General Studies Paper 1
Context: India hosted a two-day global Buddhist summit in New Delhi (April 20-21), which was organized by the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the International Buddhist Confederation.
Buddhist Summit(Delhi Summit):
- Key figures from the global Buddhist community, including the Dalai Lama.
- The Prime Minister laid emphasis on the continuing relevance of the Buddha’s teachings in today’s world.
- It saw a diverse group of 171 foreign delegates from South Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, and Taiwan, along with 150 delegates from Indian Buddhist organizations.
- Attendance of prominent scholars, sangha leaders,and dharma practitioners.
India’s efforts so far:
- Promoting tourism through the development of the “Buddhist tourist circuit”.
- Visit Buddhist sitesby the PM during his Southeast and East Asian
- Against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the PM said:“India has not given ‘Yuddha’ to the world but ‘Buddha’.”
- The Delhi summit’s theme, “Responses to Contemporary Challenges: Philosophy to Praxis”: It highlights India’s attempts to provide an alternative to contested global politics, with morality as the guiding principle.
- Government’s guiding principles for foreign policy, Panchamrit principles include “Sanskriti Evam Sabhyata” which means cultural and civilizational links.
- It was highlighted during the Delhi summit.
- India hopes to reinforce its image as a responsible global power committed to peaceful cooperation and regional stability.
- By laying an emphasis on cultural and civilisational ties, India seeks to promote greater understanding and cooperation between nations.
- It demonstrates the unique role it can play in shaping the region’s future.
- India recognises the importance of Buddhism as a means of conducting public diplomacy and has utilized it to its advantage
What will be the impact of the summit?
- The Indian government demonstrates its commitment to preserving and promoting Buddhist culture and heritage
- Strengthening ties with the global Buddhist community.
- Buddhist diplomacy has the potential to promote regional cohesion.
- Nearly 97%of the global Buddhist population is based in Asia.
- During the Cold War,China effectively used Buddhist diplomacy to engage with its neighboring countries.
- It employed this approach to gain legitimacy for its Belt and Road Initiative.
- India and China compete to dominate the Buddhist heritage as a tool for soft power: India holds an advantage due to the faith’s origins in the country.
- Despite being home to a number of key Buddhist sites, such as Bodhgaya, Sarnath, and Kushinagar,
- India has struggled to attract Buddhist tourists, who tend to favor sites in Thailand and Cambodia.
- The summit was a significant opportunity for India to project and connect with the Buddhist population around the world, thereby strengthening the country’s soft power.
- With its strong historical and cultural ties to Buddhism,India is well-positioned to play a leading role in shaping the discourse around Buddhist issues on the global stage.
- China is actively seeking to exert control over the appointment of the next Dalai Lama, which would be a blow to India’s efforts to project its soft power through Buddhism.
- India must act to ensure that it remains a key player in the global Buddhist community.
- To further strengthen its Buddhist diplomacy,India should continue promoting Buddhism at the highest levels of government.
- Organize cultural events to showcase the country’s rich Buddhist history.
- The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) could play a significant role in promoting such events within and outside India.
- India should work to strengthen its ties with key Buddhist institutions and leaders around the world.
- The Delhi summit was a step in the right direction, providing a valuable opportunity for cultural exchange and the sharing of ideas.
- India also needs to utilize the reach of Bollywood in promoting its Buddhist heritage.
- China, with its influence over Hollywood,has completely dominated the narrative around Buddhism through cinema.
- India’s G-20 presidency this year could be used to promote Buddhist diplomacy on a bigger scale through various cultural meetings.
- The Buddhist teachingsalign with the motto of India’s G-20 presidency, ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’.
- As Buddha was the first diplomat of peace,his teachings of peace and cooperation in these tough times can become the guiding light of Indian diplomacy on the world stage.