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India Offers Scholarships to Maldivian Students Amid Diplomatic Tensions

Maldives Foreign Minister Likely to Visit India – A Step Towards Diplomatic Reconciliation and Cooperation
10:46 AM May 02, 2024 IST | SURINDER SINGH OBEROI
india offers scholarships to maldivian students amid diplomatic tensions
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New Delhi, May 02, 2024: Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), has announced the provision of 34 fully funded scholarships to Maldivian students for the 2024-2025 academic year.

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The scholarships are divided among several schemes: 20 are designated for undergraduate programs including Engineering through the Aid-to-Maldives Scholarship Scheme, 10 fall under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee General Scholarship Scheme, and 4 are offered through the Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme.

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These scholarships cater to a variety of academic disciplines across undergraduate, postgraduate, and PhD levels, including Arts, Science, Engineering, Business, and Tourism, at leading Indian universities.

In addition to these scholarships, ICCR has globally offered 100 slots under the Lata Mangeshkar Dance and Music Scholarship Scheme for students interested in studying Indian culture through various artistic mediums.

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There are also 29 additional scholarships available specifically for Southeast Asian students under the AYUSH Scholarship Scheme, which focuses on traditional Indian medical studies such as Ayurveda, Unani, and Homeopathy at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

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These opportunities come at a time when diplomatic tensions between India and the Maldives have been strained under the leadership of Maldives’ pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu.

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Since his election, Muizzu has sought to reduce military and security cooperation with India, impacting several bilateral agreements and resulting in India’s phased withdrawal of military personnel from the region.

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This includes the retraction of Indian naval support for hydrographic surveys in Maldivian waters and the replacement of military personnel with civilians, scheduled to be completed by May 10.

In the previous month, India permitted restricted exports of crucial commodities such as sugar, wheat, rice, and onions to the Maldives. Despite ongoing tensions between Male and New Delhi due to increasing Chinese influence, the government took this step.

Media reported that Maldives Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer is likely to visit India this month, perhaps next week. His first since Muizzu's presidency began, is set against this backdrop of recalibrated bilateral ties.

The visit, if it happens, is likely to focus on multiple critical issues, including discussions on defence and security cooperation and financial matters such as the repayment of loans, the status of India-led development projects, and potential debt relief requested by Muizzu.

This visit underlines a period of geopolitical adjustment and re-engagement, where both nations are expected to navigate through the complexities of regional stability and their mutual interests.

Despite the challenges, India continues to affirm its role as a key development partner to the Maldives. This is evidenced by the recent increase in budget allocations for Maldivian development assistance in India’s interim budget for 2024-25, reflecting a sustained commitment to fostering Maldives’ socio-economic growth.

The unfolding diplomatic engagements and educational initiatives reflect the multifaceted aspects of India-Maldives relations, highlighting India's strategic interests in maintaining robust ties with a key maritime neighbour in the Indian Ocean Region.

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