MALDIVES – INDIA RELATIONS
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations with India on 1st November 1965, relations between the two countries have been marked by continued friendship, outstanding cooperation and beneficial bilateralism. Throughout a history of consistent and close cooperation which at any point of time was free of any bilateral irritants, the Maldives’ relations with India are unmatched by any other country in the region as both the countries have remained strongly committed to an enduring friendship.
India is the third country with which Maldives established such relations since independence on 26 July 1965; the other two being United Kingdom and Sri Lanka.
A significant aspect of the relations between the two countries is that the changes in the Government or the leadership have never altered the pattern of their bilateral relations. Despite the Indo – centric character of the South Asian region and the micro – archipelagic nature of the Maldives and thus the power disparity, both the countries have for long observed a principle of mutual respect, assistance and concern for each others’ sensitivities. As a result, the relations between the two countries have been deeply vested in close understanding and bonded in an inherent desire for cooperation and promotion of goodwill.
The Maldives profoundly value India’s assurances of support and assistance in all spheres. More importantly, not just on a mere occasion but on several occasions, India has proved to be a very close friend of the Maldives in its time of need. India’s swift response during the coup incident of 3rd November 1988 and its unconditional support and timely assistance to Maldives in the wake of the Tsunami disaster in December 2004 are two clear examples among many that stand proof of India’s closeness with Maldives.
The Maldives has shared the views of India and endeavoured to support India on various regional and international issues. To mention a few, in the late 1980s, unlike its some other members, Maldives held the viewpoint and shared India’s apprehension pertinent to opposing changes to the Charter of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) relating to bilateral issues. Moreover, the Maldives also shares common views on a range of international issues of mutual interest such as environmental protection, international peace, fight against terrorism and UN reform. Most recently, the Maldives has assured to India that it would extend its “full support” to India’s entry into the United Nation’s Security Council as a permanent member.
Both countries certainly have a long and proud record of strengthening their defence ties through a wide range of activities. The Maldives and India have been conducting a series of Coast Guard maritime joint training exercises codenamed “DOSTI” since 1991 in addition to other joint defence interactions. These bi-annual Maldives – India DOSTI exercises were initiated with the objective of strengthening cooperation between the Coast Guards of both countries, with a view to enhance mutual capabilities for search and rescue operations, combating piracy and armed robbery, damage control and casual evacuation at sea for safer seas. The joint training exercise expanded to include Sri Lanka which resulted in having bi-annual “Trilateral Joint Coast Guard Exercises”. In addition, a joint army training exercise to enhance the close military ties codenamed “Ekuverin” exists between the Maldives and India. A large number of defence services personnel from the Maldives are trained in various defence establishments in India every year. Consequently, Indian armed forces have played an instrumental role and have closely worked with the Maldivian counterparts to enhance the overall defence and security capability of the Maldives.
Scheduled Commercial Flights
Currently Indian Airlines operates 7 scheduled flights a week to the Maldives, and the Indian Government is seeking to designate multiple airlines for operations between India and Maldives. It is believed and expected that this will bring in fruitful outcome for both the countries in this sector. In January 2008, Island Aviation of Maldives started operating flights to Thrivananthapuram. Maldives has an extensive domestic network and has a wide ranging inter – island seaplane system; the largest fleet of Sea Planes in the world.
The on-going discussions between India and the Maldives on increasing flights between the two countries under the current open skies policies pursued by both the governments is expected to lead to fruitful results in the near future and result in promoting tourism between the two countries.
Collaboration in Science and Technology
Another important emerging area highlighting the relations between the two countries is the collaboration and assistance in the field of Science and Technology. Efforts are being made in the Maldives to keep pace with the advances in the area of science and technology and to make the most out of the growing potential to the benefit of our citizens in all walks of life. The tremendous achievements made by India in this field would be a source of immense benefit to the Maldives in its efforts to develop this important area.
The first resident mission of the Maldives in India was established on 22 October 2004. Until then, the Ambassador of Maldives in Sri Lanka was concurrently accredited to India. The first non-resident Ambassador of Maldives to India was H.E. Mr Ahmed Abdulla (1988 – 1996) followed by H.E. Mr. Abdul Azeez Yoosuf (1996 – 2004 & 2009 – 2012).
His Excellency Lt. Gen. (Rt.) Anbaree Abdul Sattar Adam served as the first resident Ambassador of the Maldives to India. He presented his Letter of Credence to the President of India, His Excellency Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam on 30 November 2004.
