Navigating the India-Maldives Diplomatic Turbulence: Understanding Mutual Dependencies and Stakes

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January 11, 2024

Navigating the India-Maldives Diplomatic Turbulence: Understanding Mutual Dependencies and Stakes


  • The recent strain in India-Maldives relations, exacerbated by undiplomatic remarks from Maldivian ministers, has raised concerns and fueled calls for a tourism boycott. In the midst of escalating tensions, it becomes imperative to analyze the intricate web of dependencies and the stakes involved in the diplomatic and political ties between the two nations.
  1. What’s at Stake?
  • The foundation of the bilateral relationship, meticulously built over six decades, is at stake. India established diplomatic ties with the Maldives in 1965, evolving over the years to encompass various sectors. The democratic transition in 2008 solidified India’s deep connections with political, military, business, and civil society stakeholders. The repercussions of the current discord jeopardize the extensive network painstakingly cultivated over the years.
  1. Why Does India Need the Maldives?
  2. Strategic Location and Maritime Security:
  • Proximity to India’s west coast and its pivotal location in commercial sea-lanes make the Maldives strategically vital.
  • Nearly 70% of Maldives’ defense training is conducted by India, highlighting the intertwined maritime security interests.
  1. Defence Cooperation:
  • India has played a crucial role in enhancing Maldives’ defense capabilities, offering training, aircraft, and choppers for aerial surveillance.
  • Plans for a coastal radar system in the Maldives underscore India’s commitment to bolstering regional security.
  1. China’s Influence:
  • With China actively pursuing investments in the Maldives, India aims to counterbalance the expanding Chinese footprint in its neighborhood.
  • The historical context reveals an ongoing struggle to maintain influence against China’s growing presence.

III. Why Does Maldives Need India?

  1. Daily Needs and Economic Dependence:
  • India serves as a crucial supplier of everyday essentials, including food and medicines, forming the backbone of Maldives’ daily life.
  • Indian exports accounted for a significant portion of the total trade in 2022, establishing India as a major economic partner.
  1. Education and Infrastructure Development:
  • India has been a key education provider for Maldivians, offering scholarships and facilitating access to higher education.
  • Indian assistance extends to infrastructure development, with notable contributions to hospitals and other critical projects.
  1. Disaster Relief and Security:
  • India has consistently provided support during crises, such as tsunamis and drinking water shortages, showcasing its role as a dependable ally.
  • Joint military exercises and the presence of Indian assets highlight the collaborative security efforts between the two nations.


  • The current tensions in India-Maldives relations underscore the delicate balance of dependencies and mutual interests that have been cultivated over the years. Both nations stand to lose significantly if the discord continues. Diplomatic efforts should prioritize addressing concerns and fostering cooperation, recognizing the shared history and intertwined destinies of India and the Maldives.

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Navigating the India-Maldives Diplomatic Turbulence: Understanding Mutual Dependencies and Stakes | Vaid ICS Institute