South Asia and Beyond

Why Is Maldives Important To Us?

It’s not difficult to figure out why the Maldives is strategically important to India – it lies a little over 700 km from the shores of Kerala and whatever happens there impacts India.

A government in the Maldives that is openly anti-India and pro-China could open a pandora’s box. This is what concerns India about the newly elected President Mohamed Muizzu who is believed to be an India sceptic and may turn to China to offset India’s influence on the island.

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An enhanced China presence in the Maldives may open the doors to Pakistan, which could seek to mobilise Islamic sentiments and groups there against India. It was not very long ago that Maldives sent more persons to fight for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq than any other country.

A politically stable Maldives which is not tied to China or encourages militant Islamic groups is vital for India. In that sense, India will be closely watching how President Muizzu behaves after he is formally sworn in next month. India can live with a Muizzu who ensures its interests are protected, but if the balance tips otherwise, the Maldives can bid goodbye to political stability.