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Maldives Posing Security Threat To India

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has urged the Indian Ocean littoral countries to join hands in order to strengthen the regional security. She made the request during her recent visit to Vietnam. And on August 31, Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested the Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Co-operation (BIMSTEC) member states to recognise the Bay of Bengal as a “common security space” and to work out ways for developing “common responses” to challenges. However, the Maldives – one of the Indian Ocean littoral states – has started posing a serious security threat to India.

Sushma Swaraj

Reports suggest that China is setting up military bases at various places in the island nation. Earlier, the Maldives asked India to take back the two helicopters New Delhi had gifted to Malé. The Maldivian government also refused to allow the 50 Indian soldiers to stay in the tropical nation (in the Indian Ocean) for ‘official purposes’. However, the Modi government in New Delhi has decided not to bow down to the pressure and to take back the helicopters.

Both China and India help Mauritius, Seychelles and the Maldives in different ways. They provide helicopters and patrol boats to these countries in an attempt to maintain their influence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Diplomats believe that their actual plan is to set up military bases in littoral countries.
Interestingly, China has managed to bolster ties with the Maldives in recent years. The Asian giant, which had no embassy in Malé till 2011, has become an all-weather friend of the island nation in recent times. Even, the two nations signed a free trade agreement a couple of years ago, thus, putting India under tremendous diplomatic pressure. The accord has allowed Beijing to invest in mega-infrastructure, housing, hotels and transportation projects. The Maldives has not only backed China’s ‘One Belt and One Road’ (OBOR) Initiative, but also invited the Chinese companies to start ventures there.

Indian PM Narendra Modi

India used to consider former Maldivian President Abdul Gayoom as a ‘friend’. The relation between the two countries has deteriorated since Abdulla Yameen became the president (on November 17, 2013). China has taken full advantage of this situation and strengthened co-operation with the Maldives. Diplomats are of the opinion that New Delhi has nothing to do, as the situation has already gone out of control!

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