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Indo-Madagascar Connection

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by Aurosikha Priyadarshini

We all have come across the name Madagascar either in movies, school textbooks. And who does not know about the famous Madagascar movie. Everyone does, but is that the only identity? Do we really know what is its origin and from where it has come from? The most amazing fact about this country is that it has geographical, economic and social-cultural relations with India.

Let me discuss it in fragments.

Discovery: The original name of Madagascar is the Republic of Madagascar. It is the fourth-largest island in the world. Besides, it is the poorest countries of the world with diverse flora and fauna. As per the current estimation, its population is over 20 million. Madagascar along with India split from Africa and South America and then from Australia and Antarctica. This was the result of the movement of the Earth’s crust. India crashed into Asia and Madagascar has been on its own for the past million years. Madagascar remained maroon in the Indian Ocean. The country’s diversity is a result of its geographic lineage.

Location: Madagascar is situated in the south-western Indian Ocean and spanning the Mozambique Channel, covering an area of 587,041 sq.km. It is one of the beautiful islands of the world with unique and diverse species of flora and fauna.

Political Relation: The devastation in Madagascar caused due to tropical cyclone ‘Haruna’ in 2013 was not looked away by India. The government of India provided financial assistance of US $ 100,000 as a disaster relief.

Economic Relation: As earlier mentioned, Madagascar has total population of over 20 million; half of the population consists of people of Indian origin. Some of the Indian people have permanently settled there and some are temporary citizens. The Indian community in Madagascar plays a significant role in economic development of the country. The Indians by and large trade there and their contribution to the GDP growth of the country is significant. The trade relation between India and Madagascar has been growing. Madagascar is rich in mineral resources like Graphite, Nickel, Gold, Oil and other precious and semi-precious stones and hardwood. The country’s export of its minerals contributes to the growth. There is a steady growth in the import of sugar, pharmaceuticals, petroleum products, steel, and textile from India by Madagascar. The give and take relation between the two countries has benefitted both the countries economically. The important product that India imports from Madagascar includes coffee, cinnamon, shellfish, and cloves and so on. The maritime link between India and Madagascar has led to the growth of trade.

Social and Cultural Relation: The Indian Diaspora plays a major role in promoting Indian culture and traditions in a Foreign land. The Indian Community celebrates Indian festivals in Madagascar. The Indian people even enjoy watching Indian channels. It shows that the people of the two nations respect each other’s cultural and social values. The Embassy also organizes cultural programmes that are well attended by both Indians and Malagasies.

The students of Madagascar look forward to India as a destination for higher education.

Food Habits: Like the people of India, the people of Madagascar love to eat Rice. Rice is their staple food served with an addition of a curry that tastes luscious. The curry is either made out of vegetables or chicken, sea food. The food customs are almost similar between the two countries. The food eaten replicates the influence of Indian migrants that have settled in Madagascar.

The two countries share a very genial relationship. Even in the past, there were cordial cultural and political visits by high officials of the two nations. The Indo-Madagascar connection has been since ages and will continue. The people of the two countries play a major role in setting up the relation.

  • I can say in my home town of Mahajanga there is a large Indian community and they work close with the Malagasy, helping the poor with bags of rice.

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Strange Little Lemur Native to Madagascar Boasts One of the Most Unusual Hands in Animal Kingdom

This "pseudothumb," as North Carolina State University biologist Adam Hartstone-Rose calls it, represents one of the few examples

Lemur, Madagascar, Hands
Ring-tailed lemur eats iced food at a zoo in Rome, Italy, June 27, 2019. VOA

For a strange little lemur native to Madagascar that boasts one of the most unusual hands in the animal kingdom, a “high five” is more like a “trick six.”

Scientists have discovered that this nocturnal tree dweller, called an aye-aye, possesses an anatomical structure that serves as an extra thumb to go along with its five spindly fingers, an evolutionary innovation helpful for grasping small objects and branches.

This “pseudothumb,” as North Carolina State University biologist Adam Hartstone-Rose calls it, represents one of the few examples since the very first land-dwelling vertebrates appeared almost 400 million years ago of a creature acquiring through evolution the equivalent of an extra digit.

It is not an actual finger, but rather an evolutionary improvisation that builds on the wrist structure, with an augmented wrist bone accompanied by a cartilaginous extension, three muscles that move it and even a fingerprint. The pseudothumb is strong, able to exert an amount of force equal to almost half its total body weight.

Lemur, Madagascar, Hands
Scientists have discovered that this nocturnal tree dweller, called an aye-aye, possesses an anatomical structure that serves as an extra thumb to go along with its five spindly fingers. Pixabay

“The weirdest primate is even weirder than we knew,” said Hartstone-Rose, who lead the research published this week in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

The giant panda also possesses a pseudothumb – with strikingly similar anatomy – that helps the bear with grasping bamboo.

Lemurs are among the most primitive members of the primate mammalian group that also includes monkeys, apes and humans.

The aye-aye is known for its huge bat-like ears, the largest relative brain size of any lemur, rodent-like ever-growing incisors – unique among primates – and strange hands. It has long fingers including its actual thumbs, and its middle fingers have a ball-and-socket joint like a person’s shoulders – also unique among primates.

Also Read- Fossil Discovery Points to ‘Origin of Modern World’ after Dinosaur Extinction

“The animals are crazy looking and their hands are so spindly that they really look like a pile of twigs. I usually describe the aye-aye as looking more or less like a mangy cat walking on spiders,” Hartstone-Rose said.

“To some of us, aye-ayes are horrible looking. To others they are so ugly that they are cute. They sincerely look like something that Jim Henson created to bring an Edgar Allan Poe nightmare to life,” Hartstone-Rose added, referring to the creator of “The Muppets” and the macabre 19th century writer.

The aye-aye’s fingers are not great for grasping – hence the need for a pseudothumb – but are perfect for its unusual “tap foraging” behavior. It taps on rotting wood with its middle finger and listens for voids. Using bat-like echolocation, it creates a mental map of the paths carved by grubs. It then uses its chisel-like incisors to cut holes in those tubes and uses its swiveling finger to get at the grubs.

Digital reduction has been very common in evolution, as seen in dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex and hoofed mammals like horses. An improvised extra digit is extremely rare, with just a few examples. Cotton rats have a pseudothumb and certain moles and extinct marine reptiles called ichthyosaurs evolved different forms of an extra digit. (VOA)