Ranveer Singh

Why Bollywood stars are promoting Indian beaches, and how Ranveer Singh messed up

Recently, relations between India and the Maldives were under strain following a controversial exchange following a tweet by a Maldivian minister. The controversy sparked strong reactions from Bollywood celebrities like Ranveer Singh, who called for support for domestic tourism while inadvertently creating a stir on social media due to some unintentional missteps.

Prominent Bollywood personalities like Salman Khan, Kangana Ranaut, Akshay Kumar, Ranveer Singh, Amitabh Bachchan, and Shraddha Kapoor, among others, have taken to social media to support the compelling appeal of local regions in India. However, Ranveer Singh attempt to support Lakshadweep, an Indian territory, backfired when he accidentally shared an outdated image of the Maldives. After realizing the mistake, Singh immediately deleted the tweet and re-shared a post advocating domestic travel without any accompanying images.

Singh’s misstep drew heavy criticism from eagle-eyed fans, who pointed out the discrepancy between his promotion of Indian islands and the use of Maldivian imagery. Union Minister Kiren Rijiju also came under scrutiny for using images of the Maldives and Bora Bora islands in her messages of support, sparking more controversy and embarrassment among the public.

The social media saga stems from tense relations between India and the Maldives and stems from a tweet by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi’s social media post showed picturesque scenes of Lakshadweep and made no mention of the neighboring Maldives. The omission was seen by some as a deliberate attempt to divert attention from Lakshadweep, prompting a sharp response from three Maldivian officials who derided Modi and called him a “clown,” a “terrorist,” and a “puppet of Israel‘. as reported by CNN.

In response to the officials’ comments, the Maldivian government quickly distanced itself from their statements and suspended the three deputy ministers of the Ministry of Youth Employment, Information, and the Arts. The government clarified that these comments were personal opinions and did not reflect its official position, and emphasized the need for democratic and responsible expression without fueling hostility or tensions in international relations.

However, the timing of this incident is particularly sensitive as Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu embarks on a crucial visit to China on his first trip as president. Muizzu, known for his pro-China stance and his intention to recalibrate the country’s policy towards India, is looking to strengthen ties with Beijing, signing major trade and development deals during his five-year visit.

But despite efforts to strengthen ties with China, the Maldives cannot afford to anger its nearest neighbor, India. According to CNN, Indian tourists make up a significant portion of tourism in the Maldives. In 2023 there were more than 209,000 visits, or a market share of 11%.

The comments by Maldivian officials sparked outrage among Indian tourists and led to cancellations and calls to boycott the Maldives in favor of domestic destinations. Bollywood figures such as Akshay Kumar condemned the officials’ comments as “hateful and racist” and instead advocated support for Indian tourism.

The impact of the incident went beyond social media, as Indian travel site EaseMyTrip suspended flight bookings to the Maldives in solidarity with the nation. Meanwhile, the Indian High Commission in the Maldives has expressed its concerns to the Maldives Ministry of External Affairs and stressed the seriousness of the situation.

Michael Kugelman of the Wilson Center emphasized the importance of India-Maldives relations and noted the Maldivian government’s swift action to mitigate the fallout. Kugelman highlighted the delicate balance in the Maldives between India and China, demonstrating the government’s determination to maintain ties with both countries.

This incident is a stark reminder of the fragility of international relations and demonstrates the far-reaching consequences of diplomatic disputes in an interconnected world seeking mutual understanding and cooperation.