India PM Modi addresses 18,000-strong crowd at diaspora event

Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends a private Indian diaspora event at Spore Expo Hall 1 and 2.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi attends a private Indian diaspora event at Spore Expo Hall 1 and 2. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - For almost three hours on Tuesday (Nov 24), the 18,000-strong crowd at Singapore Expo Halls 1 and 2 were entertained by at least 25 dance and song acts presented by the different Indian cultural organisations in Singapore.

Five large screens around the 20,000 sq m area beamed the colourful presentations on stage while loud thumping music and loud cries of "Modi" in the brief intervals between the acts sought to set the scene for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The audience at the event, Singapore Welcomes Modi, comprised mainly Indian expatriates living in Singapore. But there were some who had made the trip from other countries such as the United States and even India.

Mr Modi, who addressed the crowd in Hindi, spoke about how the late prime minister Lee Kuan Yew transformed Singapore, among other things. "When one thinks of Singapore, it is with confidence and the belief that dreams can be achieved if you have the will," he said.

He cited cleanliness as one lesson India can learn from Singapore in his hour-long speech which covered topics such as how the global perception of India was improving.

The audience at the event included supporters and fans of the charismatic Indian leader, who has been meeting the overseas Indian community in the countries he has been visiting.

Some were interested in his economic and other initiatives, while others were plain curious to see and hear the man live.

Mrs Joanann Sequeira, who was at the event with her 13-year old son, told The Straits Times before Mr Modi's speech: "I want to hear what he says about the safety of women in India."

The Singapore permanent resident has been living in Singapore for 15 years.

Another Singapore PR , Mrs Priyanka Ranade, who works in a wealth advisory firm here, said she is a fan of Mr Modi. The 33-year-old not only registered herself for the event but also got seats for her visiting parents from India.

Her Mumbai-based father, Mr Dinesh Srivastava, said it was very exciting that he got a chance to see Mr Modi in person in Singapore, having only followed him on TV before.

The event was organised by the Singapore NRI Forum. NRI stands for Non-resident Indian.

The event reached full capacity over a week ago, but organisers were still receiving requests for seats said Mr Satya Murthy Vamaraju, chief coordinator of the event.