New group of Indian organisations can engage youth, support industry transformation: President Halimah

President Halimah Yacob greeting Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry director Shobha Tsering Bhalla at a gala dinner. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - A newly formed group of Indian organisations can engage youth with activities that encourage sharing of new ideas and expertise, and bonding, between people from different backgrounds, said President Halimah Yacobon Thursday (May 12).

The Federation of Singapore Indian Organisations (FSIO) - an umbrella body of 26 Indian organisations under the auspices of the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) - was formed in October 2021.

It aims to be a collective voice of Indian organisations in response to issues like pandemic-induced challenges, encourage networking through various community events, and support businesses in areas like digitalisation.

Madam Halimah noted that the SICCI's efforts to engage youth include Catalyse 2020, a six-month initiative it organised together with four youth organisations - Narpani Pearavai Youth, Sinda Youth Club, Tamil Representative Council Youth Wing and Young Sikh Association - to encourage social entrepreneurship among around 150 young people.

"I am sure that with the FSIO member organisations working together, there will be more of such interesting and meaningful initiatives to bring together and develop the Indian youth community," she said at a gala dinner held by SICCI and FSIO at Shangri-La Singapore.

Madam Halimah added that trade associations and chambers like the SICCI have been important advocates for businesses and industry transformation, and their role is especially crucial in the current business climate.

"SICCI-FSIO can advocate industry transformation, the adoption of digital technologies, and grow awareness of emerging areas of collaboration between Singapore and India," she said.

FSIO member organisations have also supported businesses in their digitalisation efforts and helped them navigate various challenges during the pandemic, said Madam Halimah.

"I would like to acknowledge SICCI for your swift response when the pandemic first hit, including setting up a Covid-19 task force to help your members navigate the various pandemic relief schemes and prepare them to pursue new opportunities when business conditions improved," she added.

When the pandemic hit India, the business chamber also partnered the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association to raise more than $1 million, and mobilised its network to deliver essential medical supplies in response to the humanitarian crisis in the South Asian country.

Madam Halimah added that businesses and workers must be ready to seize new growth opportunities as Singapore resumes economic activities and reconnects with the world.

"One area we can collaborate on is the green economy. Both India and Singapore are making concerted efforts to address the climate change crisis in our respective countries and are committed to reduce our carbon outputs," she said.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to cut the country's emissions to net zero by 2070 at the COP26 climate talks last year, while Singapore launched its Green Plan 2030 in February last year. The plan cuts across various sectors of society such as infrastructural development, and research and innovation.

Madam Halimah added that Singapore and India can cooperate on upstream initiatives to accelerate research, development, and deployment of sustainable and low-carbon tech solutions.

This can also be done through a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in science, technology and innovation that was signed between the two countries in February, she noted.

"Another area where private sector-led initiatives can create win-win solutions for both our companies and people is in the digital economy, where India and Singapore can partner to build digitally inclusive communities," said Madam Halimah.

For example, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Reserve Bank of India last September announced plans to link Singapore's PayNow system - which lets individuals transfer money using just a mobile number - with India's Unified Payments Interface real-time payment system.

On Thursday, Madam Halimah also launched FSIO@SICCI's logo, which symbolises unity, as well as global opportunities for the Indian community and Singapore. Past SICCI presidents were also conferred the title Emeritus Chairman and plaques were presented to FSIO leaders at the dinner, which was attended by around 500 guests.

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