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Battle of the Beach


By Shahana Naqvi, Edited By Adam Rizvi, The India Observer: New Year kickstarted with a fresh controversy, this time diplomatic row between the tropical island nation of Maldives with the Indian government.

It all started when the Indian Prime minister Mr. Narendra Modi uploaded a gallery of  images of the sun kissed island of Lakshadeep, located on the Indian Ocean 300 km off the coast of Kerala on X (formerly Twitter),on Thursday 4th January from his 2 day trip to the Union Territory.

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He pitched the destination as a, “must visit for adventure lovers”, soon social media responded with comments comparing it’s beauty to another popular tourist destination of Maldives also located in the precincts of the Indian Ocean, three Maldivian officials (deputy ministers with the Ministry of Youth) responded to his post describing the Indian Prime Minister in derogatory remarks which sparked controversy and stoked diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

The Maldivian government moved quickly to distance itself from their comments , suspending the three officials on Sunday. It issued a statement saying, “The government believes that freedom of expression should be exercised in a democratic and responsible manner and in ways that do not spread hatred, negative and hinder close relationship between Maldives and it’s international partners”.

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This incident erupted at a critical  time as Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu embarks on a 5 day visit to China, his first as President following his election win last October.

With tourism been it’s biggest GDP earner contributing to earning  nearly 25 percent of it’s annual revenue, the little island nation cannot afford to alienate it’s closest neighbour.

According to the Maldivian Tourism Ministry over 2 lakhs Indians visited Maldives annually over last 3 years, the highest from any country post-Covid 19.

Also Read, Tweet & Share: Save Lakshadweep: Call to protect social, cultural, economic and environmental rights

The wave of  #boycott Maldives trend on social media can be a matter of grave concern for the Maldivian government  which could result in serious revenue loss for them.

Photo credit : Mint

LOCAL PE VOCAL

Travel portals reported a massive surge in search for idyllic Indian destinations like Lakshadweep and Andamans by potential holiday seekers .Although Lakshadweep islands do not have the infrastructure to host a large number of tourists.

Many prominent figures have reported to have urged Indian hotel companies to invest in Lakshadweep for better returns. Mega star Amitabh Bachchan vouched for the pristine beauty of the Lakshadweep along with cricketer Virendra Sehwag on social networking site X.

BOYCOTT

Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) issued an appeal to boycott Maldives while travel portal Ease my Trip said it suspended all flights booking to the island nation in solidarity with India. STC Travels stopped selling Maldivian packages and tickets.

Also Read, Tweet & Share: ‘Huge’ scope to improve India’s tourism sector: PM Modi on 73rd Independence Day

New Delhi summoned Maldivian envoy to India  to the External affairs Ministry regarding the controversial statements by the deputy ministers. Many celebrities have joined the trend urging people to explore domestic tourist destination for holidays and vacations instead of going to the Maldives. Some trolled actress Bipasha Basu for holidaying in Maldives on January 7th to ring in her 45th birthday while many Indians continue to cancel their scheduled Maldivian holiday bookings in wake of the row.

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The escalated tensions seem far from ending with Maldives requesting China to send tourists to the island nation to cover up the loss from Indian boycott.

Also Read more from this Author: Flight of an Olive Branch

Curated and Compiled by Humra Kidwai

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Shahana Naqvi

CULTURAL MOSAICS : Shahana Naqvi a librarian by profession she loves to read on arts and culture and writes a blog , Museum of Passion, dedicated especially on various cultural traditions of the Islamic world . Having been brought up under the tender care and guidance of her maternal grandmother Ammajaan and the rich heritage tapestry of her beloved city of Lucknow is what shaped her life. Her quest to research Islamic traditions started when she was questioned about her faith, a beautiful journey to unearth the hidden treasures is what she has embarked upon and which according to her is her calling in life ……

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