India and Nepal’s “ever-strengthening” friendship and closeness will benefit the entire humanity amid the kind of global conditions that are emerging, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a special 20-minute address in Lumbini on the sidelines of Buddha Jayanti celebrations. He added that ties between the two countries are unshakable like the Himalayas.
Modi, who was in Lumbini on the occasion of Buddha Purnima at the invitation of his counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba, made the remarks while addressing an international conference on Buddhism.
The visit also saw a bilateral meeting between the two leaders following which India and Nepal signed six agreements. 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.
PM Modi together with Nepal PM Deuba participated in the ‘shilanyas (foundation stone laying)’ ceremony for the construction of the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage at a plot in Lumbini belonging to the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) based in New Delhi.
The PM said both countries will work towards solving global problems with Buddha’s ideologies.
“Buddha is the embodiment of the collective understanding of humanity,” Modi told a gathering in Lumbini of some 2,500 people that included monks, Buddhist scholars and international participants.
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,” he said.
6 pacts signed
PM Modi held a bilateral meeting with Deuba in Lumbini to discuss specific initiatives to further strengthen cooperation in various sectors, including culture, economy, trade, connectivity, energy and development partnership, said the government in a statement.
The two countries also signed six agreements in areas like education, culture and energy including one for development of a 695 MW hydroelectric power plant called Arun 4. Nepal will get 152MW of free electricity from the plant for its consumption and the rest will be split between the two on a 51%-49% basis.