Maldives have gone from a beach resort to a worry spot for India
- his country of islands is veering away from India again, perhaps towards China. To foil a larger apparent Chinese plan to encircle us, New Delhi should deploy a range of resources.
For India, the story of a picturesque archipelago has developed picaresque overtones. A day after he took charge as president of Maldives on 17 November, Mohamed Muizzu asked India to withdraw its military personnel from the country. Coupled with his recent official tour of Turkey, breaking a tradition of the new leader’s first visit being to India, Malé is signalling a desire to break away from India’s sphere of influence. Though there have been hiccups in the past decade, New Delhi has long had a largely cordial relationship with the republic to its south-west. Its equatorial location in the Indian Ocean places it close to a key maritime corridor, making it an attractive spot for world powers with geo-strategic designs to set up a base. The islands of Diego Garcia, a US choice, are close-by. The worry is that Maldives could get co-opted by China for its ‘string of pearls’ game of surrounding India with bases.