech captivated many young minds in the British empire. He had insights into the causes of India’s problems, but, burdened by too many issues, he left the implementation of his ideas and policies to his ministers and secretaries. Sadly they did not achieve the results India deserved. Nehru’s ideal of democratic socialism was bureaucratised by Indian officials who were influenced by the Soviet model of central planning. That eventually led to the “Licence Raj”, corruption and slow growth. The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union undercut the strategic premises of India’s external and economic policies. By 1991, with the country on the verge of bankruptcy, India had no choice but to change. Some Indians believe that, had Rajiv Gandhi lived to serve a second term as India’s Prime Minister, he would have pushed for major reform. But he was cut down before he was able to. It was left to PM Narasimha Rao to make the big move in 1991. Later that year, then Finance Minister Manmohan Singh and Commerce Minister Chidambaram gave a seminar in Singapore on India’s new policy of reform and opening up. In 1992, Prime Minister Narasimha Rao met Singapore’s then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong at the Non-Aligned Conference in Jakarta and persuaded him to visit India with a delegation of Singapore businessmen. PM Goh visited

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India from 23–30 January 1994 and returned enthused. In January 1996, I visited New Delhi and spoke to civil servants and businessmen on the changes that Prime Minister Rao and his team were putting into place. I said that India’s ‘tryst with destiny’ had been repeatedly postponed. When I published the second volume of my Memoirs in 2000, I wrote “India is a nation of unfulfilled greatness. Its potential has lain fallow, under used.” Time to Keep the Tryst I am happy to now revise my view. Nehru’s view of India’s place in the world and of India as a global player is within India’s grasp. Since 1991, India has changed governments from Congress to BJP to Janata Dal to BJP, and back again to Congress. There have been six Prime Ministers. The pace of reforms has varied, but there has been no change in basic direction. The middle class has expanded. There is now no stigma in acquiring wealth. Indians have seen what market orientated policies have done for China and they do not want to be left behind. The rise of India and China is changing the global balance. Together they account for about 40 per cent of the world’s working age population and 19 per cent of the global economy in PPP (purchasing power parity) terms. On present trends, in 20 years, their collective share of the global economy will match their percentage of the global population, which is roughly where they were in the 18th century, before European colonialism engulfed them. China’s and India’s trade, investments and other economic relations with the countries of East Asia and the Pacific

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are reshaping Asia’s economic geography. India is an important ASEAN Dialogue Partner, a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum, and an inaugural member of the East Asia Summit this December. And there is no reason why it should not join APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) after it has developed a thick web of economic ties across the Pacific. East Asia is coalescing, brought together by market forces. India, China and Japan are readjusting their relationships with each other and with the U.S. This will not be an easy process because all countries want to preserve their independence and space to grow. If there are no mishaps by 2050 the U.S., China, India and Japan will be economic heavyweights, as will Russia if it converts its revenue from oil and gas into long term value in infrastructure and nonoil industries. India is an intrinsic part of this unfolding new world order. India can no longer be dismissed as a “wounded civilisation”, in the hurtful phrase of a westernised non resident Indian author (V.S. Naipaul). Instead, the western media, market analysts, and the International Financial Institutions now show-case India as a success story and the next big opportunity. This is a comforting development for the U.S. and the West, that a multi-party India is able to take off and keep pace with single-party China. Forbes Asia recently reported that U.S. venture firms will raise US$1 billion for India by the end of this year. India has emerged as a power in IT sector. It is the largest call centre in the world. Almost half of the largest global corporates now do at least some of their back office work in India. Indian R&D centres of American technology firms

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are reported to file more patents than Bell Labs. This year, India announced more than 1,300 applications for drug patents, second only to the U.S. and 25 per cent more than Germany, way ahead of the UK and Japan. The U.S. is now courting a nuclear India as a strategic partner. The EU has also launched a strategic partnership with India, and Japan wants a global partnership with India. These are indices of India’s growing weight in the world. Many countries, including Singapore, supported India’s bid to be a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council. Nehru’s vision is within grasp and India’s leaders must realise it in the next few decades. China and India I have always taken a keen interest in both China and India. Like all democratic socialists of the 1950s, I tried to forecast which giant would make the higher grade. I had rather hoped it would be a democratic India. By the 1980s, however, I accepted that each had its strengths and weaknesses and that the final outcome would depend on their economic policies, the execution of those policies, the responsiveness of the government is to the needs of the people, and most of all the nature of the culture of the two civilisations. Whether Asia will take its place in the world as Nehru wanted depends on how both India and China work together as they rise and actively set out to avoid ending up in opposing camps. It is vital that they understand where they stand vis-à-vis one another. They must not be paranoid and suspicious of each other in a game of one-upmanship. Instead they can cooperate and compete economically, and each

