Mal-dives In Mess

Maldives located in the Indian Ocean southwest of India and Sri Lanka, holds a significant position as India’s crucial maritime neighbor within the Indian Ocean Region. It plays a special role in joint initiatives such as ‘SAGAR’ (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and is a focal point for the Indian government’s priorities under the ‘Neighborhood First Policy.’

Recently elected, President of Maldives, Mohamed Muizzu, made headlines soon after his swearing-in ceremony in November 2023 when he asked India to withdraw its military presence from the Maldives archipelago. India has maintained its military presence there is mainly aimed at providing medical support to the distant islands of the Indian Ocean nation. President Muizzu subsequently met PM Modi during the climate summit in Dubai on December 1.

The current spat comes ahead of Muizzu’s visit to China, and was taken up by Chinese state media outlet Global Times that praised the president’s foreign policy and said, “It only demonstrates that Muizzu is treating India with a normal mind-set and steering the relationship between the Maldives and India to a normal state-state relationship.”

To make things worse, last week, Maldives’ sitting ministers made derogatory remarks in response to Prime Minister Modi’s post with pictures from his visit to the Island. Amidst the Indian-Maldives row, Indian celebrities, sportspersons, and business founders, including Akshay Kumar, Bhumi Pednekar, Pooja Hegde, Madhur Bhandarkar, PV Sindhu, Shilpa Shetty, Varun Dhawan and Snapdeal Co-founder Kunal Bahl, have posted about Lakshadweep Islands, and their wish to include them in their travel bucket lists. This controversy has led many Indians to cancel their holiday bookings in Maldives.

Maldives’ previous government led by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had oriented the country’s foreign policy towards India, as a provider of economic benefits and security. Meanwhile, the country’s political opposition under former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has urged the president to reconsider the closeness of the relationship ostensibly to protect Maldives’ sovereignty.  On the other hand, China with its grand policy to control trade and large infrastructure projects has tried to woo Maldives since 2013.

More recently, Maldives residents had begun to depend heavily on India for healthcare; including the much-appreciated initial supply of 100,000 Covishield vaccines from India, shipped in January 2021, during peak of the pandemic. Besides, India has become the main destination for other kinds of medical treatment as well, and, the main government-affiliated hospital of Maldives, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in the capital Malé, was built with aid from India. The bilateral relationship has also expanded to the tourism sector. In 2020, India surpassed China and Europe as the leading source of tourists to the Maldives, a crucial development since tourism is the largest sector of Maldives’ economy and, accounts for more than one-quarter of its gross domestic product.

Maldives political opposition is concerned that the presence of Indian military technicians and advisers will erode the island nation’s sovereignty. Have the Maldivians forgotten its 2008 Coup? When India was the only country to send its troops to successfully intervene and help to maintain its freedom and independence from tyranny.

Also Read: ‘India has been our 911 call’;, Former Maldives Defence Minister

0 - 0

Thank You For Your Vote!

Sorry You have Already Voted!