Gandhi plaque cements historical link

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum (right) in South Bridge Road yesterday. He also unveiled a plaque (far right, above) at Clifford Pier, marking the
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum (above) in South Bridge Road yesterday. He also unveiled a plaque at Clifford Pier, marking the immersion site of Mahatma Gandhi's ashes, and visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens, where an orchid was named after him.PHOTOS: ARIFFIN JAMAR, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NATIONAL PARKS BOARD
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum (right) in South Bridge Road yesterday. He also unveiled a plaque (far right, above) at Clifford Pier, marking the
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in South Bridge Road yesterday. He also unveiled a plaque (above) at Clifford Pier, marking the immersion site of Mahatma Gandhi's ashes, and visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens, where an orchid was named after him.PHOTOS: ARIFFIN JAMAR, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NATIONAL PARKS BOARD
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum (right) in South Bridge Road yesterday. He also unveiled a plaque (far right, above) at Clifford Pier, marking the
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in South Bridge Road yesterday. He also unveiled a plaque at Clifford Pier, marking the immersion site of Mahatma Gandhi's ashes, and visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens (above), where an orchid was named after him.PHOTOS: ARIFFIN JAMAR, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NATIONAL PARKS BOARD

Unveiled by Indian PM and ESM Goh, it marks location where leader's ashes were immersed

At Clifford Pier lies a plaque that marks a little-known historical link between Singapore and India - the waters where the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were immersed in March 1948.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong unveiled the plaque during a ceremony at the Fullerton Bay Hotel yesterday morning.

Gandhi, who led India's independence movement against British colonial rule, was assassinated on Jan 30, 1948. His ashes were placed in several urns and sent around the world and within India.

One urn came to Singapore. Indian Government Representative John Thivytook the urn out to sea on a vessel launched from Clifford Pier, scattering the ashes few hundred metres from the shore while tens of thousands of mourners watched.

Five Indian girls sang Gandhi's favourite hymn, Raghupathi Raghava Raja Ram, as his ashes were dispersed. The same hymn was also performed before Mr Modi and Mr Goh yesterday.

Some 200 delegates, business representatives, students and Singapore residents of Indian descent attended the ceremony.

GANDHI AN INSPIRATION

His thoughts and ideals motivate us to work for the greater good of humanity.

INDIAN PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI, in a tweet about how Gandhi's message continues to reverberate globally.

Mr Shiv Kumar Iyer, 41, who was at the hotel with his wife and son, said helearnt of the 1948 event just a few days ago. The Singaporean said his grandfather was involved in Gandhi's freedom movement.

Mr Iyer, a regional director at a software firm, said: "Coming to Clifford Pier in future will no longer be a simple family outing, but a pilgrimage."

Earlier, ESM Goh met Mr Modi at the Fullerton Hotel, and they discussed India's role in helping to bring about a peaceful, prosperous and open Asia.

Mr Goh said Mr Modi's personal diplomacy and leadership will be effective in building trust among world leaders, which will be crucial for fostering bilateral and regional goodwill among nations.

They met on the last day of Mr Modi's three-day official visit to Singapore, his second one since 2015.

Mr Modi also visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens, where an orchid - the Dendrobium Narendra Modi - was named after him. Later, he toured the Jamae Chulia Mosque, the Sri Mariamman Temple and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, accompanied by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.

In a tweet, Mr Modi said he was "blessed to have prayed at the beautiful Sri Mariamman Temple" which illustrates the vibrant cultural connect between India and Singapore.

In the afternoon, Mr Modi visited the Indian Heritage Centre, where he launched a cultural platform, Kala Sangam, which will invite 12 traditional craftsmen from India to travel to the centre annually from this year to 2022.

Mr Modi also used his RuPay contactless card to pay for a souvenir at the centre with a Nets point-of-sale machine. He bought a $26 painting by one of the craftsmen in the Madhubani-Mithila style.

This was made possible by a tie-up between the two digital payment systems that was formalised during Mr Modi's visit, to enable cross-border usage of Nets and RuPay cards in India and Singapore.

Before his flight home, Mr Modi visited Singapore's RSS Formidable frigate and India's INS Satpura stealth frigate at Changi Naval Base, accompanied by Senior Minister of State for Defence Maliki Osman.

A day earlier, the Ministry of Trade and Industry announced that Singapore and India would reduce or remove tariffs on a further 30 products following the second review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement between the two countries.

The tariffs would be reduced or eliminated to the level under the free trade agreement between India and Asean. The new preferential tariffs apply to a variety of sectors, including food.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 03, 2018, with the headline 'Gandhi plaque cements historical link'. Print Edition | Subscribe