Singapore to Rajasthan

The small nation has set an example: It is possible to be modern without being western.

Written by Vasundhara Raje | Published:October 6, 2016 12:00 am
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The India-Singapore Strategic Partnership was signed last November between the two nations. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s strategy of cooperative federalism means that one of the vehicles of this strategic partnership is the states. Today, Rajasthan and Singapore inaugurate a partnership that will bring world-class skill development in tourism and hospitality to the youth of Rajasthan with the launch of the Centre for Excellence in Tourism Training (CETT) at Udaipur. This partnership for tourism builds on the launch of a direct flight from Singapore to Jaipur earlier this week. During this visit of the prime minister of Singapore to launch the CETT, Rajasthan will also extend our partnership by kicking off projects to improve the tourism ecosystem in Jaipur and Smart Urban Development.

Singapore now has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. This was not always so: It was colonised by the British, suffered brutally under Japanese occupation in World War II, and was forced to separate from Malaysia in the 1960s. But under the leadership of late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew — described recently by PM Modi as one the greatest administrators and reformers of our times — Singapore has become a beacon of what is possible with hard work and strategic thinking in tourism, education, ports, finance, urban productivity, house ownership, job creation and much else. Singapore has been consistently ranked first in the World Bank ease of doing business global rankings and is considered as the best investment destination in Asia. Singapore is a job magnet and the purposeful and innovative pursuit of job creation by its Economic Development Board (EDB) has been magnificently chronicled by Chin Bock Chan in the book, Heart Work. I hope someday to model our own industries department on the effectiveness of EDB because job creation changes lives in ways that no subsidy ever can.

Tourism is an important engine for job creation in Rajasthan — creation of human capital is key to raising our game. The CETT is being set up at the former campus of IIM Udaipur and 40 of our faculty will soon be leaving for Singapore to be trained. The design, curriculum and pedagogy for the CETT have been drawn up by the world-class Institute of Technical Education, the vocational training arm of the government of Singapore. The CETT aims to produce chefs and front office staff, and the first batch will be graduating next year. In parallel, the direct flight from Singapore to Jaipur has important implications for tourism in Rajasthan because Changi airport is the supreme air hub for south-east Asia — it handles over 55 million passengers every year — and is a perfect gateway for the 1.7 billion people who live within a five-hour flying time to fly directly to Rajasthan. A University of Arizona research paper, The Economic Impact of Non-Stop International Flights, suggested huge primary and secondary impacts on jobs, salaries, and economic activity of such direct flights. Our recent global tourism campaign has raised tourist arrivals by 20 per cent but we are operating far below our potential. We have much to learn from Singapore; it received 15 million foreign tourists last year while we only got 1.5 million foreigners. Singapore may be small but as Voltaire said before the French revolution, “God is not on the side of the biggest armies but the best shots”. Over the last few decades, Singapore has not only been Asia’s most successful nation at poverty reduction but it was early in recognising the huge positive effects of tourism on gender issues, employment, wages, preservation of culture, urban development and much else.

Singapore has demonstrated that you don’t have to be western to be modern and how a poor country can become a rich one in one generation. It has taken the long view by recognising that we don’t live in an economy but a society; this resonates with us because the three pillars of the Rajasthan model of development are job creation, social justice and effective governance. India’s partnership with Singapore is hardly new — since the Chola period our country has not viewed immigration to this tiny nation as brain drain but brain circulation. And some of my childhood inspirations came from the women in the uniform of the Indian National Army based in Singapore. In his wonderful book, The Singapore Story, late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, said “The task of the leaders must be to provide or create for them a strong framework within which they can learn, work hard, be productive and be rewarded accordingly. And this is not easy to achieve.” A rapidly changing world is a world that will be inherited by learners; Rajasthan is delighted to partner with and learn from Singapore.

The writer is chief minister of Rajasthan.

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  1. K
    Oct 6, 2016 at 2:17 pm
    Persons following western values and advocating ' eastern' values to others are he real faces of political hypocracy
    1. O
      Oct 6, 2016 at 7:33 am
      Raje is clueless about Singapore. It is as westernised as can be, and prides itself on its global values. Besides, Singapore with a 80% Chinese ethnicity potion has always had a special relationship with china, and has benefited from China's growth. Mauritius has gained similarly from its India connection.
      1. K
        Kishore Asthana
        Oct 6, 2016 at 5:30 am
        Yes, we can do what Singapore has done but we have to make provision for the fact that Singapore is a small city state. India is huge and much more diverse. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Tourism needs cleanliness, sanitation facitilites (we do not want tourists gawking at people peeing by the roadside), discipline (just looki at the haphazard traffic on our roads), honesty and a desire to implement laws (we have more laws than Singapore and implement perhaps 10% of them).lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Yes, we can do what Singapore has done but we have to start by changing ourselves as Lee forced the Chinese and Indians in Singapore to change. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Regrettably, when some strong leader tries to do this here, there are many other 'leaders' who try to pull him/her down. I doubt Lee Kuan Yew would have succeeded in India. He gave away no free electricity, water, laptops, gold, rice or anything else. He made everyone work for what they needed. Perhaps India is changing and in the future Indians will support a leader based on what he does for the country than what he does personally for them. I hope our vote-grabbing 'leaders' would recognise this and act accordingly. Only then can we hope to emulate Singapore.
        1. T
          Oct 6, 2016 at 9:38 am
          our leading women politicians drink scotch whisky only at night , divorce husband and have another man in life and then talk about not having western culture. Real hypocrites
          1. K
            Oct 6, 2016 at 10:20 pm
            Criminals in Singapore pay a heavy price for their crimes, while Vasundra may want to mimic Singapore. The tourists are able to call the taxi service that is clean, affordable, no overcharges, no running around all town to fool the customer etc, there are very strict fines for taxi drivers who are dishonest, the hotel staff is honest, the food pods are clean and properly regulated. Singapore did the dirty work during Lee;s time, they are now prospering for giving up some privileges for a clean and livable city. Build toilets and not temples!!!!!
            1. D
              Dhaval Trivedi
              Oct 6, 2016 at 5:04 am
              Skill development is quite nice idea. But what about the infrastructure and the facilities to be provided for the people who travel to Rajasthan. How about running special trains specifically focused as per the tour plans? How about improving the hotels condition? I dont think so that Indians need to learn about the hospitality we always care the guests all we need is the planning. I hope this program will help the teachers to understand and they can make the students better.
              1. D
                Oct 6, 2016 at 5:33 am
                This is one lady to-tally illiterate in world politics and history . . . . can she spend a day without a peg of western daruu? . . these are the real people who threaten good leadership of modi.
                1. A
                  Oct 6, 2016 at 10:59 pm
                  spot on brother!
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