[Editorial Analysis] Ram diplomacy

Mains Paper 2: International Relations

Prelims level: Act East policy

Mains level: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Context

• Indonesia, of course, is one of the members of ASEAN, with whom India has forged close links as part of its Act East policy.

• At the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit in New Delhi in January this year, Modi said that the Ramayana continues to be a valuable shared legacy in the ASEAN region and the Indian subcontinent.

• In fact, the dance drama Rama Hari, based on the Ramayana, was also part of the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Summit in Manila, in the Philippines, in 2017.

Impact of Ram diplomacy

• The legend of Queen Suriratna, originally of Ayodhya, who travelled to Korea in the first century AD, and married the Korean King Suro.

• The two sides agreed to upgrade the monument for Queen Suriratna in Ayodhya as a joint project.

• India also invited Korea to participate in a seminar on the subject “Shared Heritage as New Variable in the Indo-Korean Relations.

• Historicising the Legend of Princess from Ayodhya and its Legacy”.

• Spiritual links between India and Nepal have been a constant factor in Modi’s interactions with the leadership of that country.

• His visit to Janakpur, the birthplace of Sita, in May 2018, marked the launch of the Nepal-India Ramayana Circuit, which connects Ayodhya and Janakpur with other sites associated with the Ramayana.

• Modi also announced Rs 100 crore for the development of Janakpur.

Conclusion

• Indeed, the two towns were linked by a sister-city agreement between India and Nepal in 2014.

• During a pathbreaking visit to Central Asia in July 2015, the prime minister had presented to President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, a set of books relating to religions born in India.

• Among the books was a Persian translation of Valmiki’s Ramayana in Nastaliq script.

• Speaking at a conference in Tehran in May 2016, on the theme “India and Iran, Two Great Civilisations,” the prime minister noted that the Ramayana has seen over a dozen translations in Persian.

• India’s cultural richness and the wide expanse of its spiritual knowledge and icons, are important pillars in his approach to diplomacy.

• And, who better than Lord Rama to connect India and the world!

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