India-Maldives Relations

India-Maldives Relations

News: In a bid to strengthen ties, India and Maldives on Wednesday signed pacts on development projects as External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited the island country and held talks with the top leadership in the country. 

Key Details:
• The pact included grant assistance of 100 million Rufiyaa [currency of Maldives] for the High Impact Community Development Project (HICDP) scheme.
• It also included the development of a sports complex in Gahdhoo, and academic collaboration between Maldives National University and Cochin University of Science and Technology. 
• Dr. Jai Shankar participated in the groundbreaking ceremony of an international airport being developed by India at Hanimadhoo in Haaa Dahaalu atoll. 
• The two ministers also witnessed the handover of two sea ambulances from India to the Ministry of Defence of Maldives. 

Background of India-Maldives relations:
• Defence cooperation extends to the areas of Joint Exercises - “Ekuverin”, “Dosti”, “Ekatha” and “Operation Shield” (begun in 2021). India provides the largest number of training opportunities for Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF), meeting around 70% of their defence training requirements.
• In August 2021, Afcons, an Indian company, signed a contract for the largest-ever infrastructure project in Maldives which is the Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP).
• India is Maldives 2nd largest trading partner. 
• In 2022, the National College for Policing and Law Enforcement (NCPLE) was inaugurated by India’s External Affairs Minister. NCPLE is the largest grant project executed by India in Maldives.
• In the past five years, Delhi’s Neighbourhood First and SAGAR policies have found expression in the improvement of ties. Maldives is part of the India-driven Colombo Security Conclave.

Challenges:
• Radicalisation of youth in Maldives is on the rise with many joining ISIS and Pak based Jihadi groups.
• Political instability in the nation has always been a concern. 
• China’s strategic footprint in India’s neighborhood has increased. The Maldives has emerged as an important 'pearl' in China’s “String of Pearls” construct in South Asia.

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