List of Indians in Singapore

List of Indians in Singapore

This is a list of prominent Indians in Singapore, who have made significant contributions nationally or internationally in various fields. The list consists primarily of ethnic South Asian Singapore citizens, though it does include some ethnic South Asian Singapore permanent residents as well. (Prominent ethnic South Asian citizens of other countries who have lived in Singapore on a short-term basis may be found listed under the appropriate list of persons from their respective countries.)

Government and politics

Presidents of Singapore

* The late Chengara Veetil Devan Nair (1923–2005) – Singapore's third President (1981–1985) and former head of the National Trades Union Congress, the umbrella body for trades unions in Singapore. Widely seen as the founder of the modern trades union movement in Singapore. During Singapore's brief membership of Malaysia, Nair was the only People's Action Party (PAP) member to win a national seat in the Federal Parliament in Kuala Lumpur. He was from a Malayali Hindu background and married to a South Indian Singaporean Hindu.

* Mr Sellapan Ramanathan (1924– ) – Singapore's sixth President, incumbent since 1999. He was formerly a senior civil servant, serving as Permanent Secretary at the Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs Ministries. He was also Director of the Security and Intelligence Department, "The Straits Times" newspaper, Singapore Press Holdings and Singapore Mint. From 1990 to 1996, he was Ambassador to the United States, and subsequently an Ambassador-at-Large. He is an Indian Tamil Hindu married to a Bengali Singaporean Hindu.

Cabinet ministers

* The late Sinnathamby Rajaratnam (1915–2006) – Singapore's first Foreign Minister, Culture Minister and Senior Minister, as well as a former Labour Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. Widely regarded as one of the core members of the "old guard", or the founding fathers of Modern Singapore, he cofounded the People's Action Party as well as ASEAN. In the wake of the 1964 Race Riots in Singapore, he wrote the Singapore National Pledge, which enshrines the ideals of the nation. He was from a Sri Lankan Tamil Hindu background and was married to a Hungarian woman. Both were secular agnostics.

* Mr Suppiah Dhanabalan (1937- ) - Current Chairman of DBS Bank and Temasek Holdings. former Minister of Trade and Industry, National Development, Foreign Affairs, Culture and Community Development in the 1980s and 1990s. He was publicly mentioned by Singapore's first Prime Minister as one of the four men he considered as his successor, but he decided against Dhanabalan as he felt Singapore was 'not ready' for a non-Chinese Prime Minister. He is an Indian Tamil Baptist married to a Chinese Singaporean Baptist.
* Prof Shunmugam Jayakumar (1939- ) - Current Deputy Prime Minister and Co-ordinating Minister for National Security. Former Minister of Law, Labour, Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs. Member of the ASEAN Eminent Persons Group, tasked with drafting an ASEAN Charter. Previously Dean of the Law School at the National University of Singapore and Ambassador to the UN (1971-1974). He is an Indian Tamil Hindu married to an Indian Tamil Hindu.

* Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam - Singapore's first Indian Minister for Education and later Minister for Finance. He is a Sri Lankan Tamil Hindu married to a Japanese Singaporean.

* Dr Vivian Balakrishnan (1961- ) - Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports. He was the former CEO of Singapore General Hospital. He is a Chindian, or son of a Telugu Singaporean father and Chinese Singaporean mother. His wife is Chinese Singaporean and they are Christians.

* Mr K Shanmugam - Appointed Minister of Law and Second Minister for Home Affairs in March 2008. Mr Shanmugam was a four-term backbench member of parliament was a lawyer in private practice. He had been one of the youngest persons to have been appointed a Senior Counsel in Singapore, as was widely seen as one of the nation's top litigators. He is an Indian Tamil Hindu Singaporean.

Junior Ministers

* Dr Balaji Sadasivan (1955- ) - Senior Minister of State at the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Information, Communications and the Arts. He was formerly a neurosurgeon at Gleneagles Hospital. He is a South Indian Hindu.

