New Delhi. 17 December 2020. Sanjay Jaju, Additional Secretary (DP), Ministry of Defence, Govt of India said that India and Maldives share a very close, cordial and a multidimensional relationship. India occupies a pre-eminent position in the Maldives and in accordance with the Neighbourhood First policy of Govt of India, we remain committed as a developmental partner for a stable, prosperous and peaceful Maldives. “Regular scheduled high-level exchange of visits is providing a sustained impetus to the growing relationship between the two nations,” he added.
Addressing the virtual Joint Indo-Maldives High-Level Defence Engagement session organized by FICCI, jointly with Maldives National Defence Forces, High Commission of India, Male and Department of Defence Production, Govt of India, Jaju said that defence and security have been a major area of cooperation between India and the Maldives. “Broad-based bilateral defence co-operation will play an important role in deepening and enhancing this partnership,” he further added.
Highlighting the Indian defence ecosystem, Jaju said that our ecosystem is fast progressing in realizing the dream of an Atmanirbhar Bharat through the government’s flagship ‘Make in India’ initiative. Self-reliant India or the Atmanirbhar Bharat program is not inward-looking but it is to create an ecosystem where India is integrated with the global ecosystem. “It is about producing cost effective quality products not just to meet the domestic requirements but also cater to the requirement of the world, especially the friendly nations, including the Maldives,” he noted.
He further stated that India has a vast defence industrial base with 41 Ordnance Factories with nine public sector companies, 500 private companies along with over 12,000 MSMEs part of it. He said that Indian defence industries have expertise over a wide range of hi-tech defence systems encompassing air, land, naval as well as space application systems. “Indian defence industries can offer various proven platforms, systems, sub-systems which can cater to the requirements of Maldivian defence forces,” emphasized Jaju.
Our shipbuilding industry, he said, is also becoming robust with both public as well as private sector participation and these ships are of global standards and cost-effective. “We can make use of the Indian expertise for the development of dockyards, berthing and support facilities in Maldives,” said Jaju.
Major General Abdulla Shamaal, Chief of Defence Force, Maldives National Defence Force said that both countries have a very strong bilateral relationship and over the years, it has taken significant dimensions. “Defence and security cooperation remains an important pillar of our relationship,” he added.
He stated that the geo-strategic significance of the Indian Ocean region cannot be further emphasized, and it is becoming more and more conspicuous. “Our common interests within the Indian Ocean region is to make it a safe, stable and peaceful region and our relationship in the defence sector is exclusive and structured,” he noted.
Sunjay Sudhir, High Commissioner of India to the Maldives said that defence is the strongest pillar between India-Maldives relationship. He said that most of the joint defence and capacity building programs in the pipeline have received a major impetus in the last few years. “The Coastal Surveillance Radar System being set up in the Maldives will stand tall as a testimony to the strong India-Maldives defence relations. We are committed to further strengthen the defence cooperation in the years to come,” he added.
SP Shukla, Chairman, FICCI Defence and Aerospace Committee and Group President (Defence, Aero, Agri and Steel); Member of the Group Executive Board, Mahindra Group said that the Maldives is a strategically important neighbour for India. It also occupies a special place in the Neighbourhood First and SAGAR policy of Government of India. “On-going bilateral relations can be further strengthened by a robust defence and security ties between the two defence forces,” he added.
During the session, the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) made a detailed presentation on their requirements and 11 Indian Defence Companies highlighted their capabilities, product offerings and solutions.