Need to treasure, value our heritage

I was delighted to read the report on the Indian Heritage Centre's book which traces the rich cultural history of the Indian community in Singapore (Indian Heritage Centre launches first book; Sept 22).

The book relays the plight and tough journey of the Indian community from pre-colonial times to its struggle during the Japanese Occupation and its contributions to nation-building.

The pioneer Indians left an indelible mark on Singapore.

They came from different backgrounds as builders and businessmen, and brought with them their customs, skills and trades.

My grandparents migrated to Singapore in the early 1920s and started building a family here.

They have often related to us the hardship and the struggles that they had to undergo.

Our young people should remember that Singapore's early colonial buildings were built by Indian labourers.

In fact, Indian convict labourers were the first Indian migrants to Singapore in the early 19th century.

They were mostly from Madras (Chennai today) and were brought over by the British to build roads and railways.

Our younger generation must value our heritage and we must be able to pass it on to our children, and they to their children.

While some of us may not have money or property to hand down to our children, we can, at least, leave behind a rich heritage.

I am proud to say that in Singapore, we have built a multiracial and meritocratic society which has enabled the minority communities to thrive and celebrate their heritage.

V. Balu

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