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  • 05 August, 2022

  • 10 Min Read



Recently, the Prime Minister of India held bilateral talks with the visiting Maldives President.

The Prime Minister stated that cooperation between India and the Maldives in the areas of defence and security is essential for maintaining peace and stability while underlining the threat of international crime, terrorism, and drug trafficking in the Indian Ocean.

The outcome of the bilateral talk:

Maritime security:

  • The Indian Ocean region has a high probability of terrorism, drug trafficking, and international crime.
  • Therefore, a collaboration between India and the Maldives in this area is essential to upholding regional peace and stability.
  • Increased cooperation between India and the Maldives in this area involves capacity building for Maldivian security professionals through training.
  • India has declared that it will give a second landing Assault Craft to the Maldives National Defence Force in order to boost that nation's marine capabilities.


According to our domestic laws, rules, and regulations and on the basis of equality, reciprocity, and mutual benefit, the MoU signed on cyber security aims to encourage closer collaboration and the sharing of information relevant to cyber security.

Human relations:

Both parties entered into agreements addressing issues like women and child development, disaster management, and infrastructure development.


India will provide 24 cars and one naval boat to the Maldives Security Force and assist in the training of the island nation's security forces in order to combat the menace of transnational crime, terrorism, and drug trafficking in the Indian Ocean region.

India will work with the Maldives to construct police facilities on 61 of its islands.

Project on Male connectivity:

The Greater Male Connectivity Initiative, a 500-million-dollar project supported by New Delhi, was also lauded by the two leaders.

Both leaders took part in the virtual "pouring of the first concrete" event for the Greater Male Connectivity Project, a $500 million construction project funded by grants and loans with favourable terms from India.

About India –Maldive Relation


  • The historical ties include linguistic, cultural, religious, and commercial affinities between India and the Maldives.
  • After the Maldives gained their independence in 1965, India was among the first to recognize them, and in 1972, it opened a mission there.
  • In 1976, they formally and amicably established their maritime border.

Political Relations:

  • Both countries are parties to the South Asia Free Trade Agreement and founding members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and the South Asian Economic Union.
  • In international organizations like the SAARC, the NAM, the Commonwealth, and the UN, have constantly backed one another.
  • The two nations' Memorandums of Understanding (Mou) cover topics like hydrography, health, passenger and freight shipping by sea, increasing customs capacity, and civil service education.

Strategic Importance:

  • Under the government's "Neighborhood First" policy, the Maldives has strategic significance for India because of their location in the Indian Ocean.
  • The 1,200 coral island archipelago of the Maldives is located near important shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean, ensuring constant energy supplies to nations like China, Japan, and India.
  • Together, the two countries are battling China's influence in the Indian Ocean region (IOR).

Trade and economics:

  • In 1981, India and the Maldives inked a trade pact that allows for the export of basic goods.
  • In accordance with the bilateral agreement, India gives the Maldives favourable terms for the supply of construction materials like sand and stone aggregates as well as basic food products including rice, wheat flour, sugar, dal, onion, potato, and eggs.
  • India and Maldives signed the $800 million Line of Credit Agreement in March 2019, for helping the Maldives to achieve sustainable social and economic development.
  • India has also a positive Balance of Trade with the Maldives.

India's vital assistance to the Maldives

Operation Cactus:

  • On November 3, 1988, a group of Maldivians under the leadership of Abdullah Luthufi attempted to overthrow the government of the island nation of the Maldives with the help of armed mercenaries from the People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), a Tamil secessionist organization from Sri Lanka.
  • The Indian Army, whose military operations efforts were code-named Operation Cactus, intervened to prevent the coup.

Operation Neer:

The Indian government started it to aid the Maldives after a large fire broke out at the Male water and sewerage company.

Apart from this, India responded to the Maldives' request for assistance after the island's sole water treatment facility collapsed. Indian heavy-lift transporters like the C-17 Globemaster III and II-76 were used for transporting bottled water.


  • The Maldives is home to 25,000 Indian citizens (the second largest expatriate community).
  • The proximity of the location and recent advancements in air connectivity have significantly increased the number of Indians travelling to the Maldives for leisure and business.
  • Maldivians frequently go to India for business, leisure, medical care, and education.


