India and Maldives share ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and commercial links steeped in antiquity and enjoy close, cordial and multi-dimensional relations. India was among the first to recognise Maldives after its independence in 1965 and to establish diplomatic relations with the country.
Economic relations –
India and Maldives signed a trade agreement in 1981, which provides for export of essential commodities. Growing from modest beginnings, India-Maldives bilateral trade now stands at Rs.700 crores. Indian imports from the Maldives primarily comprise scrap metals while Indian exports to the Maldives include agriculture and poultry produce, sugar, fruits, vegetables, spices, rice, atta, textiles, drugs and medicines, a variety of engineering and industrial products, sand and aggregate, cement for building etc.
Financial Assistance –
After the tsunami that struck Maldives on the morning of 26 December 2004, India was the first country to rush relief and aid to Maldives. India provided a budget support aid of Rs.10 crores in view of the serious financial difficulties being faced by Maldives on account of the tsunami and related factors.
Cultural Relations –
Both the countries share long cultural links and continuous efforts are underway to further strengthen these linkages. Three historical mosques were successfully restored by Indian experts from NRLCCP, Lucknow. Exchange of cultural troupes takes place regularly between the countries.
The India Cultural Center (ICC) in Male was inaugurated in July 2011, which conducts courses in yoga, classical music and dance.
Recent development – India and Maldives signed three MOU’s namely – (i) MoU on cooperation in the field of health, (ii) Memorandum of Understanding on Manpower requirements of the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, and (iii) Memorandum of Agreement for allotment of plot to the High Commission of Maldives.
India has earlier extended financial assistance for development projects in Maldives –
(a) Renovation of Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Male
(b) Construction of training centre for Maldives Defense forces.
(c) Assistance in setting up of Maldives Police Academy
Other than that India also agreed to allow visa-free entry to citizens of Maldives for medical purposes.