Aiming to improve India’s ties with its neighboring country amid rising Chinese influence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday visited Nepal’s Lumbini – the birthplace of Gautam Buddha – and met his counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba on the occasion of Buddha Purnima.
The two leaders discussed ways to strengthen the bilateral relationship between India and Nepal and ways to increase the ongoing cooperation. After the talks, six Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) were signed by the two sides on cooperation in cultural and educational sectors.
“The energy of the place where Lord Buddha was born, gives 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,” said PM Modi after his meet with Deuba.
The growing and strengthening friendship between India and Nepal will work for the benefit of entire humanity amid the kind of global situation that is emerging today. The devotion to Lord Buddha binds us together, makes us members of one family,” he added.
Following are the details of the MoUs signed by India and Nepal:
1. Memorandum of Understanding between Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Lumbini Buddhist University on the establishment of Dr. Ambedkar Chair for Buddhist Studies
2. Memorandum of Understanding between Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) and CNAS, Tribhuvan University on the establishment of ICCR Chair of Indian Studies
3. Memorandum of Understanding between Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Kathmandu University (KU) on the establishment of the ICCR Chair of Indian Studies
4. Memorandum of Understanding [in collaboration] between Kathmandu University (KU), Nepal and Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M), India
5. Letter of Agreement (LoA) between Kathmandu University (KU), Nepal and Indian Institute of Technology (IITM), India [ For Joint degree program at Master’s level]
6. Agreement between SJVN Ltd and Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) for Development and implementation of Arun 4 Project
Earlier in the day, PM Modi, along with Deuba, laid the foundation stone for the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage in the Lumbini Monastic Zone.
They also visited the sacred Maya Devi temple and offered their prayers. The two Prime Ministers also lit lamps near the Ashoka Pillar located adjacent to the temple.
Thereafter, the two leaders watered the Bodhi tree sapling from Bodh Gaya which was gifted by PM Modi to Lumbini in 2014 and also signed the temple’s visitor’s book.
Ahead of his visit, PM Modi had said that his visit to Nepal is intended to further deepen the “time-honoured” linkages between the two countries, adding both sides will continue to build on the shared understanding to expand ties in multiple areas, including hydropower and connectivity.
“Our ties with Nepal are unparalleled. The civilisational and people-to-people contacts between India and Nepal form the enduring edifice of our close relationship,” he had said in his departure statement.
PM Modi had said that he was looking forward to meeting Deuba after their “productive” discussions during the latter’s visit to India last month.
It is the prime minister’s fifth visit to Nepal since 2014. PM Modi and his entourage arrived here on a special Indian Air Force helicopter from Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh.
Land-locked Nepal relies heavily on India for the transportation of goods and services. Nepal’s access to the sea is through India, and it imports a predominant proportion of its requirements from and through India. The India-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 forms the bedrock of the special relations between the two countries.