The International Ramayana Mela 2015, which kicked off at Delhi’s FICCI auditorium on 23rd February 2015 reaches Bhopal today. Aimed at highlighting the common heritage that strings together the participating nations, troupes from seven countries would be showcasing Ramayana in 13 different Indian cities.
The event is being organized by Ministry of Culture, Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Sangeet Natak Academy and the Antar Rashtriya Sahayog Parishad.
While inaugurating the event in New Delhi, Narendra Modi stressed upon the significance of ‘soft power’ in resolving the diplomatic differences. According to him, India must utilize its culture and traditions to construct strong relationships with other countries.
Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli has told his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that Nepal’s territory will not be used against New Delhi’s interests, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said here on Saturday.
“Oli reiterated that they will be sensitive to our concerns and their territory will not be allowed to be used by anybody against India. Prime Minister Modi reciprocated the sentiments,” Gokhale told the media.
Gokhale called Oli’s view “very significant”.
There was a chill in India-Nepal ties during Oli’s earlier stint as Prime Minister between October 2015 and August 2016 when a border blockade blamed on New Delhi crippled Nepal’s economy.
There were also perceptions that Oli was leaning towards China than India.
Gokhale said that Modi’s two-day visit to Nepal was aimed to strengthen bilateral relations “whether it be cross-border electricity or cross-border connectivity”.
“We are looking into cross-border electricity and cross-border connectivity not only with Nepal but other neighbouring countries as well,” he said.
After assuming office in February, Oli made his first foreign visit to India in April.
Stating that India welcomed the restoration of democracy in Nepal, Gokhale said that both the government and the opposition in the Himalayan nation were parties to it.
He said both sides agreed to be committed towards the stated projects. “We will address this within a set timeline.”
According to Gokhale, Oli confirmed to Modi that Nepal will host the the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) summit this year.
Bimstec comprises seven countries lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
Gokhale also said that Modi’s visits to cultural sites in Nepal “suggested that there should be strong people-to-people ties”.
Apart from offering prayers at temples in Nepal, the Indian leader inaugurated the Janakpur-Ayodhya bus service, a 900 MW hydropower project and announced Rs 100-crore aid to develop Janakpur city.