Interview with H.E. Mrs. Tahina Rasamoelina, Chargée d’Affaires a.i. , Embassy of the Republic of Madagascar to India

On June 26th, Madagascar celebrates its national day. How does the Embassy of Madagascar in India usually commemorate this day?

26th June is the most important date for all Malagasy People. It is the date Madagascar officially

return to independence after its annexation to France in 1896. It is the date all Malagasy people celebrate the sovereignty of Madagascar. it is also the date Malagasy people highlight their deep attachment to their Malagasy identity which is rooted in Fihavanana*. Malagasy citizens celebrate their pride of being Malagasy in happiness and joy, flag of Madagascar is hanged in every house. The tradition on this date is that we share message of good wishes to everyone.

At the same time, Independence day celebration also include a collective reflection on where Madagascar has come and on the future that lies ahead for the whole nation. We remember all those who lost their lives and made sacrifice for the freedom of Madagascar. Many people were killed during the sombre period of colonisation, we acknowledge our deep respect, gratitude and hommage to all those who made sacrifice so that we inherit our beloved country Madagascar. Different meetings, workshops, exhibitions, and religious ceremonies etc on specific topic are organised to allow everyone to share their contribution to our collective tribute to our martyr ancestors and to pursue the building of the Madagascar we want. Madagascar diaspora celebrates Independence Day in the same spirit, including those who are in India

India and Madagascar have a historical relationship. Can you comment on the countries’ contemporary diplomatic ties?

Madagascar became independent on 26th June 1960, soon after that India upgrades its Consulate to an Embassy in Antananarivo. Madagascar and India have always had cordial and even friendly relations which are embeded in geographic proximity as we both share the Indian Ocean, in a shared value for South-South cooperation, and in the sharing of similar culture and values such as the attachment to peace and recourse to negotiation, we shared the same experience of oppression through colonialism. And of course human to human contacts which date back to the 18th century bring another added value to our ties. Last, we share a mutual willingness to build a strong partnership and built a just and fair international system.

Madagascar’s tourist attractions include its beaches and biodiversity. The country also receives a lot of return travellers. Can you mention a few sites in Madagascar for Indian travellers?

Despite the pandemic, the tourism proved to be a resilient sector. Madagascar as a tourism destination has been stamped Safe travel. Madagascar has also been awarded World’s Leading Beach Resort 2021, World travel award winner 2021, Indian Ocean’s Leading Green Destination 2021. Madagascar borders are open to tourists since April 2022. My recommendation to my Indian brothers and sisters would be to see Madagascar’s endemic fauna and flora, Madagascar parks are genuine paradise on earth, the bonus is that many are not far from beautiful beaches. Montagne d’Ambre National Park, for example is on 40km from the breath-taking Emerald Sea in the North of Madagascar. The Zafimaniry Art, in Ambositra the centre part of Madagascar is a must see world heritage. Visitors will be marveled not only by the beauty of traditional carved housed but also the warm hospitality of its people. Tsimanampetsotsa National Park which is famous for its salty lake shelters a biodiversity that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, bird watchers and lemurs fans, and reptile lovers will be amazed.

Kindly tell us more about the world renowned mining industry of Madagascar.

Madagascar subsoil is known to be rich. Madagascar has a unique geo-diversity with yet untapped reserves of minerals.Madagascar’s mining potential include Industrial and metallic minerals: ilmenite, graphite, limestone, gypsum, dolomite, silica, mica, titanium, quartz, gold, platinum group, silver, iron, copper, zinc, nickel, cobalt, chromite, …

Energy resources: coal, hydrocarbon. Precious and semi-precious stones: ruby, sapphire, emerald, aquamarine, beryl, tourmaline, topaz, garnet, cordierite, rose quartz, amethyst, citrine.

In Ornamental stones, we have marble, silicified wood, jasper.

Apart from mining, according to you, what are the other sectors of the economy that can interest an Indian investor?

Madagascar represents an access to 900 million potential consumers through its eligibility for African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) with the US and the signing of Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union enable the country’s companies to export in these markets a preferential tax export to the US. We are the world leading producer of: Vanilla, lychee, Organic shrimps “red label” and sapphires. It is also a Number1 exporter of textile to Europe and Sub Saharan Africa, the only caviar producing country in Africa. There are other opportunities for  investment such as: food production and agribusiness, textile, ICT, renewable energies, tourism.

How was ‘Operation Vanilla’ in Madagascar a sign of solidarity and brotherhood between the two countries?

Madagascar is among the countries that are mostly hit by cyclones every year. Cyclones bring flooding and landslides, destroy infrastructures and livelihoods. I would like to mention that due to this harsh reality, Madagascar joined the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure this year.  India plays a leadership role in this global partnership and but also has been among if not the first to respond with solidarity when Madagascar is facing natural catastrophes. Operation Vanilla by the Indian Navy in January 2020 is a perfect illustration. Madagascar never takes such gesture for granted, it has direct impact to the affected population and we know we owe to our brother country India.

What can you tell us about the Malagasy who have received training as part of the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme?

So far, since 2007, 854 Malagasy professionals have been trained through the ITEC programme and I know many more people would like to be trained in India for the training but also for India itself. Beyond the capacity building benefit, Malagasy people would love to come to India. Madagascar has always seen India a great country who has stand up on various occasions for high values. We see India as the country who stand out for freedom from the oppression of colonialism, for non- violence, for non-alignment, for South-South Cooperation, etc. Malagasy people who have come to India under ITEC programme share the certain pride in having visited this country. We have also to mention that through this programme, many have built an important network of professionals that spans around the world.

Please tell us about the establishment of the Centre for Geo Informatics Applications in Rural Development (Technology Centre) in Madagascar.

80% of Madagascar population is rural living on agriculture and farming. Our President H.E. Andry Nirina Rajoelina has set a very ambitious vision of a Madagascar autonomous is food production. We have located arable lands for rice cultivation, we seek to increase production of food, we are investing in research. Informatic application to agriculture will surely to optimise Madagascar’s capability in agriculture and will contribute to the full achievement of this ambition.

Bilateral trade in 2021-22 between India and Madagascar stood at USD 363.99 million. Please shed some light on the trade relations and the India-Madagascar Chamber of Commerce.

Madagascar and India do commerce and for very long time. Our exchanges date back to the 18th century. Still, the potential of bilateral trades remains untapped, there is room for more trade between Madagascar and India. One of the mission of the Embassy of Madagascar to India is to attract Indian investors to Madagascar, to invite the Indian buyers to get their supplies from Madagascar. Madagascar is a reliable trading partner and welcomes to Indian businessmen. There is a common willingness from both Madagascar and India government to work together and find ways to always facilitate commerce and business among Malagasy and Indians, so I am confident our bilateral trade will keep on increasing.

Would you like to give any message to our Envoy readers?

I wish all Madagascar citizens in India a happy National Day and long life to Madagascar India friendship.







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