- GS-2: India and its neighborhood- relations.
- GS-2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
India Out campaign in Maldives
Context: The Indian High Commission in the Maldives has sought government action and greater security following what it calls “recurring articles and social media posts attacking the dignity of the High Commission” and diplomats posted in the country.
‘India Out’ campaign in Maldives had started sometime last year as on-ground protests in the Maldives and later widely spread across social media platforms under the same hashtag.
- It is not related to people-to-people conflict (Indian diaspora) but is discontent on close relationship between Maldivian government & India.
What factors have led to such anti-India sentiments in Maldives?
1. Domestic Politics
- The anti-India sentiment didn’t just sprout overnight last year, but is nearly a decade old and can be traced back to when Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom became president in 2013.
- He used anti-India sentiments for his political mobilization and started tilting China.
- India-Maldives relations deteriorated during Yameen’s rule from 2013-18.
- Ibrahim Mohamed Solih who became President in 2018 has restored Maldives close ties with India.
2. Controversy over India’s helicopter gift
- Two Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters (ALF) that were given by India to the Maldives in 2010 and in 2015,
- Both of these were used for ocean search-and-rescue operations, maritime weather surveillance and for airlifting patients between islands.
- Yameen’s party PPM tried to portray that by gifting these helicopters, India was creating military presence in the country because they were military choppers.
- This twisting of situation by political party further whipped up anti-India sentiments as Madives Citizens considered it as affront to their Sovereignty.
- However, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih after he assumed office in 2018 extended the stay and use of these choppers in the country.
3.Opaqueness in India-Maldives relationship
- A recurring complaint in Social Media is the lack of transparency in agreements being signed between the Ibrahim Solih government and India.
- Most of the ‘India Out’ campaign wouldn’t have arisen had these bilateral agreements been publicly discussed in the Maldives Parliament.
- But the ruling government and the defence ministry saying that these agreements are confidential has further led to suspicions fuelling India Out Campaign
4. Perception of interference in Domestic Affairs
- India being a big neighbour, there are unsubstantiated perceptions & allegations on Indian Diplomats stationed in Maldives interfering in Domestic affairs.
- Such misinformation is also one of the factor for anti-India campaigns
- The mobilising of ordinary citizens through the ‘India Out’ campaign doesn’t bode well for India.
- So India has to work on perception management in the Maldives and need to earn the good will of the people.
Connecting the dots: