19 February 2018

The Huddle, a thoughts and ideas conclave, is a platform that attempts to bring under a single roof some of the best minds from politics, academia, the entertainment industry, the corporate world, sports and civil society.

Former President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed joined Mr. Padmanabhan, Mr. Ravichander and other dignitaries to formally inaugurate the conclave.

 Day one saw some of the distinguished guests including former India batsman Sachin Tendulkar, exiled former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu.

Session 1: Exile: The challenges of leading from afar with Former President of Maldivs Mohamed Nasheed, Farahnaz Ispahani, writer, SC Chandrahasan, Human Rights Activist. The Panel was moderated by N. Ram, Chairman, The Hindu Group. Mr Nasheed gave an account of his exile, arrest and the fall of his government due to a coup. He said, ‘We see India as a liberating force and not as an occupying force.”

Speaking of the toll that the exile has taken on his family life, Mr. Nasheed says, “I am not a politician and it was just an accident that I became the President. I am not interested in becoming the President again, but I don’t want my daughters to be tortured.”

In Session 4, Former President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed spoke about crisis in Maldives in conversation with Suhasini Haidar, Diplomatic Affairs Editor, The Hindu. Mr Nasheed said that journalists after being beaten up are in intensive care in hospital. The Maldives has become a land grab paradise. Referring to setting up of a Chinese embassy in Maldives during his tenure, he said that Maldives set up an embassy in China after Mr Gayoom’s visit there in 2007, and therefore he had no choice but to allow the Chinese embassy in Maldives.

Referring to emergency, he said that it will continue till the Chief Justice is there. He also noted that ISIS problem will have to be dealt with in the long term by educating the people. When asked what he wants from India, he said that he wants India to use its power or influence to bring about a free and fair elections in the Maldives.

Défense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, was also a speaker at the conclave and Mr. Nasheed said in his social media post that he met her on the side-line and briefed her on the crisis in Maldives. India Today reported: Defence Minister Sitharaman did not discuss the situation in the Maldives with former Maldivian leader,” a defence ministry source who didn’t want to be named told India Today. “Social media post by the former Maldivian President is uncalled for,” the source said.

Some media reports gave the wrong impression that Mr. Nasheed went to India to meet foreign minister Sitharaman to seek India’s intervention.