Home Asia India and Maldives Robust Historical Ties Getting Stronger

India and Maldives Robust Historical Ties Getting Stronger

A robust historical tie has been enjoyed by India and the Maldives, which is growing stronger in this modern era. It is believed that the earliest settlers in the Maldives, who moved there in the 5th century BCE, were probably Dravidian Buddhists and ethnic Sinhalese from modern Sri Lanka and South India.

 The Maldives is located near the western coast of India, which is about 70 miles away from the Minicoy. Its position at the hub of commercial sea lanes running through the Indian Ocean is endowed with strategic significance for India. Like India, the Maldives is also a member of the Commonwealth. So, it was no wonder that the Maldives was recognized by India soon after its independence in 1965, and diplomatic relations between the two nations grew.

India-Maldives relations encompass many areas and are not involved in any politically contentious issues. The military assistance of India during the coup of 1988 was instrumental in building trust. Beneficial was the prompt withdrawal of the Indian forces when their services were no longer needed.

India was the first country to come to the aid of the Maldives during the 2004 Tsunami and the drinking water shortage in Male in December 2014. These periods, particularly 1988, 2004, and 2014, established indisputably the benefits of the proximity and capacity of India to help the Maldives in times of distress.

More recently, in January 2020, 30,000 vials of the measles vaccine were dispatched by India to resist an outbreak in the Maldives. Soon after this, India further started to provide comprehensive and rapid assistance to the Maldives during the time of the pandemic. This assistance and development have strengthened India’s position as the first responder in the event of a major crisis in the Maldives. These humanitarian gestures have been widely acknowledged and appreciated by the people and government of the Maldives. Thus, it can be anticipated that the incumbent government of the Maldives has boldly embraced an India First Policy.

The Maldives was the first stop for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his first overseas trip since taking office for the second time. During that visit in the year 2019, the Indian PM also addressed a session of the Maldives legislature. Further, several MoUs about collaborations and cooperations in the fields of hydrography, cargo service by sea, healthcare, custom capacity building, shipping, and governance practices were signed.

Indian Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra recently visited the Maldives in October. He met the President of the Maldives, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, and several other dignitaries.

President Solih visited India in August 2022 and announced the financial closure of the Cancer Hospital project. Further, India supported the restoration of the Hukuru Miskiy in Male, known as the Friday Mosque, with a grant of 8.95 crores. The bilateral trade between India and the Maldives has crossed the USD 300 million mark for the first time in the year 2021, reaching an impressive USD 323.9 million.

Both nations are looking forward to exploring new ways and means to further deepen and strengthen the bilateral relationship in the coming years.