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Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Lumbini Buddha’s birthplace in Nepal

PM Narendra Modi has plans to visit Nepal’s Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, on May 16 (Buddha Purnima) reinforcing Buddhism links with the Himalayan State and promoting India’s soft power.  In October 2021, PM Modi inaugurated the Kushinagar International Airport in eastern Uttar Pradesh to facilitate foreign tourists and Mahaparinirvana Temple, where Lord Buddha attained nirvana by leaving behind his earthly body. The Kushinagar airport is an important milestone in the Indian government’s 2016 plan to develop a “Buddhist Circuit.” This world-class infrastructure will 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 as well.

According to a report India can claim legitimacy in its promotion of Buddhist diplomacy, even though India has a relatively small population of Buddhists, for several reasons.  First, the Buddhist faith originated in India, therefore granting it singular historical legitimacy. Second, India has numerous sites of importance to the Buddhist faith, such as Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, and Nalanda.  Third, India nurtured an image of being a protector of the persecuted through the presence of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan parliament-in-exile in Dharmshala.

PM Modi has often spoken on several occasions, where he has hailed the importance of the Buddhist faith for the development of both India and the world. The Buddha was a charismatic leader who founded a distinctive religious community based on his unique teachings. Some of the members of that community were, like the Buddha himself, wandering ascetics.

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