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President Ramnath Kovind today said that India's Act East Policy was much more than a "diplomatic initiative", aimed at not merely sharing economic opportunities but also integration of dreams and hopes of people of this country and South East Asia. The president was addressing a function after inaugurating the fourth International Dharma-Dhamma Conference organised jointly by the Nalanda International University, Centre for Study of Religion and Society, India Foundation and the Ministry of External Affairs here in Nalanda district. "India's Act East Policy was much more than a diplomatic initiative, aimed at sharing not merely economic opportunities, but an integration of dreams and hopes of the hundreds of millions who live in India and the South East Asia," Kovind said. He said that India, South East Asia and "other parts of Asia that are covered by the Dharma-Dhamma footprint shared a past with a common source and inevitably, our destiny too is linked". The inaugural function of the three-day conference, based on the theme 'State and Social Order in Dharma Dhamma Traditions', was attended by Bihar Governor Satyapal Mallik, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Tilak Marapana, among others. Kovind also stressed that the "timing of this conference is very appropriate. We are marking the 25th anniversary of the ASEAN-India Dialogue Partnership. The month of January is a celebration of the India-ASEAN relations. New Delhi will host a commemorative summit on January 25 to mark the 25th anniversary of the Dialogue Partnership between India and the ASEAN in which all the leaders of the grouping are expected to participate. "Along with several India scholars, I am told this conference will hear the wise words of eminent international delegates. They have come from far-off continents, including both North and South America. But most of all, they represent the breadth and diversity of Asia-from Central Asia to South East Asia," the president said. "Each of the countries and societies represented at this conference is unique.....
Yet, all of them are recipients, in some manner, of the Dharma-Dhamma tradition. All of them have received the message of Lord Buddha -- a message that has travelled across Asia and beyond," he added. Kovind also observed that the "journey of Buddhism as a pan-Asian creed and later a worldwide, began 2,500 years ago right here in Bihar. As such, the conference is a commemoration of a great phenomenon that has its origin right here in this region". Speaking about the Nalanda University, he recalled that "the ancient university that stood here was a marvel of knowledge and wisdom. It was located in this very region of India but had an international character... Similarly, today's Nalanda University represents the ever-lasting Dharma-Dhamma identity. And it too is a cosmopolitan enterprise". "The university's conceptualisation, founding and growth are the result of the cherished efforts by India and a host of partner countries, particularly from the ASEAN family," Kovind noted. Earlier, welcoming the delegates, Chief Minister Kumar expressed the wish that an International Centre for Conflict Resolution be set up at the Nalanda International University for which his government will provide land. He also said that a piece of land has been earmarked for providing accommodation to heads of state who may visit the Centre once it starts functioning. Kumar also fondly recalled Kovind's tenure as the Bihar governor and pointed out that he was the first person to get elected to the top constitutional post while holding a gubernatorial office. Participants from 11 countries are attending the three- day conference in which 60 papers on its theme are likely to be presented and discussed.
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