17:51 GMT28 November 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): In a bid to reclaim its dominant position in the Maldives, the government of India has donated a patrol vessel to the island nation to keep an eye on the movement of ships and pirates in the exclusive economic zones.

    India has provided a Fast Interceptor Craft Vessel to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF); it will help the Indian Ocean archipelago nation patrol the region. India acted amid rumours of the establishment of a Chinese military base in the Maldives last year.

    Earlier this year, India established the Coastal Surveillance Radar System and a composite training facility for MNDF, which was inaugurated during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the country.

    In November 2018, India resumed the second phase of a project which is crucial for the Indian Navy following the replacement of former Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen by Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

    The work was stalled during the Maldives' previous government, which was considered close to China.

    These radars are part of India's "chain of radars", with Sri Lanka set to host six radars and Mauritius eight; one such system would be located in the Seychelles. These radars will generate live feeds of ship movements in the Indian Ocean Region.

    Prime Minister Modi also launched the RuPay card, the Indian version of America's Visa and Master Card, in the world’s most geographically dispersed countries.

    India has already launched its RuPay card in Singapore, Bhutan, the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Last year, India announced that it would provide the Maldives with a financial assistance package of $1.4 billion and also offered an additional 1,000 scholarships to students from the country for the next 5 years.

    India and the Maldives had also signed agreements to cooperate in the field of Hydrography, and a technical agreement on the exchange of White Shipping Information between Indian Navy and MNDF.

    The Maldives is barely 70 nautical miles away from Minicoy island in Lakshdweep, and 300 nautical miles away from India’s West coast.

    China has invested heavily in its infrastructure development project. The Maldives' location is at the hub of commercial sea-lanes running through Indian Ocean, and its potential to allow a third nation’s naval presence in the area makes it strategically importance for India.


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