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Why is Maldives in the news?

The Maldives has been making headlines recently due to a diplomatic spat with India triggered by comments made by some Maldivian politicians and ministers. Here’s a breakdown of the key points:

Triggering Comments:

  • In December 2023, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Lakshadweep, an archipelago near the Maldives. This visit was reportedly perceived by some in the Maldives as an attempt to divert attention from their country.
  • Subsequently, Abdulla Mahzoom Majid, a Maldivian minister, made derogatory remarks on social media targeting PM Modi and suggesting that India was trying to compete with the Maldives in beach tourism. These comments faced significant backlash from India.

Backlash and Consequences:

  • Indians, including celebrities, responded by cancelling their planned trips to the Maldives, using the hashtag #BoycottMaldives on social media. This has potentially caused a significant blow to the Maldivian tourism industry, which heavily relies on Indian visitors.
  • The Maldivian government initially defended the minister’s right to free speech. However, following the escalating situation, they suspended three ministers, including Majid, to calm tensions with India.

Current Situation:

  • The diplomatic row is in a complex phase. While the suspension of the ministers appears to be a conciliatory gesture towards India, the underlying tensions regarding Lakshadweep and historical relations are still present.
  • It’s important to note that not all Maldivians share the views expressed by the politicians who made the controversial remarks. Many have also criticized these comments and expressed hope for a swift resolution to the diplomatic conflict.

Additional Considerations:

  • The timing of this incident coincides with the recent swearing-in of Maldives’ new president, Mohamed Muizzu, who has also publicly requested India to withdraw its military presence from their territory. This adds another layer of complexity to the bilateral relationship.
  • The long-term impact of this diplomatic row on tourism and political relations between the two countries remains to be seen.

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