It is our expectation that as a close and friendly neighbour Maldives will be sensitive to our concerns in keeping with its “India First Policy” – said the Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson.
This statement rise several questions and concerns in itself. To begin with, why??? What caused India MEA to release a statement like this!
The only answer is the growing Sino-Maldives relation, cooperations and the recently signed FTA between Maldives and China. To understand that this we need to answer three fundamental questions,
(1) what is an FTA?
(2) what is an “India First Policy”
(3) what is the relationship between this two!
China-Maldives cooperations Under One Belt One Road Initiate.
Maldives was among the very first Nations in the region to join China Belt and Road Initiate. India was against the initiate from day one on, which is understandable taking into consideration the India’s goal to be a regional hegemony. OBOR is a fascinating deal for any developing or underdeveloped country because OBOR focus on infrastructure development. India merely being a voice against OBOR doesn’t suffice the real need of developing countries. If India were to give a better deal, a better alternate, a better cooperation, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan or Maldives will not have to fly to the Middle Kingdom – to the Ancient Dragon.
Having said that, what is it’s relationship with “India First Policy”?
Maldives took loan (NOT DONATIONS) from China for our infrastructure development and connectivity projects; Bridges, social housing, roads and airports. India does not have the financial or technical capacity to fund or lauch the mentioned projects. We, like any other nation, went to everyone seeking assistance. China is the only nation that agreed to provide these assistance and we sealed a deal. Now is this, us not respecting an “India First Policy” ? What is an India First Policy then? If India can’t assist us in arranging loans (not donations or free aid) in building a bridge then to not get such a preferential loan from China or any other nation and wait for a day India can? If India cannot assist us in developing the airport, which is crucial to further expansion of tourism, then to not get development loans from Saudi Arabia and China to develop the airport and wait for a day India can? India has funded hundreds of millions of dollars in certain African nations and middle eastern nations like Afghanistan. I am not going to criticize or question the Indian decision to give these funds to nations others than Maldives. Certainly they have their own reasons to give lesser priority to our needs, which we understand and it is time India understand that for us it is not India or Pakistan or China that is important. It is the urgently required development projects and financial support required that matters to us and whoever is ready and capable of providing those assistance, we will go ahead with them.
A FTA agreement with China is against “India First Policy” ?
First of all a FTA is not a military alliance. Secondly FTA with one Nation doesn’t mean FTA with other Nations are restricted. In fact Maldives government have extended FTA invitation to Japan, Korea and the EU Nations too. FTA with China is in no way aimed at destroying our trade with any other Nation. Even before FTA with China, Maldives Trade, our import, is dominated by made-in-China products. However FTA will definitely make its more easier and less expensive for China to export their products to Maldives and for us to import and export which will ultimately damage some industries in India that is competing with Chinese companies. But the way to develop Indian industry is NOT forcing all “close and friendly neighbors” to not trade with any other Nation. When Indian products are cheaper and come with better quality the market will shift towards India, it is a “natural process”, one that follows rules of market rather than any county. It is hardly the job of Ministry of External Affairs of India. Until then we or any other nation cannot be forced to trade with India only or comprise for the sake of Indian industry. Why should we? That is like my neighbor suggesting me that I must buy goods from his shop even though the shop in the next block sell the same product cheaper. This “attitude” of Indian MEA spokesperson unfortunately echos the very colonial attitude India had to endure during British era. What which made India the “golden sparrow” was its textile industry, India ( not the UK ) was the leading exporter of textile and cloths. What did the British do about it? In addition to the two Act’s of 1700 and 1721 banning Indian products, imposing of import taxes, banning of Indian textiles in other markets the British soldiers physically abused Indian weavers ultimately causing the death of Indian textile industries! India was world second if not third largest economy before the British came and when they left “India” became a synonym to words like poverty and hunger. History is there so we learn from it and avoid the same mistakes others before us did.
Truth of the matter is India is now the fastest growing economy that badly need developments, in certain areas more urgently than us! India has its on war which PM Modi is successfully (as per my personal view) winning better than any I other before and we all have our own wars and goals for development which we need to win too. We cannot delay our plans and wait until India becomes a regional super Power or an economic Super Power. As for now, India simply do not have the capacity and resources to focus both on its own development and simultaneously boast and fund others – Maldives is the newest on the list. Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan and etc have all taken the same path. Maybe it is time to accept that the Nations will chose development over keeping “India happy”, Nations will not sacrifice their self and their industry to make “Indian-dream” a reality. The winning game for India would be to rise itself up and the world will automatically follow. Who wouldn’t want loans? Who wouldn’t want AID and who wouldn’t FTA’s when they are all mutually beneficial but until then it is time India and Indian papers stop ridiculing Nations like Maldives for getting assistance from other countries in areas which India cannot assist…: maybe its time we all prioritize National development and individual happiness over dirty politics and regional hegemony.