ibnlive » Chat

4 pm Dec 07, 2012

GMR-Maldives spat

In a major setback to GMR, the Singapore Court of Appeal on Thursday ruled that the Maldives government had the authority to take back Male airport from the company. The Maldives government had cancelled GMR's $500 million airport project, claiming that the project was financially unviable. Join CNN-IBN's Foreign Affairs Editor Surya Gangadharan for a live chat to know more.
19 questions answered
  • Sir, do you see China's behind-the-curtain hand in instigating Maldives in the entire episode? Asked by: Shyam Vadalker
  • Surya Gangadharan There have been reports about unnamed countries "encouraging" perhaps even instigating the Maldivian govt into throwing out GMR. But there's no hard evidence on that score. Having said that there's no doubt there are far more players in the Maldives today than some years ago. The Chinese are there, so are the Brits and the US, all with their own interests to push. It'll be interesting to see which firm from which country gets the contract if the whole thing is re-tendered
  • As per military related posts on Peoples daily & other posts-combat training, missile deployment, air craft carrier, stand on island issue, south china issue-it appears that China is flexing muscles & may make short but instense attack-with due use of force multipliers -missiles-on weakest neighbour-read India-your comments-also note-no progress on border talks Asked by: avinash-sk
  • Surya Gangadharan Excuse me this web chat is about the GMR-Maldives contract.
  • Maldives clearly knows that enmity with India, which is very close to its borders, is not in its national interests. What do you think would have been the reason for such extreme step by the Maldives government? Asked by: gaurav
  • Surya Gangadharan President Waheed has apparently been led to believe that cancelling the GMR contract will go down well in an elex year. Elections are due in 2013 and Waheed needs all the help he can get. It could be that he sees this as an opportunity to re-negotiate the deal. Maybe he's getting a better "offer" from somewhere else
  • I feel government should not intervene on the matters between GMR & Maldives government... whatever pressure the maldives govt is under.. it must be fought by the parties concerned rather than the Indian Government acting like a mediator & breaking all ties with the Maldives. Dont you feel so? Asked by: Nithin
  • Surya Gangadharan This is a prestigious contract and GMR is a major player in India's aviation sector. There's no Indian government money involved as the funding has come through Axis Bank, a private entity. But in today's world trade/business is what builds relations. Every time a US or UK or some other head of state arrives in Delhi, a business delegation precedes him. And for India it's doubly embarrassing as we were quick to dump former president Nasheed, support Waheed only to get a slap in the face. It suggests that we could have handled it better. In fact some Indian diplomats believe we are getting too deeply involved in Maldives internal affairs (like we do in Nepal) and GMR has fallen casualty to that.
  • Did India support Waheed against Nasheed during the recent coup? Since GMR has lost its arbitration appeal, should India really be too concerned? Asked by: Anshuman
  • Surya Gangadharan GMR is a big and important player in India in the airport sector. The loss of a $500+ million contract on an issue that could easily have been sorted out through dialogue suggests there are other issues at play here. India had reason to object over the manner in which the Maldivian govt ignored a Singapore court order. But now that issue has been legally remedied, we need to step back and figure out exactly what is going wrong?
  • what are options with india right now? do we have a BIPA with maldives which can help us take up issue in international arena? also has any other nation come out in support of maldives on this issue? Asked by: bharath
  • Surya Gangadharan India doesn't have a BIPA with the Maldives, only a double taxation avoidance agreement. The only protection that GMR had was the Singapore courts but they have allowed the Maldivian govt to take over the airport. Am not sure what GMR can do now. Perhaps we may have to wait until after the elex to see if Indian diplomacy can undo the damage. No nation will support us but will obviously weigh the manner in which the Maldives govt has acted when planning further investments there.
  • does the kingfisher also have investments in the maldives? Asked by: pc
  • Surya Gangadharan Kingfisher Airlines had plans to fly there in 2011, given their present troubles it's unlikely those plans will be revisited
  • It is difficult for me to agree with Nithin because if the Indian govt. doesn't intervene, it will lead other countries to stall interests if Indian businesses. If the Indian govt. acts, it will be a boon to the business sector as well as India's standing internationally. Asked by: gaurav
  • Surya Gangadharan I think this action only underscores the need to have bilateral investment promotion agreements. The Indian govt has been looking at such an agreement with Venezuela where dozens of Indian firms including Reliance and the Jindals have invested. Some agreement was in works but never got finalised. Given the pace at which the Venezuelan govt is nationalising industries, Reliance and others have cause to worry
  • If India stops funding Maldives, there is every possibility that Maldives will turn to China which will definitely enjoy it as it will have a foothold in Indian Ocean and that too closer to India? What's in store for India? Asked by: gaurav
  • Surya Gangadharan That's the whole point. Maldives is a strategic piece of real estate in the Indian Ocean, we train their military, give them ships to patrol their waters, even fly their helicopters. We have a radar station there so the last thing we would like is a Chinese or some other less than benign presence there. There's a new Indian high commissioner moving in so let's see what he can salvage
