The conundrum surrounding Lumbini.....

In November last year, the newspapers in Nepal reported that China was investing 8 billion rupees in Lumbini. It was reported that both the Nepal Government and the Chinese Government had given the go-ahead for the project. This was followed by other reports in June this year about another Chinese organization, the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (APECF) (yes the same organization which awarded Comrade Prachanda with a plaque referring to him as Mr. Prachanda Path, which was going to invest 3 billion dollars to develop Lumbini.

In the beginning there were only positive reports on the grand plan for developing Lumbini to be the Mecca of the Buddhist World. There were no negative reports in the media. Out of the blue, we then began reading reports that the Nepali Government had rejected the grand plan for Lumbini because the Nepali Government wasn't involved in the process. A Government official resigned in protest against this grand-plan, a leading journalist of Nepal, Kanak Mani Dixit expressed his fears against the Chinese invasion of Nepal in a two part series in MyRepublica and another noted journalist Prashant Jha published in the Hindu an article titled 'No pact on Chinese Lumbini Project' where he wrote that "If Nepal was Buddha's janmabhoomi, birthplace, then India was Buddha's karmabhoomi" and hence India should also be involved in the project.

There have also been reports that the Chinese Ambassador has publicly stated that there was an agreement between the Nepal Government and the Chinese Government to develop Lumbini. After Prachanda's visit to Malaysia, he has now publicly announced that the APECF includes not just the Chinese but also the Americans, the Japanese and the British (and the Indians are also welcome to join the club). 

I hope that Lumbini doesn't lose out in all this political impasse with Nepal trying to keep both China and India happy at the same time. After all Lumbini is to Buddhists what Jerusalem is to Christians and Jews, and Mecca is to Muslims, and more importantly it is in Nepal.