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improve its performance by using the other’s progress as benchmarks for what they should do better. India’s bilateral relations with China have improved significantly in recent years after both sides decided to resolve long outstanding issues. Compare and Contrast: India & China The world is fascinated by the renaissance of Asia’s two largest and most ancient civilisations and political and business leaders compare and contrast their progress and prospects. At independence in 1947, two years before the Chinese Communist Party liberated China, India was ahead in many sectors. Both lost steam by adopting the planned economy. But because of its “great leap forward” and “Cultural Revolution”, China suffered more. However Deng Xiaoping was able to acknowledge China’s mistakes and China’s course dramatically change when he returned to power in 1978. India has a superior private sector companies. China has the more efficient and decisive administrative system. China has invested heavily in infrastructure. India’s underinvested infrastructure is woefully inadequate. India has a stronger banking system and capital markets than China. India has stronger institutions, in particular, a well developed legal system which should provide a better environment for the creation and protection of Intellectual Property. But a judicial backlog of an estimated 26 million cases drags down the system. One former Indian Chief Justice of India’s Supreme Court has given a legal opinion in a foreign court that India’s

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judicial system was practically non functional in settling commercial disputes. Both India and China have excellent universities, at the peak of their systems. India’s institutes of technology and management are world class. China is determined to upgrade its top 10 universities to world class status. Overall China’s education system is more comprehensive. China’s illiteracy rate is below 10 per cent, India’s about 40 per cent. India’s narrower band of educated people will be a weakness in the longer term. And although top quality Indian manpower is in high demand, large numbers of engineers and graduates lack the skills required in a changing economy and remain unemployed. However India has a larger English speaking elite than China. But only over half of each Indian cohort completes primary school, a big loss. After liberalisation, China and India have followed different models of development, maximising their respective strengths. China adopted the standard East Asian model, emphasising export oriented manufacturing. China has been immensely more successful in attracting FDI. India has focused on IT and knowledge-based services. Job creation is much slower in India and will continue to remain so until India’s infrastructure is brought up to date to attract the many manufacturers who will come to use India’s low cost workers and efficient services. China’s GDP for manufacturing is 52 per cent, India’s 27 per cent; in agriculture China’s is 15 per cent, India’s 22 per cent; for services China’s 33 per cent, India’s 51 per cent. Over the last decade, in the service sector India has averaged 7.6 per cent annual growth, China 8.8 per cent, in manufacturing India’s growth is 5.7 per cent, China’s 12.8 per cent.

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India and China should co-operate and compete with each other, spurring one another to greater heights. ASEAN will be a major beneficiary. As Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong once said, India and China can be the two wings of the jumbo jet for Southeast Asia. India should benchmark itself not just against its own past, but against the best in Asia. And India can take heart from the achievements and performance of Non-Resident Indians (NRI) in free market economies such as the U.S., UK and even Singapore, where large numbers of NRIs have assumed high corporate positions in multi-national corporations. Both India and China have both done much better than most of the world. In the decade from 1994 to 2004, India’s GDP grew two-fold from US$310 billion to US$661 billion. But during the same period, China’s GDP grew three-fold from US$542 billion to US$1,649 billion. In 1984, India’s GDP was about 30 per cent smaller than China’s. A decade later, it was more than 40 per cent smaller and by 2004 it was about 60 per cent smaller. Such a wide disparity is unnecessary. India can and should narrow the gap by embarking on a new round of reforms. Walking on Two Legs Can India keep pace with China’s growth? Yes, if India does more in those sectors where China has done better. The Chinese are learning English with great enthusiasm, and are keen to develop a services sector like India’s. All the leading Indian IT players are expanding in China, and training thousands of Chinese software programmers.

