[Burning Issue] First Global Buddhist Summit 2023



  • The two-day Global Buddhist Summit 2023 concluded successfully in New Delhi with the adoption of the New Delhi Declaration. It saw the participation of delegates from nearly 30 countries, including Taiwan, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Mongolia.
  • In this context, this edition of the Burning Issue will talk about this summit and its significance for India.

About International Buddhist Confederation (IBC)

  • IBC is the biggest religious Buddhist confederation in the world.
  • The body was formed in New Delhi in 2011 and is headquartered also here.
  • The goal of IBC is to create a role for Buddhism on the global stage so as to help to preserve heritage, share knowledge, and promote values.
  • It also aims to represent a united front for Buddhism to participate in the current global happenings.

About Global Buddhist Summit

  • It was the first-ever Global Buddhist Summit organized by the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC).
  • Eminent scholars, Sangha leaders Dharma practitioners and Buddhist monks from all over the world attended the conference.
  • The focus of the Global Buddhist Summit was on modes of disseminating and internalizing universal values and finding ways to work together, to address the burning challenges both within and globally and offer a sustainable model for the future of the world.
  • THE MAIN THEME of the summit was Responses to Contemporary Challenges: Philosophy to Praxis.
  • Sub Themes of the summit were:
  • Buddha Dhamma Pilgrimage, Living Heritage and Buddha Relics: a resilient foundation to India’s centuries-old cultural links to countries in South, Southeast and East Asia.
  • Buddha Dhamma and Peace
  • Buddha Dhamma: Environmental Crisis, Health and Sustainability
  • Preservation of Nalanda Buddhist Tradition

Objectives of the summit

There has been general agreement that the  basic fundamental which can provide inspiration and guidance in the light of Buddha’s message of Peace, Well-being, Harmony and Compassion for Universal Peace need to be highlighted and worked upon  as follows:

  • Aim: The texts, doctrines and philosophy of Buddha Dhamma are the best  guide for inter-faith dialogue, harmony and universal peace.
  • Peace:  happiness and well-being, and conflicts and violence are significant threat to peace. We call upon all nations, organizations and individuals to work towards creating a world free from conflict, violence and war.
  • Environment Sustainability: We urge governments and individuals to take action to reduce carbon emissions, protect biodiversity, and preserve natural resources for future generations.
  • Wellbeing: We acknowledge that true happiness arises from inner peace and contentment. We encourage individuals to cultivate mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom, which are essential for promoting happiness and well-being.
  • Buddhist Pilgrimage as Living Heritage: We call upon governments to preserve and protect the sacred sites of Buddhism and promote their accessibility to people of all backgrounds.
  • Recommendations: Drawing upon the Teachings of the Buddha for the welfare of all sentient beings, Members of the Sangha, Buddhist leaders, Scholars, followers and institutions can play a significant and effective role in addressing this multi-faceted crisis. The continuation of the annual Global Buddhist Summit is one such important step in this direction.
  • Nalanda: one of the greatest seats of Dhamma education for nearly 700 years between the 5th and 12th centuries AD, precedes the modern system of university education. It was famous for value education and character building. These values need to be inculcated among youths to rejuvenate the society towards “Vasudeva Kuṭumbakam”.

Significance of  Buddhism for India

  • Importance of India in Buddhism: in Buddhism: Because Buddhism was founded in India, this global summit will highlight the significance and importance of India in Buddhism.
  • Strengthening cultural and diplomatic ties: Additionally, this summit will serve as a vehicle for strengthening cultural and diplomatic ties with other nations, particularly those that adhere to the Buddhist ethos.
  • Cultural Significance: Buddhism is an integral part of India’s cultural heritage. It played a significant role in shaping India’s art, architecture, literature, and philosophy. Today, India’s rich heritage in Buddhism attracts millions of tourists from all over the world.
  • Social Significance: Buddhism’s emphasis on social justice, equality, and non-discrimination has relevance in India’s diverse and complex social context. Its teachings on the importance of community, interdependence, and mutual respect can help bridge social divides and promote social harmony.
  • Environmental Significance: Buddhism’s emphasis on compassion toward all living beings can inspire individuals to take responsible actions toward environmental protection.

