Col. DKP Pillay (Rtd)
IN a recent unfolding of events, the diplomatic landscape between India and the Maldives has been marred by a series of contentious exchanges, escalating to a new high.
The situation took a significant turn when India, expressing strong displeasure, summoned the Maldivian envoy in response to disparaging comments made by three Maldivian ministers. The comments, deemed disrespectful towards India and its Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sparked a substantial social media confrontation.
The root of this diplomatic spat can be traced back to a series of social media posts by PM Modi, highlighting the beauty of India’s Lakshadweep Islands, with no direct reference to the Maldives.
However, this benign promotion inadvertently ignited a flurry of online exchanges. Supporters from both nations took to social media, leading to the involvement of Maldivian ministers Maryam Shiuna, Malsha Shareef, and Mahzoom Majid, who made derogatory remarks about PM Modi.
Despite the Maldivian Government’s swift action to suspend the ministers and distance itself from the controversy, stating these remarks were personal opinions not reflective of government views, India’s concerns were not entirely assuaged. In a tit-for-tat response, the Maldives also summoned the Indian high commissioner in Male.
Amidst this diplomatic turmoil, the Embassy of Israel in India made a notable move by joining the #ExploreIndianIslands trend on social media, sharing captivating images of Lakshadweep. The gesture, occurring amid the India-Maldives row, subtly signifies Israel’s support for India, while simultaneously promoting Lakshadweep as a tourism destination.
The move gains significance considering the backlash faced by the Maldivian tourism sector, a critical economic pillar, as the controversy sparked a boycott movement in India, with significant travel portals suspending ticket sales to the Maldives.
The Indo-Maldivian relations, historically strong and cooperative, face a crucial test. The current diplomatic strain, influenced by a complex interplay of regional politics, social media dynamics, and economic interests, underscores the intricate nature of international relations in the contemporary digital era.