KOCHI: Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore and and the longest-ever served PM (1959-1990) in the world, brought Singapore from the third world to the first in just 31 years! Where are we after 72 years of independence? Singapore is the only country in the world having dwelling places for all. In Kochi, 23,161 families have no houses. In Singapore one in ten is a millionaire. It has the fourth rank among nations in GDP PPP with a per capita income of $98,255 (India 127) unemployment is only to 2 to 3 per cent, employees can work upto 67, world-class infrastructure, they have the eighth rank in ease of doing business (India 63), top in education with high respect to teachers, fourth least-corrupt country (India 78), low crime rate with second least murder rate, and lowest levels of drug abuse.
Singapore, with limited natural resources, is a marine and air hub with internal connectivity by road and rail and a regional hub for wealth management and financial services. Seven crore tourists visit Singapore every year. It exports precision electronic products and chemicals. Changi Airport is the world’s best. Its new expansion has the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, rain vortex, gardens and restaurants and attracts 6 crore visitors from inside and outside annually.
Most people living in flats have all amenities including reading room and auditorium. They have roads everywhere, two to six lanes for traffic and a single lane for walking, running and cycling only. No waste or dirt can be seen anywhere. It rains more in Singapore, but there is no water stagnation.
The current PM Lee Hsien Loog is getting the highest annual salary in the world. All other officials are highly paid to avoid corruption. Only two strikes have taken place in the past, which were instigated by outsiders and was smashed. So giving citizenship and PR to outsiders is restricted. The negative aspects include low press freedom index; limited respect for political rights and civil liberties; government pressure on opposition parties, while a sizeable number of people do not have a sufficient income.
Meanwhile, Kochi is full of stagnant, filthy water canals, a mosquito-breeding centre. Too much of time, money and energy are wasted in corruption, fraud, crimes, police, judiciary, hospitals, government offices, and defence. Kochi is a centre of narcotic and allied crimes. Kochi needs a master plan for the next 50 years with the help of state and central governments for total development.
Air impurity has increased six times in a few years. Hence, electric vehicles, share auto, taxi, and private vehicles, cloud computing connectivity and internet mobility are required. But for politics, Kochi or Thiruvananthapuram could have been the IT capital of India. If an attractive package is given, land acquisition will not be a problem.
(The author is a former professor of Bishop Moore College, Mavelikara)