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Singapore confers honorary citizenship on Ratan Tata

By Nirmala George, IANS,

Singapore : Singapore on Friday conferred its honorary citizenship on Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, in recognition of his abiding business relationship with the island nation and his contribution to the growth of high-tech sectors in Singapore.

Tata is the first Indian to receive the honorary citizenship of Singapore.

Singapore President S.R. Nathan presented the award to Tata at a solemn ceremony at the presidential palace, Istana. The ceremony was attended by Singaporean government ministers, prominent citizens and top executives of Tata Sons.

“Singapore welcomes global talent who can add value to Singapore,” said Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng.

He described Tata as an “exemplary business leader” who had helped propel Singapore’s economy by making extensive contributions to the city state’s development. “The award is a reflection of Singapore’s gratitude,” he said.

Tata said he was “deeply honoured” to receive the award. “I am pleased to have been able to play a small role in the development of Singapore’s economy.”

He described the award as a privilege for the Tata Group, adding that he hoped “future collaborations would bring forth greater synergies”.

Tata has had a decades-long association with Singapore. As a young man he had worked at one of the Tata companies in Singapore way back in the 1960’s, long before he returned to India to rise up the corporate ladder at Tata Sons.

In the decades since then he had retained his links with Singapore, strengthening business ties in the information technology, auto components and precision engineering sectors.

The citation for the award said, “Over the years, Mr Tata’s business acumen has helped Singapore tap into higher value-added growth sectors.”

The honorary citizenship is among a host of honours that Tata has received in recent months. In November 2007 he was listed among the 25 most powerful people in business by Fortune magazine. In May this year, Tata figured in Time magazine’s 2008 “List of the World’s 100 Most Influential People.”

Singapore instituted the honorary citizenship award in 2003 to recognise foreigners who have made extensive services to Singapore or who have made a significant impact in the areas of business, science and technology, information communications among other sectors. The life term award is the country’s highest recognition for a non-Singaporean.