In his recent visit to India, the Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, carried forward the legacy and showing a Modi-like gesture by clicking a Selfie with the Indian counterpart at the historical Dashashwamedh Ghat in Varanasi while participating in the Ganga Abhishek and Ganga Aarti. This was a continuation of the bonhomie both the leaders share between them.
PM Modi was hosting any foreign guest for the first time in his backyard, his constituency. It was part of the Japanese PM’s schedule to visit the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city under the Kyoto-Varanasi Sister Cities initiative.
Last time, PM Modi visited Kyoto before heading for Tokyo. There he visited the famous temple in Kyoto which has been holding the Japanese culture together. This time Modi reverted back with the same gesture and took him for the famous Ganga Aarti on the banks of River Ganga.
Kyoto is an ancient city in Japan and is known as The City with Thousand Shrines and Varanasi being the oldest living city on the Earth is also known as “The Temple Town”. Both are responsible for holding the culture and values of their respective civilizations even in the modern world.
Kyoto’s importance grows when we realize the fact that the city has synchronized the old culture, heritage and its vivacity with the modern technology and state of the art infrastructure very effectively.
Varanasi being the heart of Hindu Culture and also a carrier of the “Ganga- Jamuni tehzeeb” of Indian society has the same credentials as Kyoto has in Japan. The only difference is that Kyoto was taken care of at the right time and Varanasi deserves the same at least now.
One of the Heritage cities of India and also featuring on the 100 Smart Cities list of the PM’s initiative, Varanasi can rightly be called as “a Heritage Smart city”. But the credentials will not do justice to the city if it is not taken care of at the right time.
Thus, a pact was signed between Kyoto and Varanasi, to develop Varanasi on the lines of Kyoto’s development model with some required altercations.
Varanasi offers hermitage to everyone, of any caste or creed or religion. It has a tradition to imbibe every single being in itself without differentiating on any basis. It is also an important part of the Buddhist circuit with Sarnath being in its vicinity, where Gautam Buddha is said to have delivered his first sermon.
“Three principles highlighted in respect of Kyoto’s initiatives were: conservation of culture, radical changes in town planning, drastic reduction in garbage generation and enhancing the appeal of city’s cultural visibility through measures like banning outdoor advertisements, river front development etc. The other measures taken by Kyoto included: Bio-energy applications and Bio-fuel development, Waste to energy, Life cycle greenhouse gas inventory of household waste, Application of Ozone to municipal sewage treatment and waste water treatment.” the Government’s official release quoted.
Kyoto has successfully implemented these steps and has become an example for other cities of similar importance. Varanasi is reeling under the problems of under developed infrastructure, improper town planning, underrated civic amenities and many such problems.
Varanasi has issues like lack of basic sanitation, pollution, inadequate infrastructure, haphazard development and the absence of any revenue generation model for the city. Construction and development of residential spaces, dedicated commercial area, schools, hospitals that follow environmentally friendly practices that are sustainable are also on the radar of the experts.
Taking lesson from the success story of Kyoto, the Indian government is planning to develop Varanasi. Japan has promised to assist the Government in building a convention centre. It has also promised to assist in core planning and its execution to develop it fully as a Heritage Smart City with an exquisite blend of old culture and sustainable modern technology.
A civilization cannot flourish if its roots are not watered and the weeds not removed from its surroundings. We have to nurture our civilization and bring required changes in it to sustain this changing modern world. We need to water our roots by developing the infrastructure and improving the civic amenities and the weed of improper sanitation, pollution and other evils should be eradicated by the city dwellers by working in tandem with the Government.
If a lot of things are copied from other civilizations, the indigenous values decline and its health detoriates. Thus if we take the example of Kyoto and implement it in our city, we have to be careful to bring certain alterations and safeguard the very culture and the rituals along with the society and its values.
We appreciate this initiative by the two nations and also applaud their resolve in coordinating the two civilizations to help each other flourish. The PMO tweeted “Kyoto last year, Kashi this year… cultural bonds between India and Japan during PM @AbeShinzo’s visit.”
These initiatives are welcome steps for the development of the culture of the civilizations when one of the civilizations (the ISIS) has been overpowered by the wrong interpretations of its culture and has been destroying everything coming in its way by violence.
It is time for the civilizations to combine and step ahead in synchronising with each other and help in improvement of the whole mankind; thus making the earth a better place to live in. More such initiatives are required to restore the positives of one culture and minimise its negatives, if any.
Development is necessary but not at the cost of destroying our culture which seems to be prevalent these days. Instead, if we try to develop ourselves too alongwith the society and the infrastructure, it will add beauty to the brains of the civilization. It is not only the job of the government to implement such methods, but it is our duty to support those in power if such initiatives are taken, because political parties will come and go, but the civilization should remain.