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    Thursday, July 18, 2024

      Maldives vs Lakshadweep | RRD’s Opinion

      When Prime Minister Narendra Modi post photos of Lakshadweep, it could have pass as just another location in India that the PM want to put the spotlight on. PM Modi praise the pristine waters.

      Prime Minister urge Indians to dekho apna desh.

      He sat down with a notebook and pen his thoughts about Lakshadweep and went snorkelling in the clear blue waters.

      But after that a tsunami follow in a country not too far from Lakshadweep.

      Maldives, part of the same island chain in the Laccadive Sea as Lakshadweep, saw the posts by the PM as a potential threat.

      3 ministers from the Maldives Cabinet were put on the bench and the country scramble letters and apologies to its ‘neighbour‘ as Bollywood filmstars, known more for their Maldives vacations than movies, urge people to explore the Indian Islands.

      While, the Meddler-in-Chief in the Maldives has been quiet.

      China has yet to make anything ‘official‘ with the Maldives, but the ripples in the Arabian are for everyone to see.

      Lakshadweep vs Maldives is the war on Indian Twitter.

      Interest in the tiny group of islands off India’s west coast is at an all-time high.

      Google is finding it difficult dealing with the rise in search traffic and Lakshadweep is readying for incoming mainland traffic.

      But the big question at this point is, Which is better Lakshadweep or Maldives?

      Lakshadweep, Sanskrit for one hundred thousand islands, has 35 total islands after the sea swallow one.

      10 out of these 35 are inhabite by less than 65,000 people.

      The islands were attach to the Madras Presidency during the British Raj, and then became a union territory, Independent India’s smallest in 1956.

      Maldives saw a total number of 17,57,939 tourists according to Ministry of Tourism data till December 2023.

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      It was the only nation accessible to Indians without a visa at the peak of Covid in 2020.

      Maldives’s aggressive expansion policies have help propel it to the top of the tourism charts.

      It is cheaper to stay in Lakshadweep than at a half-decent resort in Maldives.

      Maldives vs Lakshadweep

      • Male has direct flights from 40 global capitals. 
      • The Velana International Airport in Male has a 4.2-kilometre runway, which can easily see widebody aircrafts land from all over the world.
      • In comparison, the Agatti airstrip in Lakshadweep is 1.5 kilometres, restricting landings and takeoffs only for turboprops.
      • As of now, only Alliance Air operates one AT7 aircraft between Cochi, Bengaluru and Agatti every day.
      • Airport expansion plans have had to be put on hold in Agatti because that development would come at the steep price of destroying a turtle habitat.
      • Maldives’s ease of visa, allows visa-free entry to passport holders of India, Russia, China and Kazakhstan, with the first three of those countries sending the maximum number of tourists to Maldives. It also allows visa on arrival to all tourists, from all over the world, who meet their entry requirements. 
      • There are 172 resorts in the Maldives, with the world’s biggest luxury hotel chains having an address on the various islands. It has 1,220 tourist facilities in total, which include 152 safari vessels, 883 guest houses, 13 hotels and 172 resorts.
      • Lakshadweep at the moment has no five-star resort. IHCL has a plan for two Taj-branded resorts in Lakshadweep (at Suheli and Kadmat islands) in the coming years, but that is at least five years away.
      • Maldives has spent many decades hosting tourists from all across the world. All its 172 resorts are connect by speedboats or seaplanes from Male, making tourists hop in and out of the island nation with the utmost ease. Most tourists who go to Maldives go to these specific resorts.
      • In Lakshadweep, that is not possible. 
      • Alcohol is ban in Lakshadweep over environmental concerns.
      • Maldives has no restrictions on alcohol in the resorts and tourist facilities. 
      • For Lakshadweep to really make it to the hotlist of tourists, the domestic circuit needs to be targeted first.
      • Cordelia Cruises has a cruise that connects Mumbai with Kochi and does Lakshadweep on the way. 
      • Entry to Lakshadweep is limited.
      • You need to book your tour packages in advance.
      • It’s not like the Maldives where you can literally book your flights today and land up tomorrow.
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      While Lakshadweep does have a foot in tourism, it is not entirely dependent on tourists.

      The Indian government has various restrictions in place in the group of islands, with special focus on preserving the fragile ecosystem and indigenous way of life.

      Lakshadweep comprises 35 islands across 32 square kilometres.

      These are mostly small islands, with the tourism concentrate in islands like Agatti, Bangaram and Kadmat islands.

      Foreign tourists are allow to visit only these three islands, after a special permit.

      Indian tourists can visit all islands after the special permit, but tourism and activities are mostly pack in the 3 islands.

      About Andaman and Nicobar

      For Andaman and Nicobar, the scenario is a little different.

      It has on the domestic tourist’s map for a while now, and there are quite a few hotels and resorts on the islands.

      Airlines have many commercial flights from Kolkata and Chennai to Port Blair throughout the day.

      But, even though Andaman and Nicobar is spread across 8,250 sq km, not all of it is accessible to tourists.

      The strategic location of Andaman and Nicobar also means specific importance for government and maritime activities.

      The Andamans are also home to some of the last uncontact tribes on Earth and all of Nicobar is off-limits for tourists.

      More tourists here will only mean more headache.

      The topography of the Maldives scores in its favour.

      The group of 1,200 islands come with 26 naturally occurring atolls.

      These atolls mean a distinct advantage when it comes to water-based activities.

      The atolls, or ring-shape coral reefs, encircle a lagoon.

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      This means naturally protected waters.

      Lakshadweep is part of the same island chain but has 12 atolls, 3 reefs, and 5 submerge banks.

      Lakshadweep is said as the world’s most spectacular marine ecosystem.

      Its coral reefs are the only ones in the Indian Union.

      The geomorphologic and climactic variations along the coast have result in an extremely diverse marine ecosystem. 

      The main components of this marine ecosystem are the coral reefs, lagoons, seagrasses, seaweeds, algae and mangroves.

      Fishes, tunas, live-bait, octopuses, mollusks, sponges, echinoderms, whales and dolphins inhabit these delicate ecosystems in Lakshadweep. 

      On World Environment Day 2023, the Indian government took up the task of cleaning the sea floor of marine litter in Lakshadweep.

      RRD’s Opinion

      The relationship between India and the Maldives has witness fluctuations over time. While historically close, recent geopolitical shifts have led to occasional strains.

      Recently, India and the Maldives have territorial disputes, especially concerning maritime boundaries and sovereignty concerns.

      But, both nations have endeavore to maintain cordial relations despite occasional differences, recognizing the importance of regional cooperation.

      With its affordability, natural beauty, and cultural richness, Lakshadweep stands as a beacon for travelers seeking an island getaway.

      Prime Minister Modi’s visit has boost efforts to tourism and infrastructure, making it a suitable time for travel enthusiasts to explore this Indian paradise.

      While diplomatic dynamics with the Maldives may fluctuate, Lakshadweep remains a serene destination, offering an unparallele experience of India’s island haven.

      Rahul Ram Dwivedi (RRD) is a senior journalist in 2YoDoINDIA.
      NOTE : Views expressed are personal.

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