Indians in Singapore-defined as persons of South Asian paternal ancestry-form 9% of the country's citizens and permanent residents, making them Singapore's third largest ethnic group after Chinese and Malays. Among cities, Singapore has one of the largest overseas Indian populations.
While contact with ancient India left a deep impact on Singapore's indigenous Malay culture, the mass migration of Indians to the island only began with the founding of modern Singapore by the British in 1819. Initially, the Indian population was transient, mainly comprising young men who came as workers, soldiers and convicts. By the mid-20th century, a settled community had emerged, with a more balanced gender ratio and a better spread of age groups.
Singapore’s Indian population is notable for its class stratification, with large elite and lower income groups. This has grown more visible since the 1990s with an influx of both well-educated and unskilled migrants from India, which has created new contradictions. Today, Indians earn higher average monthly incomes than the Chinese or Malays and are more likely to hold a university degree than these groups. At the same time, Indian primary and secondary school students perform lower than the national average at major examinations.
Singapore Indians are linguistically and religiously diverse, with ethnic Tamils and nominal Hindus forming majorities. Indian culture has endured and evolved over almost 200 years. By the 1990s, it had grown somewhat distinct from contemporary South Asian cultures, even as Indian elements became diffused within a broader Singaporean culture. Since then, new immigrants have increased the size and complexity of the local Indian population. Low-cost carriers, cable television and the Internet now connect the local Indian community with the culture of India and the Indian diaspora.
Prominent Indian individuals have long made a mark in Singapore as leaders of various fields in national life. Indians are also collectively well represented, in areas such as politics, education, diplomacy and the law.