The polls to elect the office-bearers of All India Chess Federation (AICF) will be held on March 10 in New Delhi, the Returning Officers has announced.
In a closely watched weekend election, the Maldives made headlines by electing pro-China candidate Mohamed Muizzu as President. What makes this development particularly intriguing is Muizzu’s commitment ~ reiterated after his election ~ to remove Indian armed forces from the Maldives, a move that could have far-reaching implications for India and the broader geopolitics of the Indian Ocean region. Muizzu, who won in a second-round runoff, belongs to a coalition known to be close to China.
His election victory and his promise to send foreign soldiers packing raises questions about the Maldives’ shifting allegiances in the region. Muizzu has a pro-China stance and his campaign had once championed an “India Out” agenda against Indian troops stationed in the Maldives.
At the heart of this issue is the delicate dance between India and China for influence in the Indian Ocean. India has historically maintained strong ties with the Maldives, seeing the archipelago nation as a key part of its sphere of influence. India has denied any ambitions for permanent military presence in the Maldives but has been assisting in developing the Maldivian naval infrastructure and training its military.
Muizzu’s election and his anti-foreign military rhetoric could strain this relationship. For India, the response to this new geopolitical reality should be measured and strategic. Rather than taking an adversarial stance, New Delhi should engage in dialogue with the President-elect and seek to understand his government’s priorities. Maintaining open lines of communication is essential, as it allows for a diplomatic approach to addressing concerns and finding common ground.
One possible avenue for India to explore is cooperation on non-military fronts. India and the Maldives share interests in various sectors, including trade, tourism and climate change. India can leverage these shared interests to build trust and demonstrate its commitment to a mutually beneficial partnership. Another aspect to consider is the strategic balance in the Indian Ocean region. As China extends its influence in the area, India has been forging partnerships with like-minded nations to counterbalance this expansion. India should continue to strengthen its regional alliances and partnerships to safeguard its interests and maintain stability in the Indian Ocean. It is crucial for India to take a “wait and watch” approach.
This approach allows India to assess Muizzu’s policies and actions and respond accordingly. Being “not anti-Maldives” is a diplomatic stance that keeps the door open for future cooperation. The implications of Muizzu’s election go beyond the bilateral relationship between India and the Maldives. China’s expanding presence in the Indian Ocean has been a matter of concern for many countries, including India. Muizzu’s pro-China stance could potentially strengthen Beijing’s foothold in the region, altering the strategic balance. India should respond with diplomacy, engagement, and a focus on shared interests to maintain a constructive relationship with the Maldives. As the world watches these developments unfold, a nuanced approach from all sides involved is essential to maintain stability in this strategically vital region.