The Indian state has a long history of interfering in the affairs of the other countries of the South Asian region. Blatantly ignoring the sovereign rights of neighbouring countries, it acts as if it has a right to interfere in the affairs of the other countries of the region, on account of India’s huge size and power. Naturally, this has made it very unpopular with the governments and peoples of practically every one of the neighbouring countries. This is one of the main causes of tension and insecurity in our region.
Recent developments in the Maldives show this very clearly. A year ago, when the elected President of the Maldives, Mohammed Nasheed, was toppled from power and replaced with his former Vice-President, the UPA government responded within 24 hours recognising the new regime of Waheed. A few months later, in November 2012, the Waheed government cancelled a US$ 500 million contract with the Indian corporate giant GMR to build the Maldives’ main international airport. The Waheed government claimed that GMR had been given unduly favourable terms by the previous government of Nasheed. The Maldives was well within its rights to cancel the contract, but the Indian government, acting on behalf of a private company, applied maximum pressure on the Waheed government not to take this step. When this did not succeed, it took the unusual step of issuing a public statement condemning this act of a neighbouring state exercising its sovereign rights.
Since then, it is clear that the Indian state has been waiting for an opportunity to arm-twist the Waheed government, which it had earlier supported. It got the opportunity in February when it offered asylum to the former President Nasheed, who was summoned by the Maldives courts in connection with a case. The Indian state is keen that Nasheed emerges victorious in the upcoming election in September, and knows that conviction in the court case would disqualify him from contesting. Since February 13, Nasheed has been residing in the Indian High Commission in Male and defying the court summons against him. This is a blatant act of interference by the Indian state.
Various arguments are being widely aired in the media about how India should act in the political crisis in the Maldives. One argument is that India must exercise its clout in the Maldives to assert that it is the unchallenged regional power, and to prevent the Maldives from coming closer to China. Another is that India must intervene on the side of “democracy” in the Maldives by backing Nasheed, and make up for its “mistake” last time in abandoning Nasheed. Both these arguments are completely unprincipled and dangerous. The point is that the Maldives, like all the other countries of this region, is a sovereign independent state, and must be allowed to sort out its internal affairs without any interference from outside. Violation of this principle is extremely dangerous. The argument that big or powerful states have an inherent right to interfere in the internal affairs of other states is exactly the argument advanced by the US and other imperialist powers to launch brazen acts of aggression against countries all over the world. The Indian state, acting on behalf of the ruling Indian big bourgeois class, must not be allowed to join this pack of marauders and bullies, who have wreaked destruction on so many countries across the globe.
The Indian working class wants to live in peace and friendship with the neighbouring peoples, and has no interest whatsoever in intervening in their internal affairs. We must strongly condemn and demand an end to the Indian state’s unprincipled and dangerous policy towards the Maldives.