India today sought investments from Singapore in its infrastructure and connectivity projects along the ambitious Delhi-Mumbai and Chennai-Bangalore industrial corridors as well as in the North Eastern region.
Kicking off an year-long celebration to mark 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties jointly with her Singaporean counterpart K Shanmugam, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the occasion will be used to advance economic engagement, defence and security cooperation between the two countries.
Noting that Singapore is not only India's largest trading partner in ASEAN, but also one of the largest source of foreign investment globally, Swaraj said the two countries can achieve anything if they open their imagination.
On his part Shanmugam, appreciated role of India which was one of the first countries to diplomatically recognise Singapore. He also observed the significant contribution made by the Indian diaspora in Singapore's economy and culture.
After reading out her prepared speech in English, Swaraj broke into Hindi, taking audience by surprise who responded the Minister's gesture with a huge round of applause.
During her Hindi remarks, the Minister said that there are a lot of expectations from the new government in India which has come into power with a huge majority after a long gap and assured them that they will try to fulfil the same.
Ahead of the inauguration of the celebration, Swaraj also interected with the Indian diaspora, present in huge numbers at the event to greet her.
"The commemoration of 50 years of diplomatic relations between our two countries is not just a celebration of what we have achieved so far, but also an opportunity to push the envelope to find and develop new areas to deepen our engagement," Swaraj said in her address.
Seeking enhanced investment from Singapore, she said both the countries should also look at scope of venture capital for innovations and for cooperative projects in third countries.
"We look forward to Singapore companies to speed up connectivity and infrastructure projects in India, particularly, along the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), the Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridor and the North-East. Singapore could develop a virtual city or a 'little Singapore' somewhere along the corridor," she said.
The External Affairs Minister said improving connectivity was a priority area for India's new government and suggested launch of air-connectivity between Singapore and the north eastern city of Guwahati.
"Singapore's expertise in Smart Cities, urban planning and water management strategies offer a valuable learning experience for India. We shall work for setting up greenfield Smart Cities and for urban rejuvenation. Our experts shall identify the priorities and we shall coordinate its timely delivery," she said.
Swaraj said the world class skill development centre in Delhi, set up by Singapore, was a model for similar centres in the rest of the country.
"I see our emerging relations as one in which the cultural content can be enhanced considerably and can become one of the new pillars of our robust relationship," she said.
The External Affairs Minister said Singapore has played a key role in the revival of the Nalanda University in Bihar and expressed happiness that the country will contribute to the library of the university.
"I am also pleased to announce that we shall be gifting a bust of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose to the India Heritage Centre, to be established by the Singapore authorities," she said.
Earlier, during their meeting, Swaraj and Shanmugam agreed that the main highlight of the 50th anniversary celebrations will be the exchange of State Visits by Singapore's President Tony Tan to India and India's President Pranab Mukherjee to Singapore in 2015.
The celebrations will feature a "Festival of Singapore" in India and the "Year of India" in Singapore.
India and Singapore had established diplomatic relations on August 24, 1965. "During the year-long activities, we shall try to open windows to India which we hope will leave the viewer wanting more. This will be an important pillar of our emerging relations," Swaraj said.