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One Indian company, Zensar Technologies Ltd, has been contracted to train 1,000 Chinese software project managers from Shenzhen in etiquette, communication and negotiation skills. Huawei, a leading Chinese technology company, has invested in Bangalore to tap its software skills. The Chinese want to reach international standards for the software outsourcing industry. They are not too proud to learn from India. In Dalian, Singapore is helping to develop an IT park which will be specifically marketed to Indian software companies interested in the Northeast Asian market. But India cannot grow into a major economy on services alone. Since the industrial revolution, no country has become a major economy without becoming an industrial power. Just as China is learning from India to improve its performance in the IT sector, so India must emulate China’s success in attracting FDIs and the jobs they create in manufacturing. It can do this by building infrastructure and educating and raising the skill levels of its workers. Arvind Panagariya, a professor of Indian political economy at Columbia University, USA, puts the issue clearly. He noted that some have argued that India can focus on IT, grow rapidly in services, skip industrialization, and yet transform itself from a primarily rural and agricultural country into a modern economy. He dismissed such ideas as “hopelessly flawed” and “far fetched”. IT is less than 2 per cent of India’s GDP. While services have grown rapidly, the bulk of the growth is from service sectors where wages and productivity are low. Business services, which include software and IT enabled services, account for only 0.3 per cent of GDP. Only manufacturing can mop up India’s vast pool of unemployed, narrow the

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urban rural divide and reduce poverty. Professor Panagariya concluded: “The right strategy for India is to walk on two legs: traditional labour intensive industry and modern IT. Both legs need strengthening through further reforms ….” India’s relatively young population can be an asset if they are universally well educated. UN forecasts that India’s population will outstrip China’s by 2030. Job creation through faster GDP growth is therefore an urgent necessity. Growth in IT and other services will not create enough jobs. IT-related jobs make up only one quarter of one per cent of India’s labour force. To create jobs the main thrust of reforms must be in manufacturing. That requires a change in labour laws to allow employers to retrench workers when business demand is down, streamlining the judicial processes, reducing the fiscal deficit, loosening up the bureaucracy, and most of all improving infrastructure. Let me focus on the last two as I believe they are crucial and inter connected. Industrialisation cannot take off without adequate infrastructure: better roads, and a reliable supply of power and clean water, better ports and airports. By one estimate, economic losses from congestion and poor roads alone are as high as US$4 to 6 billion a year. Another estimate is that the cost of most infrastructure services in India is about 50 per cent to 100 per cent higher than in China. The average cost of electricity for manufacturing in India is about double that in China; railway transport costs in India are three times those in China. China has spent over eight times as much as India on its infrastructure. Three years ago, China’s total capital spending on electricity, construction, transportation, telecommunications and real estate was US$260 billion or

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more than 20 per cent of its GDP as compared to US$31 billion or 8 per cent of India’s GDP. If there are budgetary constraints, the answer is to privatise these infrastructure projects. There are wellestablished construction companies, Japanese, Korean and others, that have done many such infrastructure projects on franchise terms. One area where India has done well is its telecommunications infrastructure. This has been a critical factor for India’s IT success. India needs to aggressively privatise infrastructure development and open it to foreign investment. Then FDI flows will increase. And the bureaucracy must not impose onerous conditions that will hamper this privatisation. The Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) based in Hong Kong, recently surveyed expatriate businessmen on bureaucracy and red tape in Asia. India was rated worst out of the 12 countries covered. PERC’s conclusion was that: “The Government would like to liberalise many sectors, and there are plenty of announcements of new initiatives to do so. But when push comes to shove, bureaucratic inertia has been extremely difficult to overcome.” The World Bank has also done its own study. It found that in India it can take a decade to close a business through insolvency proceedings. It also found, among other things, that official fees amount to almost 13 per cent of a property transaction in India as against just over 3 per cent in China. My secretaries asked Singapore businessmen with investments in India what, apart from infrastructure, they found as major constraints. To a man, they replied it was

