Singapore…Third world to First world

There is a lesson most of the ‘activists’ in Mumbai should learn. Just because women go out for some night life doesn’t mean that their character should be suspect

June 15, 2012 6:00 IST | India Infoline News Service
Every time I travel to Singapore, the city never ceases to amaze me. Photographs of the old Singapore will make you wonder if this is the same Singapore which existed 20-30 years ago. In those days, it was similar to India in terms of infrastructure and per capita GDP. There were open drains, city was dirty and as an old Singapore friend of mine recollects– “You could see rats around the place.”

Thanks to the leadership of one person, Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore transformed into a modern metropolis. You could call him a dictator. You could argue there is no freedom of speech but at the end of the day, quality of life underwent a metamorphosis. 

Even the late, Nani Palkhivala had his reservations against democracy because concept of adult franchise in a country like India, with its education and income disparities created more problems than solutions. All of us are now seeing what democracy can do to development. Every party has its narrow agenda and nobody gives a damn to where the country is going.

Fly down to Singapore and you enter an airport, which I am sure is the only one in the world where by the time you finish immigration and come to the baggage counter, your baggage is waiting. Even more surprising is the pain immigration officer takes to search for vacant space in your passport so new pages are not wasted. In India and UAE, even when you request the officer not to waste pages, they take sadistic pleasure in stamping on a new page.

I was told, earlier, street food was available in plenty in Singapore. Then the Government decided to shut them down and transfer them to certain locations and food courts were born. This is like the Khau gallis in different parts of Mumbai. Occasionally these khau gallis vanish when some extra conscientious BMC pounces on them. Later they emerge elsewhere. There are food courts in the basement of office complexes. This is a logical business segment and I hope somebody starts this in India also. I was told that there were some companies which toyed with the concept but gave up because of high rent. It will be a blessing especially during monsoon where a quick afternoon meal can be had by taking the lift to the basement. Surprisingly, we enjoyed some good vegetarian dishes at the food court. Though a vegetarian, I have managed to overcome my “issues” with non vegetarian food and smells.

The nightlife is also decent. We went out one night to Clark Quay, in the middle of the week and you would have thought it’s a weekend get-together of sorts. What an atmosphere! People seemed to be eating, drinking and making merry. A number of bands were there belting out live numbers of different quality and sound. In fact there was no place to sit. A large number of ladies were present around the place happily enjoying the company of their friends. 

This is a lesson most of the ‘activists’ in Mumbai should understand and learn. Just because women go out for some night life doesn’t mean that their character should be suspect. We are no longer in the 18th century. How can one forget that the most powerful person in our country is a lady. Given my Indian mindset, I could not help but ask my local friend whether the ladies are from decent families. He looked down at me and said, “Grow up, these are normal people like you and me.” Our vigilant activists should be sent for a sensitization course - in a world of equality of sexes, women are entitled to have fun.

Drunken driving is not a big issue in Singapore. Nobody really takes a chance. Perhaps that’s why even in the wee hours of morning, people follow traffic signals. Nobody jumps the red signal just because the roads are empty. Anybody who has crossed Worli junction in Mumbai late at night or early morning would have a different story to tell. Instead of making Mumbai Shanghai, let’s settle for safe Singapore.

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