Singapore is a "firm believer" in India's growth prospects and is keen to support the South Asian country's "remarkable" economic transformation, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday (Oct 5) during an official visit to India.

Part of these efforts include providing India's youth with a leg-up in skills training and contributing to its development of Smart Cities, Mr Lee added, after a meeting with his counterpart, Mr Narendra Modi, at Hyderabad House in New Delhi.

Two agreements on skills development were inked in support of the "Skills India" initiative, which aims to train over 400 million people by 2022.

One of them is to set up a skills centre catering to students in Guwahati, the largest city in the north-eastern state of Assam. Similar collaborations with other states are being studied.

The other agreement is to develop Advanced Skills Training for Indian youth, in collaboration with India's National Skill Development Corporation.

Singapore's ITE Education Services, which will front these agreements, will also conduct training and leadership programmes for staff and trainers at a Centre of Excellence for Tourism Training in Udaipur, Rajasthan, that Mr Lee will launch today. Classes will start next year.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Mr Modi, Mr Lee said: "Singapore is a firm believer in India. We will continue to contribute, where we can, to your remarkable development story. I am heartened that both sides are committed to deepening our bilateral relationship, and I look forward to India playing a growing role in the region because we believe that your economy will continue to grow for many more years."

He added: "Singapore is happy to support India's efforts to transform its economy, and to give India's youth the skills they need."

Mr Lee also said that Singapore is keen to step up its involvement in India's "100 Smart Cities" initiative.

In January last year, Surbana International Consultants and Jurong International were appointed master planners for Amaravati, a new Indian capital city in Andhra Pradesh that is 10 times the size of Singapore.

"I am confident that our two countries can do more together in urban solutions and Smart Cities development across India," said Mr Lee.

Mr Modi also lauded Singapore as a forerunner in various areas of development and a "key partner" of India's transformation.

Citing Singapore's national anthem Majulah Singapura, which means Onward Singapore, Mr Modi added: "No surprise, therefore, that if there is one country that seems to act in the present, but is alive to the needs of the future, it is Singapore.

"Whether in manufacturing, environment, innovation, technology or delivery of public services, Singapore does today what the rest of the world would do tomorrow."

Apart from skills and economic development, Mr Modi highlighted defence and security cooperation as a "key pillar" of the partnership between the two maritime nations.

"Keeping the sea lanes of communication open, and respect for international legal order of seas and oceans, (are) a shared priority," he said.

Both countries have also agreed to enhance cooperation in cybersecurity, said Mr Modi, noting how the rising tide of terrorism and radicalisation pose a "grave" security challenge.

"They threaten the very fabric of our societies. It is my firm belief that those who believe in peace and humanity need to stand and act together against this menace," he said.

During their meeting, the Prime Ministers also discussed bilateral cooperation in the areas of trade, foreign investments, and air connectivity, among other things. Mr Lee also expressed his condolences to the Indian government and families of victims in the Uri attacks last month.

Following the press conference, Mr Lee was hosted to lunch by Mr Modi, where he enjoyed traditional Indian delicacies like Sikandari Raan (slow-roasted leg of lamb), Rajmah Baderwah (red kidney beans with gravy), curries, and various Indian desserts.

In the evening, Mr Lee and Mdm Ho Ching mingled with about 200 Singaporeans - 150 working and living in India, and 50 from the Singapore Business Federation delegation - over a buffet reception of Singapore food at Leela Palace Hotel.

One of them, Mr Zulkhairil Suradi who works in IT firm CBI, said the India market offers multiple opportunities for Singapore, especially with its recent focus on skills and infrastructure development.

The 45-year-old, who will wrap up his one-year assignment in India this week, is concerned about job security when he returns to Singapore.

"Given the job market in Singapore now, it will be hard to look for a job... But I still look forward to going back to my family members," he said.

Mr Roberto Reinoso, who has been working in Proctor & Gamble's India office for the last three years, said the market and cultural differences in India are an opportunity for Singaporeans to "step out of the comfort zone and be adventurous".

Source: Government of Singapore