Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Kashi and Kyoto

Signing of Kashi-Kyoto Areement
PM Narender Modi is, currently, on a state visit to Japan. It is yet another mile stone in relations between India and Japan, two important countries of Asia and the world at large. Obviously, during the visit, many important and decisions and understandings will be reached to further strengthen the already excellent relations between the two countries. One important outcome has already emerged at the outset of the visit, the co-operation and bonds of friendship to develop Kashi (Varanasi) as a smart city as Kyoto, the heritage city of Japan. An agreement to this effect was signed in Kyoto by the Mayor of Kyoto and Ambassador Deepa Wadhwa on August 30, in the presence of PM Narender Modi and his host PM Shinzo Abe.

With Rev. D.S. Uchida at Kyoto
At a Temple at Kyoto
With the formalizing of these arrangements, it is a good beginning as we are much to take and learn from Japan.  My thoughts go back to Japan and my personal visit to Kyoto during my tenure as the Counsellor of the Indian Embassy in Tokyo from 2001-04. PM Modi has started on a right note to further strengthen cultural ties between the two countries particularly in the background of our Buddhist heritage. Both Kashi and Kyoto are ancient cities of temples and spiritual moorings. Kyoto is a clean, green and well maintained city of Japan. Kashi is no where near Kyoto in this regard. If we are to realize the dreams and plans of PM Modi to make hundred cities of India as smart cities, let the Kashi-Kyoto co-operation be a pilot  project. My gut feelings and personal experience tell me that Japan has the capacity and will to do and deliver. It would depend on India to make it feasible and viable. I know the Japanese friends of India have been keen to cooperate with India in projects like cleaning of the Ganga. Rev. D.S. Uchida, one of the active friends of India in such projects, is around in Tokyo. I am sure he will be happy with the Kashi-Kyoto project. I take this opportunity to renew my association with Kyoto and Japan and wish India-Japan relations are further cemented in the years to come.

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