• Short Summary

    The President of India, Mr. V.V. Giri, flew into Singapore this week (Tuesday) to a?

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    The President of India, Mr. V.V. Giri, flew into Singapore this week (Tuesday) to a red-carpet welcome at the start of his four-day state visit.

    Mr. Giri was greeted by the Singapore President, Mr. Benjamin Sheares, before inspecting a full guard of honour on the tarmac.

    Accompanying the Indian President is a 13-strong party including Mr. Om Mehta, Minister of State in the Department of Parliamentary Affairs.

    The flags of Singapore and India flew overhead as the two presidents saluted then reviewed the guard of honour.

    President Giri met Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and members of his cabinet, and diplomatic corps including the Pakistan High Commissioner, Mr. Farooqui.

    At a later state banquet in his honour, President Giri said there was an urgent need for the creation of safe conditions in East Pakistan to allow refugees to return to their homes. He said the eight-million refugees had created special problems for India.

    Apart from seeing much of Singapore's industrial and social progress, Mr. Giri will spend time with the leaders of Singapore's 145,000-strong Indian community.

    The third-strongest ethnic group on the island, the Indian community has played, however, a substantial role in Singapore's commercial progress since the republic became independent from Britain - and since it broke away from the Malaysian Federation in 1965.

    Many shops in the city's main streets are owned by Indians, dealing mostly in textiles, tailoring and brassware. The main financial strength of the Indian community comes from its members operating in the island's foreign exchange market.

    While some are very wealthy, the majority are in the middle or lower income brackets though still enjoying, they say, a better standard of living then they might at home. Many Indian families, however, have lived in Singapore since the early days of British rule.

    They have their own temples and religious freedom -- and their own fortune tellers. And with Singapore's economy leaping ahead, the future looks bright for its Indian community.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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