While sharing the experience of his Lakshadweep trip on Twitter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had written that Lakshadweep should be on the list of those who want to have a thrilling experience. The Prime Minister had described Lakshadweep as a better option for tourism. Taking a dig at the experience shared by the Prime Minister regarding his visit to Lakshadweep, three Maldivian ministers said that Lakshadweep cannot compete with Maldives, the facilities that are there in Maldives and the cleanliness that is there are not found in Lakshadweep. The Government of India expressed its objection to the above remarks of the three ministers of the Government of Maldives. The Maldives government also clarified its position and removed the ministers who made the statement from the cabinet.
Indians have to understand that when we go out for a picnic, the country’s money first goes out, which would stay in the country and encourage local enterprises, create employment and ultimately increase the GDP. Spending on foreign tourism not only misses the opportunity to boost domestic economic activity but may also increase the trade deficit. At the same time, due to non-exploitation of domestic tourist destinations, potential investment in those areas is affected. Development activities may come to a halt there, causing the local economy to shrink. The level of infrastructure and services may decline as a result. Foreign tourism also has deep implications from the point of view of socio-cultural heritage. This could have long-term implications for national identity and pride. When people’s awareness of the country’s important places, history, culture and heritage is weak, then the desired transfer of that feeling to the next generations is not possible. Due to decrease in tourist arrivals, revenue also decreases, which deals a blow to the campaign for historical-cultural conservation of sites. Undoubtedly, foreign tourism broadens people’s perspective and creates a better understanding of the world, but excessive emphasis on it increases the risk of economic and cultural losses as well as a blow to the country’s well-being and identity.
Apart from tourism, Maldives is dependent on India in almost every field. It gained independence from British rule in the year 1966, India was the first country, which recognized the independence of Maldives. Since then, Maldives has been dependent on us for military, strategic, economic, industrial, medical and cultural needs. Under the maritime treaty in 1976, India-Maldives determined their maritime boundary areas. Both countries are also founding members of SAARC. In 1981, a free trade agreement was signed between the two. The most important contribution was military cooperation. In this, Operation Cactus of November 1988 holds a prominent place when the People’s Liberation Organization of Sri Lanka and Maldivian rebels tried to overthrow Maldives with 80 armed people. They were successful in capturing Male. The then President Abdul Gayoom sought help from Pakistan, Singapore and Sri Lanka, but all of them refused to provide help. America was ready to provide help, but it could take 2 to 3 days. Ultimately, they found India as their friend, from which the help sought was immediately responded to. India launched Operation Cactus with 500 troops within 16 hours. This operation took a few hours and Male was recaptured. Some Indian soldiers also sacrificed their lives in this operation. Between 2018 and 2022, 87 thousand people from Maldives came to India for treatment. This is a large part of the country with a population of 5.15 lakh. In 2018 alone, India provided economic assistance of 140 crore dollars to Maldives. Provided 30 thousand smallpox vaccines in 2020 and provided 40 million dollars to promote sports in 2023. India was the first to provide help in the 2004 tsunami and 2014 water crisis.
The comments made by Maldivian ministers regarding Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Lakshadweep are enough to open the eyes and ears of Indians. Instead of venting anger on Maldives, Indians first need to promote domestic tourism. Tourism, especially religious places in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Goa, Maharashtra and the South should be included in your list.
The comments of the Maldivian ministers have been made regarding the infrastructure facilities and cleanliness of hotel rooms in tourist places in India. This should be taken as a challenge. The state governments need to pay special attention to basic facilities and cleanliness as well as law and order there. Only when India’s wealth stays in India will India be in the list of developed countries in the next 25 years. Along with this, the path to becoming the first three big economic systems in the world will also be easy.
– Irwin Khanna (Chief Editor Dainik Uttam Hindu).