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Modi-Deuba: Faith Politics And Diplomacy In Lumbini

PM Narendra Modi (right) and his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba during the latter’s visit to New Delhi last month.
NEW DELHI: A hop, skip and a jump would almost describe Prime Minister Modi’s helicopter flight from Kusinagar in Uttar Pradesh to a helipad in Lumbini Park, across the border in Nepal. At a day-long event combining elements of faith, politics and diplomacy, Modi will, along with his Nepali counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba, lay the foundation stone of a Buddhist vihara to be built with Indian funding. Delhi is a latecomer to this game since Lumbini Park, home to some of the most sacred sites associated with the Buddha, is dotted with monasteries and other structures built by various countries, including China. Curiously, no Indian prime minister before Modi is known to have visited Lumbini. For that matter, Manmohan Singh never visited Nepal during his decade in office. For Modi, this is his fifth visit to Nepal and although Kathmandu is not on the flight plan, Deuba’s presence in Lumbini to mark Buddha Jayanti, underscores that the broader contours of the relationship will be touched upon even amid celebrations of the Buddha and his work....Read More