NEW DELHI: Connected by the noble thread of Buddhism, India and Nepal are deepening ties in many spheres, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during a day-long visit to Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha on the occasion of Buddha Purnima.
“Today’s meeting with PM @SherBDeuba was excellent. We discussed the full range of relations between India and Nepal,” Modi tweeted. He also laid the foundation stone for the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage besides visiting the famous Mayadevi temple along with his Nepal counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba. Both sides signed six pacts.
Modi’s visit has cheered up Tibetans, many of whom hope it will help reduce China’s influence in Nepal. “China uses Buddhism for political reasons. We are glad that India and Nepal ties are strengthening again. Nepalese leaders need to be mindful of Chinese political manoeuvres,” said Tenzin Lekshay spokesperson for the Central Tibetan Administration.
For long China has sought to develop Lumbini and recently offered $3 billion to make it a World Peace City through the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation. But China’s interest in Nepal through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is making people wary.
“I have always told my friends in Nepal that you are second in line after Tibet to be occupied by China. Nepal seems to have understood China’s objective and has pushed back in India’s favour,” Lekshay said.
Sister city pact
India and Nepal agreed in principle to establish sister city relations between Lumbini and Kushinagar, that are among the holiest sites of Buddhism, a statement by the Ministry of External Affairs said