Singapore’s Orchard Road resonates to the sound of India

April 5th, 2008 - 8:04 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Ambika Soni

Singapore, April 5 (IANS) Singapore’s main shopping boulevard was transformed into a “mini-India” as a colourful and vibrant tourism and cultural promotion campaign was launched in the city state in yet another “celebration” of what Commerce Minister Kamal Nath called India’s “growing engagement with the world.”
The area around Orchard Road’s Plaza Singapura resonated with the rhythmic beating of different kinds of drums, while the colourful costumes and graceful gestures of Indian dancers captivated thousands of locals and foreigners who thronged the start of the “Incredible India @ 60 event”.

About 75 artistes and craftsmen have come from all over India in a unique government-business partnership sponsored by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The event launch was marked Friday night with a gala dinner in the presence of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

A variety of traditional folk dances, ranging from Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala, to the graceful Bihu dance from Assam are being showcased at the four-day event.

Drums and rhythm are specially represented at the event, including vigorous Pung Cholom and Dhol Cholom from Manipur, energetic Sambalpuri drummers from Orissa, and the Karagam dance of Tamil Nadu which also features women balancing pots on their heads while dancing.

Singapore’s Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts Lee Boon Yang said the event would help Singapore experience “snapshots of India’s rich and diverse cultural creativity” and build cultural understanding.

“India’s heritage reaches beyond the Asian region and is truly international,” he said.

Speaking at the festival’s inauguration, India’s Tourism and Culture Minister Ambika Soni spoke of India’s growing “soft power” and said India had held this here in recognition of the important role of Singapore in building closer ties with the Asean countries.

“Singapore’s multiculturalism, pluralism and secularism resonated with India’s own ethos and had helped in the growing ties between the two countries. The two countries are also cooperating in the revival of Nalanda University,” she stressed.

Nalanda is an ancient university in Bihar, which was a premier Buddhist centre of learning.

Also present were CII President Sunil Bharti Mittal, founder and chairman of Bharti Group that runs India’s biggest mobile phone service, and top Indian CEOs.

Indian High Commissioner to Singapore S. Jaishankar said: “Orchard Road is the crossroads of Singapore, and Singapore is the crossroads of the world,” he added.

India’s engagement with the world can best be showcased in a global city like Singapore, he added.

A photo exhibition on glimpses of India is also part of the Incredible India@60 at Orchard Road.

Earlier, lauding India’s economic transformation over the past decade, the Singapore prime minister said his country will seek to further expand its bilateral ties and examine new areas of cooperation.

“Our relationship is blossoming at all levels,” Prime Minister Lee said.

India’s historic transformation to move ahead on a path of resilient, sustained growth had created new opportunities for the world and Singapore was fortunate to have the country as its neighbour.

The prime minister specifically cited the examples of Mittal Steel and Tata Motors as visible signs of how the Indian enterprise was integrating with the world economy.

He said some of the recent initiatives were already showing results, with trade growing at 20 percent thanks to the comprehensive economic partnership pact and more than 750,000 Indian tourists visiting the island nation last year.

Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, who led the large Indian delegation to the event, said after the “Incredible India @ 60″ campaign in New York last year, there could be no better place than Singapore to carry it forward.

The campaign, he said, was to celebrate India’s engagement with the world. India is now a big importer from the world and a huge market. It is also making large investments overseas and creating jobs, the Indian minister said.

The gala was rounded off by a fashion show unveiling the trendy yet traditional garments by Meera and Muzaffar Ali that began with wispy white cottons and ended with an ensemble of black saris and dresses with new-age prints and embroidery.

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