With a new Consul General being set up in Chennai, Belgium is now looking to expand its economic ties with South India.
At present, the main area where there is collaboration is in the diamond trade with Gujarat and Surat, but there are a number of areas in which India and Belgium can explore common economic interests, Ambassador of Belgium to India Pierre Vaesen told The Hindu during his visit to Puducherry.
Now, Belgium is looking to strengthen their ties with South India in areas like clean energy, health care – including medical equipment and pharmaceuticals and logistics, he said.
Mr. Vaesen was in Puducherry to confer the title of ‘Officier de la Couronne’ on the founder of Volontariat, Madeleine de Blic. Ms. De Blic hails from Belgium and settled in Puducherry over 50 years ago. Volontariat India was created in 1962 to help children, people suffering from leprosy and other underprivileged people.
This title is given to very few people around the world, and in India this year, Ms. De Blic is one of two people to be conferred the title, he said.
'Even though her social work is based out of Puducherry, the people of Belgium have indirectly benefited from the work she has done here,' he said.
Since its founding, Volontariat has grown with a number of new projects, including an orphanage and vocational training centres for the underprivileged and an old age home. Ms. De Blic was awarded the title of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur for her work in 2013.