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the bureaucracy. They believe it is a mindset problem. The average Indian civil servant still sees himself primarily as a regulator and not as a facilitator. The average Indian bureaucrat has not yet accepted that it is not a sin to make profits and become rich. The average Indian bureaucrat has little trust in India’s business community. They view Indian businessmen as money grabbing opportunists who do not have the welfare of the country at heart; and all the more so if they are foreign businessmen. Deng Xiaoping said at the start of China’s open door policy, it was glorious to be rich. The sequel is reported in Forbes Asia, 14 November 2005, where it listed over 300 China’s richest, 40 of them with thumbnail CVs in a centre-fold. All are new entrepreneurs creating jobs and spreading wealth. Now, after private enterprise and the free market have generated wealth in the coastal provinces, China’s leaders have concentrated on spreading growth to the inland provinces by building infrastructure and offering generous economic incentives for investments. One Singapore businessman told me this story. He entertained a former senior Indian civil servant to lunch in Singapore. Some months later when he was in India, the former civil servant reciprocated by hosting a dinner at which several other guests were present. His host made this surprising comment that he was amazed to see that in Singapore, a business could be successful without being dishonest. India must find some way to reward bureaucrats who facilitate, not hinder investments and enterprise whether Indian or foreign. A factor worth noting: India gets a much better economic

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return for the investment it makes in its economy because India’s private sector capital efficiency is high. If India opens up fully to FDIs, the results will be profitable for the investor and add considerable employment and added GDP growth for India. With jobs there will be a trickle down of wealth to millions of Indian workers, as there has been in East Asia. Politics is the Issue What India has achieved since 1991 should not be underrated. There have been many successes. The Delhi Metro is one. Bharat Forge, the largest Indian exporter of auto components and the leading global chassis component manufacturer, is another example in the manufacturing sector. There are others. The question is why there are not many more of them? There is no dearth of excellent analyses by Indians about this problem. An entire library could be assembled on the subject. I consulted two books: The Future of India by Bimal Jalan, who was Governor of the Reserve Bank of India from 1997 to 2003, Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister and has represented India at the IMF and World Bank; one other book, Governance by Arun Shourie who has held several government portfolios and is a well-known writer. To sum up their arguments for the failings of the system in a single word: politics. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave a wide ranging interview to the McKinsey Quarterly. He rated his own government’s achievement as 6 out of 10, a performance he said was unsatisfactory. He acknowledged

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the need for better infrastructure, for more FDI, and also the need to move ahead in manufacturing. When asked whether the pace of implementation was fast enough, he replied: “… economic policy and decision making do not function in a political vacuum. It takes a lot of time for us to take basic decisions. And furthermore, because we are a federal set up, there are a lot of things that the central government does, but there are many things, like getting land, getting water, getting electricity — in all these matters the state government comes in, the local authority comes in … … I do recognise that at times it gives our system the label that it is slow moving. In a world in which technology is changing at such a fast pace, where demand conditions change very fast, we need to look at a more innovative mechanism to cut down on this rigmarole of many tiers of decision making processes.” Prime Minister Singh added, “We are a coalition government and that limits our options in some ways.” Politics is a fact of life in any country. And coalition politics is a fact of Indian political life. It has been suggested that India’s slow growth is the consequence of its democratic system of government. Almost 40 years ago, Professor Jagdish Bhagwati wrote that India may face a “cruel choice between rapid expansion and democratic processes”. But democracy should not be made an alibi for inertia. There are many examples of authoritarian governments whose economies have failed. There are as many examples of democratic governments who have achieved superior economic performance. The real issue is whether any country’s political system, irrespective of whether it is democratic or authoritarian, can forge a

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consensus on the policies needed for the economy to grow and create jobs for all, and can ensure that these basic policies are implemented consistently without large leakage. India’s elite in politics, the media, the academia and think tanks can re-define the issues and recast the political debate. They should, for instance, insist on the provision of a much higher standard of municipal services. By way of example, Chinese politics have always been plagued by factionalism. China also has great regional diversity. Like India, China also has powerful vested bureaucratic interests. But Deng Xiaoping forged a basic consensus among all political factions and the bureaucracy on the economic development and the necessary opening up to the outside world to succeed. A similar consensus can be achieved in India. The passage of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Bill by the Lok Sabha (Lower House of the Indian Parliament) in May this year was an important move. SEZs can finesse some difficult internal issues blocking liberalisation. Singapore has some experience with SEZs in China. If India thinks it useful, we are willing to share our experiences with you, building upon what we have done in the Bangalore International Technology Park. I must conclude with a word of caution. SEZs, once embarked upon, must be made to succeed, which means total and sustained commitment from politicians and bureaucrats at national, state and local levels. When they succeed, they will have a powerful effect on the whole economy, give a boost of confidence and spark off a healthy competitive dynamic between different states and regions. Successful SEZs also will erode opposition to reforms because their benefits become self-evident, as has happened in China.

