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Exploring ‘Boycott Maldives’ in India—Real Issue, Long Term Impact, and Trends

Boycott Maldives in India

They say a picture can speak a thousand words without saying anything. This is exactly what happened when Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted pictures of him taking a dive in Lakshadweep Island on Twitter. Why are Indians boycotting Maldives? What impact does it make on Tourism? Why is Maldives important to India in political terms? What is the result of the dispute on Maldives & India? Will India continue the dispute?

PM Narendra Modi on Lakshadweep Island
PM Narendra Modi on Lakshadweep Island

Prime Minister of Bharat Shri Narendra Modi posted beautiful and colorful pictures on X expressing his experience with Lakshadweep. He said’ Recently, I had the opportunity to be among the people of Lakshadweep. I am still in awe of the stunning beauty of its islands and the incredible warmth of its people. I had the opportunity to interact with people in Agatti, Bangaram, and Kavaratti. I thank the people of the islands for their hospitality. Here are some glimpses, including aerial glimpses from Lakshadweep…’

 Nowhere in his text did he speak of Maldives or indirectly point at it. There is nothing wrong in promoting the landscape of his/her own country. This is concisely where the dispute began between the 2 countries.

Maldives Dispute Began

The Deputy Minister of Youth Empowerment, Information, and Arts made a disrespectful comment on PM Modi’s tweet saying ‘What a clown. The puppet of Israel Mr.Narendra Diver with a life jacket.’

This tweet spread like fire on the internet and news channels. Its screenshots are getting circulated on all social media platforms.

Mariyam Shinua
Mariyam Shinua

Several Maldivian citizens disparaged their own Minister for her comments indicating that the population is more aware of how damaging this tweet was. Examples of some tweets are ‘What a shame you are bringing to this nation by stooping so low to even reply to these posts childishly’. Another person raised his voice saying’ You are Ministers of our Government. Act like it. Your actions will reflect others not you.

A major comment was made on Twitter read’ You will leave Maldives to suffer’. As a result, more than 8000 hotel bookings and 2500 flights were canceled in Maldives, which was bound to happen.

Let’s look at previous records which say that in 2021 23% of tourists were from India. Which is rather a large number to look at and again in 2022 India’s share in Maldives tourism was 14%. These numbers were maintained in 2023 as well.

Maldives’ economy is majorly run on tourism due to its geopolitical position. Per se Indians stop visiting Maldives; their economy will take a great hit as a major part of their tourism depends on India. People posted screenshots of them canceling their tickets on Twitter and were noticed by the Maldivian Government.

Ex-President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed stepped in to clarify on Twitter regarding this dispute saying’ What appalling language by Maldives Government official Mariyam Shiuna towards the leader of a key ally, that is instrumental for the Maldives’ security and prosperity. The Mohamed Muizzu government must distance itself from these comments and give clear assurance to India they do not reflect government policy. However, it seems to have made no difference at all and there is an explanation as to why it didn’t make a difference.

Ex-President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed
Ex-President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed

A Maldives MP Zahid Rameez made an insulting tweet regarding Lakshadweep and its hospitality saying’ The move is great. However, the idea of competing with us is delusional. How can they provide the service we offer? How can they be so clean? The permanent smell in the rooms will be the biggest downfall’. This comment leaves the Indian population in disgust and has been made clear that Deputy Mariyam’s tweet was no mistake. This is exactly why Ex-president Mohamed Nasheed’s clarification made no difference.

MP Zahid Rameez
MP Zahid Rameez

The Maldivian Government is well aware of the mess its parliament members have made and therefore suspended all Government officials including Mariyam Shiuna responsible for the comments. This was confirmed by Maldives Government spokesperson Ibrahim Khaleel when he made a statement saying ‘All government officials responsible for the comments have been suspended from their post effective immediately’.

Ibrahim Khaleel
Ibrahim Khaleel

Due to all this, it has become a heated topic in just a matter of time. But to understand it better per se Indians stop visiting Maldives, what would happen?  Why do Indians visit Maldives anyway?

Maldives has villas in the water which gives a unique experience to tourists and provides many other facilities not yet available in Lakshadweep.

The Word Lakshadweep’s literal meaning is ‘1 Lakh Islands’ and is spread between 200 to 440 km off the Malabar Coast of India which is the Union territory of India. Lakshadweep consists of 35 Islands but initially, they were 36. One Island submerged under water due to soil erosion therefore we only count 35 Islands. After PM Modi’s tweet about Lakshadweep, Google searches for the Islands went up to 50,000 searches in a day.

At the moment the major hardship with visiting Lakshadweep is that flights and ships are only available from Kochi due to Bureaucratic Red tapism. Fortunately, this rule will be relaxed as the development infrastructure in Lakshadweep is in motion. Taj hotels are set to boost Lakshadweep’s tourism with its 2 hotels opening on the Suheli and Kadmat Islands. The Suheli Taj Resort will have 110 rooms, 60 villas on the beach, and 50 water villas and the Kadmat Resort will have 110 rooms 75 beach villas, and 35 water villas. IFCL confirmed that these 2 resorts are slated to open in 2026.

Upon completion, India’s tourism will be magnified and the economy will benefit at a greater level. India is acting on its ‘Atmanirbhar’ slogan. And Indian population will visit Lakshadweep as it has visited Maldives for its beauty and scenery.

But why is it important for India to maintain good relations with Maldives?

This is due to 3 major reasons which are Maritime Trade, Crucial minerals, and Military purposes. Maldives is in the Western Indian Ocean and has more than 1000 islands where 95% population is Muslim. Maldives land area is less than 500kmsqft with a population of 400,000. Its position in the western Indian Ocean is very critical for Maritime trade as it is located on the busiest Sea Lane of Communication (SLoC). This  SLoC is responsible for trade from the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Aden to the Strait of Malacca.

This SLoC is very crucial for India as 90% of trade goes through this area, especially oil. 80% of China’s and India’s oil import comes from the Arabian Gulf. Even though India has started purchasing oil from Russia, the Indian Ocean is still very relevant because the oil from Russia is shipped through the Indian Ocean.

Maldives also have crucial minerals that will be very valuable in the future due to their use in green energy. International Seabed Authority permitted India to carry out mineral exploration within 75,000 square kilometers of the Indian Ocean. To explore to such lengths, India needs to have a stop. And this is exactly where Maldives will come in handy.

Now to speak of Military purpose, to protect civilians in the country and attack back at the enemy, India needs to have Military bases in its surrounding countries which include Maldives. Like USA has 750 Military bases in 80 countries. If India wants to increase its influence in the Indian Ocean, friendship with Maldives has to be maintained.

 

Boycott Maldives Celebrity Tweets

Many Indian celebrities , Influencers and corporations passed their disapproval of Maldives’ disrespectful criticism and supported Indian tourism. Let’s take a look at their posts

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