What Can India Do In The Maldives Crisis?

An emergency has been declared in the Maldives which has thrown the country into disarray and India has been called upon to resolve the crisis.

What’s The Crisis?

As reported by leading news sites, Abdulla Yameen, the President of Maldives has announced a state of emergency in the country for 15 days, and in the process has suspended  the Supreme Court and arrested the Chief Justice, top-notch judges, the President’s estranged half-brother and former dictator, Maumoon Gayoom and detained other political entities as well.

What Are The Options That India Has?

There is a fine balance between intervening too much to invite ire from the public at large of Maldives or ignoring the situation all together which would undermine India’s position in the ‘Act East’ policy.

As mentioned in The Wire, one option for India which authorities are considering is to put a restriction on the export of items to the disturbed country. The 1981 trade agreement gives special privileges to the Maldives for importing items from India which are restricted to other countries. But any restriction on such import would paint India unfavourably and demean its image.

It is also well known how a lot of the people of Maldives prefer India for treatment purposes and as tourists. A ban on the people of Maldives from entering India or vice versa wouldn’t be appreciable considering India’s image as a ‘problem solver’ and ‘world leader’.

As per C. Raja Mohan, director of Carnegie India, Delhi and a contributing editor on foreign affairs for ‘The Indian Express’:

Doing nothing is surely an option for Delhi; that in effect means India chooses Yameen’s side. Doing something would involve political mediation between the government and opposition, the use of coercive diplomacy, and ultimately force, to restore order in Maldives. Such an intervention is likely to get considerable international support and some Chinese criticism. The moment, then, may indeed be ripe for a decisive Indian intervention in the Maldives.”

The Ministry Of External Affairs issued the followed statement:

The prevailing political developments in Maldives and the resultant law and order situation is a matter of concern for the Government of India,” which however did not explicitly refer to the Emergency. It also asked Indian nationals to “defer all non-essential travels to Male and other atolls until further notice.”

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Has India Intervened Before?

In the book, India’s Ocean: The Story of India’s Bid for Regional Leadership, it has been written on how India had sent its forces in 1988, to save the Maldives government from any more damage after the whole institution had come under fire because of a mounted coup from a group of 80-200 Sri Lankan militants from the People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), backed by Maldivian businessman Abdulla Luthufi.

India had done the needful and was lauded for its efforts from all over the world.

India’s then Cabinet Secretary, BG Deshmukh extolled Operation Cactus:

Operation Cactus enhanced India’s prestige enormously and showed our efficiency and capability to mount a successful operation at short notice. There was universal acknowledgement of our role as a police force in the area.”

Intervening in the internal matters of some other country is certainly not India’s prerogative and responsibility but with the current problem at hand, India must intervene as the middleman between the opposition and the government and stand its claim as a world leader.


Sources: The Wire, The Quint, The Indian Express

Images- Google Images, Simply Decoded


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