It was something of a de ja vu. When PM Modi dined at a popular south Indian fast food chain Komala’s today alongside his host PM Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore they were taking a leaf straight out of the US President’s diplomacy basics 101. In 2010, Obama took Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Ray’s Hell Burger, a Washington DC-institution that is popular for the greasy stuff. The Masala Dosa at Komala’s is timid by comparison.
But this visit has been more than atmospherics. Yes, Narendra Modi has proved himself to be an exceptional statesman — marketing India in a way that no one has done before.
India will extend its naval prowess to ensure freedom of navigation in regional waters
Modi said on Monday night at the Shangri-La hotel, as he outlined his government’s Act East Policy set against a resurgent domestic economy. In what has now become a central piece in his foreign policy Mr Modi is telling world leaders that India is determined to emerge as a force for good.
The two sides have signed a ‘strategic partnership’ agreement that will elevate relations which are already very close. He has sought Singapore’s technical assistance in the building of smart cities and skills development. The city-state is in the midst of an economic slowdown and its private sector is eager to find new opportunities and Mr Modi’s ambitious development drive is music to their ears. But the era of a resurgent “India-fever” in Singapore is a distant memory.
The current crops of Singaporean leaders are only too painfully aware of the hurdles that Namo faces in implementing his reforms. Nonetheless, diplomatic relations between Singapore and India have never looked more robust.