Bilateral cooperation between India and Maldives

External Affairs Minister Dr. S Jaishankar visited the Maldives recently where he engaged in the review of the progress of various areas of bilateral cooperation between the two countries. On the agenda is also the inauguration of the National College of Policing and Law Enforcement (NCPLE) in Addu City, in the southernmost atoll of the Indian Ocean archipelago, that was established under Indian grant assistance.

In his speech addressing President Ibrahim Solih, Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid, Maldives Commissioner of Police Mohamed Hameed, and other government officials, Jaishankar mentioned how the establishment of the police academy had, till recently, been India’s largest grant-funded project prior to the Greater Male Connectivity Project for which India extended a $400 million line of credit in 2020.

What was the need for the academy?

The establishment of this police training academy had been in the works for a long time, with the first announcement having been made in 2015 during the presidency of Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. But as with almost all projects that involved India, this too faced delays till the government changed in 2018 and President Solih took office.

On the domestic level in the Maldives, the training academy would help strengthen law enforcement abilities and counter drug trafficking, a major concern in the country, sources familiar with the project.

How will the academy help?

A perusal of joint statements issued by the Maldives and India over the past few months indicates that one of the key areas of focus and concern for both countries is preventing and countering violent extremism as well as de-radicalization. One of the objectives of this training academy in Addu City is to address those challenges and enhance cooperation between the two countries in tackling these issues.

Experts say that countries in the Maldives’ neighborhood cannot simply relegate the growing radicalization as a domestic issue, because it has the potential to spill over into their territories, causing instability and havoc. Dr. Ranjan writes that although the Solih government has taken several measures to deal with this growing problem, it hasn’t been very effective. This is where the National College of Policing and Law Enforcement and advanced training programs may help the Maldives and be of importance to the wider South Asia region.