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India-Maldives tensions | 5 flashpoints and what are India’s choices?

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Not per week has passed by since November 2023, when Maldives elected a brand new President Mohammad Muizzu- pushing out the earlier pro-India Ibu Solih, the place there isn’t one thing that places India-Maldives ties on edge-  

Here are 5 flashpoints: 

  1. Muizzu got here to energy on the again of the PPM’s India out campaign- and did nothing to dilute it- since coming to energy he has repeatedly known as for Indian troops- about 80-90 in all to tug out of the islands, the place they work on humanitarian ops and plane maintenance- by March 15
  2.  For his swearing in ceremony- Muizzu invited PM Modi, however he declined, sending a junior minister as a substitute. Muizzu then requested to go to India, however as New Delhi didn’t reply, proceeded to Turkey, UAE, after which for a giant bilateral go to to China 
  3. Then got here the massive blow out on social media- after PM Modi’s go to to Lakshadweep was performed up as a counter to Maldives for tourism- 3 Maldivian ministers attacked India, mocking PM Modi specifically on social media, that led to a Boycott Maldives marketing campaign in India. The ministers had been suspended, however the harm was executed. In the previous month, Maldives has obtained a file 100,000 vacationers, however India has been surpassed by Italy, Russia and UK by way of numbers 
  4. With China, Muizzu signed 20 agreements- making it clear he desires to diversify Maldive’s dependence on India- for HADR, Food imports, Health services, commerce and an motion plan for a China-Maldives Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership. Separately, he introduced that he would develop medical health insurance protection United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Thailand- India is by far the popular vacation spot. He additionally mentioned medicines shall be imported immediately from producers in Europe and the United States. 
  5. Muizzu has additionally cancelled a hydrography settlement with India signed in 2019, whereas saying it could permit a Chinese survey ship to make a port name in early February. Meanwhile he additionally met US IndoPacom commander in Male who introduced Maldives gear. In a strategic setback- Maldives skipped the Colombo Security Conclave- an initiative of NSAs of India, Maldives and Sri Lanka within the Indian Ocean. On the backs of all of this comes the arrival of the Xiang Yang Hong 3 within the Indian Ocean- and whereas Male has mentioned it’s only making a port name, not conducting analysis, India would like the Sri Lankan strategy, to have banned all such ships this yr 

As tones bought sharper, right here’s what Muizzu mentioned  :- “  “We may be small but that doesn’t give you the license to bully us” 

The MEA tried to calm issues publicly- emphasizing that talks are nonetheless on- PM Modi met Muizzu in December, EAM Jaishankar met FM Moosa in January, a excessive degree contact group met in Male, and can meet once more quickly:

It is an ongoing course of. As I advised you, each side held discussions on discovering mutually workable options, so you should take a look at that, to allow continued operation of Indian aviation platforms that present humanitarian and medvac companies to the individuals of Maldives. And that is an ongoing dialogue, so issues will go ahead or issues shall be mentioned within the subsequent assembly of the Core Group subsequently, quickly. “

What can India do? 

  1. Walk away from the bully tag: Sovereignty doesn’t see size- India can’t be seen muscling a smaller nation within the neighbourhood – it should act its measurement with out seeming insecure
  2. Let Muizzu make his errors: he has already confronted pushback from the opposition events for his Anti-India stance, his coalition misplaced Mayoral elections in Male this month, and all eyes are on Majlis elections on March 17. In the in the meantime hold engagement going
  3. Find artistic options for the India Out problem- India and Maldives might discover a method to change Indian troops with different civilian groups that may man the HADR and upkeep operations till ties are higher.
  4. Watch China and the US closely- negotiate purple traces to ring fence ties on sure issues- like strategic cooperation and infrastructure debt
  5. Guard towards social media hijacking diplomacy 

WV Take: Neighbourhood ties want a unique sort of nurturing- which generally could appear unfair to India regardless of the assistance it gives neighbours. While India can do little about ithe measurement differential, it could actually management impulses to be seen as the massive bully within the neighbourhood in search of to show its neighbours classes. India should be an indispensable energy, not one which performs favourites between home political events – like in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and faces reverses every time there’s an election- Maldives – Nasheed, Yameen, Solih, Muizzu. Ultimately, it isn’t private, nor can personalised diplomacy resolve it. 

WV Reading suggestions:

  1. The China Factor Beijings Expanding Engagement in Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, Chaudhury by Shantanu Roy-Chaudhury 
  2. Coping With China-india Rivalry: South Asian Dilemmas Edited by C Raja Mohan and Hernaikh Singh 
  3. The Indian Ocean Great Game Unfolding: Interests,Determinants and Perspectives: Edited by Sundeep Kumar 
  4. Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power by Robert D. Kaplan 
  5. Unequal: Why India Lags Behind Its Neighbours by Swati Narayan 

Script and Presenatation: Suhasini Haidar

Production: Gayatri Menon and Ananyaa Desikan

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