The Indian Ocean has become a major source of contestation for regional powers

Expanding strategic footprints in the Southern Indian Ocean Region India and Maldives on Monday signed two MoUs for High Impact Community Development Projects, an MoU on Cooperation in Sports and Youth Affairs and an MoU for a $ 100 million grant to fund the Greater Male Connectivity Project which is the largest ever such infrastructure project undertaken in the Maldives.

The MoUs were signed during the ongoing visit of Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla to Male.

“The MoUs which we have signed today are emblematic of our strong development partnership which is multi-faceted and designed to meet the specific requirements of the Government and people of Maldives,” Shringla remarked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“We deeply appreciate Government of President Solih for its "India First” foreign policy. This is reciprocated in full measure by our "Neighbourhood First” policy in which Maldives enjoys a very special and central place.”

The High Impact Community Development Projects benefit the communities in a very direct manner and promote socio-economic welfare of the people. “India is honoured to partner with the Maldives in the prestigious Greater Male Connectivity Project (GMCP), an economic lifeline connecting Male with Vilingili, the new commercial port at Gulhifalhu and industrial zone at Thilafushi. Needless to say, the project will conform to the hallmarks of Indian development cooperation; transparency; full participation and ownership of the host country; and competitive pricing,” Shringla pointed out.

GMCP is among the several large-scale projects being carried out in the Maldives by India, which include infrastructure projects such as port, roads and reclamation, expansion of airports, building of new Cricket Stadium and cancer hospital and development of fisheries.

Shringla also mentioned that it looks forward to working closely with Maldives in the United Nations. 

Later speaking at the National Stadium Shringla noted that the gifting of children’s parks for 67 islands is a good example. The islands which will benefit are dispersed from the North to the South. India’s development projects in Maldives are demand-driven and will involve the Maldivian government at all stages. The tendering process and award of contract will also be done by the Government of Maldives.

Last month India provided US$ 250 million financial assistance, as a concessional loan, leaving it entirely to Maldives to decide its usage in accordance with its priorities.

Shringla announced that whenever a vaccine is developed in India, it will be shared with the Government of Maldives.

India has been involved in coaching Maldivian sportsmen in different games. India has also commenced a comprehensive cricket coaching program for local cricketing talent.

The state of the art Cricket Stadium being built in Hulhumale, along with a coaching centre, will further boost cricketing talent in the Maldives. “ I hope that an IPL match can be hosted in the Maldives in the near future,” Shringla announced.