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Buddha relics to Thailand dubbed India's biggest public diplomacy exercise

Indian Ambassador to Thailand, Nagesh Singh, lauded the exposition of Lord Buddha's relics in Thailand, terming it the "biggest diplomacy exercise" ever seen by him, and said that it has left a tremendous goodwill among people there.

The relics of Lord Buddha and his two disciples were displayed across four cities in Thailand from February 22 to March 18.

Speaking to ANI, the Indian envoy said, "We worked very hard on it, for almost a year before the Buddha relics arrived...last time these relics came here was in 1997...this is perhaps the biggest public diplomacy exercise I have seen in my life because almost 4.2 million pilgrims came to pay their respects...it has left a tremendous goodwill."

He said that India worked for the exposition exercise very hard.

Speaking to ANI, the Indian envoy said, "I can tell you this is perhaps the biggest public diplomacy exercise I have seen in my life, because almost 4.2 million pilgrims or devotees came to pay their respects in four cities in north, east, west and south of Thailand."

"The impact it has left till today...people walk up to me and, hold my hand and speak to me in Thai, which I don't understand, but, you know, colleagues with me who tell me that, they are thanking you...So it has left a tremendous goodwill," he added.

Speaking on the significance of relics, Nagesh Singh said, "In Theravada school of Mahayan Buddhism, the relics of Lord Buddha are the embodiment of the Lord himself...Last time these relics came here were in 1997. So it had been a very long time. But this time it was special because not just Lord Buddha's relics, but the relics of his two principal disciples, Sariputra and Moggallana, also came with Lord Buddha's relics."

He further thanked the central government, the Ministry of Culture, and the Ministry of External Affairs for relaxing the cooling off period to facilitate the exhibition in Thailand.

"I'm thankful to the government of India, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of External Affairs, because there were some technical issues. Because in 2022, the relics had gone to Mongolia and the rule was that they cannot go out. There has to be a cooling-off period of three years. But the government, in its wisdom, allowed them to come here after one year. And it has left a tremendous impact, like you said," the envoy further added.

Ambassador Nagesh Singh also spoke on the financial connectivity between the two nations.

He said that the two sides are at the final stages of negotiations of linking India's UPI and Thailand's PromptPay.

"Indian companies are investing in Thailand because it has a very welcoming infrastructure...policies to attract FDI. Similarly, Thai companies are going into India. And in my interaction with big business houses, they all have great interest," he said.

"Business connectivity can be lubricated in a very good way by, the financial connectivity or the digital connectivity, making cross-border, transfers, easier, for people who are traveling, payments easier. We are at the final stages of negotiations between the Thai side and the Indian side to link up UPI with PromptPay of Thailand. Once that happens, then you know the benefits," the Indian envoy added.

(ANI)

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