The President said that this conference is an attempt at enhancing understanding of the common roots and similarities of the diverse traditions of Dharma and Dhamma. We know them by many names, but they guide us to the same truth. They emphasise the many roads, rather than any one road, that lead us to the same desired goal.
The President said that long before the term became popular, Buddhism was the basis for an early form of globalisation – and of interconnectedness in our continent. It promoted pluralism and diversity of thought. It gave space to multiple ideas and liberal expression. It emphasised morality in individual life, in human partnerships and in social and economic transactions. It urged principles of living, working and cooperating in harmony with nature and the environment. It inspired trade and business links that were honest, transparent and mutually beneficial to sister communities.
The President said that it is estimated that more than half the world’s current population lives in regions that have been historically influenced – and in many cases continue to be influenced – by the enlightenment that Lord Buddha attained and placed as a model before humanity. This is the thread that stitches us all together. This is the vision that must inspire us in the 21st century as well. And this is truly what has been described as the Light of Asia.
The President said that India’s Act East Policy has to be seen in this context. It is much more than a diplomatic initiative. It is not targeted at just greater trade and investment. Of course all of those aspirations are extremely important for the prosperity and well-being of the people of India and of all our partner countries. Yet, the Act East Policy aims at sharing not merely economic opportunities – but at an integration of the dreams and hopes of the hundreds of millions who live in India and in Southeast Asia. And in other parts of Asia that are covered by the Dharma-Dhamma footprint. Our past has a common source – inevitably, our destiny too is linked. This conference and the new Nalanda University are symbols of that spirit we share. Our economic and diplomatic endeavours must draw from the same well-spring.