Last week, at an event attended by Indian business and community leaders, a new Indian organisation in Singapore was born. The Federation of Singapore Indian Organizations or FSIO under the auspices of the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), was officially launched at a gala dinner graced by Singapore President, Madam Halimah Yacob.
First announced in October 2021, FSIO, an amalgamation of 26 bodies, was set up to bind the Indian community and to be its collective voice on all issues that are of importance to the Indian diaspora in Singapore. The organisation aims to not only be one that Indians seeking help can turn to but also one that organises activities both social as well as educational for the community.
One of its target demographic is the youth. It plans to organise activities for youths from different backgrounds so that they can share new ideas and expertise.
Recently, SICCI initiated a six-month youth outreach named Catalyse 2020 which involved four youth organisations - Narpani Pearavai Youth, Sinda Youth Club, Tamil Representative Council Youth Wing and Young Sikh Association. The initiative encouraged social entrepreneurship among around 150 young people.
FSIO also hopes to help as many people as possible, both locals and foreign workers. For example, those facing different challenges and problems like job losses, the need to return back to India to attend to urgent family issues, or those stranded in India and unable to return to Singapore to work or study. Another problem they plan to solve is that of workers and students being taken advantage of when they land in Singapore by agents.
The new group also aspires to be a feedback vehicle, compiling all the valuable feedback and flagging this for the attention of relevant government agencies and the High Commission of India for their necessary consideration and follow up.
There is also a social aspect of the organisation where it plans to connect the Indian community through arranging regular activities for various groups of people ranging from cooking to singing, dance and music to sports.
Health and a healthy lifestyle are other areas of focus. Many members of the FSIO have ongoing health awareness and mental awareness programmes for different age groups. Some have even tailored their programmes to address the specific needs of the ageing population.
Skills upskilling and training is another area FSIO will focus on, in particular in digitalisation. This is something that is required to keep workers employable. It will also help to tap talent from senior citizens to fill the manpower shortages facing several sectors, particularly the services industry and restaurants. The various groups in FSIO can come together to identify keen individuals who are willing to return to the workforce and match them with available jobs.
SICCI, the umbrella organisation of FSIO, can be the platform which helps communicate and propagate the activities and programmes of the various groups in FSIO so that there is greater outreach. This includes using their job search portal, SME services centre and newsletters.
Over the last two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian community, its leaders, people, and organisations have continuously shown that they can come together do their part to help the less fortunate, migrant workers, foreign domestic workers, and anyone else that needs help.
SICCI set up a Covid-19 task force to help members navigate the various pandemic relief schemes and prepare them to pursue new opportunities when business conditions improved.
When the pandemic hit India, the business chamber also partnered the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association to raise more than SGD 1 million (USD720,000), and mobilised its network to deliver essential medical supplies in response to the humanitarian crisis in back in India.
During her address at the FSIO launch event, Singapore President, Madam Halimah stated 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.
She also encouraged both countries to collaborate on the green economy, noting that both are making concerted efforts in their respective countries and are committed to reducing carbon output.
Singapore launched its Green Plan 2030 in February last year while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to cut the country's emissions to net-zero by 2070 at the COP26 climate talks last year.
The plan cuts across various sectors of society such as infrastructural development, and research and innovation.
Madam Halimah further suggested 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 the memorandum of understanding on cooperation in science, technology and innovation that was signed between the two countries in February, she noted.
The Singapore President added, "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." (ANI)