Recently the prime minister of India Narendra Modi visited the islands of Lakshwadeep, which is a union territory of India, to bolster his reelection bid in the 2024 Loksabha elections. His visit was strategically designed to pitch Lakshwadeep against ongoing tensions with the newly elected Maldives government, which is more pro-China. Modi government is a Hindu fundamentalist government pushing for a Hindu caliphate in India while the Maldivies’ state religion is Islam. This puts both countries on a collision course in their foreign policy.
After this visit a socio-political row erupted between the Indian government and the Maldivian government after three of the Maldive politicians posted so-called derogatory comments against Indians and their favourite prime minister Narendra Modi. The Maldivian government has already suspended these politicians. Average Indians and Indian celebrities have also jumped into this row with their loud call to boycott Maldives. Many travel companies like EaseMyTrip etc., have already cancelled all their bookings and flight tickets for Maldives. Celebrities and Indians are promoting Lakshwadeep as an alternative to Maldives on social media.
In this article, I want to discuss the economics and politics of this call for the boycott of Maldives.
First, the Maldivian economy primarily depends on its tourism sector. The tourism yearbook 2021 published by the Maldives government reports:
Tourism is the top contributor to the GDP of Maldives accounting for 26.3% of the GDP.
Table 1 below gives the data of the top ten markets for the year 2019 and 2020 for the Maldives tourism sector. As we can see before the Covid lockdowns, China held first place in Maldives’ tourism sector. India held the number two position. Over the last five years from 2016 to 2020, Chinese tourists significantly outpaced Indian tourists. The average percentage share of Indian tourists in the Maldives tourism sector over the last five years was 7.66%, which isn’t very significant.
If Indians decide not to visit Maldives because of this political row then they are the first losers as they will have to sacrifice their wishes to visit Maldives for the sake of the so-called honor of their prime minister Modi. In a collective society like India, the wishes of individuals are never of primary importance. Since Modi came to power in the center, he is only talking about his Mann ki baat (his own heart’s desire) instead of listening to the desires of people. The desires of the people aren’t important to him and his government. Sadly this is the nature of all collective societies.
The Indian mindset is so bizarre that Indians inflict pain on themselves to supposedly give pain to others. The Hindu/Jain/Buddhist religious worldviews are life denying philosophies. People belonging to these religious worldviews believe that this earthly life is a house of pain, and the only solution is to run away from it by detaching oneself. These worldviews mean Indians never try to improve their material, physical, mental (intellectual), or any other ways in their lives. They do not understand that sacrificing their wishes is not going to help anyone. Inflicting pain on the people of Maldives will only increase their animosity against Indians. It is a non-zero-sum game where no one wins. From an economic standpoint, if Maldives become poorer then it means they have less purchasing power left to buy Indian goods. This lack of trade with the Maldives will also make Indians poorer.
This political row is also quintessential of Modi’s foreign policy. If the goal of the Indian government is to befriend as many neighbours as possible to stop the Chinese communist party from increasing their influence and presence in the neighbouring states then a fight with Maldives is the last thing they want to do. By boycotting Maldives, the Indian government and the voters who back it are going to give Maldives for free on a platter to the Chinese communist party. After these calls for boycott, the Maldivian prime minister immediately flew to China and asked them to increase their tourism to Maldives to help them against India. The same thing happened with Nepal and Bhutan in the recent past. We all know how close Pakistan is to the Chinese communist party and the same story with Sri Lanka. Modi’s hostile foreign policy has distanced all its neighbours. Even outside its immediate neighbourhood, Modi’s foreign policies have created enemies in the Western world. We all know the ongoing political and diplomatic row between India and Canada after the recent assassination of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil by India’s government. Modi’s brazen attempts to assassinate a US citizen on US soil have also attracted strong rebuke from its otherwise ally USA.
All in all, the boycott of Maldives by Indians will only result in Maldives falling into the hands of the Chinese communist party. In their zeal for increasing pain on Maldivians, Indians will only flagellate themselves. Modi will likely win the 2024 reelection and continue to tour the world at taxpayers’ expense while Indians continue to ruin their lives in both mutual hatred for each other and for outsiders. The phony nationalism of BJP/RSS will cost India their own country in the end as Modi destroys everything good that life has to offer.