By Ankit Panda
India’s response to the Maldivian plea for assistance over a water crisis shouldn’t be overlooked.
Earlier this month, Male, the capital city of the Maldives and home to some 100,000 people, faced an acute crisis when a fire at the city’s sole desalination plant left the city’s denizens without access to safe drinking water. The government immediately declared a state of crisis. India, the closest large state to the Maldives and self-professed guarantor of security in the Indian Ocean, responded with alacrity and competency. The Maldives water case should underscore the sort of preparedness in maritime assistance that India should aspire to. As I wrote earlier this year in The Diplomat, if New Delhi is to truly live up to its own ambitions of being the Indian Ocean’s maritime guardian, it will have to lead by example, both bilaterally and multilaterally.
The Maldives example, in my view, is an example of India demonstrating its value as a regional leader in the Indian Ocean. It was the first major state to react to pleas for assistance from the Maldives government. Initial reports suggested direct communication between the office of the Indian prime minister and the Maldives government. The Maldives, despite being a small island nation and not a major presence on India’s regional diplomacy radar, received the direct attention of both Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj
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