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A few months ago, in August, the communist Chief Minister of West Bengal was in Singapore to drum up investments for his state offering market incentives to attract investors. He said: “The lesson from the collapse of the Soviet Union and from China is that [India] must reform, perform or perish.” That very same month, members of his own party in Lok Sabha in New Delhi forced a retreat on India’s privatisation programme. This is India’s party politics. Imponderables There are some imponderables. American commentators believe that China’s political system is too rigid, that it does not have the flexibility of pluralistic politics and democracy with freedom of speech, the media, assembly and respect for human rights. So China will encounter severe problems and setbacks. Professor Pranab Bardhan of University of California, Berkeley, has explained the problem this way: “China’s authoritarian system of government will likely be a major economic liability in the long run, regardless of its immediate implications for short-run policy decisions. “But inequalities (particularly rural-urban) have been increasing in China, and those left behind are getting restive. With massive layoffs in the rust-belt provinces, arbitrary local levies on farmers, pervasive official corruption, and toxic industrial dumping, many in the countryside are highly agitated. “China is far behind India in the ability to politically manage conflicts, and this may prove to be China’s Achilles’ Heel. Over the last fifty years, India’s extremely heterogeneous society has been riddled with various kinds

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of conflicts, but the system has by and large managed these conflicts and kept them within moderate bounds. For many centuries, the homogenizing tradition of Chinese high culture, language, and bureaucracy has not given much scope to pluralism and diversity, and a centralizing, authoritarian Communist Party has carried on with this tradition”. If they are right, India will draw ahead in the longer term. Such analyses assume that the Chinese political system will remain static. If China’s political structures do not adjust to accommodate the changes in its society resulting from high rates of growth, India will have an advantage because of its more flexible political system in the longer term. But Bardhan also cautions: “India’s reform has been halting and hesitant. India’s heterogeneous society has been riddled with conflicts, but the system has by and large managed these. There are many severe pitfalls and roadblocks which India and China have to overcome.” Both India and China are huge countries with vast populations and long histories. They have to evolve standards of governance that is consonant with their cultures and the spirit of their civilisations. Conclusion At stake is the future of one billion Indians. India must make up for much time lost. There is in fact already a strong political consensus between India’s two major parties that India needs to liberalise its economy and engage with the dynamic economies of the world. The BJP led coalition government of former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee continued

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and indeed extended the economic liberalisation policies of Manmohan Singh when he was Finance Minister in PM Narashima Rao’s government. India now has a strong, able and experienced team with Manmohan Singh as PM. The time has come for India’s next tryst with destiny.

Appendix III ACCEPTANCE ADDRESS

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Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong for the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, 9 July 2004, Rashtrapati Bhavan

President Kalam Vice-President Shekhawat Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh Distinguished Guests I am deeply honoured to be conferred the Jawaharlal Nehru Award of International Understanding. In accepting this award, I would be remiss if I did not first pay tribute to the Panditji’s contributions to the emergence of independent and modern Asia. Tribute to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru For Asians, the name Jawaharlal Nehru holds special significance. As a school boy, I held him in awe and bought a copy of his monumental book “Discovery of India”. But I must confess that I lacked the diligence and wisdom to complete reading the book. Nevertheless, it sat proudly on my book-shelf beside my study table. Nehru was a cosmopolitan, a nationalist and an intellectual giant. Most of all, he was an inspiration to the generation that had fought to free themselves from colonial rule. Along with the Mahatma, Nehru taught Asians to stand

