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A click that connects nations;Dr Muley, a Diplomat turned amateur photographer

By Priti Prakash | PUBLISHED: 02, Aug 2022, 18:07 pm IST | UPDATED: 02, Aug 2022, 18:18 pm IST

A click that connects nations;Dr Muley, a Diplomat turned amateur photographer

What can be common between photography and relations with a country. Lots indeed. It was the Maldives National Day on July 26 & the right time as Maldives President Ibrahim Solih visits India in the first week of August 2022. A photo exhibition of Maldives and its various aspects was on display which saw the presence of the Maldivian Envoy to India, Hussain Niyaz, two former Foreign Secretaries Shyam Saran and Harsh Shringla. The exhibition depicted a vast range of life, culture and society of Maldives through the lens of Dr Dyaneshwar Muley. 

A Diplomat turned amateur photographer who has won awards for his photography, Dr D Muley, wears many caps at the same time. He has not only served as the High Commissioner to Maldives (2009-2013), he is also known as the Passport Man of India and has a documentary made on him that has international audience. He is the founder of the organization REDIO (Rescue Every Distressed Indian Overseas). 

Dr Muley captures the everyday ordinary lives of Maldivians with an extremely artistic lens, call it mobile photography. The pictures were taken by an ordinary Samsung mobile during his tenure at the island nation ten years back. The exhibition was named ‘Not Just Beaches’.

Maldives, which is visited majorly by tourists, is one of the most advanced SAARC countries with a highest GDP. It has 1192 islands in an area of 92000 sq km out of which 2300 sq km is land.      

India Maldives relations have seen its ups and downs in history. India confers special friendly status to Maldives as per its Neighbourhood First policy as also because Maldives, even though being a small island in the Arabian Sea, holds a very important strategic place for the region.

Speaking on the occasion Maldives HC Hussain Naiz said, “The pictures are an insight into the life of Maldives and its people. They show his eye for detail. That was the toughest time in diplomacy, but one of the best times in our relations. Maldives is also a country with culture, its people.

People who will see these pictures will have an idea that Maldives is not just beach and sands, but we also have culture. He has captured it very well. These pictures certainly capture the essence of Maldives.

On what India means to Maldives Niaz said, ‘Our policy is based on India First which means that we always can count on India and we work very closely with India on daily basis. Even right now we have number of projects undergoing that are impacting our livelihood & at community level. Also the connectivity projects particularly Greater Male. Even during any disaster India is always help us.’

Congratulating Dr Muley, former Foreign Secretary, Harsh Shringla, called the pictures extraordinary. On Maldives India relations he said, ‘Our relationship with Maldives is a close one, a dynamic one. And today that relationship is one that reflects our warmth & closeness between the 2 countries. Today we are working with Maldives on an extraordinary number of projects. Greater Male connectivity is one of them, most ambitious project taken up anywhere in the world. And that is going to change the landscape of Maldives. There are so many other projects that change the life of people like parks, community projects. We have worked with Maldives in the international forum & we have been very sensitive on any issue that involves them. When there was shortage of onions and export was banned from our country we made sure that Maldives was exempt. Because Maldives always had a special relationship.  

Former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran says, Dr Muley’s photographs reflect the day to day life.

Dr Sadhna Shankar IRS, his wife, says these pictures are a treasure of 10 years and were waiting to see the light of the day. This is what she said, ‘Dr Muley’s passion for photography apart from writing poetry was why we decided this exhibition & while we were in Maldives it was a discovery of 2 countries. One is the resorts & another the island’s life & people which is equally attractive. But these photographs 10 yrs old were just lying & then we thought of doing it just before Maldives National Day.

What made Dr Muley, from a diplomat to an amateur photographer and Why Maldives! ‘I have been doing mobile photography. In Japan I have had my exhibitions. Its my 3rd exhibition & on Maldives because I was keen people should know Maldives beyond sand & beaches. My photos are about ordinary people, vegetable markets, guard of honor which is a regular feature there, social & political gatherings, hospitality, Maldives food, overall informal part of the country.’

Lamenting that people are more engrossed in themselves, Muley said, ‘we need to look around for beauty & at times ugliness of life. Photography is not about technicality but about documenting a country through my eyes, partly a diplomat, partly a poet. The island country fascinated me. Also these are things that enhance relations & understanding between 2 countries. Every country that I have worked in my love for that country is depicted in my writings and pictures.’ Whats next? He says an exhibition on the theme of peacocks named Peacock at 60, Lodhi Estate in the next few months.

Message for upcoming amateur photographers… Capturing beauty cannot alone be the aim. Capturing life as it is & highlighting the nuances is very important. It can be a very effective message for bringing together people all over the world & humanity.

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