Colombo: India and Sri Lanka will jointly
set up the first international Buddhist University near Sanchi
to boost cultural and educational ties.
Shivraj Singh Chauhan, the visiting Chief Minister of
Madhya Pradesh, on Sunday met Sri Lankan President Mahinda
Rajapaksa to discuss the setting up of the university.
"After my meeting with Sri Lankan President Mahinda
Rajapaksa and other leaders, we have decided on setting up a
Buddhist University in a 65 acre land in the Buddhist Sanchi
near Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal", Chauhan said.
Giving details, Chauhan said this would be a joint
venture involving the Government of India, the Sri Lankan
government, the Madhya Pradesh government and the Mahabodhi
He said the state government has decided to provide 25
million Sri Lankan rupees for the purpose and would draw up
the plans for setting up of the university soon.
The proposal was mooted during the visit of former
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake on October
31 last year in Sanchi.
Chauhan said his government would connect the seven
important Buddhist circuits in the state through
infrastructure of international standards to enable Sri Lankan
and other Buddhist tourists to visit the sites.
On his meeting with Rajapaksa, Chauhan said: "The
relations between Sri Lanka and India have been strong. Our
state government is also proposing to send a trade delegation
to the Island nation to widen the scope of bilateral economic
Chauhan said Rajapaksa had agreed for setting up of
a steering committee comprising of all the stakeholders to
give shape to the decision to set up the university.
The President also agreed to consider direct flights
between Colombo and Bhopal, once the airport in the state
capital is given international airport status.
The Chief Minister said Bhopal airport is expected
to get international rating by the end of the year. Besides
this, an airstrip will also be laid in Sanchi for charter
planes, he said.
The proposed Buddhist university is expected to be
affiliated to the one being run by the Sri Lanka Mahabodhi
Society in Sri Lanka, according to a report.
Meanwhile, Chauhan said Buddhist countries like Japan and
Korea are also proposed to be involved in affairs of the
University to give it an comprehensive international status.
Madhya Pradesh will also hold a Sri Lanka Week later
this year in Sanchi and had invited the Sri Lankan President
Rajapaksa and Prime Minister DM Jayaratne on the occasion.