PM Visit to Maldives
- 20 Nov 2018
- 4 min read
Recently, Prime Minister of India visited Maldives to attend the swearing-in ceremony of newly elected President of Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
- It is the first visit by Mr. Narendra Modi to Maldives in his four year tenure as PM.
- The visit has given new impetus to the Indian ties with Maldives which were facing a number of challenges in last few years.
- The new government has taken few major steps to ensure India its importance in Maldives Affair.
- The Maldives’ new government has decided to pull out of a free trade agreement (FTA) with China which was signed in December 2017.
- Maldives government has said that they will follow ‘India First Policy’. 2 Indian military choppers, which were gifted by India to Maldives will not be returned to India.
- Maldives strategic return to India and its underlying democratic values could now prevent the economic crisis that Maldives will face when China will ask Maldives to pay back the debt.
- PM also held a brief bilateral talks with newly elected President after the ceremony. Outcome of talks:
- Both expressed the importance of maintaining peace and security in Indian ocean
- Both countries decided to be mindful of each other's concerns and aspirations for stability of region
- Both countries have decided to show commitment and support for increased cooperation in combating terrorism within the region and elsewhere.
- India ensured Maldives of its commitment in assisting the Maldives to achieve sustainable social and economic development.
- To work towards easier visa facilities.
- India and the Maldives share deep historical, cultural, and economic ties.
- India was among the first to recognize the Maldives after its independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country. India established its mission at Malé in 1972.
- India’s bilateral and financial assistance to the Maldives has been reciprocated through an “India first” policy by the Maldives.
- Importance of the Maldives for India:
- Maldives is an important aspect of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
- Strategically located in the Indian Ocean, Maldives archipelago comprising 1200 coral Islands lies next to key shipping lanes which ensure uninterrupted energy supplies to countries like China, Japan, and India. More than 97% of India’s international trade by volume and 75% by value passes through the region.
- As the pre-eminent South Asian power and a ‘net security provider’ in the Indian Ocean region, India needs to cooperate with the Maldives in security and defense sectors.
- India is also a preferred destination for Maldivians for education, medical treatment, recreation, and business.
- Maldives is also a member of SAARC. It is important for India to have the Maldives on board to maintain its leadership in the region.
- Since China’s naval expansion into the Indian Ocean - Maldives significance has steadily grown and now it’s at the heart of international geopolitics.
- There is significant Indian diaspora in Maldives. Innumerable Indians work across the hospitality, education, and health-care sectors of the Maldives economy.