Singapore, Nov 20(ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, today unveiled a bust and marker of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in Singapore.
The bust is placed in the Asian Civilization Museum, one of the pioneer museums in the region to specialize in pan-Asian cultures and civilisations. The museum specializes in the material history of China, Southeast Asia, South Asia and West Asia, from which the diverse ethnic groups of Singapore trace their ancestry.
"Singapore was an embodiment of human progress and spirit of nationalism. Nehru was prescient when he said in 1946 that Singapore will become a city where Asian unity is forged. We are witnessing such unity being forged," Dr. Singh said during the unveiling ceremony here.This bust and marker will stand as yet another symbol of close relations between India and Singapore and will inspire even greater interest about each other among our peoples," he added.
Also present at the ceremony was Emeritus Senior Minister of Singapore Goh Chok Tong, who said that the moment of the unveiling holds special significance for Singapore and for him personally.
"Seven years ago India honoured me with Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding. In my acceptance speech I paid tribute to Panditji's contributions to the birth of an independent and modern Asia. This unveiling is an extension of that tribute. It also underscores the close relationship between India and Singapore- a relationship that Nehru helped put in place," Goh Chok said.
"On the international stage, Nehru championed solidarity amongst nations recognizing the need and unity in a world divided by the Cold War and decolonization. He played a leading role at the 1955 Bandung Conference and was one of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement," he added.
He further said that the commemorative bust and marker are symbols of long standing friendship between Singapore and India that Nehru helped to foster with his visits.
"The presence of this marker along the Singapore River is a permanent reminder of the close and abiding ties between our two countries," Goh Chok said.
Goh Chok also highlighted that Dr. Singh has also done much to forge stronger and closer ties between the two countries.
Polish-English writer Joseph Conrad, father of modern Vietnam Ho Chih Min, Filipino revolutionary leader Jose Rizal, and former Chinese Communist party leader Deng Xiaoping have been given this honour in the past.
Nehru first visited Singapore on May 27, 1937, as part of a pan-Malayan tour. During this trip he spoke to a gathering of local Indians urging them to be united and pay more attention to education.
Nehru's second visit was in 1946 when India was preparing for Independence.
He succeeded in persuading Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, to repatriate members of the Indian National Army (INA) under British internment pact to India. Nehru had also visited the INA memorial where a plaque now stands.
The plaque states: "Singapore has attracted me for long as a great cosmopolitan city where the various peoples of Asia are all represented. Singapore will become the place where Asian unity is forged. In the future the people of Asia must hold together for their own good as well as the good and freedom of the world."
Nehru's last visit was a state visit in 1950. He laid the foundation for the Gandhi Memorial Hall, Ramakrishna Mission dormitory and spoke to locals about peace and conciliation in a region where decolonisation was in progress. In 1964 thousands were to gather to honour the memory of Nehru when he died. By Smita Prakash (ANI)