Taking forward its 'Neighbourhood First' policy, India on Wednesday handed over a patrol vessel to the Maldives and launched the RuPay card, during a video conference between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
Four bilateral grant projects as part of the development partnership between India and the Maldives were highlighted at the digital video conference.
India gifted a 'Made in India' patrol vessel named "KAAMIYAAB" to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF). The vessel will be manned by eight MNDF personnel trained in India and will be a valuable asset for the Maldives in enhancing its maritime security, fostering its blue economy and safeguarding its tourism industry.
The two sides exchanged MoUs for three grant projects for setting up neighbourhood fish plants in the southernmost atoll of Addu.
Mindful of the geographic spread of the Maldives and the development needs of its people, these High Impact Community Development Projects (HICDPs) will be implemented by the Addu City Council in Maldives. These projects are being implemented under the MoU signed during then EAM Sushma Swaraj's visit to Maldives in 2019 and will help support livelihoods of the island communities in Addu, a statement said.
Both sides exchanged an MoU between the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and the Bank of Maldives (BML) to launch the RuPay Card in the Maldives.
In 2019, tourist arrivals from India to the Maldives have doubled and India has risen from 5th to the 2nd position in its tourism market. The launch of the Global RuPay Card in Maldives through the Bank of Maldives will pave the way for higher tourist arrivals from India and, eventually, stronger people-to-people contacts between the two countries, it said.
At least 2,500 LED streetlights donated by India were installed in Male recently. These streetlights save 80 per cent energy and will result in cost savings of approx. 8.35 lakh MVR per year for Male city. They will also add to the safety and security of the residents of Male, particularly women and children.
At the video conference, PM Modi spoke of India's steadfast commitment to the socio-economic development of Maldives in line with the priorities of the people and government of Maldives.
Modi underscored that the convergence of India's 'Neighbourhood First' and the Maldives's India First' policies have strengthened bilateral cooperation in all sectors, the statement said.
Expressing his deep appreciation to India for its support to the development aspirations and security of Maldives, President Solih conveyed his commitment to deepen cooperation and partnership with India. Both leaders agreed to work closely together to enhance cooperation for peace, prosperity and mutual security of India and Maldives and for the wider Indian Ocean region, it said.
Bilateral relations between the Maldives and India have strengthened significantly since President Solih was elected as President in 2018.
AAbdulla Shahid, the Foreign Minister of Maldives, tweeted: "Bolstering #Maldives-#India defence ties! Coast Guard Ship #Kaamiyaab, gifted today by #India, will be a valuable asset, bolstering Maldivian coast Guard's ability to protect our maritime borders!"
Modi said: "Today, an Indian-made fast-interceptor craft was officially handed over to the Maldivian coast guard. This advanced vessel has been constructed by L&T in my home state Gujarat. It will help enhance Maldives' maritime security and promote your blue economy & tourism."
"This week, three direct flights from Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru have also started. Rupay payment system will further ease the travel of Indians to Maldives," he added.
He said the RuPay Payment mechanism will further ease the travel of Indian to the Maldives. "I am glad that this has been launched through the Bank of Maldives," he added.
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