The recent stand-off between the president of Maldives, Abdulla Yameen, and the Supreme Court has engulfed the country in an unprecedented crisis. Torn with internal conflict and the declaration of emergency by Abdulla, the country is in desperate need of a decisive solution – without which its democratic functioning stands threatened.
A cry for help from the former president of Maldives, seeking India’s help in stifling the internal crisis, has plunged our nation into a debate on whether it is a wise move to intervene or not. In such a precarious situation, it is important to put to scrutiny the outcomes of a possible intervention and to examine our reasons for interfering in the domestic affairs of another sovereign state (if we choose to do so).
India’s rich history of multicultural pluralism and it’s Constitution’s commitment to Gandhian values of tolerance and acceptance has, for long, been its definitive identity. Being the largest functioning democratic republic in the world, it stands as a torch-bearer of democracy in Asia. Also, taking into account its inclusion in the Community of Democracies in 2000, it will not be unusual to expect India to be a firm endorser and promoter of democracy.
But, the truth is that India has, with good reason, been reluctant to export its democratic ideologies outside its borders in recent decades. Post independence, India has engaged itself in military interventions in countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and even Maldives (in 1988), often incurring heavy costs in the process.
Today, in the 21st century, India has learnt many lessons from the misadventures of foreign powers meddling in domestic affairs of other countries. In my opinion, India is rightly apprehensive of interfering in the internal strife of Maldives. An outside power like India attempting to stifle the instability in the Maldives by attempting to bring about change of regime can lead to a rise of nationalistic feelings in the state – and thereby consolidate the local opinion in favour of Abdulla.
It is also likely that India may get tangled in the internal complications of the country and adopt some of its problems as its own. India’s intervention in Sri Lanka’s civil war had disastrous consequences for the nation – and it is not unlikely that history will repeat itself with Maldives.
So it makes sense for India to take the time to assess if the crisis in the Maldives will play itself out. To prematurely intercede in the domestic affairs of another sovereign nation can have adverse ramifications for all parties involved. Besides, as the popular adage goes, those who fail to learn from history are destined to repeat it.