INDIA-MALDIVES
22/02/2021

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CONTEXT:
  • India and Maldives signed agreements on wide range of domains including fish processing, public broadcasting, sustainable urban development, road infrastructure and housing
About:
  • The agreement in the field of broadcasting is for cooperation between Prasar Bharati and PSM.
  • The MoU intends to facilitate collaboration and capacity building in the field of public broadcasting.
     
    Both reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral ties as well as progress of ongoing bilateral projects and held discussions on the ongoing COVID situation, including India’s continued assistance to the Maldives for its post-COVID economic recovery. 
WHY MALDIVES IS IMPORTANT FOR INDIA?
  • A favourable and positive maritime environment in the Indian Ocean is essential for the fulfilment of India’s Strategic priority.
  • Despite being the smallest Asian country with a land area, Maldives is one of the world’s most geographically dispersed countries straddling a 960-km-long submarine ridge running north to south and which forms a wall in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
  • Through the decades, India has rushed emergency assistance to the Maldives, whenever sought.
  • Maldivian students attend educational institutions in India and patients fly here for superspeciality healthcare, aided by a liberal visa-free regime extended by India.
  • Given the geographical limitations imposed on the Maldives, India has exempted the nation from export curbs on essential commodities.
  • The other important aspect to point out is India bringing the Maldives into its Coastal Security Grid.
CHALLENGES:
  • China’s strategic footprint in India’s neighbourhood has increased. The Maldives has emerged as an important 'pearl' in China’s “String of Pearls” construct in South Asia.
  • In the past decade or so, the number of Maldivians drawn towards terrorist groups like the Islamic State (IS) and Pakistan-based madrassas and jihadist groups has been increasing.
Concluding
  • Maldives should be brought into India’s collective security framework in the region through capacity building in a big way. Maldives is capable of looking after her own interests.
  • The Asia-Africa growth corridor, which involves linking South East Asia, North East Aisia, etc needs to be looked into. The Africa-Asia growth corridor can be a game changer as far as India-Maldives relations are concerned.
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