  • The Indian Navy and the Maldives National Defense Force also inked a technical agreement on the exchange of "White Shipping Information," which permits the sharing of advance knowledge of the movement of commercial, non-military boats.
  • Indian defence training and equipment requirements have been met with a very flexible and accommodating attitude.
  • A joint military exercise between India and the Maldives is called Ekuverin.

Challenges in India Maldives relations:

Political Unrest:

  • India's main concern has been how the political unrest in the region will affect its security and prosperity.
  • The political turmoil that followed Mohamed Nasheed's imprisonment in the Maldives in February 2015 on terrorism-related charges has put India's neighborhood policy to the test diplomatically.


  • Over the past ten years or more, more Maldivians have become attracted to terrorist organizations like the Islamic State (IS) and jihadist groups based in Pakistan.
  • This raises the risk that terrorist organizations with a base in Pakistan could use distant Maldivian islands as a jumping-off point for strikes against India and Indian interests.
  • Also, a small number of people currently support the "India Out" campaign, but the Indian government cannot assume this will continue

Rising China’s Presence:

  • China's strategic presence has grown in the area surrounding India. The Maldives has emerged as an important 'pearl' in China’s “String of Pearls” construct in South Asia.
  • Given the uncertain dynamics of Sino-Indian relations, China’s strategic presence in the Maldives remains a major concern.
  • Also, the Maldives have started using the China card to bargain with India.

Way forward

  • To secure regional security in South Asia and adjacent maritime borders, India must play a significant role within the Indo-Pacific security space.

Source: PIB

  • 27 August, 2021

  • 19 Min Read

India- Maldives Relations

India- Maldives Relations

The About Maldives

  • Maldives is a small archipelagic state in the Indian subcontinent of Asia, situated in the Indian Ocean. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India, about 700 kilometres (430 mi) from the Asian continent's mainland.
  • The maritime boundary between the Maldives and India runs through the Eight Degree Channel. It separates the islands of Minicoy and Maldives.
  • The chain of 26 atolls stretches from Ihavandhippolhu Atoll in the north to Addu Atoll in the south (across the Equator).
  • Comprising a territory spanning roughly 90,000 square kilometres (35,000 sq mi) including the sea, the land area of all the islands comprises 298 square kilometres (115 sq mi), Maldives is one of the world's most geographically dispersed sovereign states as well as the smallest Asian country by land area and, with around 557,426 inhabitants, the 2nd least-populous country in Asia.
  • Malé is the capital and the most populated city, traditionally called the "King's Island" where the ancient royal dynasties ruled for its central location.
  • The Maldivian Archipelago is located on the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge, a vast submarine mountain range in the Indian Ocean; this also forms a terrestrial ecoregion, together with the Chagos Archipelago and Lakshadweep.

Historical Background of Maldives

  • In the 12th century, Islam reached the Maldivian Archipelago, which was consolidated as a sultanate, developing strong commercial and cultural ties with Asia and Africa.
  • From the mid-16th-century region came under the increasing influence of European colonial powers, with the Maldives becoming a British protectorate in 1887.
  • Independence from the United Kingdom came in 1965, and a presidential republic was established in 1968 with an elected People's Majlis. The ensuing decades have seen political instability, efforts at democratic reform, and environmental challenges posed by climate change.
  • Maldives was a member of the Commonwealth from July 1982 until withdrawing from the Commonwealth in October 2016 in protest at allegations by the other nations of its human rights abuses and failing democracy. The Maldives rejoined the Commonwealth on 1 February 2020 after showing evidence of functioning democratic processes and popular support.
  • Maldives became a founding member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
  • It is also a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the Non-Aligned Movement.
  • The World Bank classifies the Maldives as having an upper-middle income economy.
  • Fishing has historically been the dominant economic activity and remains the largest sector by far, followed by the rapidly growing tourism industry.
  • Maldives rate "high" on the Human Development Index, with per-capita income significantly higher than other SAARC nations.

Maldive relations with India

  • India and Maldives share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links steeped in antiquity and enjoy close, cordial and multi-dimensional relations.
  • India was among the first to recognise the Maldives after its independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country.
  • India established its mission at the level of CDA in 1972 and resident High Commissioner in 1980.
  • The Maldives opened a full-fledged High Commission in New Delhi in November 2004, at that time one of its only four diplomatic missions worldwide.

