My Essay to PSC in 2011

Curtains! by Arjun Purkayastha

So 3 years ago, I wrote into PSC for their scholarship applications and I wrote this as my piece. Was pulling out some essays to share with my alma mater on request and came across this again. Reading through it, I remember how strongly I felt and still feel about the idea of a Singapore dream.

We build our own future.

What kind of Singapore would you like to see in 15 years’ time?

The American Dream is often quoted as the driving force behind America’s innovative economy. The European Heritage is the foundation for most of the pride Europeans have in the Eurozone. Even in the Middle East, citizens share tales of their shared Islamic background over meals. Every vibrant society has an ethos and culture that drives it. Yet for Singapore, that form of pride and culture is not as pronounced as I wish it to be. In 15 years time though, I do believe that can become a possibility.

Let me begin by proposing the vision I have for the Singaporean Dream. In 15 years, the world would be in a great transition; the balance shifting from West to East, and a culture of individualism growing.  I envision Singaporeans who live to challenge the day, and to always overcome adversities as our forefathers have; to live to increase our diversity even more than it is, and to be a contributing voice to the cacophony of voices present in our island state.

A Singapore driven by such culture would have a strong and dynamic business sector, where entrepreneurship is not at the expense of public service talent, but complementary to. Innovation is encouraged, and students start initiatives from their adolescence, to chase our own dreams. I myself have benefitted much from such adventures, though limited. Singaporeans aspire to become different from each other, but still united in their community – giving back to the “home” that nurtured them. This can greatly expand Singapore’s relevance in the world, banking on our already superb human capital. Our citizens wake up each morning, knowing fully that their voice matters in issues of politics, social construction and in the shaping of Singapore’s image. Our arts scene will greatly benefit from such a boost, and our economic growth in the next decade will be driven by Singaporeans of their own zeal, rather than an unhealthy reliance on structure.

On the civil service side, I envision a Singapore where the government serves to partner its citizens. The focus shifts from mere pragmatic policies, to policies that can enliven Singapore and still have strong economic and political sense. The service plays an active focus in nurturing its citizens to appreciate its ethos and drive, and provides opportunities for them to experiment. Domestic policies will look into serving Singaporean’s needs for a home to live in by providing estates that are sustainable yet appealing, resources that can readily be accessed but done so in a manner that is non-vigorous because of a shared responsibility, as well as a spatial environment that has room for rest and recreation.

In the international spectrum, and an important one at that, I see Singapore playing a new and important role in servicing the bridge between the East and the West, from both sides. It would have cemented its position as a reliable wealth manager, and can increase its access to new markets and segments by developing new and innovative agreements, that serve Singaporeans as they develop a global perspective. Increased access to markets provides Singaporeans the opportunity to follow their “Singapore Dream” undeterred by the limited regional market.

In 15 years, the world would have changed, and Singapore should too. Yet, instead of a disorganized focus on tackling future problems as discrete incidents, I believe a unification of our motivations under the Singapore Dream can shape our society to be future-ready and dynamic, and still happy and proud to be Singaporeans under any circumstances. Such a vision is dear to my heart – it’s here where our society can resonate. Then, with that, our country can face the future and the 15 years after that with the very hope and strength our forefathers had.

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