Millennium Post

The Maldives conundrum

It is not surprising that in a move to presurise Maldives, the government of India has frozen aid to it. Though Maldives and India have had a close association for many years, the relationship between the two seems to have collapsed in recent months over the issue of the construction of the new airport in that country. This is singularly unfortunate. The decision to terminate aid would not have ben an easy one to take given the close ties between the two countries. The reason why the government of India appears to have decided to end its commitment to grant aid to Maldives is because the government of that country has apparently decided to take control of the international airport despite a Singapore court having stayed the suspension of the contract given to a consortium led by the GMR company which is based in India. The government of India’s decision is all the more confusing as the consortium appears to be largely in private hands. It is, therefore, most surprising that the government of India has taken a step to defend private interests at the cost of its bilateral interests and international commitments that are between two governments. If the contract of an international consortium has been suspended by the government of Maldives, this is largely a result of a legal dispute between the Maldivian government and an international consortium. Given the fact that this is a legal dispute, it is not entirely clear why India has intervened in it, particularly in defence of these private interests.

The policy of the Indian government is somewhat confusing as it appears to be defending its somewhat controversial economic decisions taken at the expense of amity in the neighbourhood.

Quite clearly, dubious policy decisions should not be defended at the cost of national interest. It is not at all clear why the government of India is taking the drastic step of the termination of aid to a near neighbour which is a country friendly to it. This appears to be extreme reaction not merited by the issues at stake. India and the Maldives have seen eye to eye in the past on many international matters and the close ties between the two have been built up over many years with them being of mutual benefit. The ties between the two countries have been multi-faceted and complex with the countries having aided each other in times of distress, and India, despite its regional ecconomic clout, having been a beneficiary as well. Thus, India has little reason to interfere in the domestic issues of a friendly near neighbour unless there are very sound reasons to do so.
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