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New lease of life for Alankuppam tourism project

Muruganandam Mandjiny, India representative of Ille-et-Vilaine. Tascon-Mennetrier, Councilor, Vice-president of Ille-et-Vilaine, JOUHIER Marta - In charge of International Relations and Indian Affairs and Loïc Frémont, Executive Vice-President of French network 'Si tous les ports du monde' with Tourism Minister P.Rajavelu in Puducherry on Monday.

The Alankuppam rural tourism project seems set to get a new lease of life after the government announced that the project could be completed by the end of the year through a tie-up with the administration of Ille-et-Vilaine in the Brittany region of France.

The Alankuppam rural circuit has been included among projects under the action plan for the 'Development of Tourism in Union Territory of Puducherry' which will be co-financed by the Government of Puducherry, Ille-et-Vilaine and the French Ministry of External Affairs under the 2nd call for Joint Indo-French Projects in Support of Decentralised Cooperation for the year 2015-16. An MoU was signed between the French region and the Puducherry government in 2012, with the total budget set at around Rs 96 lakh.

A delegation from Ille-et-Vilaine called on Tourism Minister P. Rajavelu at his chamber on Monday. The interaction was also attended by Tourism Secretary Mihir Vardhan and director R. Mounissamy.

Another project, the Chinna Veerampattinam Sustainable Eco-Tourism Project with a budget of Rs34 lakh, which has been funded by Ille-et-Vilaine, and is being carried out by the Puducherry-based NGO Intercultural Network for Development and Peace (INDP), in association with the Department of Tourism will be inaugurated on February 4.


The delegation consisted of Tascon-Mennetrier, Councilor, Vice-president of Ille-et-Vilaine, JOUHIER Marta - In charge of International Relations and Indian Affairs, Loïc Frémont, Executive Vice-President of French network 'Si tous les ports du monde' and Muruganandam Mandjiny, India representative of Ille-et-Vilaine.

Mr. Rajavelu said that the government would be seeking the expertise of the delegates in developing rural tourism here, and mentioned the Alankuppam rural tourism circuit project which is being planned in association with Mohanam Cultural Centre as one among these. Mr. Vardhan said this project would be completed by the end of this year.

Ms. Mennetrier said that while the Ille-et-Vilaine administration has worked on projects in India before, the ecotourism beach project is the first government-to-government pilot project in India. The ecotourism beach project will be participatory in nature, with the local community being in charge of its sustenance. Shops will be leased out to community members to sell handicrafts and other products.

Source : The Hindu, Pondicherry edition, dated 03rd February 2015 reported by Ms. Annie Philip.

Muruganandam Mandjiny - Director of Zen Development Services Pondicherry

Muruganandam Mandjiny is with His Excellency Arun K. Singh

What are the services proposed by your company?

In addition to the PIO services (Meet Your Roots), we started consultancy services two years ago to assist French entrepreneurs in doing business with India. Acting as coordinators, we quickly realised that our clients were not well prepared on what is India.

The main misconception was that it is a cheap country and a huge market, thus they think that investment should be low and that income will come fast and great.

Of course, the cost of life is cheaper than in Europe and there is a growing population but can they all afford their products?

To tackle this issue, we now propose intercultural workshops where they can better understand the country, the society and how to work with Indian people.

A second service, which is mandatory when a client wants our assistance, is to review and adapt their strategy to the Indian context or at least to make sure that all the parameters have been taken into account. For example, if the budget has been calculated with the wrong assumptions about the costs, the project will not be financially viable.

Then come the market study, and the prospecting trip that we organize from the logistic to the meetings with the potential partners and visit of the sites.

In fact, we coordinate the project implementation in India with the different actors: auditors, lawyers, translators, IT companies, and any resourceful people. In addition, our bimonthly letter called "En direct de Pondichéry" - means "Live from Pondicherry" gives some tips about business and updates about Indian economy.

Who are your clients?

