Indian Minority Affairs Minister lays foundation stone for projects approved under Buddhist Development Plan in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Ladakh

NEW DELHI: On 10 March, the press bureau of the Indian government announced that the Union Minister of Minority Affairs and Women & Child Development, Smt. Smriti Irani, had laid the foundation stone for 38 projects with a total estimated cost of Rs. 225 Cr. (over US$27 million). The Foundation Stone was laid by the Union Minister via virtual platform from Shastri Bhawan, New Delhi.

This was approved under a landmark Buddhist Development Plan (BDP) under the aegis of Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK) in the States of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and the Union Territory of Ladakh.

Keeping in view the present government’s principles of “विरासत के साथ विकास” (development with heritage) and “विरासत का संवर्धन” (heritage promotion), on this occasion Smt. Smriti Irani announced financial assistance of Rs. 30 Crores (over US$3.6 million) for strengthening the Centre for Advance Studies in Buddhist Studies of the University of Delhi for academic collaboration, promoting research, preservation of language, translation of transcripts, and upgrading the skills of the Buddhist population.

The foundation stone-laying event was ceremoniously conducted in the respective states and the UT of Ladakh, in the presence of Shri Prem Sing Tamang, Chief Minister, Government of Sikkim, Shri Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of Earth Sciences, Shri John Barla, Minister of State of Minority Affairs, Government of India, various Ministers in the respective States, Members of Parliament, Members of Legislative Assemblies and other dignitaries.

The Union Ministry of Minority Affairs’ Buddhist Development Plan heralds another step toward the Government of India’s commitment for the development of minorities with a “Whole of Government” approach, including a specific focus on Buddhist Communities primarily in the far flung border areas in the States of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and the Union Territory of Ladakh. It fulfils a prime objective to secularize traditional theological/religious education, with the additional provision of modern education and the professional/vocational and skill development courses for the young Buddhist population in these areas. 

This program will be implemented converging various ongoing schemes of the Ministry such as PMJVK, PM-Vikas, Scholarship as well as the programs and the schemes being administered by NMDFC and those relevant in other Ministries. The program includes provisions for awareness campaigns to ensure that such schemes and programs are within reach of the Buddhist communities in the mentioned five states. 

Aligned with the purpose of “Viksit Bharat,” Smt. Irani has expressed her hope that the Institutes like Central Institute of Buddhist Studies (CIBS), Centre for Advance Studies in Buddhist Studies of the University of Delhi, and other prominent institutes should collaborate for integrated development in a circuit. This will help conserve India’s considerable Buddhist cultural capital and knowledge, while providing modern-style education to maximize value.

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