Amid China’s growing assertion in the maritime space, India and Singapore have concluded a crucial pact on enhancing naval cooperation. The bilateral Agreement for Navy Cooperation, signed on November 29, is aimed at expanding India-Singapore cooperation in ensuring freedom of navigation, right of passage and over-flight, unimpeded commerce and access to resources and fighting a host of other security challenges.India’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her Singaporean counterpart Ng Eng Hen held talks in New Delhi to finalise the deals.

The agreements come at an important moment when India is trying to assert its presence in the Indian Ocean amidst increasing Chinese forays in the maritime space.“The conclusion of the India-Singapore Bilateral Agreement for Navy Cooperation…will lead to increased cooperation in maritime security, joint exercises, temporary deployments from each other’s naval facilities and mutual logistics support,” India’s Defence Ministry said in a statement.

In a joint press conference after their meeting, the ministers expressed their commitment to bolstering India-Singapore defence partnership. “India and Singapore remain strongly committed to tackle the transnational security threats,” Ms Sitharaman said. “I not only support but I would also encourage the Indian Navy to visit the Changi naval base more often. The bilateral naval agreement has provision for mutual logistical support,” Dr. Ng said.

Strategic Connect

Singapore has been India’s major partner in ASEAN and has played an important role in spurring India’s engagement with Southeast Asia. Apart from the naval agreement, the two sides signed the revised Defence Cooperation Agreement relationship between the Singapore Armed Forces and the Indian Armed Forces. There was also a renewal of the air force agreement earlier this year.The talks included discussions on Singapore’s proposal to expand the Code of Unplanned Encounters at Sea to all ADMM (ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting)-Plus countries and to put in place the procedures of air encounters between military aircrafts.

Access to port facilities was an important aspect of the discussions. Refuelling and berthing facilities at the Singapore port will be critical in expanding the reach of Indian warships and aircraft east of the Malacca Strait, a crucial point of China’s energy supplies. The Indian Navy has a permanent deployment of a frontline warship at the mouth of the Malacca strait to keep an eye on the increasing Chinese movements in the Indian Ocean as part of its mission-based deployment.

India’s assistance to Singapore will include live firing drills in the Andaman Sea. The two countries are also expected to renew the bilateral army pact, under which facilities are provided to Singapore for exercises of mechanized forces at Babina and artillery at Deolali ranges, and the when it ends next year.These agreements will deepen strategic content of India’s Act East Policy, which seeks to enhance India’s economic and defence cooperation with ASEAN countries like Singapore, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia to curtail Chinese influence.


Sri_Sri_Ravi_Shankar-e1427681171472After he conducted his Art of Living discourse and addressed around 70,000 people at the Batu Kawan Stadium on “Discourse, Music and Meditation”  in a  multi-ethnic Muslim majority country like Malaysia, Indian spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was threatened by the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

Malaysian Inspector General of Police, Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed that a letter was sent to the spiritual leader over the weekend while he was in Penang for a talk and yoga festival that was attended by thousands of followers in George Town and Batu Kawan.

Government agencies are investigating origin of the letter. The letter was posted locally to the Art of Living office in Malaysia near Shah Alam suburb.

The letter, which featured a black flag of the ISIS and a picture of a beheaded man, was addressed to the manager of the Penang hotel where Ravi Shankar was staying during his visit. The manager was warned of his hotel being destroyed if Ravi Shankar was allowed to carry out his Art of Living activities in Malaysia.

The country consists of almost 28 million people out of which a sizeable minority is the ethnic Indians who are mostly Hindus. The letter claimed that Ravi Shankar and his organization, the Art of Living Foundation, were “meddling in the Islamic affairs of Iran and Iraq,” and converting Muslims in the Middle East.

The letter reminded grimly, “If he steps foot in Malaysia, your hotel and venues of his activities will be destroyed and many thousands will die for him. We don’t want Ravi Shankar to step into a Muslim country.”
After the symposium Ravi Shankar had left for Singapore.

The threat case is being probed under section 507 of Malaysian Penal Code for criminal intimidation through anonymous communication.


_81986557_98cb95f0-af91-47f9-b6fc-3d33ecccfa65Mourning and grief engulfed Southeast Asia’s economic powerhouse as the people of Singapore braved heavy rains to bid farewell to their beloved leader Lee Kuan Yew. The streets were stormed by people –  according to officials, more than 450,000 people paid their respect to the legendary leader and icon of the nation. The 15 km-long procession from Parliament to the National University of Singapore, where the funeral was held, was awash with mourners. As the procession moved, there was both cheering and grief.

In the early 1950s, when Singapore was undergoing constitutional reform and independence, Lee was one of the few people to challenge the governing structure of the country.  In order to see the nation rise and shine like it has today, back in 1954 Lee took charge of then island country in his own hands and became secretary-general of his own party, the People’s Action Party.

