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The cumulative impact of these changes has catapulted India onto the world stage in 2023, not just as a major military player but as a significant contributor to global technological, cultural, and economic trends.

India’s interconnectedness with the world and its vibrant, informed population position it as a key player in shaping the future.

Breaking Tradition

Mohamed Muizzu, the new president of the Maldives, has broken a long-standing tradition of visiting India first after being elected.

Traditionally, Maldivian presidents visit India first, highlighting the country’s influence in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

Trip to Turkey

In a departure from tradition, Muizzu chose to make his first official trip to Ankara, Turkey, just a week after being sworn in as president.

This move is seen as a signal to diversify and reorient the Maldives’ foreign policy, especially given Muizzu’s divisive anti-India campaign.

Reorienting Foreign Relations

Analysts suggest that Muizzu’s decision symbolizes a significant shift in the Maldives’ foreign relations, moving away from India as an essential ally.

Muizzu’s campaign included a demand for India to withdraw troops from the Maldives, portraying India as a threat to the country’s sovereignty.

Nuanced Message to India

While Muizzu is perceived as closer to China, making a direct visit to China for his first foreign trip could strain ties with India.

Choosing Turkey sends message to India, showcasing an approach and a desire to seek new international partners.

Background on ‘India Out’ Campaign

The ‘India out’ campaign, initiated by Muizzu’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), accused India of having plans to use a military base in the Maldives.

Despite India’s denial and minimal troop presence, the campaign touched a nationalist nerve, contributing to Muizzu’s electoral success.

Yameen’s Influence and China Ties

Muizzu’s predecessor, Ibrahim Solih, was considered close to India, while Muizzu is perceived to have stronger ties with China.

During his tenure as the mayor of Male, Muizzu oversaw Beijing-funded infrastructure projects, promising stronger ties with China if elected president.

India’s Crucial Role

Despite the ‘India out’ rhetoric, India has historically played a crucial role in the Maldives’ security and humanitarian crises.

India’s involvement in the region is driven by both geopolitical considerations, including countering China’s influence, and genuine assistance during crises.

Evaluating the ‘India Out’ Campaign

Opposition’s Claims

The ‘India Out’ campaign, led by former President Abdulla Yameen, alleges that the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) is jeopardizing autonomy through a pro-India foreign policy.

Yameen’s slogan gained traction despite his own history of maintaining an ‘India First’ policy during his presidency.

Maldives-West Relations

Historically, Maldives has recognized the economic and security benefits of strong ties with India, its powerful neighboring country.

The ‘India Out’ movement threatens relations with India, and its crude and provocative nature has sparked xenophobia against Indian nationals.

Opposition’s Objections

The opposition objects to initiatives allowing Indian military personnel in the Maldives, including the construction of a dockyard and the renewal of a contract for Indian-leased aircraft.

While these objections raise concerns, they overlook the minimal strategic value of a naval base in close proximity to India.

Yameen’s Contradictions

Yameen’s current campaign rhetoric contrasts with his actions as president, where he endorsed a Defense Cooperation Framework with India.

Yameen’s political maneuvers, including appeals to hypernationalism, highlight the disingenuous nature of the ‘India Out’ campaign.

Balancing India Relations

Smaller neighbors like the Maldives face the challenge of balancing relations with India while preserving autonomy.

The ‘India Out’ campaign, driven by political motives, risks damaging bilateral ties and fueling unnecessary tension.

India’s Global Emergence in 2023

Changing World Dynamics

India’s emergence on the world stage in 2023 is evident beyond its geopolitical role, with significant developments in economic, technological, and cultural spheres.

A shifting global landscape recognizes India’s prominence in shaping global trends.

Leadership and Global Engagement

India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, plays a crucial role in enhancing India’s global standing through active engagement and outreach.

Modi’s efforts include hosting global summits, attracting investments, and advocating for technological advancements within India.

Importance of India-West Relations

India-West relations are highlighted as mutually beneficial, given India’s vast population and its integrated societal, political, and cultural ties with the West.

The symbiotic relationship emphasizes India’s importance on the global stage.

India’s Internet Presence

India’s influence is prominently seen on the internet, where it leads in the number of users on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

The internet has become a powerful tool for India to connect with the world and shape global conversations.

Infrastructure Development

India’s rapid development is evident in both digital and physical infrastructure, with innovations like India Stack transforming economic and social landscapes.

Infrastructure growth includes the expansion of roads, railways, and airports, along with the production of indigenous technologies like the Vande Bharat Express.

The cumulative impact of these changes has catapulted India onto the world stage in 2023, not just as a major military player but as a significant contributor to global technological, cultural, and economic trends.

India’s interconnectedness with the world and its vibrant, informed population position it as a key player in shaping the future.

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