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India extends a helping hand to Madagascar yet again; Sends food and medical supplies

Malaria medicine and 1000 tonnes of rice are heading to the Indian Ocean island country. In a report released last November, the World Food Organisation Southern Madagascar has been impacted by devastating famine. This has forced the families who don’t have food to eat are eating insects.

The Ninth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process is scheduled to take place on the 30th of March 2021 in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.

In the first ever telephonic conversation between Foreign Ministers of India and Madagascar, India has offered to dispatch immediate assistance to that country which is reeling under famine since last November.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), this was conveyed during the telephone conversation between External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar with the Foreign Minister of Madagascar, Dr Tehindrazanarivelo Djacoba A.S Oliva on Monday (March 1, 2021).

What is India sending?

Malaria medicine and 1000 tonnes of rice are heading to the Indian Ocean island country. In a report released last November, the World Food Organisation Southern Madagascar has been impacted by devastating famine. This has forced the families who don’t have food to eat are eating insects.

India is sending a consignment of 1000 metric tonnes of rice and 100,000 tablets of HCQ to Madagascar, on-board Indian Naval Ship Jalashwa.

The INS Jalashwa is leaving Indian port today with food and medical assistance.

The assistance from India which will be reaching the Port of Ehoala in Madagascar between March 21-24, 2021, shows signs of increased engagement between the two countries.

India & Madagascar – importance of the defence cooperation

Last month, the defence minister of Madagascar visited India and had a meeting with the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on the sidelines of the Aero India 2021 and had also participated in the Indian Ocean Region defence ministers meet in Bengaluru.

In 2018, President Ram Nath Kovind had visited that country. The last bilateral visit of the President of Madagascar to India was in 1980.

Also Read: India’s Madagascar mission creates new environmental record! Becomes first mission globally to Go Green

India has always been there for Madagascar

India has recently donated advanced digital cobalt therapy machine Bhabhatron-II which can treat almost 50 cancer patients every day. This was inaugurated by Madagascar’s President Andry Nirina Rajoelina, in the presence of Indian Ambassador Abhay Kumar and that country’s Health Minister.

Last year in March, as has been reported by Financial Express Online, 600 tonnes of rice on board the Indian Navy ship INS Shardul reached the port of Antisiranana as HADR assistance to that country which was dealing with heavy floods.

Also Read: Operation Vanilla: Indian Navy carries the largest humanitarian aid to Madagascar

Also, under Mission SAGAR-I, medical aid was sent to that country to deal with the COVID Pandemic.

In January 2020, Indian Navy was the first to respond when Cyclone Diane struck Madagascar and immediate assistance was delivered under Operation Vanilla by INS Airavat.

The small island is around 400 km off the coast of East Africa and is one of the least developed nations globally. Also, besides being a member of the African Union (AU) it is also the member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

What more will INS Jalashwa do in Madagascar?

Besides the medical and food assistance, there will be on-board INS Jalashwa, an Indian Naval training team.

What will this team do?

Training of the Malagasy Special Forces for two weeks as well as Capacity Building.

The Indian Naval ship will also be calling at Port Anjoun in the Republic of Comoros. During this stop over a consignment of 1000 metric tonnes of Indian rice will be delivered for the people of that country. This assistance was announced by Vice President

The supply of this food assistance was announced by the Vice President M Venkaiah Naiduof India during his visit to Comoros in October 2019.

According to MEA, the supplies of food assistance and support for capacity building to the friendly countries of Madagascar and Comoros is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of SAGAR.

It also highlight’s India’s role as a net security provider within the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Madagascar & Comoros are part of Vanilla Islands

These island nations are very important for India in the context of the Indian Ocean.

Vanilla Islands is a grouping of six island nations located in the south-west Indian Ocean — Seychelles, Reunion, Madagascar, Mayotte, Comoros, and Mauritius.

In 2010 they joined hands together to boost tourism and these countries also export the Vanilla pods used in various food preparations and in ice cream globally.

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