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up for their rights, and rediscover their heritage, dignity and self-worth. Unlike many who turned to revolutionary violence, Nehru walked the more difficult path of conciliation and peace towards independence, and made the difference. It was a uniquely Indian approach. Nehru persevered and triumphed. He made it easier for many of us living in colonies to follow in his footsteps, along the path he had created. India’s ability to accommodate and assimilate is justly celebrated in her illustrious history. Nehru embodied the essence of that enduring spirit. Although he received an English gentleman’s education and admired the achievements of Western civilization, Nehru was an Indian and an Asian at heart. Secure in his own Indian identity and roots, Nehru was able to enjoy the fruits of many cultures and to learn from them. In many ways, Singapore seeks to do the same — combining the best of western culture with our Asian roots and values. Early India and Singapore Relations Let me turn now to Singapore-India relations. Our trading and cultural links with each other go far back, and we share a part of each other’s history. Indian merchants were among the first to develop commercial ties with Singapore and Southeast Asia. Singapore’s name is of Sanskrit origin. In the early days of Singapore’s independence, we looked to India for inspiration because India was a secular nation governed by the rule of law. I was told that Singapore’s first generation diplomats used to follow India’s lead when we were not sure what position to take at international

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meetings. This was because we trusted India’s principled stand on many issues. However, during the Cold War, our strategic priorities diverged. Although both India and Singapore were members of the Non-Aligned Movement, our analysis of international developments and, therefore, positions on several issues, differed. India forged a path of self-reliance and independence in development and foreign policy. Economically, India’s leaders built a system of extensive public ownership and central planning. For Singapore, being a small country, agility and adaptability were essential traits for survival. We looked to global markets and relied on private enterprise, especially multi-national corporations, to drive our economy. Singapore’s need to leap-frog the region and our exportoriented economy also moved us closer to the West and Japan. Looking East The pendulum has now swung back to the east. Today, India’s and Singapore’s strategic and economic interests have converged again. Singapore and India started moving closer together in the early 1990s, when then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao declared a “Look East” Policy and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was then Finance Minister, started the engine to power India’s economic liberalization. India took pragmatic steps towards openness and market reform, and integration with the global economy. At the same time, Singapore was trying to grow two external wings — through China and India — to fly its economy.

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When Mr Vajpayee and his colleagues took over the steering wheel, investors were initially concerned and wondered whether reform was deep-seated enough to survive the change. Prime Minister Vajpayee not only kept to the course but also stepped on the accelerator. He confirmed that the direction of India’s reform would not change. India’s leaders understood that there was no other credible option for the country to reclaim its rightful place in the world economic order. I would like to acknowledge and pay tribute to Mr Vajpayee. He is a statesman who has contributed greatly to India. He is also a good friend who has done much to strengthen relations between Singapore and India. I first visited India as Prime Minister in 1994. I expressed Singapore’s desire to forge a strategic alliance with India based on the complementarity of our strengths. I was convinced that India would emerge as an economic power, even though prevailing sentiments then were skeptical. I wanted to infect Singapore with “India fever”. The fever, however, subsided after a while. But I never lost faith in India. This is my fifth visit to India as Prime Minister in ten years, and the third State Visit you have honoured me with. Now, not only Singapore, but many other countries and investors around the world are excited about India. Today, bilateral trade between Singapore and India approaches US$5 billion, up from US$2 billion in 1994. Singapore investments in India have grown to US$1.5 billion. There are nearly 1,500 Indian companies operating in Singapore. And 300,000 Indians visited Singapore last year. I am glad to have played a part in paving the way for the strong partnership that exists between our countries.

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What Lies Ahead India is now negotiating Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Thailand and ASEAN, and a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with Singapore. When concluded, these FTAs will bring enormous economic benefits to both sides. FTAs are not only economic but strategic agreements. They are important steps in enhancing India’s engagement with Southeast Asia, and strategically linking South Asia with Southeast Asia. Enhancing connectivity will bring the peoples of both regions closer and facilitate the spread of ideas, technology, and culture. In time, these FTAs will form the stepping stones for an Asian economic community, which will bring together South Asia, Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia. This is my long-term vision for Asia, even though I may not be around — politically anyway — to see it come to fruition. Such a community will result in a strong and prosperous Asia, with India as one of the key pillars. The stars are falling into alignment and we have the chance to turn this into Asia’s Century. We must not miss it. Singapore will continue to play our part to facilitate India’s engagement with ASEAN and East Asia. We are setting up a South Asia Institute within the National University of Singapore. Experts and researchers from India are welcomed to join the Institute and help build a bridge of understanding between our regions. Tomorrow, I will preside over the launch of the Singapore-India Foundation. I had discussed this idea with the Singapore Business Federation and the Confederation of Indian Industry and they support it. They will help fund and drive the Foundation. The aim is to strengthen the

