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Lumbini, May 16
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba at the Shilanyaas Ceremony for the construction of the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage, at Lumbini Monastic Zone in Lumbini, Nepal. PTI Photo
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday that India and Nepal’s ever-strengthening friendship and their closeness will benefit the entire humanity in the emerging global situation as he likened the ties between the two neighbours as unshakeable like the Himalayas.
Modi, who visited the Himalayan nation at the invitation of his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba on a day-long visit to Lumbini on the occasion of Buddha Purnima, made the remarks while addressing the International Buddhist Conference here.
“India and Nepal’s ever-strengthening friendship and our closeness will benefit the entire humanity in the kind of global conditions that are emerging,” Modi said in his 20-minute special address.
Prime Minister Modi, who attended the 2566th Buddha Jayanti Celebration at International Convention Center and Meditation Hall at Lumbini, was accompanied by his Nepalese counterpart Deuba and his spouse Dr Arzu Rana Deuba. Several Nepalese ministers were among the other dignitaries present.
Modi said that India and Nepal relations are unshakeable like the Himalayas and added that both the countries will work towards solving global problems with Buddha’s ideologies. “Buddha is the embodiment of the collective understanding of humanity,” Modi told the gathering of some 2,500 people that included monks, Buddhist scholars and international participants in Lumbini.
Lumbini, located in the Terai plains of southern Nepal, is one of the holiest places of Buddhism, as Lord Buddha was born there. Modi said the energy of the place where Lord Buddha was born, gives him a different feeling. “I was happy to see that the Mahabodhi sapling I had gifted in 2014 for this place, is now growing into a tree,” he added.
“From Sarnath, Bodh Gaya and Kushinagar in India to Lumbini in Nepal, this holy place is a symbol of our common heritage and shared values. We have to develop this heritage together and enrich it further,” Modi said.
He said the construction of the Lumbini Museum in Nepal is also an example of joint cooperation between the two countries. He said it was decided to establish Dr Ambedkar Chair for Buddhist Studies in Lumbini Buddhist University. Modi said the place where he was born, Vadnagar in Gujarat, was a great center for Buddhist learning centuries ago. “Even today ancient relics are coming out there, and the conservation work for them is ongoing,” he added.
“In Janakpur, I had said that Our Ram is also incomplete without Nepal. I know that today when a grand temple of Lord Shri Ram is being built in India, the people of Nepal are equally happy,” Modi said.
On his part, Nepalese Prime Minister Deuba described India as a “close neighbour and a trusted friend.” Deuba said he had a “fruitful discussion” with Prime Minister Modi earlier and he was looking forward for developing Buddha Circuit involving Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar in India.
India, Nepal signs six MoUs
The two sides have, meanwhile, signed six Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) on cooperation in cultural and educational sectors. The Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) inked separate MoUs with Lumbini Buddhist University on the establishment of Dr. Ambedkar Chair for Buddhist Studies; with Tribhuvan University on the establishment of ICCR Chair of Indian Studies and with the Kathmandu University (KU) on the establishment of the ICCR Chair of Indian Studies.
An MoU between Kathmandu University (KU) and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) was also signed. A Letter of Agreement (LoA) between KU and IIT-M was signed for joint degree programme at Master’s level.
An agreement between SJVN Ltd and Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) for Development and implementation of Arun 4 Project was also inked.