• The Government of India handed over outdoor fitness equipment for 61 islands across the Maldives.
• The initiative is part of New Delhi’s nearly 200 million MVR-worth cash grant and development projects which is being executed with Male, apart from the USD 800 million lines of credit.
Key highlights about India- Maldives Relations:
• The Maldives holds strategic importance for India under the government’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy due to its location in the Indian Ocean.
• The Memorandums of Understanding (Mou) signed between both the countries covers areas such as hydrography, health, passenger and cargo services by sea, capacity building in customs and civil service training.
• A technical agreement on sharing ‘White Shipping Information’ between the Indian Navy and the Maldives National Defence Force was also signed, enabling the exchange of prior information on the movement of commercial, non-military vessels.
• Indian and Maldives signed the $800 million Line of Credit Agreement in March 2019, for assisting the Maldives to achieve sustainable social and economic development.
• India and Maldives have consistently supported each other in multilateral areas such as the UN, the Commonwealth, the NAM, and the SAARC.
• India saved regime of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom from a Military coup in 1984 by launching Operation Cactus.
• Operation Neer was initiated by the Indian government to help the Maldives after a major fire broke out at the Male Water and Sewerage Company.
• India and Maldives signed a trade agreement in 1981, which provides for export of essential commodities and Under the bilateral agreement, India provides essential food items like rice, wheat flour, sugar, dal, onion, potato and eggs and construction material such as sand and stone aggregates to the Maldives on favourable terms.
• The proximity of location and improvements in air connectivity in recent years has led to a very substantial increase in the number of Indians visiting the Maldives for tourism and business.
• India is a preferred destination for Maldivian for education, medical treatment, recreation, and business.
Importance of Maldives for India:
• In the Indian Ocean, Maldives ensures uninterrupted energy supplies to countries like China, Japan, and India.
• Maldives has extended its support for India’s candidature for permanent membership of an expanded and reformed UN Security Council.
• The Maldives also has reiterated support for India’s candidature for a non-permanent seat for the year 2020-21.
• India’s interests in the Maldives range from political stability in the neighbourhood, and protection of its investments and trade to the prevention of state and non-state forces which are harmful to Indian interests
• China’s “String of Pearls” in South Asia which aims to ensure the security of its sea lanes, especially the unhindered flow of critically-needed energy supplies from Africa and West Asia through the Indian Ocean.
• India-Maldives ties had deteriorated significantly under its President Yameen who was perceived to be close to China.
• Both countries need to work towards expeditious implementation of people-centric and socio-economic projects.
Mains Paper 2: International Relations
Mains level: Key highlights about India- Maldives Relations