Despite one “muscular diplomatic” debacle after another, India has been unrelenting in its bullying attitude toward its small and weak neighbors. India is imposing another economic blockade on a third South Asian country, Maldives.
In 1981, India and Maldives mutually agreed on the quantity of supplies of essential commodities to the republic. However, the office of India’s Foreign Trade Directorate General issued a notice on June 20 this year that curtailed 50-94% of the supply of food items. The unilateral curtailment of food supplies runs counter to the spirit of articles VIII and IX of the 1981 agreement. It is yet another economic sanction imposed by India on Maldives in reaction to latter’s growing engagement with China in recent years.
After assuming office in May 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited all of India’s neighbors in South Asian except Maldives. Although his visit to the island republic was scheduled for March 2015, he canceled it unilaterally, and Indian media quoted sources in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) that his visit was canceled because of Maldivian political turmoil. However, the real reason was Maldives’ increasing rendezvous with China.
A free-trade agreement (FTA) was signed between Maldives and China on December 8, 2017, during Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen’s four-day state visit to China. It was Maldives’ first FTA with any country and China’s second with a South Asian country, after Pakistan. Last December, the Maldivian parliament endorsed the FTA with China, and the pro-Indian opposition boycotted the vote.
In return for China’s backing, Yameen assured China of full support for its ambitious Maritime Silk Road, which is an integral part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
It seems that the power struggle within the domestic political spectrum of Maldives is to some degree between India and China. After the full backing of China, the Maldivian president removed the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Maldives, and suspended three local councilors who had called on the Indian ambassador. Some Indians believe that Maldives would not have dared rebuff India in a manner they never imagined without China’s full backing.
It is important to note why Maldives took these steps. In reality, Maldives was losing patience with Indian snooping in minor domestic politics and Indian ambassadors’ behavior toward its political leaders.
Three years back, Nepal’s Constituent Assembly drafted and finalized a constitution in mid-September 2015, and the date was fixed to promulgate it. The constitution was approved by more than 85% of the assembly members.
Three days before the constitution was proclaimed, India sent its foreign secretary at the time, Subramanya Jaishanker, as the Indian prime minister’s special envoy to Kathmandu to seek postponement of the decree. The foreign minister of Nepal at that time, Narayan Kaji Shrestha, and other leaders disclosed that Jaishanker behaved undiplomatically and insolently and his tone of voice was threatening and obnoxious. However, Nepal’s political leadership politely rejected his proposal, and the constitution was declared on September 20, 2015.
Then India imposed an economic blockade on Nepal that lasted for five months. Some 2,500 people, among them the elderly and children, lost their lives because of pneumonia and asthma triggered by the shortage of fuel. India sent a seven-point agenda to amend the constitution of Nepal and also leaked it to the press. The text of Nepali Madhesis’ demands and India’s officially sent demand had exactly the same wording.
On December 8, 2015, United Nations agencies and their donors issued a joint statement in which they expressed their “deepest concern” over the severity of the shortage of lifesaving drugs, food and other essential supplies throughout Nepal. However, India did not lift the sanction despite the looming humanitarian crisis.
In response to the Indian blockade, Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli made plans to visit Beijing to sign a trade and transit treaty with China in March 2016 that would eventually end the Indian monopoly of Nepal’s access to maritime routes. Then India invited Oli to visit Delhi quickly, and before his visit, it lifted the economic blockade. Indian media and foreign-policy experts accused Nepal of a tilt toward China, but they overlooked the fact that India had long been pushing Nepal toward China. After Nepal signed the trade and transit treaty with China, India started innocuous diplomatic dealings with Nepal.
This is not the whole story of Indian muscular diplomacy. India curtailed a subsidy for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) between the first and second rounds of Bhutanese general elections in 2013. As a result, the ruling party of Jigme Thinley lost the general election, as India wanted. India resumed the LPG subsidy with little explanation later on. It had removed the LPG subsidy in reaction to Thinley’s meeting with the Chinese leadership without prior consultation with India and wanted his electoral defeat.
Similarly, the fourth king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuck, relinquished the throne in 2006 voluntarily to his eldest son after ruling for 34 years. However, some analysts believe that India forced him to abdicate as he wanted to develop independent foreign relations with neighboring countries.
Now, many Bhutanese think that India’s actions were undue meddling in their country’s internal affairs. As a result, during the Doklam standoff between India and China last year, many Bhutanese became anti-India because of the overbearing behavior of New Delhi.
Indian political leaders, its foreign-policy regime, and media should change their mindsets and stop treating neighboring countries as administrative units of New Delhi. India needs to be mindful that these countries are sovereign and the people of these countries are masters of their wishes.
India is losing its traditional allies one after another in its neighborhood because of a myopic policy of “muscular diplomacy.” India always underestimates the sovereignty of its neighbors and overlooks the principles of peaceful coexistence.
India’s neighbors want to develop a warm and hospitable relationship with China, as it is a rule-maker in current global governance and the second-largest economy in the world. India is an unsuccessful South Asian regional player. Therefore, India needs to introspect past blunders and learn lessons from them.
The practical and productive way to conduct diplomacy is gentle persuasion and making offers, keeping the use of force and threats at a bay. “Muscular diplomacy” is obsolete, and continuing its use has instead been pushing India’s neighbors further toward China.
Ahmed Waheed ….you have read what I wrote, I guess. Have u ever heard of India-Maldives comprehensive trade aggreement 1981. You read it first. Anyway, if security of India is compromised then India will work accordingly. Besides, hope that this Sino-Maldives relation does not take a toll upon you and land you in a situation similar to Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port.