* Mr S Iswaran (1962- ) - Senior Minister of State at the Ministry of Trade and Industry. He was formerly a Colombo Plan scholar and the CEO of Singapore Indian Development Association, the Indian community self-help group as well as Managing Director of Temasek Holdings. He was born in Madras and is a naturalised Indian Tamil Hindu Singaporean.

Opposition leaders

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* Mr Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam (1926- ) - the first opposition politician to break the PAP monopoly on parliament when he won a by election in 1984. In the 1980s, he was the leader of the Workers' Party and was seen as the de facto leader of the Singapore opposition. He served several terms in Parliament as an MP before he was bankrupted by government lawsuits and disqualified from being an MP. He was a former magistrate and is currently a lawyer in private practice. He was from a Sri Lankan Tamil Christian background, and he married an Englishwoman.

* Mr James Gomez (1965- ) - is a prominent opposition politician. He is Second Assistant Secretary-General and Chairman of the Policies and Communications Committee in the Workers' Party, Singapore. Prior to entering politics, he founded Think Centre a political non-government organisation dedicated to promoting human rights, democracy and more open political discourse in Singapore. He is a South Indian Catholic Singaporean of Goan or Portuguese-Indian descent.

Other Members of Parliament

PAP Backbench MPs

* Mr S Ramaswamy - Legislative Assembly & 1st - 2nd Parliament
* Mr S V Lingam - Legislative Assembly & 1st Parliament
* Mdm Dhanam Avadai - 1st Parliament
* Mr S Rajoo - 1st Parliament
* Mr S T Bani - 1st Parliament
* Mr P Coomaraswamy - 1st - 2nd Parliament
* Mr P Govindaswamy - 1st - 4th Parliament
* Mr P Selvadurai - 1st - 5th Parliament
* Mr N Govindasamy - 2nd - 4th Parliament
* Mr S Chandra Das - (manager) 5th - 8th Parliament
* Dr S Vasoo - (academic) 6th - 9th Parliament
* Mr Davinder Singh - (lawyer) 7th - 10th Parliament
* Mr R Sinnakaruppan - 8th - 9th Parliament
* Mr Ravindran s/o Ramasamy - 9th - 10th Parliament
* Mr Inderjit Singh - (entrepreneur) 9th - 11th Parliament
* Ms Indranee Rajah - (lawyer) 10th - 11th Parliament (Deputy Speaker of Parliament)
* Mr Hri Kumar - (lawyer) 11th Parliament

=Nominated MPs=

* Dr Kanwaljit Soin - Neurosurgeon & activist (8th Parliament)
* Ms Braema Mathi - Journalist & activist (9th Parliament)
* Mr Chandra Mohan K Nair - Lawyer (9th Parliament)
* Mr Thomas Thomas - Unionist (9th Parliament)
* Mr Shriniwas Rai - Lawyer (9th Parliament)
* Mr A Nithiah Nandan - Unionist (10th Parliament)
* Prof Kalyani Mehta - Academic (11th Parliament)
* Mr Gautam Banerjee - Chairman, PricewaterhouseCoopers (11th Parliament)

Arts and culture


* Santha BhaskarIndian classical dance choreographer, and 1990 Cultural Medallion winner
* Madhavi Krishnan – 1979 Cultural Medallion winner
* Neila Sathyalingam – Indian classical dance choreographer, and 1989 Cultural Medallion winner


* M. Balakrishnan – Tamil writer, and 2005 Cultural Medallion winner
* Gopal Baratham – English language novelist (and neurosurgeon). He was a Tamil Hindu Singaporean.
* Philip Jeyaretnam – English language novelist and short story writer (and lawyer)
* Rama Kannabiran – Tamil writer, and 1998 Cultural Medallion winner
* N. Palanivelu – Tamil theatre practitioner, and 1986 Cultural Medallion winner
* Thamizhavel G. Sarangapani - Tamil writer, social reformer and founder of the Tamil Murasu newspaper.
* Haresh Sharma – English language playwright and dramaturge. He is a North Indian Hindu Singaporean.
* Kirpal Singh – English language writer and literature professor. He is a Punjabi Sikh Singaporean.
* Edwin Thumboo – English language poet and literature professor, and 1979 Cultural Medallion winner. He is a Chindian Christian Singaporean.
* S Varathan – Tamil theatre practitioner, and 1984 Cultural Medallion winner


