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Hon’ble President of India Inaugurates the 4 th International Dharma-Dhamma Conference held by Nalanda University, India Foundation, Vietnam Buddhist University and Ministry of External Affairs (GoI) at Rajgir, Nalanda

January 11, 2018

The 4 th International Dharma-Dhamma Conference was inaugurated by the Hon’ble President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind on the 11 th of January 2018 amongst a host of eminent personalities including the Hon’ble Governor of Bihar, Shri Satya Pal Malik, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Bihar, Shri Nitish Kumar, Hon’ble Minister of Foreign Affairs, Government of Sri Lanka, Shri Tilak Marapana, Hon’ble Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, Shri Sushil Kumar, Ms.Preeti Saran, Secretary (East) Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, Shri Ram Madhav Varanasi, Director India Foundation and Hon’ble Vice Chancellor of Nalanda University, Prof.Sunaina Singh. The three day Conference is hosting a galaxy of intellectuals and thought leaders from all over the world, who will be deliberating and exchanging views apart from presenting papers on the ‘State and Social Order in Dharma-Dhamma Traditions’.

4 th International Dharma-Dhamma Conference

Inaugurating the Conference, President Ram Nath Kovind stressed the need to understand different religions and their different traditions, as they all are one and the same, leading to the path of truth. He said the meet reflected India's friendship with ASEAN countries, "which share our rich spiritual heritage and age-old knowledge of the Indian sub-continent and south-eastern Asian countries". "This conference is being held at a time when we are celebrating 25 years of ASEAN-India dialogue partnership. This year on the Republic Day, representatives of all the 10 countries of ASEAN will be our honourable guests."

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He said the Nalanda University was itself an example of result of close cooperation between India and ASEAN countries.

The overall theme of the Conference -- State and Social Order in Dharma-Dhamma Tradition -- aims to facilitate cross-pollination of ideas and foster harmony at the global level and also seeks to explore the shared values of the dharmic traditions that could provide the guiding light to the world and a sense of inter-connectedness.

He went on to say that as one of the defining principles of the human civilization, Dharma- Dhamma provided the structure upon which a broad array of human existence and cosmic life was built across the globe. The notion of Dharma-Dhamma, in its manifold manifestations, including truth and non-violence, peace and harmony, humaneness and spiritual linkages and universal fraternity and peaceful co-existence, served as a moral compass that guided people in the Indian sub-continent through ages and continues to shape and sustain the Indian cultural ethos.

The President also highlighted the abiding the influence of Buddhism and said, “ It is estimated that more than half the world’s population lives in regions that have been historically influenced – 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 21 st century as well. And this is truly what has been described as the Light of Asia.” He said 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.”

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Hon’ble Chief Minister of Bihar, Shri Nitish Kumar in his address to the delegates of the Conference said, 1”like the ancient Nalanda University, Rajgir too has its historical background and it too should be included in the list of World Heritage sites.

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4 th International Dharma-Dhamma Conference8

Nalanda University Vice-Chancellor Sunaina Singh said the varsity, in collaboration with the Centre for Study of Religion and Society, India Foundation, Ministry of External Affairs and the Vietnam Buddhist University, was organizing the event.

She said, “Nalanda University, which has inherited the glorious intellectual, cultural and spiritual legacy of the Sanathana Dharma, Buddhism and Jainism, is an appropriate institution to host a meaningful deliberation on Dharma-Dhamma traditions. Nalanda is inspired by the academic excellence and the global vision of its ancient predecessor. As we create a new narrative of re-building the University, we must remember that we are blessed with the goodwill of our 16 partnering countries in the Asia-Pacific Region, who supported the re- establishment of this International University. As we stand on the threshold of a rejuvenated East Asia Policy, myriad opportunities await us to recreate and build a new world order through the knowledge route.”

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She said that Nalanda University is today poised to set extra ordinary international standards in human values and ethics to meet the challenges of the 21 st century, through our unique courses ranging from Astronomy, Mathematics and Logic to governance and Dharma Shastra, to Buddhism to Yoga Shastra and Upanishads to Natural Sciences, from Maritime Laws to Ecological Solutions to cater to the needs of this multi-polar world. “Indeed, our idea is to derive from this ancient land of knowledge and spirituality and apply it to address the emerging issues for the global community, it is our responsibility to create situations that enable us to get on an unparalled experimental educational expedition that is intellectually invigorating and socially transformative.” She concluded by thanking the guests for giving the University an opportunity to welcome them to this ancient land of knowledge.

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