Singapore recently honored Indian contribution to the island nation in the form of inauguration of the Indian Heritage Centre (IHC). It was inaugurated in May this year by the Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, commemorating and honoring the Indian contribution to Singapore, in the bustling Little India area. The IHC is the first museum in Southeast Asia to focus on the diverse heritage of the Indian community.
The Prime Minister said the centre is a “timely birthday gift” from the Indian community to Singapore, as the island nation marks 50 years of independence. This year also commemorates 50 years of diplomatic ties between Singapore and India. Importance, ever since its independence, both nations have maintained high-level contacts.
The magnanimous IHC is a four-storey architectural gem, comprising permanent galleries featuring five themes, a special exhibition gallery, as well as educational and activity spaces. The galleries are chronologically arranged to span the period from 1st century CE to the 21st century, providing a vital learning experience to its visitors. In the words of Nalina Gopal, Curator at the IHC, “The Centre is almost the first of its kind around the world. It tells the stories of the migrant Indian community in Singapore within the larger context of Southeast Asia. With over 400 artifacts displayed in the galleries comprised of collections from Singapore's community, in addition to other acquisitions, and in addition to oral histories featured, the Centre has become a huge repository of history for Singapore's Indian community”.
By introducing the IHC, Singapore has honored and shown respect to Indian culture and its contributions to national society. “The manner in which my cultural aspects have been showcased has really made me feel proud. I can’t wait to bring my overseas guests and friends to this amazing museum,” says Arjun Sharma, a management consultant, settled in Singapore.
India and Singapore share long-standing cultural, commercial and strategic relations, with Singapore being a part of the "Greater India" cultural and commercial region. The Indian connection with Singapore is dated back to the famous spice route when the Chettiars of Tamil Nadu made their first journey to the island nation. More than 300,000 people of Indian origin live in Singapore, forming around 10% of the country’s population.