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India – Singapore bilateral relations

India – Singapore bilateral relations


India-Singapore relations, also known as Indian Singaporean relations or Indo Singaporean relations, are the bilateral relations between India and Singapore. Relations between the two countries have traditionally been strong and friendly, with the two nations enjoying extensive cultural and commercial relations.

India and Singapore have signed the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) and strategic- relationship agreement in order to increase trade, investments and economic cooperation, and expanded bilateral cooperation on maritime security, training forces, and joint naval exercises, developing military technology and fighting terrorism.

According to a 2010 Gallup poll, 40% of Singaporeans approve of India’s leadership, with 23% disapproving and 37% uncertain.


India and Singapore share long-standing cultural, commercial and strategic relations, with Singapore being a part of the “Greater India” cultural and commercial region. More than 500,000 people of Indian origin live in Singapore. Following its independence in 1965, Singapore was concerned with China backed communist threats as well as domination from Malaysia and Indonesia and sought a close strategic relationship with India, which it saw as a counterbalance to Chinese influence and a partner in achieving regional security.

Singapore has always been an important strategic trading post, giving India trade access to the Far East. Although the rival positions of both nations over the Vietnam War and the Cold War caused consternation between India and Singapore, their relationship expanded significantly in the 1990s. Singapore was one of the first to respond to India’s “Look East” Policy of expanding its economic, cultural and strategic ties in Southeast Asia to strengthen its standing as a regional power.

Development of Bilateral relations

Diplomatic relations between India and Singapore were established on 24 August 1965, fifteen days after the latter became independent. Ever since Singapore’s independence, both nations have maintained high-level contacts. Between 1966 and 1971 the Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew visited India three times in the year 1966, 1970 and 1971. The then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited Singapore in 1968, as did Indian leader Morarji Desai.

Singapore supported India’s bid to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and expand its role and influence in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Singapore also supported India in its war against Pakistan in 1965 and the Kashmir conflict.

Military relations between the two nations had been limited due to foreign policy differences in the Cold War era, as Singapore was allied with Nato, whilst India established itself as a founding member of the Non- Aligned Movement, and as the only South Asian country to recognize the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.

In 2003, India and Singapore signed a bilateral agreement on expanding military cooperation, conducting joint military training, developing military technology and achieving maritime security. The Singaporean Navy and the Indian Navy have conducted joint naval exercises and training since 1993 such as SIMBEX and MILAN near India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands. India and Singapore have also expanded their cooperation in fighting terrorism.

Over the last two decades, Singapore has positioned itself as the hub of India’s economic, political and strategic relationships in Southeast Asia. When India announced its Look East policy in 1992, Singapore positioned itself as India’s de facto regional sponsor. As Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee commented in 2006, Singapore has become “the hub of its political, economic and security strategy in the whole of East Asia.”

After the death of Lee Kuan Yew in 2015, India followed with a weekend of national mourning in memory of the founding father of Singapore, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Singapore in November 2015 reaffirming fifty years of bilateral relations.

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