2 Feb 2024

Why Budget Announcement Has Sparked Renewed Interest in Maldives and Lakshadweep Discussion

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled the latest budget for the current government, with a notable 2% increase in allocations for the tourism sector. During her budget speech, she emphasized India's plans to initiate infrastructure and port connectivity projects across its islands, including Lakshadweep, in response to the growing interest in domestic tourism.

Highlighting the boost for the tourism industry, the Finance Minister announced a 2% budget hike and encouraged states to develop prestigious tourist destinations, emphasizing global branding and marketing. The Central Government also pledged to provide long-term interest-free loans to states promoting such developments.

Following the budget announcement, discussions surrounding Maldives and Lakshadweep surged once again. This was partly due to a 22% reduction in aid to Maldives compared to the previous financial year. Lakshadweep's mention in the Finance Minister's speech gained significance, especially after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the region on January 4, where he engaged in snorkeling and encouraged adventure enthusiasts to explore Lakshadweep.

The Finance Minister highlighted opportunities for local entrepreneurship in various tourism sectors, including religious tourism. The reference to Lakshadweep in the budget speech is now linked to the controversy stemming from PM Modi's recent visit and objectionable remarks made by Maldivian leaders. 

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