Indian ambassador Abhay Kumar on Thursday called on Prime Minister of Madagascar, Christian Ntsay in the capital Antananarivo to ‘review the progress’ between both the nations while discussing ways to further elevate them. News agency ANI cited its source saying, “A number of agreements in various areas are under discussion between the two countries in sectors like culture, education, information, trade etc.”
Ambassador Abhay Kumar called on H.E. Christian Ntsay, Hon’ble Prime Minister of Madagascar today. They reviewed the progress in bilateral ties between #India and #Madagascar and discussed ways to further strengthen them.— India in Madagascar & Comoros (@IndembTana) February 18, 2021
The Defence Minister of Madagascar, General Richard Rakotonirina had even visited India in the first week of February and attended the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) Defence Ministers' Conclave on the sidelines of Aero India 2021. During his visit, Rakotonirina told ANI that India is a major player in the Indian Ocean Region, and the neighbouring countries even rely on it to play its part in ensuring peace and prosperity in the region.
In October 2020, the Indian mission in Madagascar posted pictures from the meeting informing that as many as 18 memoranda of understanding (MoUs) are currently under discussion between both the nations with a joint desire to enhance the bilateral ties.
The Ministry of External Affairs had shifted Madagascar to the Indian Ocean Region Division from East and South Africa division in December 2019. The Indian Ocean Region Division deals with nations such as Sri Lanka, Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles. President Ram Nath Kovind had even visited Madagascar in March 2018 during the signing of a defence cooperation agreement between both nations.
Moreover, the Defense Minister of Madagascar had visited India in February 2020 and attended the DefExpo in Lucknow apart from meeting with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had exchanged greetings on Twitter on this year’s Independence Day of India.
As per the official website, India has had maritime links with Madagascar for several centuries and the establishments of Indian merchants in the foreign nation date back to as early as the 18th century. Currently, there are more than 17,000 Indian-origin people living in Madagascar including 2,500 of Indian passport holders. On February 1, 2020, the Indian government donated relief material in ‘Operation Vanilla’ to help the flood-affected regions in the northern part of Madagascar.
In March 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, India donated 600 tonnes of rice as a human disaster and relief assistance (HADR) to help Madagascar in tackling the situation of heavy floods in the northern region. This was followed by the donation of a consignment of medicines in may 2020 meant to treat the highly-infectious disease on the request from the Malagasy side.