Day 46 – Q 1. What strategic significance does Maldives hold for India? Do you think the recent regime change in Maldives is a positive development for India? Examine.
1. What strategic significance does Maldives hold for India? Do you think the recent regime change in Maldives is a positive development for India? Examine.
मालदीव भारत के लिए क्या रणनीतिक महत्व रखता है? क्या आपको लगता है कि मालदीव में हालिया शासन परिवर्तन भारत के लिए एक सकारात्मक विकास है? जांच करें।
Maldives is an island country near south-west coast of India. A new pro India government in Maldives opened a new chapter in bilateral ties, which had undergone a downward spiral during the last five years.
Strategic significance of Maldives:
- Geopolitical significance
- Maldives is geographically a small island country comprising of several coral islands. India and Maldives share maritime borders.
- Considering India’s neighbourhood first policy, Maldives becomes one of the important factor of India’s foreign policy.
- Being a South Asian country, it is also an important member of SAARC.
- Strategic location
- Maldives is located on strategically important region of Indian ocean also lies on important trade routes.
- Since India aspires to be net security provider, Maldives is a significant country with regard to security in Indian Ocean.
- Economic relations
- India and Maldives share significant trade relations with respect to fishing, tourism, health and education, etc.
- Recently India announced an assistance of $1.4 billion through a credit line and budgetary support to the Maldives.
- Indian Diaspora
- Maldives is home to one of the largest Indian expatriates. It confirms the traditionally close ties between the two countries.
India and regime change in Maldives
- Before the transition of power, the Maldives had drifted away from India’s strategic orbit and went closer to China.
- New leadership in Maldives vowed to bring the country closer to India again and also affirmed the government’s “India First Policy.”
- New regime in Maldives is a positive development for enhancing cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region, particularly in the maritime security domain through coordinated patrols and aerial surveillance.
- Predecessor leadership in Maldives sought China’s financial assistance and came out in support of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
- By signing a controversial free trade agreement (FTA), and favoring Chinese companies for undertaking major infrastructure projects, previous leadership also discarded closer security ties with India.
- This was viewed in New Delhi as part of Beijing’s backdoor attempts to encroach on India’s influence in the Indian Ocean.
- Pro-India inclination in Maldives’s new government has the potential to ensure a much-needed course correction in the country’s foreign policy.
- Both the countries, India and Maldives assured each other of mutual cooperation and not allowing their respective territories to be used for any activity inimical to the other.
- There have been growing concerns regarding China’s role in the Maldivian economy through so-called “debt-trap diplomacy.”
- New regime wants India to play a bigger role in correcting this anomaly by giving financial support to his country.
- India is equally keen to lend a helping hand so that it is able to regain the space it lost to China.
- Geographical proximity as well as traditional bonds of friendship would invariably put India in the leading position in the policymaking dynamics in the Maldives, but not eliminate China for the same reasons.
- To restore institutional credibility of all major institutions and containing growing Islamist radicalization, Cracking down on institutionalized corruption, etc. are few of the major challenges before new regime in Maldives.
- It would require India’s constant support to surmount the challenges that the Maldives faces, as it is evident from past experiences of India helping Maldives in Operation cactus or water crisis etc.
- India is in favor of strengthening democratic institutions in the Maldives. She needs to remain careful if it wants to avoid a Nepal-like situation.
- Having a lighter diplomatic footprint is the only way forward in the Maldives.
Best Answer: Abhya Singh