We have two kinds of clients from France, including the overseas territories (Guadeloupe, Martinique, etc.):

  • SMEs interested in export/import business or who want to set-up a company in India
  • Public and private Institutions in the context of international cooperation: I already, as a freelance consultant, act as a local representative of Ille et Vilaine General Council (Brittany- France) in India. They signed a MOU with Pondicherry Government two years ago on different subjects and started the implementation of eco-tourism projects. We are now in discussion with some other institutions to develop the relationship with South India.

What about the Indian companies who want to invest in France?

More and more companies, especially from Pondicherry, expressed their interests to develop their activities in France so we are going to propose them the same kind of services.

Business services seem more organized and centralized in France but language is an issue, visa procedures are complicated and it's much more difficult to have access to the potential buyers outside professional exhibitions.

In this context, we are planning to open our French desk in Paris in few months and are getting ready to welcome Indian investors.

To achieve our projects, we are closely working with both French and Indian Governments in a win-win spirit. I think that this is what international cooperation is all about."

Source : India Empire Magazine, October 2014 interviewed by Christelle Gourdine-Mandjiny

Tourism here will soon see greater participation of the local fishermen community

Developing Chinna Veerampattinam as eco-tourism spot is focus of project

Panoramic view: Chinna Veerampattinam Beach
with backwater, in Puducherry

Rows of coconut groves swaying in the breeze split the two flanks of a backwater beyond stretching over smooth, white sand, intermittently lapped by frolicking waves.

Chinna Veerampattinam, a lesser-known place a few kilometres from Puducherry, may soon become a model of participatory tourism managed by the local community.

Sandwiched between its more popular cousins, the Periya Veerampattinam beach and the Paradise Beach (Chunnambar), the relatively secluded beach draws lesser number of people. But the local community here, who are largely fisherfolk, have seen their quiet village grow into a sought-after weekend haunt, in the years after the tsunami.

"There are hundreds of people here in the weekends. Some of them cross over from Paradise Island. Of late, we are seeing film crews shooting song sequences here," says Radjou, a fisherman.

With primary access to the beach here being through the village, developing it as an eco-tourism spot, which can provide livelihood to the local community, is the focus of a new project, which is supported by the Tourism Department and funded by Ille-et-Vilaine, a region in France, as part of its memorandum with the Puducherry government.

Beach tourism and responsible tourism are among the areas of cooperation agreed in the memorandum and Rs. 36 lakh has been allotted for this initiative, according to Muruganandam Mandjiny, local representative of Ille-et-Vilaine.

"We are simply strengthening tourism by making it organised and responsible," says Mr. Mandjiny, explaining that drawing new tourists is not the idea. The limited budget does not allow for putting up brick structures and the planned development will be carried out with minimal disruption, he assures.

Fishermen could offer catamaran rides in the backwaters, young men can work as lifeguards and freshly caught fish could be fried and served at the spot are some of the suggestions that the core team has come up with.

The team includes members of the fishermen's federation, women's self-help groups and youth clubs, who have received expert inputs from Equations, a Bangalore-based organisation.

"Huge development projects are usually met with opposition as support of the local community is not elicited. We have taken time to understand the needs of the community and solicit their opinions on what may work best for them," explains Mr. Mandjiny.

"We have to renovate one of the community toilets for public use and ensure both the beach and the paths through the groves are cleaner," says Annamalai who went on an arranged exposure visit for the project to Mahabalipuram and Kovalam.

"It was the first time I saw sun beds and umbrellas and the beach was well maintained," says Selvam, another fisherman.

Selvam feels that it is time to introduce organised paid parking as vehicles are parked haphazardly in the village.

"The project has to be locally sustainable and managed by the community," says Augustin Jayakumar, director, INDP, the NGO implementing the project

Source : The Hindu, Pondicherry edition, dated 28th May 2014 reported by Ms. Olympia Shilpa Gerald.

