Kushinagar Airport a big boost to Act East Policy as diplomats from 12 Buddhist countries attend inauguration



Inaugural flight brings in 100 Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka

New Delhi October 21: The inauguration of the newly developed Kushinagar airport is set to boost India’s ties with its eastern neighbors giving Act East policy a big boost.

The Kushinagar International airport in Eastern Uttar Pradesh is central to the Buddhist tourism circuit as falls right in the center of several important pilgrimage sites such as Lumbini (Nepal), Sarnath and Bodhgaya. Additionally, other important Buddhist sites nearby include Nalanda, Sravasti and Kapilavastu.

This religious pilgrimage circuit has been a key element of India’s Act East policy that seeks to bring countries from South East Asia with large Buddhist populations closer to India economically and culturally.

Diplomats attend

Diplomats from 12 countries where Buddhism is practised, including Mongolia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Bhutan, Republic of Korea, Nepal and Japan, attended the inauguration of the airport by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They were accompanied by the Minister of State for External Affairs Ms. Meenakshi Lekhi as well as the Foreign Secretary Harshvardhan Shringla.


First Flight from Sri Lanka

An inaugural flight of Sri Lankan Airlines landed at the airport, bringing a large contingent of 100 Buddhist monks and Sri Lankan Ministers, including Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa, nephew of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and son of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. They met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an event at the Mahaparinirvana Temple.


Highlighting the cultural ties India has with its neighborhood, Minister Namal Rajapaksa gifted Prime Minister Modi a copy of the Bhadwad Gita translated for the first time in English Sinhala & Tamil. In a tweet he went on to say, “The greatest gift Sri Lanka received from India is Buddhism!”

According to an official in the Ministry of External Affairs, “since assuming office in 2014, Prime Minister Modi has always highlighted India’s unique legacy as the home of Buddhism. The ‘Act East’ policy and focus on India’s immediate neighborhood have been key facets of Prime Minister Modi’s foreign policy. Buddhist outreach has been a key element of both.”