Modi Visited Nepal On The Occasion Of Buddha Purnima
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Nepal on the occasion of Buddha Purnima. During his day-long visit to Lumbini, the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, the PM held bilateral talks with his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba. Modi's visit comes following an invitation by his Nepal counterpart Deuba with a focus on further expanding cooperation in multiple areas, including hydropower and connectivity. Modi, who attended the 2566th Buddha Jayanti celebrations at the International Convention Center and Meditation Hall at Lumbini, was accompanied by Deuba and his spouse Dr Arzu Rana Deuba. Several Nepalese ministers were among the other dignitaries present.
Several agreements were also signed between India and Nepal in the presence of both the leaders. One of the major takeaways of the visit is the joint development of the Arun-4 hydroelectricity project between the two neighbouring nations. The project is expected to generate electricity for Nepal, India as well as Bangladesh and has the potential to emerge as a major source of energy in the south Asia region. In Lumbini PM Modi will offer prayers at the sacred Mayadevi Temple on Monday and, separately, participate in the shilanayas (foundation stone-laying) ceremony of the Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage, built with Indian assistance. Mr. Deuba also invited Indian companies to invest in the West Seti hydropower project in Nepal. Mr. Modi assured Nepal of India's continued support for the developmental and energy projects.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Lumbini, Nepal in his fifth tour of the country since 2014 and in close succession to his counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba's visit to India in the first week of April 2022, is not just a candid demonstration of the soft power that binds the two nations but also asserts India's 'Neighbourhood First' policy to powers keen to spread their influence in the region. Keeping the importance of Buddist massage of peace and harmony, India is continuously disseminating the teachings of Buddha. PM Modi's visit to Lumbini would follow a revitalisation of ties after Deuba's visit to Delhi in early-April 2022, when four agreements and a number of infrastructure projects were launched. The four agreements are Nepal officially joining the international solar alliance, Indian technical assistance to Nepal's railway sector, cooperation in the field of petroleum sector and exchange of expertise between Nepal Oil Corporation and Indian Oil Corporation.
Over the years, a number of differences have emerged between India and Nepal that need attention. The political narrative has changed in both countries and these issues can no longer be swept under the carpet or subsumed by invoking a ‘special relationship’ based on ties of a shared culture, language and religion. The need today is to avoid rhetoric on territorial nationalism and lay the groundwork for quiet dialogue where both sides display sensitivity as they explore what is feasible. India needs to be a sensitive and generous partner for the “neighbourhood first” policy to take root.
Nepalese PM Deuba's visit to India and Indian PM Modi's visit to Nepal would produce mixed results but at the least, it has resumed high-level political engagement between the two countries. It has also brought normalcy to Nepal's geo-strategic debate by bringing India back into the fold. It gives a strong message that India is not only promoting the spiritualism and Buddhism in its own land but also in Nepal. Deepening ties with Asian nations on the basis of Buddhism could potentially feed into larger policy objectives of the government of India, namely, the 'Neighbourhood First' policy, and the 'Act East' policy. Conclusively, Buddhist diplomacy shall help India reinforcing its relations with Asian countries that clearly reflects India's vision of the peaceful co-existence and happy world.
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