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India-Maldives Ties and Foes

India-Maldives Ties and Foes

Why in the news India-Maldives Ties and Foes?

Prime Minister Modi’s posts on X highlighting Lakshadweep as a tourist destination sparked controversy on Social media when Maldivian users began making derogatory remarks. The situation escalated further as Maldivian ministers joined in India-Maldives Ties and Foes.

The ministers’ remarks have drawn criticism in India, where several well-known figures have urged people to think about visiting domestic tourism sites rather than the Maldives.

Neighbors

  • Maldives and India are neighbors that share a sea border. When it comes to military, economic, and strategic collaboration, relations have been cordial and close. India continues to support the island nation financially and by helping to maintain security
  • After the $500 million Greater Malé Project, it is India’s second-largest current plantation infrastructure project. The Greater Malé Project intends to build a 6.74-kilometer sea bridge to connect the capital with three nearby mountains.

 History

  • Maldives is located south of India’s Lakshadweep Islands in the Indian Ocean. Diplomatic ties were established between the two countries in 1966, following the Maldives’ independence from British sovereignty. One of the first countries to acknowledge the independence of the Maldives was India.
  • India and the Maldives have since established tight military, economic, cultural, and geopolitical ties. The Maldives have viewed relations with India as a source of assistance as well as a counterbalance to Sri Lanka, which is close to the island nation and its main trading partner, and India has supported the Maldives’ strategy of keeping regional conflicts and struggles away from itself.

Political connections between India-Maldives Ties and Foes

  • Frequent meetings at the highest levels have fostered and reinforced bilateral relations. Nearly every Indian prime minister has visited the Maldives since the start of diplomatic ties India was visited by former president Gayoom on several occasions.
  • India was the destination of President Mohamed Nasheed’s first trip overseas following his election in December 2008. In October 2009, President Nasheed attended the Delhi High-Level Conference on Climate Change and Technology Transfer. President Nasheed made two trips to India in 2010: the first was for the CII-Partnership Summit in Chennai in January, and the second was for the 19th Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony in New Delhi. President Nasheed paid an official visit in February 2012.
  • In multilateral fora like the UN, Commonwealth, NAM, and SAARC, Maldives has continuously backed India on international problems. One of the first nations to declare support for Shri Kamalesh Sharma’s candidacy for Commonwealth Secretary General was the Maldives.
  • Maldives also co-sponsored the G-4 draft resolutions on UN reforms. India offered the Maldives’ candidacy for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council for the 2019–20 term its full support.

Mutual Aid

India has been assisting the Maldives in their journey of development wherever possible. The principal initiatives carried forth by India are:

The Hospital Indira Gandhi Memorial: (IGMH)

  • A medical complex would be established in Male with Indian aid, as was decided upon during the visit of former Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi to Male in 1986.
  • Consequently, the hospital with 200 beds was built at an approximate cost of 42.5 crores and opened its doors in April of 1995. Currently the most sophisticated tertiary care facility in the Maldives, IGMH, Male is unquestionably the most noticeable representation of India’s aid to the Maldives.
  • The hospital is currently managed and operated by the Government of the Maldives, however the Government of India still provides the facility with a great deal of support.

Faculty of Engineering Technology (FET):

In 1996, the Government of India established the Maldives Institute of Technical Education (MITE) as a grant-in-aid project. MITE, which is capable of training 200 students annually in a variety of technical and vocational fields, was renamed as the Faculty of Engineering Technology (FET) to better represent the academic programs it offers. The FET is currently operating smoothly.

Military ties in India – Maldives Ties and Foes relations

The Coast Guard of the Maldives National Defence Force received a 46-meter-long Trinkat Class Fast Attack Craft from the Indian Navy in April of 2006.

India initiated the process of integrating the island nation into its security framework. The action was conducted in response to the moderate Islamic country’s approach to New Delhi earlier in 2009, which was prompted by concerns that, in light of its lack of military might and surveillance capabilities, terrorists would seize control of one of its island resorts. Additionally, India has ratified a deal that contains the following:

  • To improve its observation skills and capacity to react quickly to threats, India plans to establish a permanent station for two helicopters.
  • Of the 26 atolls of the Maldives, only two have coastal India will assist in installing radars on all 26
  • The Indian coastal radar system will be networked with the Maldivian coastal radar chain. India has already started work on installing radars along its coastline. The two nations’ radar networks will be connected, providing a seamless radar image to India’s Coastal Command’s central control center.
  • Regular Dornier sorties over the island nation would be conducted by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) to monitor any suspicious movements or boats. The addition of the Maldives to the Indian security system will go unnoticed by the Southern Naval Command.
  • Maldivian military teams will visit the tri-services Andaman Nicobar Command (ANC) to see how India oversees the vital island chain’s security and surveillance.
  • Every year, a combined military drill called Ekuverin takes place.

2020 COVID-19 emergency

  • During the COVID-19 crisis of 2020, India gave help to Maldives in the shape of financial, material and logistical support.
  • India gave the Maldives $150 million in currency swap support in April 2020 to help them lessen the financial effects of COVID-19.
  • Also in April, at the request of the Maldivian government, the Indian Air Force airlifted 6.2 tonnes of vital medications and medical consumables to Maldives, as part of ‘Operation Sanjeevani’.
  • The State Trade Organization of the Maldives had purchased these items from Indian vendors, but the COVID-19 lockdown prevented them from being shipped. Despite logistical challenges, India has already dispatched a medical team and vital medications to the Maldives to aid in the fight against the COVID outbreak, as well as crucial food grains and consumables.

