India hands over two naval vessels for Maldives


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    • Continuing India’s capacity-building assistance in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), the Defence Minister recently handed over a Fast Patrol Vessel (FPV) and a Landing Craft Assault ship to the Maldives National Defence Forces (MNDF).
      • The FPV, capable of coastal and offshore surveillance at high speeds, was commissioned as MNDF Coast Guard ship Huravee.


    • Challenges & cooperation:
      • The Defence Minister called for collaborative efforts to deal with common challenges faced by IOR, including climate change and sustainable exploitation of maritime resources. 
      • He also called for enhanced cooperation among nations in the IOR to address the common challenges faced by the region and identified sustainable exploitation of resources and climate change as the most important common challenges faced by the region.
    • Significance:
      • In recent years, India has significantly scaled up assistance towards capacity building and capability enhancement for Indian Ocean littoral states and countries in the IOR.
      • The handing of the two platforms as a symbol of the shared commitment of India and the Maldives towards peace and security in the IOR. 

    Significance of Indian Ocean region

    • Trade & commerce:
      • The Indian Ocean region enjoys a privileged location at the crossroads of global trade, connecting the major engines of the international economy in the Northern Atlantic and Asia-Pacific. 
    • Natural resources:
      • Indian Ocean is rich in natural resources. 
      • Fishing:
        • Forty per cent of the world’s offshore oil production takes place in the Indian Ocean basin. Fishing in the Indian Ocean now accounts for almost 15 per cent of the world’s total.
      • Mineral resources:
        • Mineral resources are equally important, with nodules containing nickel, cobalt, and iron, and massive sulphide deposits of manganese, copper, iron, zinc, silver, and gold present in sizeable quantities on the sea bed. I
        • ndian Ocean coastal sediments are also important sources of titanium, zirconium, tin, zinc, and copper. 
        • Additionally, various rare earth elements are present, even if their extraction is not always commercially feasible.
    • Strategic importance for India:
      • The Indian Ocean holds particular importance for India, as the littoral’s most populous country. 
      • Indeed, for the rest of the Ocean’s littoral states, and even those outside the region, India’s leadership role will be important in determining the strategic future. 

    India – Maldives Relations

    • Historical:
      • India and Maldives share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links.
      • India was among the first to recognize the Maldives after its independence in 1965 and later established its mission at Male in 1972.
      • They officially and amicably decided their maritime boundary in 1976.
    • Political Relations:
      • Both nations are founding members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the South Asian Economic Union and signatories to the South Asia Free Trade Agreement
      • They have consistently supported each other in multilateral areas such as the UN, the Commonwealth, the NAM, and the SAARC.
      • The Memorandums of Understanding (Mou) signed between both the countries covers areas such as hydrography, health, passenger and cargo services by sea, capacity building in customs and civil service training.
    • Strategic Importance:
      • The Maldives holds strategic importance for India under the government’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy due to its location in the Indian Ocean. 
      • In the Indian Ocean, the Maldives archipelago comprising 1,200 coral islands lies next to key shipping lanes which ensure uninterrupted energy supplies to countries like China, Japan, and India.
      • Both nations are working together to counter China’s presence in the Indian Ocean Region(IOR). 
    • Trade and Economy:
      • India and Maldives signed a trade agreement in 1981, which provides for the export of essential commodities.
      • Under the bilateral agreement, India provides essential food items like rice, wheat flour, sugar, dal, onion, potato and eggs and construction material such as sand and stone aggregates to the Maldives on favourable terms.
      • India and Maldives signed the $800 million Line of Credit Agreement in March 2019, for assisting the Maldives to achieve sustainable social and economic development. 
      • India has a positive Balance of Trade with the Maldives.
    • Development Assistance Programme:
      • India has helped the Maldives in many diverse areas to bolster the development of the Maldives e.g. 
        • Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, Maldives Institute of Technical Education (now called the Maldives Polytechnic), 
        • India-Maldives Faculty of Hospitality & Tourism Studies, 
        • Technology Adoption Programme in Education Sector in the Maldives,  
        • A port on Gulhifalhu, airport redevelopment at Hanimaadhoo, and a hospital and a cricket stadium in Hulhumale etc.
    • India’s crucial help to the Maldives:
      • Operation Cactus: 
        • It was an attempt by a group of Maldivians led by Abdullah Luthufi and assisted by armed mercenaries of a Tamil secessionist organisation from Sri Lanka, the People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), to overthrow the government in the island republic of Maldives on 3rd November 1988. 
        • The coup failed due to the intervention of the Indian Army, whose military operations efforts were code-named Operation Cactus.
      • The Maldives urged India for help following the collapse of the island’s only water treatment plant, India helped by sending its heavy-lift transporters like C-17 Globemaster III, II-76 carrying bottled water.
      • Operation Neer: 
        • It was initiated by the Indian government to help the Maldives after a major fire broke out at the Male Water and Sewerage Company.
    • Diaspora:
      • There are 25,000 Indian nationals living in the Maldives (the second largest expatriate community).
      • The proximity of location and improvements in air connectivity in recent years has led to a very substantial increase in the number of Indians visiting the Maldives for tourism and business. 
      • India is a preferred destination for Maldivians for education, medical treatment, recreation, and business.
    • Defence:
      • A technical agreement on sharing ‘White Shipping Information between the Indian Navy and the Maldives National Defence Force was also signed, enabling the exchange of prior information on the movement of commercial, non-military vessels.
      • India has adopted a very flexible and accommodating approach in meeting Maldivian requirements of defence training and equipment.
      • Ekuverin is a joint military exercise between India and Maldives.
    • Pivot role in the SAGAR Initiative of India: 
      • The Maldives is key to India’s ambition to become a regional maritime security provider.
      • Anti-Piracy and Anti-Terror operations can also be carried out with Maldives’ help.

    Source: TH