Maldives President Solih’s visit came in a fraught moment in ties between the two countries. Delhi must tread carefully

Source: The post is based on the article “Maldives President Solih’s visit came in a fraught moment in ties between the two countries. Delhi must tread carefully” published in the Indian Express on 5th August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2: India and its neighbourhood- relations.

Relevance: India-Maldives ties.

News: The visit of the Maldives’ President to Delhi gave both sides the opportunity to reiterate the importance of the bilateral relationship.

What are the key highlights from the Maldives President’s visit?

Maldives came face to face with Islamist fundamentalism when some 300 of its citizens joined ISIS back in 2014. The cyber security pact signed between the two countries during the visit also underlined concerns over the rise of Islamist fundamentalism.

Read more: Flagging terror threat, India pledges support to Maldives
What is the reason behind the recent engagement between India and Maldives?

Firstly, India was the Maldives first responder for decades. But India has been edged out by the proximity of the Maldives previous government to China due to its “India Out” campaign. But the present government wants to restore relations with strategically located India through their India First policy.

Secondly, after seeing Sri Lanka become convulsed by China’s debt trap diplomacy, Maldives realised that China’s trap should be avoided.

What are the recent engagements between India and Maldives?

a) Over the last four years, India has provided financial assistance for a slew of projects, both as grants and in credit lines. b) India also provided a further credit line of $100m for the completion of unfinished infrastructure projects. c) Under its Neighbourhood First policy, as well as SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region), defence and security cooperation between the two countries has grown. d) Both countries are members of the Colombo Security Conclave, a grouping of three nations that is now growing to encompass the other Indian Ocean and South Asian countries.

Read more: Different narratives: On India – Maldives ties
What are the challenges faced in bilateral ties?

1) The previous Maldives government’s “India Out” campaign has targeted defence ties with India in particular. 2) The disruption of the Yoga Day event in Male shows the lengths that some elements are willing to go to in order to undermine the government and its ties with India.

Read more: Explained: What’s behind the new anti-India campaign in the Maldives?

India must tread with caution and ensure that there is no room for misinterpretation of its actions in the Maldives.

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