During a visit to New Delhi in July, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed an agreement to continue training Singapore troops at Indian military facilities. In an email interview, Jayati Bhattacharya, a lecturer in the South Asian studies program at the National University of Singapore, discussed India-Singapore relations.
WPR: What is the extent of India-Singapore diplomatic, trade and defense ties, and how have they evolved in recent years?
Jayati Bhattacharya: The long-standing relationship between Singapore and India has been accelerated and facilitated by the tectonic shift of economic power in the Asia-Pacific region. India’s economic liberalization and its “Look East” policy, initiated in the 1990s, have coincided with Singapore’s positioning of itself as a “knowledge hub” and a “global city.” There has been expanding interest in military cooperation as well, due to growing concerns about maritime security shared by the two governments. Naval exercises such as SIMBEX and MILAN have continued since 1993; a Defense Cooperative Agreement was signed in 2003; and the India-Singapore Strategic Dialogue, held since 2007, has been actively discussing and cooperating on strategic concerns in different areas of defense and security.