Interview with Mr. P. Rajavelu, Minister for Tourism, Puducherry, September 2013 :

"French dreams of an Indian empire began and ended with Puducherry"

Minister Thiru P Rajavelu who holds the portfolios of Tourism, Welfare,Labour and Employment in the Government of Puducherry spoke at length to Muruganandam Mandjiny who represented India Empire in a freewheeling interview that covers a spectrum of issues

On the history of the union territory of Puducherry

Puducherry U.T is a former French colony, consisting of four non-contiguous enclaves - Pondicherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam. The history of Pondicherry can be traced back to the 2nd Century AD. The Periplus of the Erythrean Sea of the early 2nd Century AD, mentions a market place named Poduke which G.W.B. Huntingford identified as possibly being Arikamedu (now part of Ariyankuppam), about 2 miles from modern Pondicherry.Huntingford further notes that Roman pottery was found at Arikamedu in 1937, and archaeological excavations between 1944 and 1949 highlighted that it was a trading station to which goods of Roman manufacture were imported during the first half of the 1st Century AD.

Legendary associations trace the origin of this city to Rishi Agastya, the revered sage of the south. Puducherry has been the theatre of many battles between the British and the French, and was the capital of French India before it attained Independence in 1954. French dreams of an Indian empire began and ended in Puducherry. The contest with the British was like a ping pong game that started with the siege and destruction of the town in 1761 and ended in 1815 when the French got it back for good. The British made sure that the French flag was lowered in all but a few enclaves in India, of which the city of Puducherry was the major jewel.

The legacy of the French cannot be ignored in the wellplanned town, neatly laid roads, wide and vibrant beaches, beautiful promenades, architecturally imposing churches and public buildings and the statue of Joan of Arc.

Among the notable French personalities who left their indelible mark on Puducherry, four names stand out. Francois Martin, who was appointed the administrator after the Treaty of Ryswick, brought stability and was responsible for its growth. Dumas, who succeeded him, built on Martin's foundations. The third notable Frenchman was Joseph Francois Dupleix, the Governor of French India from 1742 - 54.

The fourth French personality who made an impact on modern day Puducherry was "The Mother" (Mirra Alfassa),a Paris-born painter-musician and Sri Aurobindo's close companion from 1920 until his death in 1950. She was responsible for developing the Ashram as it is today. She was also the brain behind Auroville, the City of Dawn.

Auroville is a living experiment in human sociology. People from all over the world come here to live and work together in universal peace and harmony. Auroville is an attempt at creating a self-sufficient city that teaches co-existence and the benefits of an organized society that has its common roots in meditation and prayer.

Category 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13
International Tourists 53,073 52,720 55,666
Domestic Tourists 8,62,810 9,21,261 9,94,346

Muruganandam Mandjiny (left) presents a copy of India Empire magazine to Thiru P Rajavelu, Minister for Tourism, Government of Puducherry. The magazine had in its June 2013 edition featured the French department of Guadeloupe Islands in the West Indies

The enclaves, viz. Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam joined India about 50 years ago, and the French touch survives everywhere, making the cities unique in India. The police wear red caps, the bakeries and restaurants feature French specialties, and the quiet streets of the old French quarter, many still named after French heroes,are noteworthy. The cuisine is another dead giveaway of the French inheritance. French Creole is widely available in the town replete with large lashings of good French bread and butter and the appropriate fuss while providing masses of cutlery and plates.

The language also lives and breathes in Puducherry. Turn a corner too fast and you might find yourself a little disoriented when you bump into two old people exchanging pleasantries in chaste Parisian French. The Alliance Française and Lycée Français have been instrumental in promoting the French language in the city. éétanque, a typically French game, is another French tradition that has become part of local culture.

In September 2006, the official name was changed from Pondicherry to Puducherry.

On tourism at Puducherry

On an average about 10 lakh domestic tourists Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu.visit Puducherry every year. Among the foreign tourists, major portion comprises of French nationals who visit this destination frequently. Major portion of the Weekend Domestic Tourists throng from the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu. But there is also a considerable number of tourist inflows from across the southern region.

