Ferry service to connect India and Maldives

India and the Maldives on Saturday agreed to launch a ferry service connecting the two countries, an initiative, which is expected to boost tourism. The two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the establishment of passenger and cargo services by sea.

The MoU was announced during Prime Minister Modi's two-day state visit to the Indian Ocean archipelago.
Both Prime Minister Modi and Male President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih emphasised the need to improve connectivity and the two leaders have directed officials to expeditiously work towards starting a regular passenger-cum-cargo ferry service between Kerala's Kochi and the Maldivian capital Male via Kulhudhuffushi atoll.
The distance between Kochi and Male is about 700 kms, and between Kochi and Kulhudhuffushi atoll is 500 kms.
Addressing the Maldivian Parliament, Modi said: "I am particularly happy that we have agreed upon a ferry service between the two countries".
"This is the first time we are going to begin passenger cum cargo services directly connecting the Indian mainland with the Maldives from Kochi via Kulhudhuffushi to Male," foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said.
India and Maldives inked six agreements as PM Narendra Modi and President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih held talks on a wide ranging issues.
"Both the leaders emphasised the need to improve connectivity between the two countries through the establishment of enabling infrastructure and in this regard, directed their concerned officials to expeditiously work towards starting a regular passenger-cum-cargo ferry service between Kochi and Kulhudhuffushi and Male," the ministry of external affairs said in a statement.
This is Modi's second visit after he visited the Maldives in November 2018 to attend President Solih's swearing-in. This is also the first by an Indian prime minister at a bilateral level in eight years.
Modi’s visit to Male and Sri Lanka, his first foreign visit after re-election as Prime Minister, reflect the importance India attaches to its 'Neighbourhood First' policy.
Relations between India and the Maldives deteriorated after the previous President Abdulla Yameen imposed emergency on 5 February last year. Some decisions by Yameen, including imposition of restrictions on work visas for Indians and signing of a new Free Trade Agreement with Beijing did not go well for its ties with New Delhi.
However, ties were back on track under Solih's presidency.
Meanwhile,the National Centre for Good Governance (NCGG), India’s leading civil services training institution, has entered into an MoU with the Maldives Civil Services Commission for capacity building of 1000 Maldives civil servants over the next 5 years. 
Under vthe agreement, signed during the visit of the Prime Minister of India to Male on 8 June 2019, NCGG will act as the nodal institution for designing customised training modules and its implementation taking into account the requirements of the Civil Service Commission, Maldives. The subject matters of the training program will include public administration, e-governance and service delivery, public policy and governance, information technology, best practices in fisheries in coastal areas, agro-based practices,self help group initiatives, urban development and planning, ethics in administration and challenges in implementation of SDGs. Maldives will nominate suitable civil servants in the senior/ executive/ middle management levels as per agreed timelines.
Further the NCGG will assist the Civil Services Training Institute, a subsidiary of the Civil Service Commission, Maldives to develop training programs and materials, assist in organizing the exchange of experts as needed by the Civil Services Commission.
India’s ministry of external affairs will bear all expenses pertaining to the training programme.