EAM Visits to Maldives

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    • Recently the Indian Foreign minister visited Maldives in a bid to strengthen ties.

    About

    • In recent years, the relationship has been strained, with the Maldives seeking closer ties with China and India’s concerns over Chinese influence in the region.
    • In this regard, India and Maldives have signed several pacts including development projects as External Affairs minister S Jaishankar visited the Maldives to hold talks with the top leadership in the country.

    Major highlights

    • Both countries have signed a pact to grant assistance of 100 million Rufiyaa [currency of Maldives] for the High Impact Community Development Project (HICDP) scheme.
    • Under this funding, several socio-economic development projects to be implemented throughout the country to improve basic necessities.
    • Development of a sports complex in Gahdhoo, and academic collaboration between Maldives National University and Cochin University of Science and Technology.
    • India to hand over two sea ambulances to the Ministry of Defence of Maldives for emergency needs and humanitarian crisis.
    • India will send 10,000 school books to be distributed in 260 schools in the Maldives.

    India & Maldives

    • India and the Maldives have a long-standing relationship, with historical and cultural ties dating back centuries.
    • India was among the first to recognize Maldives after its independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country. 
    • India has traditionally been one of the Maldives’ closest allies and partners.
    • India has provided economic, technical, and military assistance to the Maldives.
    • India has extended a $1.4 billion financial assistance package to Maldives for socio-economic development.
    • India has also agreed to provide a $800 million line of credit to Maldives for infrastructure development.
    • India and Maldives have been cooperating in areas of defense and security, with regular exchange of high-level visits and joint exercises e.g., Exercise EKUVERIN
    • India has also been a major tourism market for Maldives with a current share of nearly 14.4 percent of its tourism market share.

     

    Importance 

    Challenges

    • Strategic location: The Maldives sits at the crossroads of major international shipping lanes, and its location gives India a strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean region.
    • Defense and security: India and the Maldives have a close defense and security relationship, with regular high-level visits and joint exercises.
    • Economic ties: The Maldives is a major tourist destination, and India is one of its largest source markets for tourism.
    • Cultural and historical ties: India and the Maldives have a long history of cultural and historical ties, dating back centuries. This shared history has helped to strengthen the relationship between the two countries.
    • Countering Chinese influence: India has been concerned about the increasing Chinese influence in the Maldives and the Indian ocean region. India has been trying to strengthen its ties with Maldives and other Indian Ocean countries to counter the Chinese influence and assert its own regional leadership.
    • Political instability: Change in government and a constitutional crisis has led to political instability in the Maldives and tensions between the two countries.
    • China’s increasing influence: India has been concerned about the increasing Chinese influence in the Maldives, including large infrastructure projects and loans. 
    • Economic issues: The Maldives has been facing an economic crisis, which has led to delays in the implementation of development projects and debt issues.
    • Difference in approach to terrorism and extremism: India has been concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism in the Maldives and has been urging the Maldives government to take firm action against it. However, Maldives has its own approach and concerns regarding the same.
    • Tourism: India has been a major market for Maldives tourism, but the Maldives has been trying to diversify its tourism market and reduce its dependence on India.

    Way ahead

    • Although India should try to assert its regional leadership in the Indian Ocean region, but not at the cost of Maldives aligning itself with the interests of China. 
    • Considering the rise in India’s economy and diplomatic area of influence, there is a need to revisit India’s role in regional politics.

    Source: TH