On NRIs of Puducherry

A large number of NRIs residing at Pondicherry are French nationals. After serving in the French regiment as "soldat" (soldier), they settled down at Pondicherry in their later years after completion of service. The French Government in recognition to their duty rendered privileges such as citizenship, voting rights, pension, medical assistance for their life time.

On why people should visit Puducherry

Especially for seeking spiritual salvation, as Puducherry boasts Aurobindo Ashram and International Township "Auroville", brainchild of the Mother (Mirra Alfassa) conceived to reiterate universal brotherhood which is situated 12 km from Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu.

Puducherry is a charming little town filled with history, spirituality, French heritage, beautiful beaches, calm and well planned white town streetscapes, handicrafts and unique life style. Pondicherry is divided into quiet and tranquil White Town and active Indian Town wherein architecture and streetscapes completely differ.

On events organized by the Tourism Department and upcoming Tourism projects in Puducherry

Tourism department regularly conducts International Yoga Festival (4th – 7th January), Vintage Car Rally, Freedom Jam (Pondy-Music Festival), South Indian Dance Festival,World Tourism Day, Rural Art Festival, Theatre Festival, New Year eve programme.

    The upcoming Tourism Projects are:
  • To develop beach areas into attractive tourist spots.
  • Improvement of heritage sites.
  • Development of Arikanmedu (archaeological site).

–For more details: Muruganandam Mandjiny is Director of Zen Development Services Pvt Ltd and Representative of Conseil General Ille et Vilaine,France in India which signed a MoU with the Governement of Puducherry. This year the project involves Sustainable Ecotourism at Chinna Veerampattinan coastal village with the cooperation and support of Tourism Directorate and Ministry.

Building Bridges in June 2013:

Christelle Gourdine-Mandjiny, born in France, is from the 4th generation born outside India. Her family left Kolkata and Pondicherry 150 years ago to work as indentured labours in Guadeloupe, French West Indies. She graduated in Business Management and Corporate Finance and worked at the French bank BNP Paribas. After 14 years in the financial world and many trips all over India, she left Paris for Pondicherry and created Zen Development Services Pvt Ltd. She spoke to INDIA EMPIRE

On her firm

My husband Muruganandam Mandjiny,a Tamil from Pondicherry, joined the company last year. He is a representative of the French Government of Ille et Vilaine (Bretagne) in the context of bilateral agreement with Pondicherry, and an expert in socio-economic development activities, tourism and export. We decided to put our expertise and ambitions together and just launched a new service, Zen Consulting India.

On what the service provides

This service is dedicated to professionals and individuals who want to develop with India. We assist them to make their experience a successful one by overriding the cultural gap.

The language is an issue, even in English, the Indian way of working, the Indian context, all this can lead to big misunderstandings. So we bring our competencies and cultural knowledge to make Indian and French people work together in a smoothest way in two fields:

  • Cooperation in India / Institution to institution–More and more French public/private institutions want to be part of the development of India. Their projects can be related to social and/or economical development with the set-up of French companies in the region. We propose to assist French Institution's representatives with the coordination of their visits in India and facilitate the meetings with the institutions in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry.
  • Business in India–With the opening of the Indian market, many opportunities lie in South India for the French companies wishing to expand their activities.Like in the past, Pondicherry is the entry door to the Indian market We propose them the exploration of new business opportunities in India, identification of suppliers in the case of export from India, identification of companies for outsourcing services, set-up of companies: strategy,legal and financial advice. Our clients are mainly SME and we recommend them to come to India to negotiate directly. We assist them for this matter and also follow-up of the project until completion. We focus mainly on France but anyone can contact us.

On prospects from Guadeloupe

We have several clients and prospects from Guadeloupe and Martinique for Zen Consulting India. Like any French companies, they are facing the economical crisis, so they have to expand to find new markets, to reduce their costs, to create new products. Since they have a strong cultural connection with India, they will always prefer India to China. Locally, there is no expert who can advise them if they want to settle a company or import Indian products.

So we can definitely be their point of contact in India.

Meet Your Roots on France 2 in September 2012 by France 2 TV