* Alex Abisheganaden – 1988 Cultural Medallion winner. He is a classical guitarist, double-bassist, stage actor and singer in operas and musicals. He has been called “the father of the guitar in Singapore.” He is a Tamil Christian Singaporean.
* Jacintha Abisheganaden – songwriter and jazz singer. She has released 13 albums. She is a Chindian Singaporean Christian.
* Paul Abisheganaden – 1986 Cultural Medallion winner. He has been called "the doyen of orchestral music in Singapore". He is a Tamil Christian Singaporean.
* Michelle Sarampop singer who performs in Mandarin. She is a Chindian Singaporean Christian.

Visual arts and architecture

* Chandrasekaran – sculptor, installation and performance artist. He won the National Arts Council Young Artist Award in 1993. He is a Singaporean Indian Tamil Hindu. [ [ Chandrasekaran ] ]
* Vikas Gore – project architect of the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay performing arts centre. He is a Hindu Indian national based in Singapore.
* Dr Nirmal Kishnani- architect and author of several books on architecture.
* Ketna Patelvisual artist (formerly an architect). She is a Uganda-born Gujerati Hindu, a British national and Singapore PR.

Business and entrepreneurship

* P Govindasamy Pillay - he established a successful eponymous store serving the Indian community in Little India, Singapore. He was respected as a leader of the Indian community in Singapore in the mid 20th century, and was an early Member of Parliament for the Peoples Action Party.
* Naraina Pillai - he was the most prominent early Indian settler in Singapore, and a clerk in the colonial treasury from Penang. He arrived with Raffles on his second visit to Singapore in May 1819. Pillay went into business and set up the first brick kiln in Singapore, and made his money from that as well as from building construction and selling textiles. He was appointed a leader of the Indian community, and he founded Singapore oldest Hindu temple, the Sri Mariamman Temple in 1827.
* Sunny George Verghese - he is the Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Olam International. He holds a post graduate management degree from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and has also completed the Advanced Management Program (AMP) from the Harvard Business School. He worked for the Unilever Group in India before he joined the Kewalram Chanrai Group in 1986. In 1989, Sunny was given the mandate to start from scratch an agricultural products export business for the Group, Olam.
* JY Pillay - Joseph Yubaraj Manuel Pillay (b. 30 March 1934, Klang, Malaya), also known as J. Y. Pillay, served 34 years till 1995 as a top-ranking civil servant and an entrepreneur. He is one of the pioneers who helped build the Singapore economy after its separation from Malaysia in 1965. His single most significant contribution is in building Singapore Airlines (SIA) into a leading world-class carrier. One of the few highest-ranked Civil Service officers (Staff Grade III), he is also known as a visionary and a brilliant bureaucrat. He is currently the Chairman of the Singapore Exchange, the city's main stock exchange.
* Sudhir Gupta - At age 47 and with a personal fortune estimated at $320 million, he was ranked by Forbes as the 13th richest person/family in Singapore in 2006. He is also the second richest ethnic Singapore Indian on that list. He was born in India, and moved to Russia to get a Ph.D. in agricultural chemistry. he started a tyre company in Moscow and acquired a Dutch company to form Amtel-Vredestein. He listed the tyre maker on the London Stock Exchange last year. He escaped an assassination attempt in Moscow 4 years ago, and now shuttles between that city and Singapore, where he's a citizen.
* Murli Kewalram Chanrai - Heads Kewalram Chanrai Group, one of 5 companies spun off from 150-year-old Chanrai family empire. KCG has interests in textiles, commodities, real estate. Its Olam International, the world's largest trader of cashews and second-largest trader of cocoa, debuted on the Singapore stock exchange last year. Aged 83, and with a personal fortune valued at $880 million, Forbes estimated in 2006 that he was the 7th wealthiest person in Singapore, and the city-state's wealthiest ethnic Indian.
* Kartar Singh Thakral - Joined family's trading business in 1949, built family empire; it now includes Singapore-listed Thakral Corp., which distributes tech gear such as iPods in China and India, and Australian property group Thakral Holdings. Son Inderbethal helps run business. Forbes rankes him as the 25th richest person in Singapore in 2006, with a fortune of $175million.
* Mustaq Ahmad - Runs Mustafa Centre, the iconic 24-hour store in Little India, Singapore, stuffed with more than 150,000 inexpensive items ranging from beds to spices. First opened in 1971 by Mustaq's father, an Indian immigrant, and his uncle. Father passed away in 2001. Shares ownership of the $200 million (sales) store with his wife and uncle. Forbes ranks him the 27th richest person in Singapore in 2006.

