Indo-Maldivian relations

Indo-Maldivian relations

Bilateral relations between the Republic of India and the Republic of Maldives have been friendly and close in strategic, economic and military cooperation.cite web |url= |title=Maldives - India relations |accessdate=2008-06-05 |publisher=Library of Congress Country Studies] cite web |url= |title=Maldives, Sri Lanka and the "India Factor" |accessdate=2008-06-05 |publisher=Himal South Asia Magazine] India contributed to maintaining security on the island nation and has forged an alliance with respect to its strategic interests in the Indian Ocean.cite book |author=Devin T. Hagerty |title=South Asia in World Politics |pages=102-103|publisher=Rowman and Littlefield |year=2005 |isbn=0742525872]


The Maldives is located south of India's Lakshadweep Islands in the Indian Ocean and approximately 700 kilometres from Sri Lanka. Both nations established diplomatic relations after the independence of Maldives from British rule in 1966. Since then, India and Maldives have developed close strategic, military, economic and cultural relations. India has supported Maldives' policy of keeping regional issues and struggles away from itself, and the latter has seen friendship with India as a source of aid as well as a counter-balance to Sri Lanka, which is in proximity to the island nation and its largest trading partner.

Development of bilateral relations

India and Maldives officially and amicably decided their maritime boundary in 1976, although a minor diplomatic incident occurred in 1982 when the brother of the President of Maldives Maumoon Abdul Gayoom declared that the neighbouring Minicoy Island that belonged to India were a part of Maldives; Maldivies quickly and officially denied that it was laying claim to the island. India and Maldives signed a comprehensive trade agreement in 1981.cite web |url= |title=Action plan to strengthen bilateral ties with Maldives |accessdate=2008-06-05 |publisher=The Hindu Business Line] Both nations are founding members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the South Asian Economic Union and signatories to the South Asia Free Trade Agreement. Indian and Maldivian leaders have maintained high-level contacts and consultations on regional issues.

Operation Cactus

In November 1988 speedboats carrying 80 armed militants of the People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam landed in Maldives and along with allies who had infiltrated the country, began taking over the government. The plot, planned in Sri Lanka by the Tamil nationalist group was believed to be an attempt by a Maldivian businessman and politician opposed to the regime of the President of Maldives Maumoon Abdul Gayoom to gain control while the PLOTE sought a safe haven and base for its activities.

The militants took control of the airport in Male, the national capital, but failed to capture the President of Maldives Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had fled and asked for military aid from India on November 3. The then-Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi ordered 1,600 troops to aid the Maldivian government. In a military operation codenamed "Operation Cactus," Indian forces arrived within 12 hours of the request for aid being made, squashed the coup attempt and achieved full control of the country within hours. 19 PLOTE militants were killed and 1 Indian soldier wounded.

India's intervention was endorsed by other nations such as the United States, Soviet Union, Great Britain and its neighbours Nepal and Bangladesh. Its speedy and decisive victory and the restoration of the Maldivian government brought both nations even closer in friendship and cooperation. In wake of internal security crises and tensions with Sri Lanka, Maldives saw its relationship with India as a source of future security.

Commercial relations

Since the success of Operation Cactus, the relations between India and Maldives have expanded significantly. India has provided extensive economic aid and has participated in bilateral programs for the development of infrastructure, health, civil aviation, telecommunications and labour resources. It established the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Male, the capital of Maldives, expanded telecommunications and air links and increased scholarships for Maldivian students. While India's exports to Maldives during 2006 were worth Rs. 384 crores, imports were worth less than Rs. 6 crores. The State Bank of India has contributed more than USD 500 million to aid the economic expansion of Maldives. India and Maldives have announced plans to jointly work to expand fisheries and tuna processing.

Military relations

On 7th March 2005 Defence Attaché's Office ( DAO) was established in the High commission of the Republic of Maldives in India by making Lt.Colonel Abdulla Shamaal as first defense attaché.This was the first Defence Attaché's office set up abroad. Given, that defence relations is a major component of the Indo-Maldives bilateral relations and both counties have a long record of strengthening their defense ties through a wide range of activities, such as Military Joint Exercises, exchange of visits of senior officers of the Armed forces, training of large number of defense services personnel from the Maldives at Indian defense establishments, provision of military aid, and intelligence and information sharing, the necessity for a DAO was felt. Hence, the DAO was instituted to further strengthen and consolidate the already existing bilateral defense relations in a mutually beneficial manner. As a result, the DAO functions as the primary mechanism integrated in the resident Mission of the Republic of Maldives in New Delhi, India to guide direct and coordinate defense ties between the two countries.

On April 2006 Indian Navy gifted a Trinkat Class Fast Attack Craft of 46m length to Maldives National Defence Force's Coast Guard


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