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economic, governmental, academic and cultural linkages between our countries. The Foundation has invited me to be their Patron. I will donate the prize money from the Jawaharlal Nehru Award to the Foundation as seed money. The Foundation’s goals are very much in line with Panditji’s efforts to promote international understanding. I believe that there is nothing more fitting than to honour him with this Foundation. In conclusion, let me say how deeply honoured I am to receive the Jawaharlal Nehru Award. This is an honour not just for me but also for Singapore. I am confident that ties between Singapore and India will continue to blossom. Thank you.

Appendix IV Speech by Minister for Trade and Industry George Yeo at Confederation of Indian Industry event, 18 February 2004, Taj Palace, New Delhi

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Eleven years ago, when I visited the holy temple at Kanchipuram, one of the Sankaracharyas greeted me with the words ‘Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai’. I was pleasantly surprised by his words of goodwill, by his wish for good relations between China and India and by his association of Singapore with China. At that time, many Indians resented any comparison of India’s relatively slow progress with China’s. The situation today was foretold by the Sankaracharya. Not since the War in 1962 has Sino-Indian relations been so cordial. Trade grew rapidly from US$49 million in 1991 to around US$7 billion last year. Next year, it is expected to cross US$10 billion, and this is only the beginning. India has decided to turn eastwards. This is the key reason why relations between India and Singapore are growing from strength to strength. Both countries are now negotiating an ambitious FTA, known as the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, or CECA. The CECA will make Singapore the eastward extension of India into East Asia. From a historical perspective, this restores an old relationship when the British East India Company established from Bengal a trading post in Singapore for the China trade. We consciously positioned ourselves for India’s opening up when a Congress Government under PM Narasimha Rao embarked on a new policy of economic reform in 1991. In 1992, PM Goh Chok Tong agreed to Singapore’s involvement in the Technology Park in Bangalore. Karnataka was then also under a Congress Government. I remember SM Lee Kuan Yew reminding us at that time that we had

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to persist through the twists and turns of Indian politics, including changes of government. When a new government took over in Karnataka in 1994, it proved to be even more committed to the Technology Park. Since then, the Bangalore International Technology Park has achieved good success, albeit with some bumps along the way. Rentals there are now higher than in Singapore. It is clear that the basic direction of India’s economic reform enjoys broad political support in the country. The BJP Government has been just as supportive of good relations with Singapore. It was PM Vajpayee who proposed the CECA with Singapore. When the CECA was announced less than two years ago, there was considerable scepticism in the West about India’s commitment to the opening up of its markets. Not a few Trade Ministers expressed their doubts to me. They did not understand that the CECA was not an isolated one-off initiative, but one of a series of moves to establish a new strategic position for India in Asia. Not long after the CECA was announced, PM Vajpayee offered an FTA with ASEAN in November 2002, which came as a pleasant surprise to the ASEAN leaders. From ASEAN’s perspective, we welcome the friendship of all the major powers. When Chinese PM Zhu Rongji offered an FTA with ASEAN in November 2000, ASEAN countries were taken aback at first and not quite sure how to respond. I had intense discussions about ASEAN’s engagement with China with my ASEAN counterparts. Now no one in ASEAN has any doubt that the long-term integration of the Chinese and Southeast Asian economies is good for ASEAN. By next year, ASEAN-China trade will cross US$100 billion. In comparison, ASEAN-India trade is only expected to reach US$13 billion next year. However, we in Southeast

