The change of guard in the Maldives has brought fresh hope for hundreds of job-seekers from the State, especially north Kerala. The Maldives immigration authority had deferred their work visas for the last eight months.
The new president-elect, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, known for his pro-India stand, will take oath on Saturday, following a tumultuous election held in September. “We have been waiting for a turnaround all these months. Now many of us have either started joining companies or are awaiting the renewal of visas shortly,” said Amal Vishnu of Ayancheri village in Vadakara taluk of Kozhikode district, whose work visa at a start hotel was deferred in February.
He said that companies had started issuing visas for employment in hotels, hospitals and educational institutions. A majority of the hospital staff in the Indian Ocean archipelago are Indians and the teachers are from Kerala. Indians are the backbone of the hospitality and tourism industries in the Maldives.
Amal Krishnan, who joined as IT technician in a company in the Maldives on October 25, said that the Immigration Department had refused to renew his visa earlier. “I was on a holiday to Kerala before my visa period expired. Now the presidential elections determined our future especially the skilled employment seekers to this India-friendly country,” said Mr Krishnan who has been waiting for a renewed visa since March.
Earlier, job aspirants had been coordinating activities via WhatsApp and Facebook collectives seeking the intervention of Indian Embassy. This had helped to a great extent to bring the issue to the attention of the Ministry of External Affairs and subsequently take up the matter with the Maldivian government, Mr Vishnu said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepting an invitation from the President-elect to attend the swearing-in ceremony has given an impetus to the resetting of ties between India and Maldives. India has geographical proximity with the Maldives lying which is just 400 km southwest of Malabar coast.
The Indian Army had played a big role in foiling a coup attempt in 1988. Incidentally, the outgoing president, Yameen Abdul Gayoom, has been considered to be pro-China. Though Mr Modi’s visit will not be a bilateral visit, India will closely work with the Maldives in further deepening the partnership, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, had already pointed out.
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