India’s diplomatic course correction averts impasse: Russia and India Report

“Indian diplomacy averted an impasse in the ties with Maldives through a course correction through past several months,” writes Indian career-diplomat M.K. Bhadrakumar for the Russia & India Report.

Bhadrakumar compares recent elections in both the Maldives and Nepal, assessing their impact on India’s external relations.

“When the ‘pro-Indian’ elected president was overthrown in Male last year, Delhi took umbrage. Its fury was fuelled by the summary termination of a highly lucrative contract of an influential Indian firm for managing the Male international airport.

But Maldives pushed back and the futility of the pressure tactic compelled Delhi to rethink and change tack to an equidistant stance between the warring Maldivian political parties.

Thus, although the recent presidential election in Maldives produced a surprise outcome, Delhi could engage the new power centre with alacrity. President Abdulla Yameen accepted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s invitation to visit Delhi for his first overseas trip as head of state.

However, as any passionate reader of Joseph Conrad would vouchsafe, island states wear a deceptively languid look. There is that certain edginess in the air. Curiously, one major decision taken by the new government in Male is to introduce Arabic language in the curriculum of Maldivian schools. The political elites have not hidden their tilt toward ‘Islamization’ of the Maldivian society.

One way of looking at it is that this is only a variant of cultural nationalism, which is sweeping over the region – India included. But then, it also carries the subtle overtone of an attempt to differentiate the island nation from the ethos of the Indian subcontinent.”

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