Challenges in the relations & Way Forward

Challenges in the relations:

  • Domestic political grievances – Democratic institutions have been weakened. Fragile democracy can also be susceptible to radical ideologies, if not effectively governed.
  • Hub of terrorism
      • Political instability & socio economic instability are the main drivers fueling the rise of lslamist radicalism in the island nation.
      • Maldives is being radicalized by Saudi Arabia. Maldives accounted for one of the highest numbers ISIS terrorist in terms of per capita.
  • Chinese factor in the Maldives
      • The growing Chinese influence in the Maldives, consequent upon the planned- or ongoing execution of a large number of Beijing-led investment projects, is a major concern for India.
      • Maldives has emerged as an important ‘pearl’ in China’s “String of Pearls”construct in South Asia.
  • Economical : Bilateral trade between countries is extremely low Maldives and India does not have FTA.
  • Anti-India sentiments -‘India Out’ campaign
      • long-standing controversy over the two Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters (ALF) that were given by India to the Maldives in 2010 and in 2015, both of which were used for ocean search-and-rescue operations, maritime weather surveillance and for airlifting patients between islands. Indian officers had been sent to the Maldives to train the Maldives National Defence Force, under whose command these helicopters operate.
      • But some in the anti-India constituency, were trying to portray that by gifting these helicopters, India was creating military presence in the country because they were military choppers
  • Lack of transparency – A recurring complaint is the lack of transparency in agreements being signed between the Solih government and India.
  • Misunderstanding of India’s efforts -local Maldivian media speculated that UTF Harbour Project agreement signed between India and the Maldives where India was to develop and maintain a coastguard harbour and dockyard at Uthuru Thilafalhu, a strategically located atoll near the capital Male. Would be turned into an Indian naval base.

Way Forward

  • The mobilising of ordinary citizens through the ‘India Out’ campaign is a cause for concern for India. “So India has to work on perception management in the Maldives and the Indian High Commission can do it. They need to earn the good will of the people.”
  • The potential for both countries to work together on adaptive and mitigating measures against the adverse maritime-impacts of climate change is enormous.
  • This potential must be realised through imaginative foreign-policy and maritime-security initiatives. While the recent ‘India-First Policy’ of the Maldives and India’s ‘Neighbourhood First Policy’ are intuitively complementary, the challenge lies in implementing these policies with cultural, geo-economics, and geostrategic sensitivity.
  • India’s vision of SAGAR has tremendous possibilities in this regard.
  • We cannot control china from entering Maldives but we have to be vigil in its activity.