On the path of Buddha and his followers: Sifra Lentin

(Sifra Lentin is Bombay History Fellow and author at Gateway House. The column first appeared in The Indian Express on November 27, 2021)

 

  • Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kushinagar International Airport in eastern Uttar Pradesh to facilitate foreign tourists and Buddhist pilgrims to reach the important site of the Mahaparinirvana Temple, where Lord Buddha attained nirvana by leaving behind his earthly body. The completion of the Kushinagar airport is an important milestone in the Indian government’s 2016 plan to develop a “Buddhist Circuit” predicated on having world-class infrastructure to attract overseas tourists to India, the birthplace of Buddhism and home to its holiest pilgrimage sites. The ambitious tourism circuit, however, can achieve regional objectives. The two-millennia old, shared Buddhist religious and cultural legacy between Buddhism’s holy land India, and her seven Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) partner nations is an important historical narrative that connects all eight, however politically and culturally at odds they may be today. India can leverage this astutely through people-to-people diplomacy between the SCO members of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan…

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