How Buddhism can play a role in enhancing India’s Soft Power projection?

Through Cultural Diplomacy

  • Promoting Indian culture, which includes Buddhism, through festivals, art, music, literature, and other media.
  • For instance, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) has put on a number of cultural events in Buddhist nations like Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, and Bhutan to show off India’s cultural heritage and make cultural ties stronger.

Education and Capacity-Building:

  • To promote Buddhist studies and research, India has established a number of Buddhist institutions and centers of excellence, including Nalanda University and the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies.
  • In 2022, the foundation stone for the Dhamma Dipa International Buddhist University (DDIBU) in Tripura was laid,
  • India also offers scholarships and training programs to Buddhist students and monks from other countries, such as Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Nepal, to enhance their knowledge and skills.

Bilateral Exchanges and Initiatives:

  • Through a variety of initiatives, India has sought to strengthen its ties with Buddhist nations like Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Bhutan in terms of bilateral relations.
  • In order to strengthen economic cooperation, India and Sri Lanka have signed a number of agreements, including the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPA).
  • In addition, India has helped Buddhist nations restore and protect their cultural heritage sites, such as the Stupa in Nepal and the Bagan temples in Myanmar.
  • India and Mongolia also renewed the Cultural Exchange Program until 2023 under which 10 dedicated ICCR scholarships for studying ‘Tibetan Buddhism’ have been allocated for Mongolians to study in specialized institutes of CIBS, Leh and CUTS, Varanasi.

How Buddhism Is Significant For Indian Diplomacy?

  • Ties with East and Southeast Asia: India’s historical and cultural ties with East and Southeast Asia, where Buddhism is widely practiced, have helped to strengthen diplomatic relations with these countries. India has established several cultural and economic initiatives with these countries, such as the Look East Policy, which aims to enhance economic and strategic relations with Southeast Asia, and the Act East Policy, which seeks to expand India’s ties with East Asian countries.
  • Relationship with China: Buddhism has been a significant factor in India’s relationship with China. Buddhism originated in India but spread to China and became a major influence on Chinese culture and philosophy. India and China have established several cultural and religious exchanges, including the annual India-China Buddhist Dialogue and the China-India Yoga College, which promotes Indian culture and yoga in China.
  • Cultural Diplomacy: Buddhism has been an important tool of India’s cultural diplomacy. India has established several Buddhist study centers and universities in different parts of the world to promote Indian culture and Buddhism. India also hosts several international conferences and seminars on Buddhism and its philosophy to facilitate cultural exchanges and strengthen diplomatic ties with other countries.
  • International Cooperation: Buddhism’s emphasis on nonviolence, peace, and harmony has contributed to India’s active participation in international forums and organizations that promote these values. India has been a strong supporter of the United Nations International Day of Vesak, which celebrates the birth, enlightenment, and passing of the Buddha, and has hosted the event several times.

Why India And China Are Competing For Buddhist Legacies?

  • Soft Power: Buddhism is an important element of soft power, which refers to the ability of a country to influence other countries through its culture, ideology, and values. Both India and China are interested in promoting their cultural and religious heritage to enhance their soft power in the region and the world.
  • Tourism: Buddhism is a major tourist attraction, and both India and China are competing to attract Buddhist pilgrims and tourists to their respective countries. India’s Buddhist tourism industry is estimated to be worth billions of dollars, and China has also invested heavily in developing its Buddhist tourism industry.
  • India also held a first-of-its-kind conference of SCO on “Shared Buddhist Heritage”.


  • The summit could be seen as an attempt by India to flex its soft power in the region. While it’s definitely not the first time a country has used Buddhism to this end, events like the Global Buddhist Summit do offer India “political mileage”.

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