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Cold War or Cold Peace: Of Beaches & Threats
Complexity is the hallmark of contemporary international political economy where issues overlap and demand trade-offs. This aptly applies to the debate on the development that China is ready to acquire atolls in Maldives.

Though India has shared cordial relations with Maldives yet the situation merits the national concerns seen in perspective of intricate mesh of neo-liberalism vis-a-vis sovereignty, ecological, indigenous and serious security impact in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) for balance of power equations in the sub-continent. The need of the hour is to read between the lines as to how the jargon of monetary gain in un-inhabited terrain shall reshape the Indian concerns.

Though it is an internal matter of the nation, yet it has implications beyond its terrain. Mere focusing on structural implication of international system- that anarchy demands cater to own gains, one has to ponder over this event by highlighting- focusing on neo-classical realist perspective, namely the state and its relationship to society. History is testimony to the fact that vulnerability in economic, ideology, society, polity, amongst others has been used since ages as a variable of drawing out resources and conquests.

Development of remote islands, generation of employment has been the primary motive by the Maldives Government to move forward the amendment to facilitate China for the same. This presents a case in international studies where the idea of national interest is seen purely in economic terms where-in subtle attacks are made to notion of Westphalia sovereignty by allowing foreign ownership of land are ignored to fetch development. Though at the domestic level, amendments were tendered with sizeable majority by Abdulla Yameen government and ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) was passed with 70 votes in favour. It allows investment over $1 billion to own land, and an alarming clause that 70 per cent of the land is reclaimed from the sea.

With porosity being allowed by Maldives for China, it can be anybody's thought that it shall present new challenge for us. For a country like India, where several states and union territories have coastal boundaries, the situation does merit attention. Maritime security in the Indian Ocean region with Sri Lanka and Maldives has been hallmarks of India's bilateral relations with many other Indian Ocean Littoral states.

Further, India occupies a unique geographical position in Asian continent. Its colossal size and resources have often made its relations with its neighbours full of thorns. Though by its meticulous diplomatic manoeuvres, it tries for cordial terms and thaws, yet our foreign policy history is full of instances of back-tracking.

India and China share long history, border and civilisation. Time and again, China has sent out a lesson to our South Block that Chinese ambassadorial interface with India is business as usual for it, adding to more sense of uneasiness. This is further justified by the fact that it does factor in Indian growing clout but leaves no stone unturned to assert its supremacy- as seen in various reports pointing out to rise in military capabilities of China via Sri Lanka ports or Pakistan submarine activities, infiltration, denial of mutual benefits amongst others.

Security has acquired asymmetric dimension in globalisation. As the world is marked by space-time compression, security as an anti-thesis has threats that loom across all the borders and the enemy is faceless unlike the traditional forms of war. New forms of terrorism, pandemics, and climate change narcotics are cases worth mentioning here.

No one can doubt the merit for need for navigational freedom, respect for international law, modernisation of ports, need for investments, streamlining procedures, developing communication and transport for intra-regional trade. The agenda of tourism as a plank to foster Chinese designs which will have a bearing on maritime security concerns in relation to regional seaborne trade, sharing of information on crime, amongst others for India.

With absence of any hierarchy in the domain, this bound to present new strains and stalemates. National interests then become incommensurable paradigm for both. Further with highly dynamic facet of coastal environment today, such moves are bound to harm long term stability of environment. This shall also make Indian tasks daunting with regard to prioritising threats.

Lastly, conceptions of international society- vis-a-vis rise of democracy, economic interdependence also do not fit well in the scheme of Indo-China discourse. With the great power concentration in neighbouring isle of Maldives, India may have to settle for a hard bargain, as the lexicon goes that of 'cold war' or 'cold peace'. It is high time that India draws out new contours of thinking for its coastal and maritime security, factoring in the regional balance of power.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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