 Issues in India – Maldives Ties and Foes relations

Lakshadweep controversy:

  • After the Prime Minister’s recent visit to Lakshadweep, three Maldivian deputy ministers made disparaging remarks regarding India and the Prime Minister.
  • Claiming that the visit by the Indian Prime Minister was designed to undermine Maldivian tourism—which is famed for its luxurious beachfront accommodations—they denounced the visit.
  • The Maldives government suspended the ministers after the Indian government brought up the matter with them.
  • Numerous Indian travelers have canceled their Maldives vacation plans as a result of this dispute. The episode illustrates the perils of hypernationalism in the region.

India Out Campaign in the Maldives:

  • The ‘India Out’ campaign aims to escalate hostilities by fostering doubt about India’s security commitments in the area, its investments in the Maldives, and its defense alliances.
  • The recent election of the Maldivian government is strongly against the ‘India First’ strategy of the previous administration; in fact, one of Muizzu’s election program items was the evacuation of Indian troops.

Political Instability:

The Maldives has experienced periods of political instability and changes in leadership, which can influence bilateral ties. Differences in political ideologies and governance approaches may contribute to uncertainties in the relationship.

Geopolitical Competition:

The Indian Ocean region has become a focal point for geopolitical competition among global powers. India’s traditional influence in the region may face challenges from other external actors seeking to expand their presence, leading to complexities in the strategic landscape.

Economic Dependence and Debt Concerns:

India has been a significant economic partner for the Maldives. However, economic dependence can sometimes lead to concerns, especially if the Maldives faces challenges in servicing its debts to India. Debt-related issues have, at times, strained economic cooperation.

Climate Change and Environmental Issues:

Both India and the Maldives are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels. Disagreements on environmental policies or resource allocation to address climate-related challenges may affect cooperation between the two countries.

Security Challenges:

Maritime security and counter-terrorism efforts are crucial aspects of India-Maldives relations. While both countries have shared interests in addressing security challenges, differing perspectives on the approach or priorities may lead to tensions.

Regional and Global Alignment:

The Maldives’ alignment with regional and global powers may impact its relationship with India. Shifts in alliances or geopolitical considerations could introduce complexities in the diplomatic ties between India and the Maldives.

Way forward to improve bilateral ties between India-Maldives Ties and Foes –

1. Diplomatic Dialogue: Foster regular and open diplomatic channels to discuss and resolve issues. Engage in high-level dialogues and consultations to build mutual trust and understanding.

 

2. Economic Cooperation: Enhance economic collaboration through trade and investment. Explore avenues for joint ventures, infrastructure development, and mutually beneficial economic projects.

 

3. Debt Management: Work collaboratively on sustainable debt management strategies. Develop mechanisms to address any concerns related to debt, ensuring that economic cooperation is mutually beneficial and does not strain the financial stability of the Maldives.

 

4. Climate Change Collaboration: Strengthen cooperation on climate change and environmental issues. Collaborate on initiatives to mitigate the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels, and share expertise and technology for sustainable development.

 

5. Security Cooperation: Deepen collaboration on maritime security, counter-terrorism efforts, and defense. Conduct joint exercises and share intelligence to address common security challenges in the region.

 

6. People-to-People Exchanges: Encourage cultural exchanges, educational partnerships, and tourism. People-to-people connections foster understanding and goodwill between nations.

 

7. Regional Collaboration: Collaborate on regional initiatives and forums to address common challenges in the Indian Ocean region. Work together on issues such as maritime security, piracy, and disaster management.

 

8. Health Cooperation: Strengthen cooperation in the healthcare sector, especially in the wake of global health challenges. Collaborate on healthcare infrastructure, training, and joint efforts to combat diseases.

 

9. Technology and Innovation: Promote cooperation in technology, innovation, and research and development. Encourage the exchange of expertise and technology in areas such as renewable energy, information technology, and healthcare.

 

10. Cultural Understanding: Foster cultural understanding by promoting exchanges in arts, literature, and sports. Cultural initiatives can help build bridges and enhance people’s perception of each other.

 

11. Respect for Sovereignty: Respect each other’s sovereignty and autonomy in decision-making. Acknowledge the importance of mutually beneficial partnerships that respect the interests and aspirations of both countries.

 

12. Crisis Management: Develop crisis management mechanisms to address unforeseen challenges swiftly and effectively. Cooperation during times of crisis can strengthen the resilience of the bilateral relationship.

 

13. Infrastructure Development: Collaborate on infrastructure development projects that benefit both nations. Joint efforts in areas such as connectivity and energy can contribute to economic growth and regional stability.

 

14. Multilateral Engagements: Engage in multilateral forums to address global challenges collectively. Cooperation in international organizations can enhance the influence and effectiveness of both India and the Maldives on the global stage.

 

Conclusion

India and the Maldives have the chance to forge a strong, forward-looking partnership that benefits both countries and advances peace and development in the Indian Ocean region by navigating the intricacies of the geopolitical situation. India and the Maldives can set the stage for a cooperative and mutually advantageous future by addressing current concerns, advancing shared values, and finding common ground on global challenges.

SOURCE: INDIA EXPRESS , WIKIPEDIA