1967 Maritime Treaty

  • In December 1976, India and the Maldives signed a maritime boundary treaty to agree on maritime boundaries.
  • Treaty explicitly places Minicoy on the Indian side of the boundary.
  • India and Maldives officially and amicably decided their maritime boundary in 1976.

1981 Comprehensive Trade Agreement

  • In 1981, India and Maldives signed a comprehensive trade agreement.
  • Both nations are founding members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the South Asian Economic Union and signatories to the South Asia Free Trade Agreement.
  • Indian and Maldivian leaders have maintained high-level contacts and consultations on regional issues.

Previous India’s Assistance to Maldives (PT SHOTS)

  • 1988: Under Operation Cactus the Indian Armed Forces helped the government of Maldives in the neutralization of the coup attempt.
  • 2004: India helped the Maldives after the tsunami.
  • 2014: Under 'Operation Neer' India supplied drinking water to the Maldives to deal with the drinking water crisis.
  • The two Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) given by India to the Maldivian armed forces have been used in saving Maldivian lives. The Advanced Light Helicopter is a multi-role, new generation helicopter in the 5.5-ton weight class, indigenously designed and developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
  • Defence:
  1. India provides the largest number of training opportunities for Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF), meeting around 70% of their defence training requirements.
  2. In April 2006 Indian Navy gifted a Trinket Class Fast Attack Craft of 46 m length to Maldives National Defence Force's Coast Guard.
  • Ekuverin’ is a joint military exercise between India and Maldives.
  • Disaster Management: The Government of India has provided large-scale assistance to the Maldives in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and during the 2014 Male water crisis.
  • Trade and Tourism: India is Maldives’ 4th largest trade partner after UAE, China and Singapore. In 2018, India was the 5th largest source of tourist arrivals in the Maldives.
  • The Maldivian economy is heavily dependent on its tourism sector, which is the major source of foreign exchange earnings and government revenue.

Operation Sanjeevani

  • India supplied 6.2 tonnes of essential medicines to Maldives, under Operation Sanjeevani as assistance in the fight against COVID-19.
  • The medicines were delivered by a Hercules C-130J-30 aircraft of the Indian Air Force.
  • The medicines include influenza vaccines, antiviral drugs such as lopinavir and ritonavir among others as well as consumables such as catheters, nebulisers, urine bags and infant feeding tubes.
  • Lopinavir and ritonavir have been used to treat patients with COVID-19 in some countries.
  • In March India also dispatched a 14-member Army medical team to Maldives to set up a viral testing lab there and gifted 5.5 tonne of essential medicines.

Maldives signs largest-ever infrastructure project with AFCONS

  • The contract for the largest-ever infrastructure project in the Maldives was signed in Male.
  • The Greater Male Connectivity Project ( GMCP) will consist of a 6.74-km-long bridge and causeway link between Male and the nearby islands of Villingli, Gulhifalhu and Thilafushi. Indian construction giant AFCONS has been tasked with completing the project.
  • AFCONS is known for its “extreme engineering” projects that also include the Chenab Railway Bridge.
  • The project is funded by a grant of $100 million and a line of credit of $400 million from India.
  • The GMCP project would be bigger than the Sinamale Bridge built with Chinese assistance that connects Male with Hulhumale and Hulhule and was completed in 2018.
  • The Greater Malé Connectivity Project supports the vision of Prime Minister Modi and President Solih for strong bilateral relations.
  • The seeds of the project were planted during the External Affairs Minister’s visit to Malé in September 2019.

Significance of GMCP

  • The GMCP is concrete proof that India is a robust development partner of the Maldives in addition to being the First Responder in times of any emergency in the Maldives.
  • The GMCP is not only the biggest project India is doing in the Maldives but also the biggest infrastructure project in the Maldives overall. This iconic project will give a major boost to the Maldivian economy.
  • This project is significant because it facilitates inter-island connectivity in the country. Transport is a major challenge for residents who have to take boats or seaplanes to distant islands. Locals take ferries or boats. It becomes even more difficult during the monsoons when the seas are rough. This bridge that would connect Malé with the three neighbouring islands would ease the process.

Source: TH

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