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'Vishwa Bandhu' India begins new chapter of friendship with SE Asian nations at Nalanda University

IANS | June 19, 2024 05:46 PM

NEW DELHI: The attendance of Heads of Missions of 17 countries at the inauguration of the new campus of Nalanda University in Bihar's Rajgir by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday once again brought to the fore India's continuous push to keep the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or the ASEAN, at the heart of its 'Act East' policy.

The foreign diplomats, many of them from countries with which India shares millennia-old cultural and civilisational linkages, were left awestruck as the university - conceived as a collaboration between India and East Asia Summit (EAS) nations - seeks to revive the glory of Nalanda as a hub of knowledge, learning and excellence.

"Honoured to join other 16 dip colleagues at the inauguration of Nalanda University's new campus. Re-establishment of NU has revitalised cilivilisation linkages and promoted P2P connect in the region. Will keep our active partnership with NU towards a sustainable Thailand-India relations, " Pattarat Hongtong, Ambassador of Thailand to India, posted on X.

In his address at the event, PM Modi mentioned that Nalanda carries the heritage of the world, Asia and many countries and its revival is not restricted to the revival of Indian aspects which was evident from the presence of so many countries at Wednesday's ceremony.

"Front row seat to listen to Honourable PM Narendra Modi ji speak during the official inauguration of the Nalanda University. Most impressed. So privileged to visit the UNESCO Nalanda University ruins. Felt very blessed by the spirit of Buddhism, " said Singapore's High Commissioner Simon Wong.

The visiting diplomats posted their photographs from the inauguration ceremony, their interaction with External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar, the new campus, and also the ruins of the ancient university.

"Honoured to represent Indonesia at the inauguration of new Nalanda University by PM Modi ji and EAM Jaishankar, " Ina Krisnamurthi, Ambassador of Indonesia to India, posted on social media.

Nick McCaffrey, Australia's Deputy High Commissioner to India, was also delighted to attend the landmark event.

"Very early start this morning to get to the re-opening of the ancient Nalanda Univ in Bihar by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar. Honoured to be here and enjoy Bihari food once again!" he wrote on X.

Earlier, EAM Jaishankar mentioned that there are "multiple messages" in the rebuilding of Nalanda University, both national and international.

"It also marks the realisation of a longstanding commitment by India to the East Asia Summit grouping. It reflects the seriousness with which we pursue our Act East policy. But most of all, it underlines Bharat's endeavour to emerge as a Vishwa Bandhu, extending the hands of friendship and cooperation to the international community, " Jaishankar said during the inauguration ceremony.

"By doing so, we contribute to the rejuvenation of civilisational linkages, to the celebration of our shared cultural heritage, and to the appreciation of the immense diversity of our existence, " he added.

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