Friday, August 30, 2013

Singapore Diary - Part III

Preparing for the Friday event
Since the time I have landed here, there has not been a single day when this small country has failed to amaze me. I mean even Delhi is more than twice the area of the size of this country. Here people pay almost ten times more than what I pay in India for owning a car. Imagine paying 50 lakhs for a Swift or 90 lakhs for Toyota Corolla!!! The weather is not at all pleasant, cost of living is high, single party system, caning is still prevalent as mode of punishment and what not, but still it is a favorite destination amongst businesses as well as tourists. Unfortunately, even though Indians contribute a lot to the Singaporean economy, corporates or policy makers are hardly betting on India which can be interpreted from the discussions we had or presentations that were shown.

Trying Chinese Lunch
 Just the other day, there was a discussion on Chinese culture and surprised to hear that it is not difficult to distinguish a Singaporean Chinese from China Chinese. It was an eye-opener to know that Indian and Chinese culture have similar elements. We had tryst with Chinese food and our effort to use chopsticks were marked with irony. I am not joking, and it is quite an effort to eat with chopsticks and it in a way proves that these folks are really hard working. It is another story that most of us went to food court to satiate their tummies. In the afternoon, we had quite a productive discussion at Research Management Institute at NUS where we got to learn about the mechanism being followed by different rating agencies around the world. The common aspect between rating agencies is that everyone uses around the same data source but come up with different rankings based on their evaluation mechanism.

Understanding Art and Culture
The sessions at NUS are slowly getting serious with talks by Industry experts, business houses and government agencies in Singapore. We got deep understanding on how Singapore is controlling its exchange rate against basket of currencies despite being a surplus economy. An industry talk session by CEO of CWT Limited was quite fruitful. We always thought that China is the place for cheap labor, but was quite interesting to note that Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia are much cheaper. Despite pay higher rise expected in these, they would still be cheaper than China. Also learnt about the efficient cargo clearing capability of Singapore where 80% of cargo is cleared in 8 minutes while 100% is done in 15 minutes!!!
Jurong port
The talk by Zafar Momin who is on board of MapleTree Trust was quite interactive with many counterviews with regard to strategy and implementation coming up. The discussion was mostly centered on real-life and he stressed on understanding rather than memorizing. He mentioned lot of interesting quotes one of which is, "If the going is too easy, may be you are scratching the surface". Explained in simple words that life is challenging and nothing comes easy. We also visited Jurong Port which is a privately managed port in Singapore primarily handling cement cargos. I was pretty excited for this as I have never been to any shipping facility before. We also had a visit to Ikea Factory and got insights into its marketing and sales strategy. The layout is designed in a very convenient way so as to make it easy for any customer and at the same time optimizes its operations cost. No wonder they sell the stuff cheap and most of us contributed to Ikea cash flow that day :).

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