Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate a two-day Buddhist summit in New Delhi later this week. Buddhist delegates from around 170 countries are expected to attend the conference, which will focus on the theme “Responses to Contemporary Challenges from Philosophy to Practice”. The conference, which is expected to attract over 2020 delegates, was scheduled for 19 but was postponed due to the COVID-XNUMX pandemic.
India's Union Culture Minister G. Kishan Reddy made the announcement on Monday saying, "Prominent Buddhist monks, scholars, ambassadors and diplomats from various foreign countries will attend the summit, which will be hosted by the ministry. of Union Culture. with the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC). (Hindustan time)
Reddy noted that as the birthplace of Buddhism, “it is our responsibility to present our Buddhist history and heritage to the world and the conference is in line with this vision of the country and the current government led by Prime Minister Modi” . (Hindustan time)
Delegates are expected from Cambodia, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and elsewhere, according to CIB chief executive Abhijit Halder. When asked if a delegate from China would be present, Halder replied that the invitations had been sent to institutions and not to governments. Regarding Chinese institutions, he said, "An invitation has been sent but no specific response has been received." (Hindustan time)
When asked if His Holiness the Dalai Lama would be attending, Halder replied, “We have sent the invitation but due to (his) health issues we are still awaiting confirmation. »
According to a source close to the Dalai Lama, “as he is elderly, his mobility is restricted and he needs help. There is a lot of security around him. It is for these reasons that confirmation of his attendance has not yet been received. (Tibetan Review)
Keynote speakers for the event will include Dr. Robert Thurman, former monk of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism and formerly Je Tsongkhapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University, and His Holiness Thich Tri Quang, the Deputy Patriarch of the Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha.
The conference is expected to cover topics such as Buddhism and peace, environmental crisis, health and sustainability, Buddhist pilgrimage, preservation of Buddhist relics, and preservation of Nalanda Buddhist tradition.
Additionally, delegates will visit a number of Buddhist sites in India. According to Reddy, “Delegates can visit different sites and the Indian government will help coordinate their visits so that we can showcase our monuments and sites associated with Buddhism.” (Hindustan time)
Last month, India hosted a similar summit under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), highlighting India's role in the history of Buddhism and its future as a travel destination, of pilgrimage and diplomacy. As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes from the forefront of minds, India's Buddhist and political leaders hope to greatly expand the country's role as a global hub for tourism and spiritual and intellectual exchange.
According to a 2011 census, India is home to 8 Buddhists. Maharashtra, the birthplace of the Navayana or neo-Buddhist movement pioneered by Dr BR Ambedkar, is home to the vast majority of Indian Buddhists with some 442 adherents. The union territory of Ladakh is home to the highest percentage of Buddhists in the country, with around 972% of the population following the Dharma.