Xi Jinping Cavorts in the Indian Ocean: Modi Talks Peace in West Asia

China is doing a South China Sea in the Indian Ocean. India, on the other hand, is chickening out, leaving common Indians crotchety blanket in the mornings – bad-tempered, irritated. What is happening in India’s neighbourhood right now is the absolute biggest challenge for India, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a peace mission in West Asia. How far can we get from reality? Here’s an analysis for Different Truths.

Why monitor a problem if you cannot fix it? Why have the Special Forces on standby if you cannot use them to sort out the Maldives problem? It has been a fortnight since the Maldives crisis broke and India is still waiting to strike. If this continues, China will get the islands, and India will get the dog! CNN always has Africa on and China is clearing a watery path to the Dark Continent and the oil via the Indian Ocean.

China is doing a South China Sea in the Indian Ocean. India, on the other hand, is chickening out, leaving common Indians crotchety blanket in the mornings – bad-tempered, irritated. What is happening in India’s neighbourhood right now is the absolute biggest challenge for India, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a peace mission in West Asia. How far can we get from reality?

What is Modi waiting for? The journalist/ foreign policy wonk, who wrote India shouldn’t get anywhere near the Maldives, just doesn’t seem to have savvy. While India’s waiting and watching, China has made itself indispensable to the Maldives and its dictator Abdulla Yameen. This half-brother of Maumoon Abdulla Gayoom, who ruled the Maldives with an iron fist for 30 years, is setting himself up as a full-fledged dictator primed to rule the Maldives for 30 long years – no less, maybe more. And 30 years is enough time for China to entrench itself in the Maldives for a thousand years – no less, maybe more.

Why haven’t the Special Forces been airlifted to the Maldives so far? Is it because China has cautioned India against taking any precipitous steps? Why should China tell India what India should do and should not do in the Indian Ocean region? It is imperative for India to intercede, and intercede forcefully. All this talk of India asking the United Nations to step in will not stop China from going ahead with its endgame. China doesn’t give two hoots to the UN. But like they say in the West, nothing is over till the fat lady sings, and there is still time. The fat lady has not sung, so far.

What did Donald Trump and Narendra Modi talk about the Maldives when the US President called the Indian Prime Minister the other night? Can’t be about the weather in the island nation, which is right now not all good and fair for both the US and India. It has definitely got hot for Indian journalists, and the local media in Male. The climate changed in the Maldives when the Chief Justice of the Maldives and another judge were arrested and put in a cell. The rule of law has been subverted in India’s neck of woods and India is scared of setting foot in the jungle.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed, who has stationed himself in Sri Lanka, has said it is imperative for India to act, if only for two reasons – “Chinese land grab, and (Islamic) radicalization of the islands”. According to the man, who is technically under arrest, the Chinese have taken “control of 17 islands”, with promises to invest $40 million in each of the 17. That is a new type of land-grab. Meanwhile, Maldivian “ISIS fighters” are returning from Syria and Iraq and embedding themselves in the local police and defence forces. 

Like the local wag in India says it’s time for Modi and his government to watch ‘China Uncensored’ on the Youtube Channel! And while at it, also take a gander at ‘Maldives Censored’. Yameen has moved quickly and relentlessly to entrench himself as a dictator. He has a restructured Supreme Court in his pocket, which will do his bidding. According to Nasheed, Yameen is bound to get a majority by “hook or crook”.

The island nation is under Emergency. The people are cowed. The media has been castrated. There is no opposition worth the name. “We are trying to get India to come and release him (Chief Justice). I can’t understand how our president is able to arrest our chief justice, occupy our parliament and pretend it is business as usual,” Nasheed told an Indian newspaper. Same goes for India. How can India continue to behave as if it’s business as usual in the Indian Ocean?

Diplomacy has failed to make Yameen see sense. But if diplomacy fails, does that mean all is over? Nasheed believes a very radical form of Islam has invaded the Maldives. Yameen is thick with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative is wound tight around his throat. From Hambantota to Male, China is well on its way to strangle and string India high and dry with a necklace of islands.

“Military is an extension of diplomacy. When diplomatic means fail, that does not mean you pull back. Your problem remains. You engaged diplomatically because there was a problem. You still have to solve the problem. It is another issue whether India listens or not…It’s not just our problem. It is your problem as well,” Nasheed told the newspaper.

It is not as if it will be a first for India – there was ‘Operation Cactus’ during Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure when Indian paratroopers got Gayoom out of trouble. The crisis in the Maldives is not a “domestic crisis”, it is regional and international. Maldives’ location places it in a “certain category”. The geostrategic importance cannot be overlooked. China is on a two-pronged strategy to contain India’s rise. While it has once again started prodding India at Dokla, it’s also leading from the front in the Indian Ocean. Modi should dump the “peace-loving, non-interfering nation” image of India in the sea if India wants to be a whale of the Indian Ocean. If China is the shark, which it is.

 Sushil Kutty
©IPA Service

Photos from the Internet

#China #India ##TheMaldives #DemosticCrisis #ChiefJustice #IPA #DifferentTruths

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