Patna: Days after the opening of the Nalanda University at Rajgir, South Korea has proposed to install a monument to their 8th century travelling monk Hyecho near the institution's campus, seeking to further the ties between Bihar and the Asian country.
"The South Korea government wants to sign an MoU with us in October to erect a memorial monument for Hyecho near Nalanda University in Rajgir," Bihar Industries Department Principal Secretary Naveen Verma told PTI.
Hyecho, who lived between 704 AD and 780 AD is revered by the Koreans, who call him 'the first cosmopolitan Korean' and consider him to be the first person who travelled around the heart of Asia by both sea and land routes. His wrote his memoirs in 'Pilgrimage to The Five Kingdoms of India'.
The proposal is part of the Silk Road Project (2013- 2017) initiated by Seoul to retrace Hyecho's route during his pilgrimage through sea route along China and Southeast Asia to India, and then across mainland India through Bodh Gaya and Rajgir in Bihar to West and Central Asia.
The monk had gone through the core regions of the Silk Route, along which trade and cultural exchange between countries took place during the ancient and medieval times.
Hyecho who was born in Gyeongsangbuk-do province from where the present South Korean President Park Geun-hye hails.
Government officials said statues of Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore were installed at South Korean cities of Busan and Seoul respectively, and it was high time that India returned the favour.
"There could be several investment spin-offs of the South Korean proposal. It could lead to exchange of students and faculties, business personnel, tourism and industries. We are hopeful about our ties with them," added Verma.
The Industries Department Principal Secretary said, "We as a nodal department for all investments in Bihar think the efforts worthy of support. We also want them to establish a hotel in the state, and are discussing the matter further."
Bihar Industries Association President K P S Keshri said South Korea was a developed nation and "we can learn a lot from them in the field of unconventional energy, automobiles, food processing, electronics and production of several daily consumer goods.
"Bihar's trade contacts with South Korea have already started. We are taking an industrial delegation there in November. We hope to benefit from their expertise and investment in non-traditional energy and food processing," added Keshri.