  • GMR-Maldives' spat-Is it a failure of secular India as well as its neutral, non-alignment status? What drastic steps should India take in order to safeguard and promote its foreign interests? Asked by: gaurav
  • Surya Gangadharan This is nothing to do with being secular or non aligned. This is about a good business deal (for India) going sour for reasons that are not entirely clear. As for drastic steps, not sure what you mean by that. Do you mean invade and take over! God we can't handle naxalites in Chattisgarh what would we do occupying the Maldives!
  • I think Indian Government should stay out of it as GMR is neither a subsidiary of Indian Govt nor is it owned by the Government. Maldives is a strategic partner for India, but recent developments show that they are inclining to communist forces in China. So they should be dealt in a diplomatic manner. What do you say? Asked by: Karthik
  • Surya Gangadharan China was communist a long time ago, now their only ideology is money. You are absolutely right, we need to bring some deft diplomacy to bear to ensure our long term and strategic interests are protected. But we must be aware that with other countries stepping up their presence in the Maldives, the GMR affair may only the first of more setbacks in the future
  • is there any possibility that sri lanka has influenced maldaives in taking such decision and they are planning partnership with china as india had voted against it in UN? Asked by: pc
  • Surya Gangadharan I don't think Sri Lanka has had any role here. They have enough problems of their own to want to meddle in the Maldives. I don't believe their ties with China are meant to upset us, it's just good business. Besides where we take eons to finish a project, the Chinese are on time and within budget
  • india's freezing of aid- is this not a over reaction? GMR is not the only indian asset there, maldives is of strategic importance to us, why has india taken such a knee jerk reaction? Asked by: bharath
  • Surya Gangadharan The MEA has clarified that only the budgetary support of $25 mn has been delayed. There's no impact on aid. It's a delicate matter. Stopping aid could spark further resentment, India has built stakes there over a long time and we can't afford to throw all that away
  • is there any collaboration in GMR filing a case aginst kingfisher in cheque bouncing case and GMR losing contract there? thats just an inception:) Asked by: pc
  • Surya Gangadharan Nope no connection, two entirely different things
  • i heard that when nasheed was in power, he requested india to increase educational opportunities for maldivian youth to counter radicalisation of them in pakistan's madrasas. did india respond to his request adequately? and are we reaching out to other parties in maldivian politics like we are doing in bangladesh? Asked by: bhaz
  • Surya Gangadharan There's no doubt we were very close to Nasheed. He helped us we helped him. But from what Indian diplomats say, he was more the activist even as president, not doing enough to reach out to his opponents. The decision to dump him and build up with Waheed then followed. In hindsight we seem to have been very hasty. Did we have good ties with the religious groups there, that's not clear. Hopefully if there are gaps in our diplomacy these will now be corrected
  • Don;t you think poor neighbourly relations are now starting to show their effect? It was first Bangladesh when Mamata refused to accompany the PM and so the River treaty couldn;t be signed, then India opposing Sri Lanka in the UNGA, Pak/Afghan have always been worrisome borders and China was never a friend. Somehow, China has taken advantage of India's limbo on the foreign policy front and has enevloped India from all sides. Asked by: @Vipul_Bagga
  • Surya Gangadharan If you look at the US, it's not liked by any of its neighbours. You always feel insecure when sitting next to a 100 kg gorilla. India probably seems like that gorilla to its neighbours and since culturally they are so close it adds to their insecurities. I mean how different is a Pakistani Punjabi or Sindhi from an Indian Punjabi or Sindhi. Likewise a Bangladeshi from a Kolkata Bong. China will always play games, no point complaining about it, we should counter them
  • As for drastic steps, I mean that most of our neighboring countries except Bhutan, now Myanmar and Bangladesh (because Khalida Zia is not at helm) don’t give India many reasons to smile. There have been protests in Nepal against India in the past, now Sri Lanka also (after India didn’t support Sri lanka at the UN on the LTTE). Further, we know that China is everywhere but India doesn’t have much to cheer about. In light of above, doesn’t India require some drastic steps. Then we know what our forces are getting and what they require-not enough funding. Asked by: gaurav
  • Surya Gangadharan What is enough. It's never enough. But we need to focus on improving living standards, beefing up the economy. That alone will ensure our military is adequately equipped. Also we need to cut down on imports which are becoming unaffordable and build up our own defence industry.
  • You have a valid point when you say Indian needs to counter the chinese influence. But with a Coalition govt in place and with a weak Foreign Minister and an even weaker PM, do we have foreign policy on the top of our minds? It is survival at its best like what happened today. Asked by: @Vipul_Bagga
  • Surya Gangadharan Yes and the consensus on foreign policy no longer exists. Look at how Mamta Banerjee torpedoed the Teesta waters deal with B'desh. Nor is there much sympathy for the PM's desire to cross the Radcliffe Line and have tea in his village. Point is people here have a right to expect Pak to deliver on 26/11. But then there's no consensus there either
  • we need to establish good relations with bhutan, nepal, maldives, vietnam, burma, srilanka, bangladesh and other south pacific countries to counter china. am i right? Asked by: pc
  • Surya Gangadharan We need to have good relations with our neighbours period! The better our ties are the less the chances of them going along with Beijing's plans for us.

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Surya Gangadharan
International Affairs Editor, CNN-IBN