On the invitation of Nepal’s Prime Minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an official visit to Lumbini in Nepal on May 16, 2022, coinciding with the auspicious event of Buddha Purnima. This was Narendra Modi’s fifth visit to Nepal as Prime Minister, and his first to Lumbini.
Background: PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Lumbini comes after Nepalese Prime Minister Deuba’s successful visit to India from April 01 – 03, 2022, which included visits to Delhi and Varanasi.
Significance of the visit:
PM Modi’s visit to Lumbini gave new impetus to the two countries’ comprehensive partnership and advanced cooperation in key areas such as education, culture, energy, and people-to-people exchanges.
- It also highlights India and Nepal’s deep and rich civilizational connection, as well as the contributions of people on both sides to nurturing and strengthening it.
Highlights Of the Visit:
i.Both Prime Ministers paid a visit to the Mayadevi temple in Lumbini, Nepal, which houses Lord Buddha’s birthplace.
ii.The Prime Ministers visited the historical Ashoka Pillar, which has the first epigraphic proof that Lumbini was the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
iii. Both Prime Ministers attended a special ceremony arranged by Lumbini Development Trust under the aegis of the Government of Nepal to commemorate the 2566th Buddha Jayanti.
India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage, Lumbini, Nepal
i.PM Modi and PM Deuba attended the “Shilanyas” ceremony and laid the foundation stone for the construction of the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage in Lumbini, Nepal.
- The International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) based in New Delhi (Delhi, India), will build the Centre on land allocated to the IBC by the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT), Nepal, under a March 2022 agreement.
ii.Following the ceremony, a model of the Buddhist centre was unveiled. The centre is designed to be Net-Zero compliant, and once completed, it will be a world-class institution hosting pilgrims and visitors from all over the world to experience the essence of spiritual aspects of Buddhism.
A bilateral meeting was held by both the PMs as a follow up to their discussions held on April 2, 2022, in New Delhi, Delhi, India.
- The discussion covered specific initiatives and ideas to strengthen cooperation in a variety of sectors, including culture, the economy, trade, connectivity, energy, and development partnerships.
Sister City: The two sides agreed in principle to establish sister city relations between Lumbini (Nepal) and Kushinagar (Uttar Pradesh, India), which are among the holiest places of Buddhism and represent the two countries’ common Buddhist heritage.
Power Project in Nepal:
The two Prime Ministers praised the progress made in bilateral power sector collaboration, which includes development of generation projects, power transmission infrastructure, and power trade.
- Prime Minister Deuba invited Indian companies to undertake the development of West Seti hydropower project in Nepal.
- The project will be developed in Sankhuwasabha District Province-1 of Nepal
- This project is the third project on the Arun River.
India, Nepal Sign and Exchange MoU & Agreements
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lumbini in Nepal, the two countries signed and exchanged six Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and agreements. They are as follows:
i.An MoU between the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Lumbini Buddhist University in Nepal to establish the Dr. Ambedkar Chair for Buddhist Studies.
ii.An MoU between the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Center for Nepal and Asian Studies (CNAS) of Tribhuvan University in Nepal, to establish the ICCR Chair of Indian Studies.
iii. An MoU between the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Kathmandu University (KU) in Nepal to establish the ICCR Chair of Indian Studies.
iv.An MoU (in collaboration) between Kathmandu University (KU) in Nepal and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) in India.
v.A Letter of Agreement (LoA) between Kathmandu University (KU) in Nepal and Indian Institute of Technology- Madras (IIT-M) in India (For Joint degree program at Master’s level).
vi.An agreement between SJVN Ltd and Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) for Development and implementation of the 490 MW Arun-4 hydro power project worth Rs 4,900 crore in Nepal.
President – Bidya Devi Bhandari
Capital – Kathmandu
Currency – Nepalese Rupee (NPR)