The recent decision by the Maldives Cabinet, under the leadership of President Mohamed Muizzu, to not renew a hydrographic survey agreement with India marks a significant shift in the bilateral relationship. This move, coupled with Muizzu’s pledge to send back Indian troops stationed in the Maldives, signals a departure from the previous administration’s ‘India first’ policy and indicates emerging challenges in India-Maldives ties.
Background of the Hydrographic Survey Agreement:
Science of Hydrography: Involves studying oceans and water bodies for safety of navigation, economic development, and environmental protection.
India’s Role: As a key player in the International Hydrographic Organization, India has extended its hydrographic expertise to various countries, including the Maldives.
Significance of the 2019 MoU:
Bilateral Cooperation: The MoU, signed during PM Modi’s visit to the Maldives in 2019, symbolized strong cooperation in maritime security and development.
Joint Surveys: It led to joint hydrographic surveys by the Indian Navy and the Maldives National Defence Force.
Reasons for Non-Renewal:
National Security Concerns: The current Maldivian administration cites national security and sovereignty reasons for the decision, focusing on self-reliance in maritime surveillance.
Political Shift: This aligns with President Muizzu’s election campaign promises, including the ‘India Out’ stance.
Implications for India-Maldives Relations:
Diplomatic Challenges: India faces a new phase in its relationship with the Maldives, with potential shifts in regional security dynamics.
Maritime Security Cooperation: The decision impacts collaborative maritime security initiatives under frameworks like the Colombo Security Conclave.
China’s Influence: The Maldives’ increasing engagement with China, as seen in its participation in the China-Indian Ocean Region Forum, adds complexity to the situation.
Expertise Emphasized: The Indian Ministry of External Affairs highlights India’s proven track record in hydrography and cooperation in the Indian Ocean region.
The Road Ahead:
Navigating Changes: India will need to adapt its diplomatic approach to maintain influence and cooperation with the Maldives.
Regional Security: The development may affect broader regional security arrangements and India’s strategic interests in the Indian Ocean.
This recent development in India-Maldives relations underscores the dynamic nature of international diplomacy and the importance of adapting to changing geopolitical landscapes. SRIRAM’s
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