The Indian High Commission hosted a function on Friday (January 25) at the Dharubaruge conference hall to celebrate India’s 64th Republic Day.
The ceremony, which included a dinner and different cultural dances from across India, was attended by an assortment of Maldivian dignitaries including Foreign Minister Dr Abdulla Samad and members of the cabinet. Representatives of Male’s Indian expatriate community were also in attendance.
Speaking during the ceremony, Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives Dnyaneshwar M Mulay conveyed greetings “to those Indian expatriates who are in Maldivian jails”.
“After the Independence of Maldives in 1965, India was among the first countries to establish diplomatic relations and a full-fledged mission started working in the 70s. In the early days the State bank of India and Air India performed pioneering roles in project finance, banking and connectivity,” Mulay observed. “Old timers would remember the first telecommunication line between Mumbai and Malé known as Bombay line which was at that time Maldives’ only connection with the outside world,” he said.
“India believes in maintaining cordial relations with all its neighbours. We are proud of our special relationship with Maldives nurtured carefully for decades both by political leadership and the people of both countries. We are connected through several threads like economic, cultural, historical and above all geographic. Our destinies are tied and we share aspirations as well as concerns regarding the collective future of mankind.
The first contacts between India and Maldives go beyond two millennia. The messengers of peace and prosperity were sent to Maldives by Emperor Ashoka in 3rd century BC. The Buddhist culture of Maldives continued till the arrival of Islam in 12th century. Throughout history, our maritime contacts have been very strong, as testified by many Arabian as well as Chinese travellers,” Mulay said.
Mulay outlined India’s contemporary contributions to the Maldives, and announced that the new eight storey Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism in Male’ would be handed over by the Indian government in several months.
“Our cooperation in the health sector and education sectors is well known. Indian teachers, doctors and nurses are serving the Maldivian people in many remote islands. A large number of Maldivians visit India for health services, education as well as tourism and recreation. I would like to appeal to both Indians and Maldivians to strengthen this partnership in the future,” Mulay added.
“Currently the Maldives is facing certain challenges, but we are confident that the wise people of Maldives will be able to choose a stable government that works further to strengthen these relations. India has always wished for a peaceful, prosperous and progressive Maldives since the security and peace in Maldives would have direct implications for our own security and peace,” he said.
“We are optimistic that the people of the Maldives will vote for the political and economic stability of the country. The hard earned democracy needs further support from all quarters.”
Mulay also noted that India has offered its assistance to the country’s Election Commission.
“Maldivians are dear to our heart. I would like to convey our assurances that no Maldivian would ever be denied visa to India and we will work very closely with the Maldivian authorities to resolve all the outstanding issues in a spirit of cooperation and goodwill,” he concluded.
Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Samad kept his address short, stating that Mulay had covered his topic thoroughly.
“The contributions of India to the Maldives, particularly towards security, and our socio-economic and human resources development, are too numerous to enumerate,” Samad said. “Many of our doctors and nurses are educated in India, as well as our civil servants, and likewise our military and police force have received significant support and training in India.”
“None of us can forget the support india promptly provided when we have had security problems in our country, or natural disasters during the past few decades,” Samad said.
Samad also thanked the Indian government for its support “during the past 10 months, following certain changes that have taken place in this country on the political front.”
“I should mention that the government of India was almost the very first country to recognise the changes that took place, and extended their support very quickly. In this regard, our gratitude to the government of India and his excellency [High Commissioner] Mulay is too significant to address,” he concluded.