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India, Singapore must focus on fintech, industry 4.0 and smart cities to elevate their strategic partnership


India and Singapore, a key pillar of New Delhi’s ASEAN outreach, could focus on , industry 4.0, digitalisation, skill development among other sectors to elevate their strategic partnership to the next level.

Other areas that the two sides could focus include reskilling/ upskilling, clean technology, smart cities and smart facility management solutions. These suggestions were put forward by experts from industry, academia, media and business chambers from both India and Singapore at the 13th edition of the India Singapore Strategic Dialogue held recently.

Singapore is a global hub of fintech and India can learn its strengths from through active collaboration. Simultaneously in order to attract investments from Singapore to India a suggestion was put forward on the creation of a manual comprising do’s and don’ts for establishing businesses in various Indian states.

The experts further felt that the logistics market along with deepening the digital enhancement of SMEs and MSEs can be leveraged to adapt and understand the new age disruptive technologies.

It was also suggested that larger digitisation of finance with creation of an open platform of protocols of finance, renewed focus on infrastructure finance, understanding change in nature of jobs can leverage closer cooperation between the two countries.

Start-ups could become a huge multiplier of opportunities between the two countries enabling ecosystem and facilitating co-development. It was also felt that academic research between both the countries on law, ethics and economies of digitisation can be further enhanced. A key area of collaboration could be space as India opens up this sector for private investments.

All economies shut down last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the trend is changing. There are many grounds for hope in terms of economic growth and development from the Indian perspective. Major labour and agriculture laws passed by the Indian parliament last year seems to indicate internal reforms to attract more investment.

With regard to strategic partnership as the Indo-Pacific concept has taken the centre stage in the region, there is an opportunity to bring in Singapore in order to strengthen multilateralism and ensure open and inclusive architecture in the region.

Increased external activities in the Indo-Pacific with France , Germany and Netherlands coming out with their Indo-Pacific strategy signals an EU version of Indo-Pacific and it was felt that this should be watched closely.

Proliferation of diplomatic mechanisms through active willingness and creation of capacities with value aligned cooperation among the ASEAN member states will be helpful, according to participants of the Dialogue. There is a strong commitment from both India and ASEAN in ensuring regional security, acceptance of plurality and inclusiveness which offers closer cooperation in spite of ideological challenges.

The dialogue was organised by India’s leading public policy body Ananta Aspen Centre, Confederation of Indian Industry and the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore.

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