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[op-ed snap] Island hopping

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Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Geographical Position of Maldives in the South Asia

Mains level: Concerns and worries discussed in the newscard


China’s diplomatic success in the South Asia

  1. The announcement of a free trade agreement between the Maldives and China is another sign of China’s success in its outreach in South Asia
  2. China already has an FTA with Pakistan, and is exploring or negotiating FTAs with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal
  3. The negotiations with the Maldives took about three years and were completed in September this year and it was ratified overnight by Parliament in Male

India’s reaction on the Madives-China FTA

  1. India has made no public statement
  2. It has reportedly made its displeasure known, particularly on the speed and stealth with which the negotiations were completed

The rapid growth in China-Maldives ties

  1. The growth is driven by massive infrastructure projects, including the development of Hulhule island and the “Friendship” bridge connecting it to Male
  2. Apart from investments of $1 billion, Chinese companies are exploring tourism prospects in the Maldives, leases to resort islands, and reclamation projects

Worries for India

  1. The Maldives government also said this week that it is not satisfied with the working of the FTA with India
  2. The manner in which the FTA was rushed through Parliament, with opposition members complaining they had not received enough notice, suggests a haste that would naturally worry India
  3. The move also shows that the Yameen government is not inclined to pay much heed to international concerns over internal unrest
  4. The biggest worry for India is that the FTA will draw the Maldives more closely into China’s security net
  5. Although Maldivian government has categorically stated that the Maldives will remain a “demilitarised zone”
  6. But there are concerns that the PLA-Navy might be looking for a military base in the islands linked to projects in Djibouti, Gwadar and Hambantota


New Delhi caught by surprise as Maldives seals FTA with China


Mains Paper2 | Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims: FTA

Mains level: The news card talks about the China-Maldives FTA.



Maldives-China FTA

    1. In a sudden move that has sent alarm bells ringing in New Delhi, Maldives rammed through its Free Trade Agreement with China in the Maldivian parliament last night in a session attended by only 30 out of 85 members.


  • The haste with which the government, led by President Abdulla Yameen, decided to pass the pact the session took barely half an hour is being perceived here as Male trying to cosy up to China.


  1. This is Maldives’s first FTA with any country, and China’s second FTA with any country in South Asia after Pakistan.
  2. There are concerns that it could lead to increased Chinese military presence in the island nation.


  1. This comes in the backdrop of Yameen planning to visit Beijing in December.
  2. This will be a reciprocal visit after the first-ever visit by Chinese president Xi Jinping to Maldives in September 2014.
  3. Maldives is the only country in the neighbourhood which has not been visited by Prime Minister in the last three-and-half years after he cancelled a proposed trip in March 2015 due to the turbulent political situation.
  4. Maldives and India do not have a Free Trade Agreement.

Views of Maldives Government

  1. According to the Maldives Presidential office’s statement, the FTA will enable exemption of duties on fisheries products exported to the world’s largest consumer market.
  2. Maldives transitioned from Least Developed Country (LDC) to Middle-Income Country status on 1st January 2011.
  3. However, this growth was accompanied with huge duties levied on fish products exported to the international market,” the statement said.
  4. Also, Maldivian government has extended invitations to establish free trade agreements with countries including Japan, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and countries of the European Union.
  5. However, it doesn’t name India.

Views of Maldivian Opposition

  1. Criticizing the FTA with China, Opposition leader emphasized that such an agreement will be detrimental to our economy as balance of trade is greatly in favor of China.
  2. Also, the FTA cannot be implemented until the legislation is passed.
  3. The Opposition demanded that the implementation of the FTA with China should be suspended till a proper feasibility study is conducted.



Maldives opposition forms shadow govt. in London; seeks help from India

  1. Context: A new multi-party opposition platform was launched in London that pledged to lead the fight for the restoration of democracy in the Maldives
  2. Maldives United Opposition: Former Vice-President of the Maldives, now living in exile in the United Kingdom, Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed will head the Shadow Cabinet of the newly formed opposition
  3. Mr. Nasheed: The first democratically elected leader of the Maldives who was recently given political asylum in the UK, chose to take a back seat in the Shadow Cabinet with the post of Advisor
  4. India: One of the first tasks of the new party would be to formally seek recognition and assistance for their cause from India
  5. China: The Maldivian opposition has been critical of the growing economic footprint of China in the Maldives
  6. Opposition believes that Mr. Yameen has encouraged China to counter India’s influence in the Indian Ocean region

U.K. grants refugee status to Nasheed

  1. Refuge: The former Maldives President Mohamad Nasheed has been granted refugee status by the United Kingdom
  2. Background: Nasheed was the first democratically elected head of state of Maldives
  3. He was convicted and jailed in the Maldives in 2015 after a trial
  4. The trial attracted international criticism, including from the United Nations Group on Arbitrary Detention
  5. Let go: He was allowed to travel to London for medical treatment by the Govt of President Abdulla Yameen in January 2016

Maldives thanks India for support

  1. News: Abdullah Yameen has thanked India for “protecting” Maldives from possible punitive actions from the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG)
  2. Reason: In Nov 2015, Yameen declared national emergency ahead of a big wave of protests against his political opponents
  3. CMAG had been asking Maldives to move towards genuine democracy

India may sign pact against terror with the Maldives-

  1. Context: Maldives President Abdullah Yameen’s forthcoming visit to India
  2. News: A crucial counter-terror pact is likely to be among the list of agreements between the two countries
  3. Reason: Maldives has been seeking regional support to deal with extremism as 40 of its citizens are fighting for IS
  4. Both sides are also working on an agreement on double taxation avoidance in the field of international air transport

Democracy suspended in the Maldives

President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency in the Maldives citing danger to the lives of the citizens and threat to national security.

  1. The emergency measures effectively snatches away the freedoms that followed the August 2008 Constitution.
  2. The Emergency was imposed to pre-empt a mass rally by the main Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, which could have negatively impacted the law and order situation.
  3. Critics point that the emergency is one of the tool in the hands of the Maldivian govt. to crack down on political opponents.

India-Maldives ties at a peak: envoy

The India-Maldives relationship has been restored to a comfortable plane after several months of tensions.

  1. The governments are also ready to sign a Mutual Legal Assistance treaty (MLAT).
  2. India’s objective was to create a more harmonious Maldives.

India, Maldives to step up cooperation in defence, security

Both countries decided to ramp up cooperation in various fields including defence, security, energy and health.

  1. MoUs on cooperation between Foreign Service Institutes of both countries and for cooperation sports and youth affairs.
  2. Maldives has supported India for a permanent member of a reformed and expanded UN Security Council.

Maldives assures India of keeping the Indian Ocean a demilitarized zone

The assurance comes in the backdrop of Maldivian Parliament’s approval to allow foreign ownership of its islands.

  1. The obvious beneficiary of this move will be China which can acquire islands and atolls in the Maldives.
  2. It will also give a huge boost to the Chinese Maritime Silk Road initiative.

Maldives’ political crisis

  1. March ’15 – Former president Mohamed Nasheed is jailed for 13 years after being found guilty on terrorism charges.
  2. Nasheed is the country’s first democratically elected president after 30 years of autocracy.
  3. The verdict, which his party says is politically motivated, elicits international concern from governments and rights groups.
  4. With Nasheed’s (more pro-India than the Yameen government) arrest, India risks having the Maldives slip out of its strategic area of influence entirely.

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

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