India-Maldives relations have faced various challenges, particularly in the lead-up to recent presidential elections, bringing longstanding concerns to the forefront.
A noteworthy issue involves the dispute over Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters (ALF) provided by India to the Maldives in 2010 and 2015, sparking tensions in bilateral ties.
Indian officers were sent to the Maldives to train the Maldives National Defence Force, under whose command the helicopters operated, in accordance with bilateral agreements.
In 2016, during the Yameen administration, the Maldives requested the return of these helicopters, refusing to extend the agreement, which heightened domestic opposition to perceived Indian military presence.
A 2022 World Bank report highlighted the need for the Maldives to implement revenue generation and expenditure reforms to avert potential economic crises in the future.
The foundation of the India-Maldives relationship is deeply rooted in historical and cultural ties, emphasizing people-to-people contact.
The perception of exaggerated or unwarranted fears depends on factors such as the nature of agreements and the future diplomatic approach of both nations.
The restoration of clear and open communication channels is proposed by the Maldives as a means to rejuvenate bilateral relations.
The “India Out” campaign, ostensibly against Indian military presence, adversely impacted various aspects of the bilateral relationship, as both India and the Maldives interpreted it differently.
India’s significant influence in shaping regional security dynamics is underscored by its size and strategic location in the Indian Ocean.
Collaboration and engagement among regional countries are emphasized over exclusion or boycott for effective cross-border and regional security in geopolitics.
Encouraging communication, fostering confidence, and fostering cooperation with India and other partners will contribute to more stable regional dynamics.