About the Visit:
- The visit by the Prime Minister of India was an attempt to establish a symbolic way to expand the India-Nepal relationship through religious diplomacy.
- The Prime Ministers of both countries led the foundation stone for the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage in the Lumbini Monastic Zone.
- The centre has been jointly established with a shared vision to promote and propagate the values and principles of the Buddha’s teachings. The objective is to find shared solutions to global problems.
- This centre is envisaged to play a role in challenging China’s emerging influence in Nepal.
- The assertion by the Indian Prime Minister in the recognition of Lumbini as the birthplace of Gautama Buddha was welcomed and resolved the issues related to the actual birthplace of the Buddha to a certain extent.
- The visit was accompanied by the signing of MoUs between the two governments.
- A Memorandum of Understanding was signed for the development and implementation of the Arun- 4 hydropower project.
- Overall, the visit exemplified a sign of refurbishing the India-Nepal relationship after the situation became hostile due to the Kalapani dispute.
Significance of Lumbini:
- It highlights the strong cultural ties between the two countries that share a special relationship which was nurtured by the Treaty of Peace and Friendship signed in 1950.
- Lumbini is believed to be a holy place and according to Buddhist traditions, Queen Mahamayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama at around 623 B.C.
- It is believed that Lord Buddha was born in the gardens of Lumbini which transformed into a place of pilgrimage.
- Lumbini is recognised as the holiest and most important place in Nepal and it is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
- The visit took place at the eventful time of Vaishakha Buddha Purnima at Lumbini which was organised by the Lumbini Development Trust under the aegis of the Government of Nepal.
- In the light of art and culture, Buddhism has been an integral part of India’s cultural heritage and a prominent thread of its diplomatic relationship with Nepal. Lumbini acts as the testimony to such a cultural bond.
- The construction of the Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage will be undertaken by the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) in association with Lumbini Development Trust and will be financed by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The IBC is a grantee body under the Ministry of Culture, GoI.
- IBC is headquartered in New Delhi and was established in 2013 acting as an International Buddhist umbrella body serving as a common platform for Buddhists worldwide.
- Lumbini will house the symbolic Buddhist centre reflecting the enriching friendship between India and Nepal and the centre will be the first Net Zero Emission building in Nepal. It is significant for India to be at the forefront of such an initiative.
- There are a group of experts who believes that the visit of the Indian Prime Minister to Nepal was an essential step but it served a limited purpose in the midst of a growing Chinese influence in the region. There needs to be a multidimensional approach that India must advocate to strengthen its ties with Nepal.
- India needs to develop new avenues of collaboration that involve developmental, economic and geopolitical subjects to offer dynamism to the relationship.
- The revival of the India-Nepal friendship must be taken forward with a focus on infrastructure development in Nepal which includes hydropower projects, transportation and connectivity that would benefit the citizens.
- This will pave the way for the Indian government to retain a substantial role in partnering with the Nepal regime in development, progress and opportunities.