India Maldives Relations Recently Indian external affairs minister has paid a two-day visit, in the first full-fledged bilateral trip from India to the island nation after the government of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih came to power in November. Historical relations

  • India and Maldives share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links steeped in antiquity and enjoy cordial and multi-dimensional relations.
  • India was among the first to recognise Maldives after its independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country.
  • India established its mission at Malé in 1972.
Political Crisis in the Maldives (2015 to 2018)
  • Former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed was sentenced to 13-years imprisonment by country’s criminal court under the anti-terrorism laws. He was the first democratic president of Maldives.
  • Consecutively 2 Vice Presidents were impeached by parliament in 2015.
  • President of Maldives Abdulla Yameen declared the state of emergency on grounds of threat to national security in November 2015.
  • Maldives’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and another judge, Ali Hameed, were arrested hours after emergency declaration.
  • Exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed asked India to intervene in political turmoil in the Maldives.
  • India did not interfered as it was an internal matter of Maldives.
Initiatives from India to Strengthen Relations
  • ‘Project Mausam’ – India’s answer to China’s ‘Maritime Silk Road’.
  • The India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM) had conducted training on Election Management of SAARC Countries including the Maldives.
  • Indian Prime Minister attended Maldives President Solih’s swearing-in ceremony.
  • Now Sushma Swaraj’s visit to the Maldives.
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  • A popular tourist destination
  • Srategic importance for China and India to establish their influence in the region
  • Key shipping lanes in Indian Ocean to control global trade
  • Security reasons
China’s influence
  • Beijing has made large investments in infrastructure projects in the Maldives during Yameen’s time in office.
  • Chinese are also building a 25-storey apartment complex and hospital in the Maldives.
  • Meanwhile, some 306,000 Chinese tourists visited the Maldives last year accounting for 21 per cent of the country’s total number of visitors.
  • Former Maldivian President Mr.Yameen’s visited China and the two nations signed 12 pacts, including a free trade agreement (FTA).
  • Mr. Yameen was fully endorsed China’s ambitious Maritime Silk Road initiative but also made the Maldives the second country in South Asia, after Pakistan, to enter into an FTA with China.
Maldives ties with India under Yameen
  • Bilateral ties between India and the Maldives had deteriorated
  • In March 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi cancelled his state visit to the island nation over the treatment of Mohamed Nasheed, the former pro-India Maldivian president who had been jailed.
  • The Maldives also declined India’s invitation to take part in its biennial eight-day naval exercise, Milan, this year.
  • Yameen’s government has also rejected visa renewals for Indians who were legally working in the Maldives, without giving any explanation.
  • Yameen government had asked India to remove its Dhruv advanced light helicopters from Maldives (which India had gifted in 2013).
Areas of Concerns
  • Maldives and India do not have a Free Trade Agreement. However Maldives and China entered into Free Trade Agreement.
  • Maldives growing closeness with China
  • Religious radicalization of Maldives and ISIS threat
  • Work permits are not currently being issued to Indian Nationals.
Way Ahead
  • The two countries must agree to remain mindful of each other’s concerns and aspirations for the stability of the Indian Ocean region and not allow their respective territories to be used for any activity inimical to their interests.
  • Free Trade Agreement should be made.
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