Civil Service

* Prof. Satkunanantham Kandiah, Director of Medical Services, Ministry of Health, Singapore
* Mr. Bilahari Kausikan, Second Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore
* Mr. Manohar Khiatani, Assistant Managing Director, Economic Development Board
* Mr. Ravi Menon, Second Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade and Industry
* Mr. R. Puniamoorthy, Senior Director (General Staff), Singapore Civil Defence Force
* Ms. Juthika Ramanathan, Chief Executive, Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority
* Brigadier General Ravinder Singh, Chief of Staff, Joint Staff, Singapore Armed Forces Joint Operations and Planning Directorate
* Mr. Vijakumar Sethuraj, Deputy Director, Central Narcotics Bureau
* Dr. N. Varaprasad, Chief Executive, National Library Board

Diplomacy and foreign relations

* K V Vanu Gopala Menon - Permanent Representative to the UN in New York
* Burhan Gafoor - Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva
* T Jasudasen - High Commissioners to Malaysia
* M P H Rubin - High Commissioners to South Africa
* Anil Kumar s/o N T Nayar - Ambassadors to Belgium ("de facto" representative to the European Union)
* A Selverajah - Ambassadors to Germany
* Ashok Kumar Mirpuri - Ambassadors to Indonesia
* Hirubalan V P - Ambassadors to Saudi Arabia

Education and higher learning

* Prof Seeram Ramakrishna - Dean, Faculty of Engineering, National University of Singapore (NUS)
* Arun Mahizhnan - Acting Dircetor, Institute of Policy Studies
* J. Mohan Rao - Director, Institute of South Asian Studies
* K. Kesavapany - Director, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
* Kishore Mahbubani - Dean, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, NUS

Law and the judiciary

* Philip Jeyaretnam – Immediate past President of the Law Society of Singapore
* Justice V.K. Rajah – Judge of Appeal (one of Singapore's top three judges, including the Chief Justice)
* Judicial Commissioner Sundaresh Menon – Judge of the Supreme Court of Singapore

cience and medicine

* The late Dr Shan Ratnam - Emeritus Professor Sittampalam Shanmugaratnam (1928–2001) was head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the National University Hospital of Singapore. He was widely recognised as a world leader in human reproduction research. He was a Sri Lankan Tamil Hindu Singaporean.
* Prof Ariff Bongso - Dr Ariff Bongso holds several patents and has 430 research publications in internationally refereed journals, conference papers and chapters in books. He was one of the founder scientists of Embryonic Stem Cell International (ESI), a Singapore registered Biotechnology Company. He is currently Research Professor and Scientific Director of the Assisted Reproductive Technology programme at the NUS Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. He is also Principal Investigator for In Vitro Fertilization and human embryonic stem cell research at the NUS National University Hospital. He is a Sri Lankan Muslim. [ [ Stem Cell Research > People - Group Leader Details ] ]


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