Turbulent Tides: Unraveling the Key Events that strained India-Maldives Relations
Several Maldivian ministers disparaged Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media during his visit to Lakshadweep, causing the "close and cordial" ties between India and the island nation to collapse.
Currently, relations between India and the Maldives have shaken. Since several Maldivian ministers disparaged Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media during his visit to Lakshadweep, the once “close and cordial” ties between India and the island nation have collapsed.
Following derogatory social media posts by three of Muizzu’s junior ministers, who allegedly referred to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “clown,” “a terrorist,” and “puppet of Israel” in response to a video of him promoting tourism in Lakshadweep, an Indian territory in the Arabian Sea, tensions between the two countries reportedly continued to flare last week. Since then, the posts on X have been removed.
The Maldives has taken steps to contain the damage, such as suspending three deputy ministers, but ties between the two nations were already strained after Mohamed Muizzu was elected president and signaled a shift away from the previous regime’s “India first” policy while softening ties with China.
How it all started?
Since Muizzu gained government in November 2023, India’s relations with the Maldives have been strained, particularly because the former ran on a platform of “India Out.”
He pledged to withdraw an Indian security detachment that was using three donated planes to patrol the Maldives’ expansive maritime area. Diplomatic tensions reached an all-time high.
Muizzu indicated last month that he had managed the Indian soldiers’ evacuation, but he did not specify when. He has refuted any intention to use Chinese forces to tip the regional balance in his favor.
The deterioration in relations occurs at the same time as India has been the main provider of aid and support, as well as the main source of the tourists that power the island nation’s economy, for many years.
During island nations, President Mohamed Muizzu‘s first state visit to Beijing, China, and the Maldives improved their relationship.
This comes after Muizzu ran a campaign in which he painted China’s regional foe, India, as a threat to China’s sovereignty. He asked the Chinese government to encourage more tourists from China to visit the island nations after the #BoycottMaldives tag from India.
Whether it was India’s swift intervention in the 1988 coup attempt by a faction supported by a militant organization in Sri Lanka or its support during natural calamities, the nation has consolidated its reputation as the “first responder” for the Maldives in times of need.
Additionally, India was the first to respond to the Maldives’ needs during the December 2014 water crisis in Male and the 2004 tsunami, which claimed about 100 lives.
On the other hand, because of their location along the primary east-west maritime route, the Maldives are of great strategic significance to India.
India, which is 70 nautical miles away and the Maldives’ closest neighbor, provides the island nation with support in a variety of areas, including infrastructure, healthcare, education, and defense.
In actuality, once the Maldives attained independence in 1965, India was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with the nation.