Recently, Yoga Day celebrations organized in the capital city of Male were attacked by the extremist and opposition party members following a social media campaign against India.

Political analysts believe that the main opposition, Abdulla Yameen of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has initiated the India Out campaign who is a supporter of China, and is trying to advance the political gains in next year’s presidential elections.

Following this, a counter-campaign was launched by the ruling party in the Maldives, The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in praise of India. Maldivian Speaker Mohamed Nasheed while explaining the campaign said that the campaign is called ‘Baakeenuvey’ and is a call to action to not break ties with India.

The campaign launched is a bid to counter the ‘India Out’ campaign launched by the opposition party which is pro-China. Mr. Nasheed talking about the anti-India campaign said that “The low number of participants in the India-Out campaign is proof that it is not supported by Maldivians”.

Read More: Pakistan and China try their best to trend #IndiaOut in the Maldives. Maldives govt blasts it

Why India matters to the Maldives

India shares ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious, and commercial relationships with the Maldives. The multidimensional relationship with the India has provided great help to the Maldives in its overall progress and prosperity. India has been a friend in need of the people of Maldives. Since its independence in 1965, India’s economic, political & security support to the Maldives has helped the country to sustain its democracy.

The rise of Abdulla Yameen, the pro-China leader in the country has severely affected the country’s relationship with India. The corrupt and pro-China policies of the Yameen engulfed the country in around USD 3.4 billion Chinese debt. Further, the arbitrary action against the opposition and deteriorating relationship with India during his tenure endangered the Maldives’ republic.

Read More: Even an island nation like the Maldives doesn’t care a dime about China

But the ousting of Yameen in 2019 and the revival of Maldives’ relationship with India paved the way for developmental projects. After taking charge, the new President Solih paid his first foreign visit to India and a series of development projects were signed between the countries.

In an effort to free the Maldives from Chinese debt, India announced a financial assistance package of US$1.4 billion and also offered additional 1000 scholarships over the next 5 years. Further various developmental projects in the field of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy were also signed during the visit. India gifted 2500 LED street lights and 2 lakh LED bulbs to Malé City Council. From building technical & medical institutions to training Maldivian National Defense Force, India’s development cooperation with the Maldives is immense.

During his virtual meeting with Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid on 13 August 2020, EAM announced the GoI decision to support the Government of Maldives in the implementation of the Greater Male Connectivity Project through a Line of Credit of USD 400 million and a grant of USD 100 million. This project aims to connect Male to Villingili, Gulhifalhu, and Thilafushi islands through a series of bridges, causeways, and roads. The project is crucial for the proposed Gulhifalhu Port and will be a major catalyst for the Maldivian economy in the future through jobs and economic activity.

In a way, India has always treated the Maldives with mutual respect and has supported the country unconditionally. The people and its government know the importance of India’s support. Opposite to China, India never stakes a claim on Maldives’ assets and rather supports the country in every manner. This philanthropic behaviour of India towards its neighbour has created goodwill among the large population of the country and its leadership. So the aggressive campaign in favour of India by the common people is a result of India’s benevolent support to the Republic of the Maldives and its people.

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