'India has been our greatest development partner': Maldivian Defence Minister to Zee Media

Maldivian Defence Minister Mariya Didi said visiting India has been more like visiting a close relative’s home.

'India has been our greatest development partner': Maldivian Defence Minister to Zee Media

Kerala: Maldivian Defence Minister Mariya Didi, who visited India to attend to review the Passing Out Parade at Kerala’s Indian Naval Academy, said visiting India has been more like visiting a close relative’s home. Didi was the first foreign minister to attend the event.

Addressing the media after the parade, she emphasized the strong India-Maldives ties and recalled her college education in India’s Bengaluru. “During my student days, we used to travel from Bangalore to Trivandrum and then take a flight to Male. We could get our local Maldivian food in Trivandrum and even some signboards would be in our ‘Divehi’ language” she recalled about her time in India, as a student.

Speaking of India, she said India was Maldives’ biggest development partner after President Ibrahim Solih’s government came to power. “India helped us a lot- 250mn USD budget support during Covid-19, India provided us Covishield vaccines, helped us in our economic recovery(which the world ban terms as remarkable” and our highest tourists arrivals are also from India”. 

Queried about the benefits of the Greater Male Connectivity Project, a 7km-long bridge, that is India’s largest infrastructure project in the Maldives, she told WION that 

It helped connect several crowded localities in and around Male. She said that such projects were necessary for a congested city. “I would like to thank India for all you do, surely there will be many more projects such as an airport and Police academy” she added, when asked about the plans for further developmental projects.

Lauding India’s vibrant democracy, she said that democracy was hard work and also touched upon how the Maldives also sees democracy as the best way forward. “Civil oversight over military is appreciable in India... We need to learn that it is the power of the ballot box, a citizen is the ruler of the country... They are the taxpayers” she said in respect to her own nation. She also emphasized that President Solih aims to make Maldivian forces fighting-fit and professional, given how their own citizens had been disappointed with the Maldivian Police and the Armed forces.

On Indian defence institutions training personnel from friendly foreign countries and particularly those from the Maldives, she said that lessons and bonds from the academy would lead to a life-long friendship. She also referred to how top officials in the Maldivian forces were alumni of Indian defence institutions and that Maldivian personnel would continue to train in India in larger numbers. 

231 trainees had passed out as Naval Officers from the Indian Naval Academy, over the weekend. These cadets(commissioned as Naval Officer) had pursued different technical courses at the INA, spanning between six months, one year and four years. While the Indian Officers will go on to serve the Indian Navy, the foreign person will return to their respective countries. 

As a part of Military diplomacy and in order to build stronger bridges of friendship, India’s Defence Institutions train military personnel from friendly foreign countries. This helps develop trust, bonding and camaraderie and interoperability, between the forces. In recent decades, the Indian Navy alone has trained over 15,000 foreign personnel from over 46 countries. 

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