Maldivian Diplomatic Representatives previously accredited to India
|NAME||DATE OF ACCREDITATION|
|H. E. Mr Ahmed Abdullah||30 June 1988|
|H. E. Mr Abdul Azeez Yoosuf||23 December 1996|
|H. E. Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Anbaree Abdul Sattar Adam||30 November 2004|
|H. E. Mr Abdul Azeez Yoosuf||12 June 2009|
|H.E. Mr Mohamed Naseer||09 May 2013|
The Ambassador of India to the Maldives H. E. Mr Rajiv Shahare, presented his Letter of Credence to H. E. Dr Mohamed Waheed on 10 April 2013.
Indian diplomatic representatives previously accredited to the Maldives
|NAME||DATE OF ACCREDITATION|
|H. E. Dr Bim Suchar||10 May 1966|
|H. E. Shri Y. D. Gundenia||February 1969|
|H. E. Shri Y. K. Puri||7 October 1970|
|H. E. Mr Vincent Herbert Coelho||20 February 1973|
|H. E. Shri Gurbachan Singh||19 January 1976|
|H. E. Mr Thomas Abraham||12 September 1978|
|H. E. Shri Brij Kumar||29 December 1980|
|H. E. Shri Sujan Singh||21 May 1984|
|H. E. Shri Arun Kumar Banerjee||23 July 1987|
|H. E. Shri M. P. M. Menon||23 July 1989|
|H. E. Dr Har Swarup Singh||1 April 1993|
|H. E. Shri Kanwar Singh Jasrotia||30 April 1997|
|H. E. Mr Shashishekhar Madhukar Gava||19 September 2002|
|H. E. Mr. A. K. Pandey||8 September 2005|
|H. E. Mr D. M. Mulay||28 April 2009|
The Maldives established a Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram in India on 12 July 2005, which is the first Consulate opened by the Government of Maldives. Mr Abdul Latheef Gasim served as the first Consul.
The Honorary Consuls of the Maldives in India are listed below:
|Mr. Chandra Shekhar Jaiswal||Kolkata||Honorary Consul General – Since 2004|
Honorary Consul – since 3 May 1994
|Dr. S. M. Balaji||Chennai||Honorary Consul – since 29 April 2007|
|Dr. V. G. Joseph||Bangalore||Honorary Consul – since 10 July 2008|
|Mr Shalin Narain Tandon||Mumbai||Honorary Consul – since 09 June 2011|
Assistance from the Maldives to India
Assistance from the Maldives in the recent past has been more in the nature of token gestures following natural disasters such as the earthquakes of 2001 in Gujarat, and in 2003 in Maharashtra, when the Government of Maldives provided USD 25,000 on each occasion. In addition limited training opportunities were provided to teachers from Minicoy in Dhivehi Language and vocational training and adult education for a 2-member team from India.
Assistance from India to the Maldives
Assistance from India to the Maldives has been largely through grant aid projects, human resource development through long-term scholarships and training, technical assistance and deputation of experts.
Major infra-structure projects that have been implemented include, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) Project, the Maldives Institute of Techncial Education Project, Population and Development Consolidation Programme, and the restoration of the Dharumavantha Rasgefaanu Miskiiy Project, and the faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Studies.
The most significant assistance in the recent past has been the USD 40 million line of credit for the housing sector.
The on-going projects include the Maldives Mapping and National GIS Development Project, Hulhumale’ greening and Hulhumale’ breakwater projects, Strengthening National Planning Capacity Project.
Human Resources Development
Indian assistance to the Maldives in the area of Human Resources development is through long-term and short-term training under three main schemes – Indian Technical Education Cooperation (ITEC) Programme, Aid to Maldives Programme and Commonwealth Programme. The areas of specialization for long-term training include, medicine, social sciences, commerce, IT and defence related studies, while short-term training include IT, computer studies and other technical and vocational training programmes.
Indian investments in the tourism sector in the Maldives is significant. State Bank of India has been playing a vital role in the economic development of the Maldives since February 1974, by providing loan assistance for promotion of tourism Industry. While the Taj Group operates two resorts Taj Exotica & Spa and Vivanta Corel Reef Resort in the Maldives, there are other individuals and companies from India who have also invested in the tourism sector in the Maldives.
The Number of Indian Tourists visiting the Maldives remained at an average of 11,000 per year since 2002. There has not been any increase primarily due to lack of direct air connections to the Maldives from India other than from Trivandrum. Also traditionally the tourism sector in the Maldives has focussed on the European and the Japanese market and therefore no adequate promotions or marketing carried out in India. However, following the tsunami of 2004 and the subsequent slump in the tourist arrivals, greater efforts are being made to attract India tourists to the Maldives.
The Indian expatriate community in the Maldives comprise mainly of persons in the construction industry. This is followed by those in the tourism sector and the education and health sector.