Three day international Buddhist seminar concludes in Agartala

Agartala : A three-day International Buddhism seminar concluded here on Sunday with a resolution to steer the global discourse on climate change, environment and conservation towards a responsible and sustainable model based on the Buddhist principles and values of interdependence and respect for nature.

The seminar also stressed on that Buddhism and Buddhist heritage of the North Eastern region can be an effective means to promote better links between India and South East Asia, and provide necessary stimulus to India’s Act East policy.

Organised by the New Delhi-based International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) in collaboration with the Asian Confluence, Shillong, and the Dhamma Dipa Foundation, the seminar was inaugurated by Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and Governor Tathagata Roy.

Some 200 delegates, including ministers, parliamentarians, heads of spiritual organisations, scholars, writers, policy-makers, diplomats, entrepreneurs and members of the civil society participated in the seminar. Eighty of them were from 12 countries, including Bhutan, Nepal, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Laos.

Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation of Nepal Ananda Prasad Pokharel and MP from the ruling coalition in Sri Lanka, Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thero were among other main speakers at the event.

Prime issues discussed were “Growth and Sustainable Development: Relevance of Buddha’s Teachings and Philosophy”, Buddhist Heritage and traditions: A shared history”, Cultural tourism and pilgrimage: scope and challenges” and “Forging a sub-regional space of prosperity: Highlighting geographical contiguity”.

“The whole world is concerned about development and especially sustainable development. We have got many methods of sustainable development but we belief that the Buddhist philosophy has all the answers to most of the problems that the world is facing today… So that was the attempts and scholars from all over the world had come. More than 200 scholars from the world participated in this conference. We have passed a Tripura Declaration also and which seeks basically to see all these problems,” said Seshadari Chari, Adviser IBC.

“Northeast plays an important as far as India and South East Asia is concerned. Northeast is actually the bridge between India and South East Asia. Northeast is the area through which Buddhism not only went to South East Asia but also to the north, to China, to Bhutan, Japan and many other countries,” Chari added.

Speakers shared the view that the goal of sustainable development can be realized if policy makers base ideas and solutions on the template of Buddhist teachings. It was also suggested that the Gross National Happiness (GNH) model of Bhutan be further studied and used as one of the templates for framing development policies.

“The best way to engage with our immediate neighbours one of the trade is tourism and Buddhist tourism. There are many connectivity projects underway, government of India has launched several bus services, the recent Imphal-Mandalay test bus service has happened.our effort at Asian Confluence is to promote this advocacy among people that people at the third space, when I say third space it is people beyond government, beyond business that is common people must buy into this vision of a unified future, a common future for all concert,” said Sabyasachi Dutta, Director, Asian Confluence and Organiser.

The seminar discussed and resolved to support the IBC led Buddhist initiative to steer the global discourse on climate change, environment and conservation towards a responsible and sustainable model based on the Buddhist principles and values of interdependence and respect for nature.

It also expressed its concerns and urged for respecting the fragile nature of Himalayan ecology, as well as the sources of the rivers that flow from it and are the lifeline to the entire South Asian and South East Asian riparian region.

The seminar concluded with the unanimous adoption of the “Agartala Declaration” which emphasizes that greater engagement and economic prosperity can be achieved through cultural and philosophical unity based on Buddha’s teachings.

The declaration also acknowledges the historical role of India’s North East as the land bridge between South Asia and South East Asia, through which philosophies and traditions travelled beside materializing the ‘Act East Policy’ of India which aims to enhance India’s cooperative relations with the ASEAN countries.

The seminar agreed that a Buddhist University be set up in North East India, preferably in Tripura. (ANI)