`Hindi`s popularity growing in Singapore`

Some are considering Hindi in Singapore for understanding Bollywood music.

Singapore: Learning Hindi as a language is becoming popular in the country with some considering it for understanding Bollywood music and others for its importance in the backdrop of India`s rise as an economic power, Singapore`s Education Minister Ng Eng Hen has said.

"This is, no doubt, a testament to the burgeoning popularity of Bollywood. For some, it is simply so that they can better understand the lyrics of popular (Hindi) songs. Beyond its cultural role, however, many recognise that Hindi is an economic asset. Especially with the rise of India," Ng said while addressing the Hindi Centres Day here yesterday.

He applauded the demand for the Society`s Hindi courses by non-Hindi speaking people and the growing interest towards the language.

Ng also assured the government`s support to Hindi learning as well as Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi and Urdu, saying these were being promoted as mother-tongue languages in addition to Tamil.

The Singapore government recognises four official languages -- English, Malay, Chinese (Mandarin) and Tamil. "I am pleased to note that the Hindi Society continues to grow from strength to strength in its efforts to provide ample opportunity for our students to study Hindi in our primary and secondary schools through its Parallel Hindi Programme," he said, adding four more public schools have joined the Programme this year taking the total number of schools having Hindi classes to 53.

This is in addition to the seven Hindi Centres in Singapore for children to attend Hindi classes at centres close to their homes, the minister said.

"We in Singapore are fortunate that our multi-racial and multi-cultural make-up provide us with a unique advantage of having communities with natural ties of language and culture with major growth centres of the world," Ng said.

The Singapore government supports the learning of Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu with an annual funding of SGD 1.5 million, especially to help defray part of the cost of providing instruction.

These languages are also part of the national school examinations since the 1990s.

The minister also applauded the Society`s involvement in community causes such as providing bursaries to low-income families, as well as for the restoration of mosque and the rebuilding and restoration of the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial and Library, one of the oldest Indian establishments in Singapore.