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India hands over two 'Made in India' military vessels to Maldives

  • Category
    International Relations
  • Published
    5th May, 2023

Context

In a demonstration of the nations' shared commitment to peace and security in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), India’s Defence Minister handed over two 'Made in India' platforms, a Fast Patrol Vessel and a Landing Craft Assault ship, to the Maldives National Defence Forces.

Defence & Security Cooperation with Maldives

  • MNDF Coast Guard Harbour: India also laid foundation stone of MNDF Coast Guard Harbour and repair facility at Sifavaru in the archipelago. This is the biggest grant-in-aid project of India in Maldives.

China had managed to gain a strong foothold in the Maldivian economic system between 2013-2018 which included deals for large infrastructure projects and also signing a free trade agreement. 

  • Greater Male connectivity project: In August last year, both countries started the India-funded Greater Male connectivity project, billed as the largest infrastructure initiative in the island nation.
    • Under the Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP) project, a 6.74 km long bridge and causeway link will be built to connect the capital city Male with adjoining islands of
      • Villingli
      • Gulhifalhu
      • Thilafushi
  • Bilateral exercise: The two sides already exchange high-level visits and there are mechanisms in place to deepen this cooperation including several bilateral exercises like — Ekuverin; Dosti; Ekatha.
  • India is playing a very important role in training and capacity building of Maldivian National Defence Force.
  • India has helped Maldives with the Coastal Radar System with ten radars and control stations and this was inaugurated back in 2019.
  • Others
    • Neighbourhood First Policy
    • Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR)

Facts about Maldives

  • The Republic of the Maldives is located in the Indian Ocean.
  • It is an archipelago comprising approximately 1,200 islands with a geographical spread over 90,000 sq.km
  • Incorporating some 26 atolls, the Maldives is one of the world’s most geographically dispersed countries, and is a 99 per cent water-nation.
  • Maldives is the lowest-lying country on the planet.  With the highest elevation being just 2.3 metres (7 feet 7 inches) above sea level, the archipelago has the world’s lowest naturally-occurring ‘highest-point’.


Significance of the Maldives for India

  • Strategic Importance: The Maldives is geographically positioned like a ‘toll gate’ between the western Indian Ocean chokepoints of the Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Hormuz on the one hand, and the eastern Indian Ocean chokepoint of the Strait of Malacca on the other. 
  • Economic Value: It is situated at the hub of commercial sea-lanes running through the Indian Ocean. More than 97% of India’s international trade by volume and 75% by value passes through the region. It's potential to allow a third nation’s naval presence in the area.
  • Political and Regional Security:
    • Since China’s naval expansion into the Indian Ocean, Maldives significance has steadily grown and now it’s at the heart of international geopolitics.
    • Moreover, the Maldives is an important aspect of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
    • ‘India First’ has been a stated policy of the Government of Maldives.
    • Maldives is a member of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)and the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC).
  • Indian Community in Maldives:There is a significant Indian diaspora in the Maldives. Innumerable Indians work across the hospitality, education, and health-care sectors of the Maldives economy.

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