India and Maldives share a dynamic relationship marked by historical, geographical, and diplomatic intricacies. The strategic partnership between the two nations has evolved over the years, with both countries recognizing the importance of mutual cooperation in areas such as maritime security, counter-terrorism, and economic development. The Maldives’ strategic location in the Indian Ocean makes it a crucial partner for India in ensuring regional stability. Additionally, collaborative efforts in addressing climate change and promoting sustainable development further solidify the bonds between these South Asian neighbors. While the relationship has seen positive strides, editorial analyses often scrutinize potential challenges, emphasizing the need for continued diplomatic dialogue to address issues such as trade imbalances and regional geopolitical dynamics. Overall, the India-Maldives ties serve as a microcosm of the delicate balance and opportunities present in international relations.
Tag: GS Paper – 2: Groupings & Agreements Involving India and/or Affecting India’s Interests; Effect of Policies & Politics of Countries on India’s Interests.
India and Maldives ties; Issues in Maldives.
The President designate of Maldives, Mohamed Muizzu, is unlikely to take drastic measures that alter relations with India. China’s entry in Maldives is solely to advance its own gains. A strong relationship with India will be to Maldives’s benefit.
Decoding the editorial: India and Maldives ties
- Historical: Earlier, there was only Buddhism in Maldives which was replaced in the 12th century by Islam.
- Even during the British protectorate years (1887-1965), Maldives depended on India for essentials as well as communication with the outside world.
- From Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s years till today, the relations, despite a few hiccups, have been close and friendly.
- Geographic: Maldives has an area of 90,000 sq km that encompasses 99.6 percent of the sea.
- The remaining land is distributed over more than 1,200 islands.
- Experts predict that 80 percent of the Maldives will cease to exist by 2050 due to “Global Boiling”.
- India is the closest neighbour at a distance of 70 nautical miles, who could come to assist Maldives in an hour of need.
- Economic: The State Bank of India was the major financer that helped build the edifice of the country’s tourist economy. Even today, it is the largest bank in the island country.
- The dependence of Maldives on India and its unconditional support, has helped it become a country with the highest per capita in south Asia.
- Whether it is trade or tourism, India remains the biggest partner.
- Strategic: The defence cooperation includes gifting of helicopters and capacity building through joint exercises like the Ekuverin, Ekatha, surveillance assets, training of 1,400 MNDF trainers and disaster management.
- For decades, India has provided effective security assistance to Maldives in exchange of its hand of friendship and trust.
- In three different crises in 1988 (the coup), 2004 (the tsunami), and 2014 (water shortage), Maldives witnessed that India was the first one to assist it.
- With projects like greater Male connectivity, India is committed to take the infrastructure in Maldives to a different level altogether.
- For India, Maldives is a first line of defence against terrorism, piracy on the high seas, drug trafficking, narcotics, and other maritime crime.
- Social: Indian teachers and doctors play a critical role in the country including in the remote inhabited islands.
- India provides most essential items in bulk like rice, wheat flour, sugar, potatoes and onions, eggs, vegetables and even river sand and construction material as special dispensation.
Issues in Maldives
Maldives with 98 percent literacy is a nation of contradictions and these pose challenges to democratic governance.
- A constitution that bars anyone non-Sunni to become a Maldivian citizen;
- A nascent civil society;
- A tradition of patronage;
- A problem of increasing drug abuse;
- A distorted labour market;
- Growing inequality;
- An economy dependent on external factors;
- Growing trend of religious extremism.
- China angle
- China’s entry is solely to advance its own interests.
- It has done so through debt financing, leading to debt traps and consequent hegemony of China.
- China’s policy of interference in the internal politics and support to conservative elements in Maldives has the potential of becoming a barrier to the development of a vibrant democracy in Maldives.
Any impulsive steps to undo the carefully nurtured all encompassing partnership with India is likely to harm Maldives more than it would India. The 2012 “GMR out” campaign cost Maldives a $ 270 million in payout to GMR. The Yameen years were marred by a pro-China policy that led Maldives into a debt crisis.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1: What is the historical background of India and Maldives relations?
A1: India and Maldives share deep-rooted historical ties dating back centuries. Cultural, economic, and people-to-people connections have formed a strong foundation for the diplomatic relationship we see today.
Q2: How does geography play a role in the India-Maldives partnership?
A2: Geographically, the Maldives is strategically located in the Indian Ocean, making it a key partner for India in ensuring maritime security and stability in the region. The proximity of the two nations fosters collaboration on various fronts.
Q3: What are the key areas of cooperation between India and Maldives?
A3: The bilateral relationship spans diverse areas, including maritime security, counter-terrorism, trade, and economic development. Both countries actively engage in joint efforts to address common challenges and promote regional well-being.
Q4: How do India and Maldives collaborate on environmental issues?
A4: Environmental concerns, especially related to climate change and sustainable development, form an essential aspect of their collaboration. Both nations work together on initiatives to mitigate climate change impacts and promote environmental sustainability.
Q5: What challenges do the India-Maldives ties face, and how are they addressed?
A5: Challenges such as trade imbalances and regional geopolitical dynamics are carefully navigated through diplomatic dialogue. Continuous engagement and open communication channels help address concerns, ensuring a resilient and evolving relationship between India and Maldives.
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