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Asia have no wish to become merely an adjunct to the Chinese economy. Hence our decision to move closer to all economies that want closer links to us including Japan, Korea, the US and of course India. India’s account in ASEAN will grow in the coming years. Singapore will play an important role in this. We are India’s largest trading partner and investor from ASEAN. There are more than 150 flights between India and Singapore every week, more than what India has with any other country in the region. Many of these flights are fully booked. Singtel’s US$650 million joint venture with Bharti remains one of the largest single investment in India. Singapore companies are on a constant lookout for new opportunities in India, be it in IT, housing, industrial parks, logistics, healthcare or education. Informatics, a Singapore company, runs around 250 IT education centres throughout India. Singapore’s Parkway Holdings and India’s Apollo Hospitals operate a state-of-the-art hospital at Kolkatta. In recent months, Temasek Holdings has invested more than US$300 million in ICICI Bank and two leading drug companies. India’s presence in Singapore is also growing dramatically. As a matter of policy, we have opened our doors to Indian talent and large numbers have come. All of India’s top 20 IT companies have a presence in Singapore, including TCS, Satyam and Infosys. ICICI Bank has set up its first overseas branch in Singapore. Bilcare, India’s leading company for pharmacy packaging, will be setting up a manufacturing plant and R&D facility. I recently read that the Indian Oil Corporation, India’s largest company, is thinking of bidding for BP’s retail assets in Singapore. The first India Centre in Singapore was set up in 2001 to

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provide incubator space for Indian start-ups. We are now working with CII to set up the second India Centre, which will provide a one-stop business support facility for Indian SMEs. Indian professionals and entrepreneurs can join associations such as Network India, the India Club and the local chapter of IndUS Entrepreneurs. We see not only a strong Indian economic presence in Singapore but also a growing political, cultural and intellectual presence. Our universities are working towards joint programs and exchanges with the IITs and the Indian Institute of Science. The Delhi Public School is also considering a branch in Singapore. The Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan (an Indian educational institution) will open its first kendra (hindi word for centre) in Southeast Asia at the Bhavan’s Indian Central School in Singapore. When DPM Lee visited last month, he announced our intention to set up a South Asian Institute this year. Tomorrow I’m flying to Bodh Gaya with Minister Jagmohan for the dedication of the Mahabodhi Temple as a World Heritage Site. I’ve had discussions with both DPM Advani and Minister Jagmohan about the development of the Buddhist holy sites as destinations for Buddhist pilgrimage from East Asia. Millions of Buddhists from China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Southeast Asia will be interested to visit the Buddhist Holy Land. When I invited Buddhist groups in Singapore to join me at tomorrow’s ceremony at Bodh Gaya, the response was enthusiastic and immediate. A chartered flight has already arrived bearing monks and lay people. Growing East Asian Buddhist pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Sarnath, Kushinagar and other holy places will open a new chapter in the long history of contact

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between the peoples of East and South Asia. Moving to the other end of the spectrum, our links with Bollywood are also blossoming. Last November, Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee performed in Singapore, captivating an audience of 5,000, many from the region. More Bollywood events are in store this year the details of which I am not yet allowed to announce. The influence of India in Southeast Asia, like the influence of China, will grow in the coming decades. Another cycle in the history of Asia is underway opening up incredible new opportunities for all of us. If you visit our newly opened Asian Civilisations Museum, the exhibits of Southeast Asia are between the exhibits of India and China. Like Singapore, CII saw the trends early and urged us on when for short periods our enthusiasm slackened. I thank all of you at CII for your constancy in pushing for stronger relations between our two countries.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Asad-ul Iqbal Latif is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore. His areas of research include Singapore’s political and strategic relations with China, India and the United States. ISEAS published his book, Between Rising Powers: China, Singapore and India, in 2007. He graduated with Honours in English from Presidency College, Calcutta, and received his Master of Letters degree in History from Cambridge University, where he was a Raffles (Chevening) and S. Rajaratnam Scholar. He was a member of the President’s Committee of the Cambridge Union Society, the university debating club, and a member of the Editorial Committee of the Cambridge Review of International Affairs. He was a Jefferson Fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii in Spring 2001 and a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs in 2006. While at Harvard, he completed a monograph, “Three Sides in Search of a Triangle: SingaporeAmerica-India Relations”. A journalist for 25 years before joining ISEAS in 2005, he worked at The Statesman in Calcutta, Asiaweek in Hong Kong, and the Business Times and the Straits Times in Singapore. He came to Singapore in 1984 and became a citizen in 1999.