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    Soft Diplomacy: India Bets on ‘Buddhist Circuit’ Tourism to Woo Neighbors

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    New Delhi has formulated a grand plan for introducing smooth transportation connectivity among the places which are part of its "Buddhist Circuit."

    New Delhi (Sputnik) —  However, India’s larger objective is to woo its neighbors through soft diplomacy. The Indian government has formulated a grand plan to promote tourism in places which are part of its "Buddhist Circuit." Accordingly, all of the relevant sites will have airports so that visitors will be able to travel between them with relative ease. 

    ​"Buddhist Circuit" is the term being used to describe places in India which are related to the life and teachings of Buddha, including Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, Kushinagar, Vaishali, Rajgir, Shravasti, Lumbini and Kapilvastu. These places are sacred to Buddhists around the world and numerous devotees from Japan, China, Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka visit them every year. 

    ​Mahesh Sharma, India's Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism, announced in parliament on Monday that the "tourism industry has earned 1.35 trillion rupees last year from foreign visitors. Under the Buddhist Tourism Circuit, eight places have been covered and 1.7 billion rupees has been allocated for the purpose of connectivity." 

    ​Mahesh Sharma added that, "Sarnath, Kapilvastu, Shravasti, Bodh Gaya, Kushinagar… all these places in the Buddhist Circuit will have air connectivity." 

    ​The Indian government is aggressively promoting cultural tourism in order to earn foreign revenue.  More importantly, this government policy is also seen as a part of India's strategy to promote ‘soft diplomacy'. 

    ​India appeals to South Asia's shared heritage in its dealings with its neighbors, including Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and even Pakistan.

    ​Now its strategy is to woo Myanmar and other nations using the same method.


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