Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Cultural differences within Singapore’s Indian community

A clash between the old and the new
The expatriate Indian is often perceived as pushy and aggressive and coming in with a strong sense of entitlement

My friend Mary George Cherian and I are conduits into each other’s worlds. For Mary, I am the typical North-Indian expatriate and Mary, a third-generation Singaporean Indian, is my guide to local courtesies and savoir-faire. We revel in these differences between us, often seeking them out to discuss and dissect over coffee. Over one such catch-up she shared with me stories of the Singaporean parishioners leaving her church, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church.

“Why,” I ask?

Cherian explained that the reasons are many. Some members may prefer the shorter services that other churches offer as well as the more contemporary worship forms. But she cited some social reasons, one of which refers to the sense of discomfort due to the increasing numbers of foreigners coming into the church. “At the social level, there is almost a hollowing out of the core,” she said. “Events are perceived to be run by people who are not locals.”

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Singaporeans take back Mandarin Gardens from Indian expats

Playwright Alfian Sa’at play ‘Cook a Pot of Curry’, re-dubbed the condominium along Siglap Road, Mandarin Gardens as Mumbai Gardens. The play was assembled from a series of real-life interviews,

Those interviewed may have re-dubbed the condominium as such because of the high concentration of foreign nationals from India who live there.

The recount of the events leading to the condominium’s management committee’s recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) suggests that re-dubbing as captured in the play is not without reason.

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"Regardless of race, language, religion or… place of birth?" Is the Singapore identity under threat? At the moment, one out of every four Singapore residents was born outside of the country. According to the controversial Population White Paper, by 2030 the number of residents on the island is projected to hit 6.9 million, with 55% born in Singapore.

The influx of immigrants and foreign workers has resulted in a rising tide of anti-foreigner sentiments. They have been blamed for overcrowding on public transport, escalating property prices and wage depression.

There are concerns that some of them are forming their own separate enclaves and have yet to be seamlessly integrated into Singaporean society. There are worries that they might form a docile and grateful vote bank in future elections.

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Singapore to become hub for Indian diaspora
Singapore, India And CECA
Reflections on the Little India Riot
Lessons From The Little India Riot
Little India Riot: "Who Dares Win"
Aftermath of Little India Riots
Riot Erupts in Singapore's Little India