A typical Nazi China stooge masquerading as an "journalist". Everyone knows that it is China that is actively meddling in affairs of every country in Indian ocean region. Using both military and economic power as sledgehammer.
China had a steady growth since mid-90’s interestingly aided by Americans. The economic growth fueled their military might as well as diplomatic heft.
India on other hand got an uphill task now because it had a weak corrupt inefficient government between 2004-2014, that allowed Chinese to establish hegemony.
Rohit Pandeya Indeed, the author of this piece of sheet is a Nazi China stooge. Everyone knows that it is China that is meddling with internal affairs of every country in the region using money power (corruption) and military arm flexing.
Great idea! Paki will have a sling using which they will launch food packets to Maldives ????
Don’t bark. Try to Bite. Our military will teach you a lesson.
Do you guys know that you are ones that are too blame. Nepal was always weary of China but India pushed us there is only so much of bullying a country can endure. Like common we just came out of a civil war lost our monarch and finally after 10 freaking years have amulgated our constitution and India comes and blocks the borders because their demands weren’t made? And we we’re going through a freaking earthquake and now it’s Maldives it’s not us mate it’s ur government that is pushing every little south Asian country towards China. Your foreign policy is shit and it is only causing you people harm
उत्सव ढुंगाना i think your constitution gave a second class status to the madhesiyas and hence was lop sided from the very beginning. the blockade was done by the dissatisfied madhesias and not by the govt. of India. thousands of trucks were stranded at Indo-Nepal border causing enormous loss to many businessmen in India and Nepal. your Maoists are infatuated with Nepal, India always supported the monarchy …they are weaving a fasle narrative to fan anti-india feelings. you have nothing in common with the chinese who are using money and muscle power to capture the whole of south asia. soon all these countries will regret their loss of independence and freedom of expression .
And say some thing about neplese context
Muhammad Fayyaz ……if so is the case then UK , France, Spain , Germany have more debt owed to their creditors.
You should have also mentioned debt-to-gdp ratio. India ‘s is less than 10% of its GDP, where as that of Pakistan is more than 50% of its GDP.
Now who’s economy is in jeopardy. Do some better homework next time.
Maldives should not forget which country supplied them drinking water when they didn’t have single drop of it and nepalNe working here in India from hundreds of years ,these countries must know who’s there real friend and who’s enemy
May be you are the only one saner than those who responded to article."We always respected soveirngity and integrity of neighbour" that what you believe.But this is not unfortunately the case.Why all almost all neighbours are unhappy?And going into Chinese basket.This question should be answered by Indian elites both in power and in opposition.Either all neighbouring countries right from Pakistan to Sri Lanka and Maldives to Nepal are wrong.Or Indians are wrong.So instead of critisizing or bragging about Indian’s wealth and help in past you should address this issue.
Foolish author… He didn’t mention about the humanity which India showed to its neighbors when Nepal floods, Maldives water crisis, Pakistan floods despite of diplomatic issues.
Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakis is facing the problems due to the association with China. They tried to bargain with India by showing China’s investment. But we took one stand. Now who is suffering, soon Pakistan will become a province of China because they owe that much money to China. Srilanka lost their port still not survived. In Nepal most of the Chinese project went into corruption and not completed. Maldives will soon sell their islands to China to repay the money which China spending in Maldives for example friendship bridge between male and airport, Housing projects, New Igmh hospital in male…and so on. Maldivian people don’t understand that there is nothing called a free meal. When they lost the case between GMR and Maldivian government they started losing their country. Now the funniest part is since India backed off from trade China will dump all their shits in these countries for higher price.
Bullshit…what you are up to…???the writer seems to have a premeditated opinion which aims to malign India and it’s diplomacy without paying heed to the counterpart’s actions.. China’s role in the whole ordeal is down played by the writer in whole article I suppose there must be some vested interest for him to do so.. anyway try to see the whole situation without bias because any country will act more or less the same to the tactical diplomacy of China.thanks but it’s wasn’t worth reading.
Hahaahahahaha…paki’s may teach them how to beg…
Muhammad Fayyaz check your reports on both the wars…u do not know reality
Muhammad Fayyaz you are a frustrated anti-India jihadi like so many of your countrymen. Look where your nation is going and stop preaching to us.
This columist is hiding many facts.
See how the subversion of Democracy is taking place in the Maldives. Opposition leaders, supreme court judges were put behind the bars.
FTA with China passed in the parliament within 10 minutes. No discussion, no opportunity to read the hundreds of pages to the elected members in the parliament.
Then how would you rate a regime there…. India lost it’s patience and choose its way.
Rohit Pandeya Madhesi went in front of the few ( not all ) entry points only two days after the blockade. Explain why this was so.
Krishna Sharma I am not going into the nitty gritty.once you are tired of China you are free to come back.till then enjoy like Sri Lanka and pakistan.
Bangladesh is another case where India showing off its dirty bullying tactics that will backfire sooner than later. Bravo Maldives..Bravo Nepal and Bravo Bhutan..India is a cancer in the region and earns wrath of all. Pak is the one country always teach India how to behave..We are sick and tired of this bull shit…
Prithvi Di What free lunch bro when more than 200 million of your own people go to bed empty stomach…
Salim Khan because there has been unregulated migration from neighbouring countries in search of better opportunities for life.
Maldives needs India more than India needs Maldives and Maldives pm is pet dog of Chinese money when government changes everything changes pppl tonpl connection between Maldives s and India is strong China is friend in illusion and bad master
Ha ha ha first clear out ur loans and poverty before u offer someone else
This is China’s mouth piece being used to spread china views and capture countries through debt trap and purchase of political leaders in banana republics. China killed King of Nepal and installed puppets.
Ahmed Ismail arrested Pakistan mein kya hai.nothing
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