Maldives president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih thanked the Indian government for allowing Maldivians access India’s healthcare facilities and allowing them to travel to India to get themselves treated. In a statement, Solih thanked India for granting this privilege exclusively to the atoll-nation. Solih also outlined India’s efforts to help Maldives recover its economy, which is mostly dependent on tourism, in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“India eased up access for Maldivians needing urgent health care, allowing them to travel to the country. This privilege was not afforded to any other country besides the Maldives,” Solih said in a statement released on his presidential website.
Solih also highlighted that India aided Maldives on several occasions and also donated the highest number of Covid-19 vaccines to enhance its response to the pandemic. “India purchased financial bonds worth $250 million to help recover our economy,” Solih said in his statement.
“India has generously aided us on many occasions. India donated the most number of vaccines. We received a lot of equipment from India essential to provide health services. At the same time, a travel corridor was enacted between our countries to ensure continued tourist arrivals,” Solih said.
The Indian government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi always considered Maldives to be a significant pillar of its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy. Both countries have solid relations and the cooperation has deepened under the respective governments.
India has supplied more than 3.12 lakh vaccine doses to Maldives under the Vaccine Maitri programme. The Maldivian Health Emergency Operation Centre (HEOC) were among the first to receive vaccines made in India and in February 2021 inoculated more than 1 lakh Maldivians with the COVAXIN Covid-19 vaccine.
Solih’s acknowledgement also indicates that India has been able to thwart Chinese and Pakistani designs to disturb ties. Earlier in 2021, the Maldivian opposition led by former president Abdullah Yameen and the Progressive Congress – a coalition of the opposition parties led by the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPP) started an ‘India Out’ campaign aimed at threatening the stability of ties between both nations.
This campaign was in opposition to Solih’s ‘India First’ policy which was aimed at weeding out Chinese interference in Maldives’ governance due to poor policy implementation by Abdullah Yameen when he awarded Chinese state-backed infrastructure companies infrastructural projects in the atoll.
The projects backed by sovereign guarantee which would plunge the atoll nation into a debt trap while radical sections of the opposition carried out an ‘India Out’ campaign threatening the safety and security of Indians in Maldives. However, under Solih’s guidance, ties between Male and New Delhi have developed.