In the wake of India promoting Lakshadweep as a tourist destination, following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the idyllic union territory and the many photo opportunities it yielded of the pristine beaches and a snorkelling expedition, the absurd social media war between India and the Maldives does not augur well for ties between the two countries. Three ministers in the Maldives allegedly posted derogatory tweets about India and PM Modi that disparaged the tourist infrastructure in Lakshadweep. The Maldives, an archipelago renowned as a tourist paradise, acted swiftly to control the damage by suspending the three ministers for their remarks. Simultaneously, a “boycott Maldives” hashtag started trending on social media with many celebrities taking umbrage at the insult to India and the PM. In the Maldives, Opposition politicians rued the intemperate statements of the ministers because of the detrimental effect it would have on the economy. Indians comprise a large chunk of the tourist trade in the islands. Tourism is the mainstay of the Maldivian economy.
Significantly, this spat broke out when President Mohamed Muizzu is on a tour of China. Relations between Male and New Delhi have been tense since the election of Muizzu, who is seen as pro-China just like his mentor Abdulla Yameen. However, it is in the best interests of New Delhi and Male to maintain cordial relations. India has always acted as a first responder in the event of medical emergencies and natural disasters striking the island nation. Petty insults and racist slurs do not behove public personalities and the Muizzu government did the right thing by taking immediate action.