Analyzing the Modi-Maldives-Lakshadweep Saga and its Ripple Effects
Have you guys given it some thought and wondered why and how a post from the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, after his recent visit to Lakshadweep has gone viral and created so much stir? Well simple. Thanks to the comments on social media by prominent Maldivian ministers, who BTW have now received HUGE flak for their derogatory, xenophobic, and offensive remarks, the entire row has caught more fire. Read on to decode the complete Modi, Maldives and Lakshadweep saga
It all started that day when the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, decided to visit Lakshadweep and promote tourism for this untapped, beautiful island in the Union Territory of India. In a bid to do so, when some pictures and videos of him from the land itself went viral on X, the social media platform, they came with their pointless share of criticism and comments from some high-profile political personalities and social media users in the Maldives.
In the post, Modi Ji spoke about “the stunning beauty of the islands,” adding that “for those who wish to embrace the adventurer in them, Lakshadweep has to be on your list.”. However, just to be clear, in the official statement, neither PM Modi nor any other government official made any references to the Maldives or, for that matter, any other island nation popular with tourists. And despite this, prominent Maldivian personalities, including the likes of Mariyam Shiuna, Deputy Minister of Youth Empowerment and Arts, Maldives, and Malsha Sharif, another political figure, went all out, breaking all standards of blasphemy, going as far as to call the PM “a clown and the puppet of Israel with a life jacket,” hashtagging the comment with #VisitMaldives, #SunnySideOfLife. In fact, in the post, now deleted, Shiuna made derogatory remarks about India, comparing it to cow dung.
Another member of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives also shared a picture touted to be of the Bora Bora islands from Polynesia, claiming it to be of an island from the Maldives. Captioning it, “Sunset in the Maldives. You won’t see this in Lakshadweep. #VisitMaldives. CC:@narendramodi”, wrote Maaiz Mahmood.
It was shameful to witness what followed this debacle—a string of verbal assaults where some Maldivian news websites started proclaiming that India had purposely started a sort of anti-campaign against the Maldives in tourism. Things escalated manifold when higher-ranking officials from President Mohamed Muizzu’s government began repeating as well as re-sharing these repulsive comments and content. Getting into catfights and brawls with anonymous Indian social media users. Getting from bad to worse was when supporters of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the People’s National Congress (PNC) started propagating a #VisitMaldives hashtag while quipping in the background that Lakshadweep is not an Indian territory and belongs to the Maldives.
The sad part is when these political figures and personas are going on record so far as to claim that these were simply India’s attempts to “compete” with their country as a choice for tropical vacations for travellers worldwide.
Now coming to the hindsight of this one. According to figures, Indian tourists remain among the top 10 nationalists who travel to the Maldives every year. Maldives, which gets 28 percent of its GDP from tourism, is this the response expected from them?
Well, naturally, in response to this, while the boycott of the Maldives started trending on social media, many social media users also took to posting about how India has always stood benevolent, persistently offering assistance to the Maldives as well as bilateral cooperation.
Refreshing the facts a bit, anti-Indian sentiments in the Maldives are not a surprise. In 2020, the ‘India Out’ campaign started in the Maldives; by the end of 2021, it had blown into an obvious political campaign. Although supporters of the campaign had at that point said that the protests had been started primarily against the Indian military presence in the country, the entire campaign had targeted all major aspects of the bilaterality as well.
On the flipside, not everyone in the Maldives is actually in support of this stance of the current Maldivian actions. Former President Mohamed Nashed, Ahmed Maumoon, and many other highly noted personalities have come forward and said that substantial action needs to be taken by the Maldives government to condone these comments and exchanges. They further iterated that such “appalling language” towards the leader of a key ally that is instrumental to the Maldives’ security and prosperity should be cleared and distanced from immediately, not reflecting on the ruling Maldivian government’s policy.
As things escalated, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement disclaiming such derogatory remarks and also adding that it would not hesitate to take action against those making such derogatory remarks.
Local media in the Maldives have also reported a suspected cyber attack against several websites of the Maldivian government, including those of the foreign and tourism ministries. Many of these websites were blocked for users on January 7th.
What was overwhelming to see was how, following the hate campaign against Lakshadweep, several Bollywood celebs began coordinating the “Visit Lakshadweep” campaign, also silently supporting our tourism and supporting the “dignity first” stance. #ExploreIndianIslands has been trending ever since.
While this is a developing story, the latest fuel to the fire has been added by none other than Maldivian Prime Minister Mohammed Muizzu, who now realizes that there is no way to escape and is playing what we refer to as the “victim card,” saying that “we may be small, but this doesn’t give them the license to bully us.” Addressing a press conference upon his return from a China visit, he further iterated that the Indian Ocean doesn’t belong to any specific country and that the Maldives is one of the countries that has the largest “so-called” share of the ocean! Imagine, as a head, saying that in such a senior position…
It is sad to see that certain chosen politicians and groups took the lead in what started as a Perry online abusive incident and brawl, blowing it way out of proportion and challenging the diplomatic as well as bilateral relations of India-Maldives. Whether concerned parties beyond both sides of the border continue this bickering, playing the victim card, or whether they snowball this for their vested political interests, or if the greater good is eventually pursued, suspending all such notoriety, only time will tell. One must note that when such incidents occur closer to major events such as the Ayodhya temple inauguration, there is an iota of suspicion about the occurrence of such other” external issues,” putting a shard of doubt as to the incidence of these episodes. However, considering the past behaviour and benevolence India has always harboured and meted out for the Maldives, hopefully the Maldivian government will take stock of the past and take responsible actions.
Please note that the above are our thoughts and are in no way influenced by anyone.
So, keep coming back here for more. Stay tuned with us right here at Booxoul for the best in the fields of entertainment, food, fun, finance, travel, fashion, education, tech, gadgets, and all things bookish.
Keywords: Modi, Maldives, Lakshadweep, Diplomacy, Tourism, Bilateral relations, International affairs, Social media storm, Viral posts, Diplomatic turmoil, Political figures, India-Maldives relations, Visit Lakshadweep, Explore Indian islands, Diplomatic fallout, the Modi-Maldives-Lakshadweep Saga