Foreign Policy Watch: India-Maldives

Explained: A new high in Maldives


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Reclaiming ties with India’s neighborhood in light of China’s increasing interference

  • The Maldives is about to welcome former President Mohamed Nasheed after getting re-elected with huge majority for his party.

Move for Constitutional change

  • The scale of the victory has put Nasheed-Solih in a position to drive decisive change in the Maldives.
  • An executive Presidency is unsuitable for a small country with deeply polarised and fractious politics.
  • Erstwhile regime had used the President’s executive powers to shackle the judiciary, impose an emergency, and muzzle the media.
  • Converting the Presidential form of government into a Parliamentary one is on top of Nasheed’s agenda.

IOR Security

  • Mindful of Chinese assertiveness, and their interlinked security interests in the Indian Ocean Region, New Delhi and Malé have agreed on the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the region.
  • They will enhance maritime security in the region through coordinated patrolling and aerial surveillance, exchange of information and capacity building.
  • The two sides have also expressed their unwavering commitment and support for increased cooperation in combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations both within the region and elsewhere.
  • This is an important commitment, since Maldives has seen the rise of Islamist fundamentalism over the last few years, and it is said to have sent 50-200 fighters to the Islamic State.

Relations with India

  • Maldives is still trying to figure out the contours of the country’s “dire economic situation” created by Chinese debt.
  • After the unfriendly regime, India has come back in the strategic game with Solih’s victory last year.
  • India had announced financial assistance of $1.4 billion for the island nation in December. Chinese loans for projects account for around 70% of the Maldives’ national debt.
  • New Delhi’s economic help outreach is key to helping Male break free of Beijing’s “debt-for-leverage” model of diplomacy.

Easing Cultural contacts

  • A new agreement on visa facilitation is aimed at addressing common concerns and ensuring that people-to-people contacts are enhanced.
  • The Maldives is one of the very few countries with which India has a visa-free travel arrangement.
  • The recently signed pact will allow many Maldivians who send their children to school in India, to accompany them, and will facilitate easier travel for Maldivians to India for medical treatment.
  • The movement of people had become restricted after the Yameen government tightened the visa regime for Indian workers and professionals.
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