Strategic Importance of Prime Minister’s visit to Lumbini
Prime Minister’s visit to Lumbini in Nepal is seen as a strategic and politically important visit amidst growing Chinese influence.
- India and Nepal have long history of cultural and ethnic ties and also have porous border.
- The visit is political in that it will hopefully end the pointless dispute over whether the Buddha was born in Nepal, which is a sensitive topic in Nepal.
- Any claim to the contrary sparks anti-India protests in a country whose national identity is linked to Lumbini, the Buddha’s birthplace.
- It is significant in light of China’s rising presence in Lumbini, which is close to the Indian border; the Chinese built the world’s largest monastery, and they finance and support major Buddhist conferences in Nepal, as well as massive celebrations of Buddhist festivals like Vesak.
- The Chinese are leaving no stone unturned to exploit the soft power potential of Buddhism, a fast-growing religious tradition
Buddhism in India:
- Bodh Gaya, the site of Lord Buddha’s enlightenment; Sarnath, the site of his first sermon; and Kushinagar, the site of his Mahaparinirvana, are all in India.
- Not to mention Shravasti, where the Buddha preached for many years, Nalanda, and Rajgir, to name a few. Unfortunately, except for a modest museum built with Indian funding in the late 1990s, India remains mostly unrepresented in Lumbini.
- Not only do the two countries share an open border and unrestricted movement of people, but they also have strong relationships formed via marriages and familial ties, dubbed Roti-Beti ka Rishta.
- The 1950 India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship is the cornerstone of the two countries’ special relationship.
- Importance for India can be examined from two perspectives: a) strategic importance for India’s national security, and b) place in India’s international role view.
- In terms of ecological and hydropower potential, rivers that originate in Nepal feed India’s perennial river systems.
- Under the auspices of international law on trans-boundary water disputes, India should negotiate constructively with Nepal to resolve the boundary dispute.
- The resolution of the boundary issue between India and Bangladesh should serve as an example in this case.
- In terms of people-to-people contact, bureaucratic engagement, and political connections, India should be more proactive with Nepal.
- Simple disagreements should not escalate into disputes, and both countries should address their difficulties peacefully.
Source: THE HINDU.