Lee Kuan Yew took charge as the first Prime Minister of independent Singapore on June 3 1959. He came to power with a popular mandate. Lee is remembered as a visionary who served as the prime minister of the nation for three decades and moved it from a third world to a first world country. Under the new constitution he strove to bring in sweeping anti-colonialist social reforms and make laws for greater freedom for women.  He is not only remembered for putting Singapore on the world map but also for his incorruptible ideas. He was an orator and one of the finest leaders that Asia ever saw.

Under his leadership Singapore became the co-founder of ASEAN (Association for Southeast Asian Nations). His constant emphasis was on economic growth, internal democracy, and business entrepreneurship. His death marked “the end of an era.” He fought for Singapore’s independence and as the people say, their pride of being Singaporeans emanate fundamentally because of him.

Lee has left behind a legacy of an efficiently run country and as a leader who ushered in national prosperity beyond imagination before his era. By the 1980s, Singapore, under Lee’s guidance, had a per capita income second only to thousands-in-rain-for-lkyJapan’s in East Asia, thus becoming a chief financial centre of Southeast Asia. Today this country has one of the highest GDP per capita incomes in the world. It has bridged the gap and has an estimated GDP of US$445.172 billion.

“He was a torchbearer of hope, not just for Singapore but for all of Asia,” says Indian Prime Minister Modi.

Singapore is “… one of our strongest relationships in the world. India’s integration with Southeast Asia and beyond is growing,” he said, adding: “Singapore is a key pillar of India’s Act East Policy.”

Lee Kuan Yew’s son and the current prime minister is reported to be deeply moved with love and affection from all over the world said, “He breathed Singapore all his life, the light that has guided us all these years has been extinguished.”

Though there was grief, sorrow and a sense of loss, but continuing on Lee’s spirit, the nation did not shut down even for a day. The public affairs continued.

World leaders trooped to pay homage to the man who has come to symbolise the Singapore model of growth. Apart from India’s Modi, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, former US President Bill Clinton, South Korean President Park Geun-Hye and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Japanese President Shinzo Abey and Malaysian King Abdul Halim Shah attended the funeral and paid respect to the leader.


lee-kwan-yew-1000pxjpg.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterboxLee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first Prime Minister and founding father, who transformed a small malaria infested island into a global trade hub, passed away in the wee hours on Monday. He was 91 years of age.

The government announced that “Mr Lee passed away peacefully at the Singapore General Hospital today at 3:18 am”. He had been in the hospital for over a month, having been admitted in February with severe pneumonia.

Mr. Lee, who served as Prime Minister for over thirty years, led Singapore to complete independence from British in 1963 (Mr. Lee had been serving as Prime Minister since Britain granted Singapore self-government in 1959) and aided in the short lived merger with Malaysia in 1965. His ‘Singapore model’ of economic development focussed on harnessing the geostrategic location of Singapore (which has already become a bustling port) and skilling the population, making up for the lack of natural resources by building on social capital. He promoted a market driven trade and service based economy, making Singapore one of the four ‘Asian Tigers’ in the 1970s.

Lee’s visionary leadership which made his tiny country one of the most prosperous in the world, with an open efficient corruption free business environment, and high social indicators within the rubric of strong multi cultural meritocratic society, won him the admiration of the leading statesmen world over. He remained unapologetic to his critics for ruling Singapore with a heavy hand (often called ‘soft authoritarianism’) and making it a ‘nanny state’. He believed that a strong state was required for fostering economic growth and prosperity in developing countries and citizens rights to free speech and protests ought to be curtailed if it were in the greater good of the nation. His firm convictions on democracy not being best suited to Asian values, and current needs of development led to several policy debates on the development-democracy trade off for the post colonial developing world.

Mr. Lee was the founder member of the People’s Action Party (PAP), the dominant political party in Singapore. Even after stepping down as a leader in 1990, Mr Lee continued to play an influential ‘advisory’ role in the Prime Ministerial regimes of his successors Mr. Goh Chok Tong and Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, his oldest son and current Prime Minister.

His demise marks an end of an era in Singapore’s political life. The Singapore government has declared seven days of national mourning and flags are to fly at half-staff on state buildings. Condolences flooded in from world over remembering Mr. Lee as a visionary, astute leader with a strong grip on domestic and international affairs. Mr. Obama called him a “true giant of history” and “as one the great strategists of Asian affairs”. Mr. Modi, tweeted that he was “a far-sighted statesman and a lion among leaders”.

A private wake for the Lee family will be held and thereafter, Lee will lie in state at parliament until a state funeral on March 29. Mr. Lee is survived by two sons and a daughter, all holding considering influence in Singapore politics.

© Copyright 2012 All rights reserved except for book/publication extracts. Write to us for details.