Accompanied by education minister Heng See Keat and parliament speaker Michael Palmer, Lee and Singh will review a relationship that has almost no wrinkles in it. Singapore, as India’s closest partner in southeast Asia, will be stepping up its engagement by getting into one of the country’s core sectors — education.
Singapore will push India again to play a bigger role in Asean and the East Asia Summit (EAS). While there is a greater call for Indian engagement in EAS, New Delhi has traditionally been fairly tentative. As all of Asia looks to hedge a rising China, there are more calls for India to step up its presence in the region. This will be conveyed to India. Foreign minister S M Krishna will be in Phnom Penh on Wednesday to attend the Asean-India ministerial meeting.
India will take Singapore’s suggestion seriously and it plans to host a series of events to mark the 20th anniversary of India-Asean ties later this year. India and Singapore will be signing an MoU between the Indian ministry of labour and their ministry of education to set up skills-based vocational training institutes. According to a study by Ficci, “India is expected to be home to a skilled workforce of 500 million by 2022. About 12 million persons are expected to join the workforce every year”. Currently, India can throw up only about 3 million skilled personnel. The demand therefore is huge, if India has to transform itself.
Singapore would make available world-class, skillcentred curriculum to be taught in technical education institutes.