I recently met up a friend from singapore, and the discussion started again, on how I really want to go live in Singapore, there are several reasons, and each day I think to myself if that is the way forward, in a place where I already am a Global citizen, travelling across the globe, thanks to my writing and my work, there are several countries I have been too, and several countries I am yet to visit, but singapore has been at the top of my list.
It was about a few years back that Harpreet and I decided to go to Singapore, like every Indian is warned by their travel agent, I got my warning too, don’t each chewing gum, don’t litter, don’t, don’t don’t.. the list was a long list of don’t do’s in Singapore, a very small list of what to do in Singapore existed for me, Harpreet had visited before and knew the city, so we sort of had an itinerary, there was as with every trip, a business meeting planned too, and a few personal introductions thanks to six degrees of connection.
Landing in Singapore started with a horror, the erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines had lost my bag, but over the 2 day period, till my bag was found, SATS team stayed in touch, till we got the bag delivered to the Hotel, which showed me how responsible the government and it’s teams are, making sure you are informed all the time, now who does not want this.
They say you get to know a city best, when you walk in it, and I for one am a geek for walking, slowly, taking in things, taking pictures, the smells the sounds, and what was really nice about Singapore was how it is designed for anyone to walk, safe pedestrian crossings, no crime on the streets, no scare, yes I mentally was still worried about chewing gum, as I can’t swallow it after chewing, I do need to throw it, but dustbins across the city reminded me on how the Government has planned to keep the city clean. Day or night, public transport and public infrastructure worked, to ensure citizen safety and citizen rights.
I have always been a believer that you should change and grow the place you live in, and every-time I wonder why we can’t learn our lessons from singapore, after all Singapore has such a large population of Indian’s, if they can keep the city clean there, they can keep the city clean here too.
What prompted me to write this article was a discussion with a startup we are in the middle of getting on board as a portfolio company, on how they also wanted to setup the operations in Singapore, rather than India, though I am all for making India the most successful place in my own manner, it did prompt me to look at why they had a similar thought, and go back and look at a few resources, I was also reminded of a recent talk by Arvind Kejriwal on how India’s ecosystem is not friendly to business, I have been asked to bribe officials, because our revenue fell in a particular quarter, and we were not able to give the same amount of VAT as we had in the previous few years, the explanation that there is recession and customers did not buy as much, was not something the officer wanted to listen, he was coming from a place that we were trying to cheat the ex-chequer, and if we wanted him to look another way, we had to bribe him, anyway, that is for another day.
Quite a few of you have known that I started my first company when I was 11 years old, the journey from being a shielded child, to the one who has to deal with Police for opening your office round the clock, custom officers, who are unwilling to listen, that you get global discounts for the volumes you buy at, and dealing with government departments a day to day long pain, the whole idea of doing business out of Singapore makes more sense.
The Government has clearly laid out rules, and clearly laid out policies, you send the email to the concerned department, and you hear back, you have a question or need help, there is a process defining it, prompting me to listen to the startup and really look at Singapore as an option for a place of business.
The Food, the Culture, the Government, The Citizen is what makes up a City, and I think Singapore has a hot-pot mix up of things.. so if next time I meet you and ask you what is your favourite city to live in, do take your time to answer… for me, as every day goes by, and India ends up falling to another low, the debates on television have shown how disconnected our politico’s are from the real people, only will the next elections show where we head next.. but for now, I am seriously contemplating, why not Singapore.