International Relations

Understanding the Change in India-Maldives Relations

  • The Maldives, a country noted for its maritime beauty, has recently made political headlines.
  • The strained diplomatic relations with India are at the heart of these developments, after undiplomatic statements by members of Muizzu’s government against the Indian Prime Minister and Indians in general.
  • As a result of this circumstance, the Maldives’ foreign policy and ties with regional countries, notably India and China, have undergone considerable changes.
  • The recent diplomatic fallout was precipitated by insulting statements made by Maldivian politicians towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indians.
  • The Maldivian government responded by removing the three ministers implicated.
  • In India, there is a rising push to boycott the Maldives as a tourist destination and instead boost Lakshadweep tourism.

The Most Important Issues in the Maldives-India Relationship

Decadal Bonds

  • The diplomatic and political alliance established over six decades is under threat.
  • India’s historical links with the Maldives extend back to 1965, following British sovereignty, and include significant relationships in a variety of areas.

What is India’s need for the Maldives?

  • Strategic Location: Because of its proximity to India’s west coast and its location in major water lanes, the Maldives is strategically essential for maritime security.
  • Defence Training: With attempts to improve marine strength, India has been a big donor to the Maldives’ defence training.
  • China’s Influence: India is concerned about the expanding Chinese involvement in the Maldives, particularly under President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Why do the Maldives require India?

  • India is an important source of food, medicine, and construction materials to the Maldives.
  • Education: India provides primary education to Maldivian youngsters.
  • Economic Dependence: India is a major economic partner for the Maldives, with large exports to the island country.
  • Disaster Relief: India has historically been the first responder to Maldives emergencies, such as the 2004 tsunami and the 2014 water crisis.

Political Transitions in the Maldives

  • Muizzu’s Ascension to Power: Mohamed Muizzu, a former minister in Yameen’s ministry, won the presidential election on the promise of diminishing Indian influence.
  • international Policy Shifts: President Muizzu’s first official visit was to Turkiye, breaking with convention, and he has subsequently visited China, signalling a shift in international relations.
  • Military Presence and Agreements: The Muizzu administration has asked India to withdraw its military troops and has annulled a crucial agreement with India for conducting hydrographic studies in Maldivian seas.

Tensions and Recent Developments

  • Muizzu’s demand on the removal of Indian military forces has been a source of controversy.
  • Defence Connections: The lack of a Maldivian delegate at the Colombo Security Conclave, as well as the cancellation of a vital water survey accord with India, indicate a deterioration in defence relations.
  • China’s Role: The Muizzu administration’s choices appear to be in line with a deeper connection with Beijing, which might benefit China’s maritime surveys in the region.

@the end

  • The Maldives’ recent political events under President Mohamed Muizzu represent a dramatic shift in the island nation’s foreign policy, notably in its relations with India.
  • Domestic politics and China’s expanding power have affected these shifts, which have ramifications for regional security and diplomacy.
  • It remains to be seen how these changes will affect the Maldives’ foreign relations and its position in the crucial Indian Ocean area as the situation progresses.
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