India Maldives relations UPSC
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. India established its mission at the level of CDA in 1972 and resident High Commissioner in 1980. Maldives opened a full-fledged High Commission in New Delhi in November 2004, at that time one of its only four diplomatic missions worldwide.
Bilateral relations have been nurtured and strengthened by regular contacts at the highest levels. Since establishment of diplomatic relations, almost all the Prime Ministers of India visited the Maldives. Former President Gayoom made a number of visits to India. President Mohamed Nasheed’s first visit to abroad after assuming office was to India in December 2008. In October 2009, President Nasheed attended the Delhi High Level Conference on Climate Change and Technology Transfer. In 2010 President Nasheed visited India twice, first in January for the CII-Partnership Summit in Chennai and in October for attending the Opening ceremony of the 19th Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. In the current year, President Nasheed made an official visit in February 2011. On international issues Maldives had consistently supported India in multilateral fora, such as the UN, the Commonwealth, the NAM and the SAARC. Maldives was one of the first countries to convey its support for the candidature of Shri Kamalesh Sharma as the Commonwealth Secretary General. Maldives also co-sponsored the G-4 draft resolutions on UN reforms.
Wherever possible, India has been offering assistance to Maldives in its developmental process. The major projects executed by India are:
(i) Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital: (IGMH) During former Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to Male’ in 1986, it was agreed to establish a medical complex in Male’ with Indian assistance. Accordingly, the 200-bed hospital was established at an estimated cost of Rs.42.5 crores and inaugurated in April 1995. IGMH, Male now serves as the most advanced tertiary care hospital in Maldives and is easily the most visible symbol of India’s assistance to the Maldives. Though at present, the Government of Maldives is responsible for managing/running the hospital, Government of India continues to offer substantial assistance to the institution.
(ii) Faculty of Engineering Technology (FET): Maldives Institute of Technical Education (MITE) was set up as a grant-in-aid project of Government of India in 1996. Having a capacity to train at least 200 students a year in various technical/vocational disciplines, MITE was renamed as Faculty of Engineering Technology (FET) in order to better reflect the academic programmes conducted by it, is functioning well.
Tsunami Related Assistance
Following the tsunami waves that hit Maldives on the morning of 26 December 2004, India was the first country to rush relief and aid to the Maldives. A Coast Guard Dornier aircraft arrived on the morning of 27th December followed by two Indian Air Force Avros carrying relief materials on the same day. All the aircraft stayed back to continue their relief operations in the Maldives. INS Mysore carrying relief material, facilities for a 20-bed hospital and 2 helicopters arrived on December 28. She was joined by INS Udaygiri and INS Aditya on December 29. The ships operated in the most affected Southern Atolls. The ships delivered foodstuff & medicines, treated patients in a field hospital set up by their medics, undertook repair of electricity generators & communication equipments and also evacuated patients in the shipborne helicopters when required. The total cost of India’s relief operations has been estimated at Rs. 36.39 crores. Government of India also sanctioned a budget support aid of Rs.10 crores to Maldives in 2005 in response to President Gayoom’s request for financial help in view of the serious financial difficulties Maldives was facing on account of the tsunami and related factors. Again in 2007, following President Gayoom’s appeal in the aftermath of tidal surges in Maldives, Government of India gave a cash assistance of Rs.10 crores.
During the visit of President Nasheed to India in December 2008, Government of India extended a Standby Credit Facility of US$100 million to Maldives. Again a new Standby Credit Facility of US$ 100 million was extended to Government of Maldives during the November 2011 visit of Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh to Maldives. S
ubscription to the Dollar denominated Treasury bills
Due to the severe foreign exchange crisis in Maldives last year, the Maldivian Monetary Authority (MMA) issued treasury bonds denominated in US dollars for the first time in December 2009. The entire lot of US $ 100 million was subscribed to by the State Bank of India to help Maldives recover from the shortage of the currency.
US$ 40 million Line of Credit for Housing Sector
In December 2010, Government of India announced a new Line of Credit worth US$ 40 million to the Government of Maldives for construction of 500 housing units. The LOC on a 2% concessional interest rate with a repayment period of 20 years is to be facilitated through EXIM Bank of India. An agreement on the LOC was signed between the EXIM BANK and the Government of Maldives in August 2011.