Lumbini World Peace City: A vision and perspective
Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 3, 2011
Lumbini is a peerless landmark of the Buddhist world. This is the only active religious place that has been listed in the World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. Lumbini symbolized ultimate peace and harmony. The eyes of Buddha are the emblem of love and worship and kindness and compassion are the synonym of Buddhism. While the world is getting restless and tensed because of various conflicts, the desire for peace in Nepal also has become almost like an obsession. At this critical juncture, declaration of Lumbini as a World Peace City is very appropriate and perhaps this is the only suitable place in this region for it. Establishment of a World Peace City in Lumbini is a important and timely task to be performed; not that we would, but we should, and we could.
The purpose of the Lumbini World Peace City is not to create a mega-city of the world or does it have any intention to deface the existing villages into a shanty town. Its aim is to set-up a quintessential self-contained town of the Buddha’s era in a 21 century format. Think globally and act locally is the strategy of Lumbini World Peace City. The vision is to build a small, traditional and low cost but conventional, comprehensive and innovative city system that carry a nostalgic ambiance of Kapilbastu revisited. Declaring Lumbini as a World Peace City contributes significantly in strengthening national peace process in the country.
Lumbini may be an intellectual playground for few, a religious site for some and a birthplace for many. But a place like Lumbini cannot be a prerogative to any casts, creeds and intellectuals. Peace doesn’t prevail in the island of the sea of poor. While developing infrastructure and undertaking poverty alleviation program in Lumbini, the World Peace City should initiates peace education simultaneously. Peace education prepares local communities to voice their realities, experiences, understandings biases, commitments, hopes, despair, and at the same time to fulfill the rights and duties.. The synergism of religion, wisdom and action is the formula to make the peace equation work. Lumbini World Peace City will be a ‘gift to the Earth’ from Nepal and from the Nepalese people.
This paper is presented in the second World Buddhist Summit held in the holiest land of Buddha’s birthplace on 30th November 2004. I am grateful to the organization committee of the Lumbini Development Trust for giving me an honor to present a challenging paper on developing Lumbini as a World Peace City. It is indeed a complex issue to dwell on especially in the present turmoil political situation.
In 1982, some twenty-two years ago, I had an opportunity to present a paper on heritage conservation and sustainable tourism in a colloquium of the Heritage of Asia and Pacific Island HAPI in Hawaii organized by East West Center. As a Nepalese, I was so proud to mention that the future of tourism is secured in the peaceful country like Nepal where the most beautiful woman can walk in middle of night without being hassled. Honestly, I had never anticipated that the situation of this country would get so worst in such a short time. How an unstable politics can turn a heaven into a hell, this is a classic example to witness.
Peace has become a most sought-after issue in Nepal. It is now easier said than done phenomenon. At this critical juncture, when Lumbini Development Trust asked me to present a paper on developing Lumbini as World Peace City, I was little perturbed. First I thought the subject was too challenging, and secondly and more importantly, I could not just conceive the idea of making a tranquil sacred garden of Lumbini a metropolis. How could it be possible to transform primitive surrounding villages of Lumbini into a sophisticated urban area?
When I read the report by Dr.Young Hoon Kwaak and Dr. Abelardo Brenes, commissioned by UNDP, it was like an eye opening. The vision of the World Peace City mentioned in the UNDP report was absolutely fascinating. After reading the report, I am not hesitating to say that if Kenjo Tange’s master plan is an architectural masterpiece, the report of Dr.Kwaak and Dr.Brenes is a philosophical masterpiece of planning and development for the future of Lumbini. Actually today in this conference, I could have simply reread the report of Dr. Kwaak and Dr. Brenes as it so relevant to this occasion. However, with a note of high appreciation for it, I would like to express my view and vision in a Nepalese perceptive and from the Nepalese Eyes.
On this occasion, I don’t want to deal on development and management aspect of Lumbini project. I shall briefly touch upon the organization issue only to the extent that is necessary for my paper especially in focusing Lumbini as a World Peace City. Before I present my paper, let me honestly confess that I am not a Buddhist scholar nor am I a political or religious leader, nor am I a conflict manager, nor a qualified urban architect. I am just a student of heritage conservation.
Fourteen years ago after the dawn of multi party democracy when the then Vice-chairman of the Lumbini Development Trust late Mr. Surya Bahadur Shakya and the member secretary Prof. Asha Ram Shakya nominated me as one of the trustee of the Trust, I humbly asked them whether he had chosen me because I was also a Sakya, When they explained to me that my name was proposed because I was the Chairman of Nepal Heritage Society, and on that rationale I accepted the offer. This is how I got involved in Lumbini. My interests in Lumbini are related to its history, archeology and heritage conservation. And to my mind, these are the finest dimensions of heritages that are the facts of Lumbini.
Peace movement –
Peace has become a rare commodity in the present world. The whole world is craving for turning their beloved homeland and habitat into a Peace Zone. The Zone of Peace provides models to put peace into practice. The modern concept of peace zone dates back to 1971 when the United Nation began declaring the Indian Ocean, the Caribbean and other regions as zones of peace. These efforts generally went in vain due to cold war politics. In 1987, as civil wars in several Central American countries were winding down, the Central America declared a Zone of Peace.
In the present world, various countries are being torn apart by all kinds of internal, external and cross-boarder conflicts. To address the catch 22 situation of conflicts, the whole humanitarian society is fighting its tooth and nail. In early nineties, a non-governmental organization called Zone of Peace International Foundation ZOPIF was established in Washington DC in America with an objective of promoting Zone of Peace in a local and regional level. This organization has approached the United Nation to create a new International Convention on the basis of which every nation and country that wishes could and may declare its own sacred sites, special places of worship and pilgrimages as well as historic and cultural importance as International Zones of Peace.
In 1991, UNESCO instituted a Culture of Peace Program and launched pilot peace programs in various countries including El Salvador. With the same sprit, six hundred three Mayors from 108 countries have formed a Mayor for Peace Association. It has played a vital role in leading Peace City movement. In 2002 Christchurch City Councilors voted in favor of declaring Christchurch a Peace City. In Papua, the zone of peace movement went so strong that despite the central government approval, the local community declared a Zone of Peace on December 2002. The Papuans made two fundamental decisions namely to declare Papua as a zone of peace and to claim December 1st. as the Papuan Day of Peace. The last straw of the modern conflict-torn society lies in hope that rest in the zone of peace movement.
In mid seventies, a proposal of declaring Nepal as a Zone of Peace was presented in the United Nation by the late His Majesty the King Birendra. In the context of Nepal and South Asia, it was an extremely far-sighting approach, More than 120 countries endorsed it but unfortunately because of some geo-political hegemony, the Nepalese effort declaring Nepal as Zone of Peace could not materialize. Now at this crossroad of national and international conflict, the endeavor of developing Lumbini a World Peace City has become once again a fresh and perfect beginning.
More than twenty five hundred years ago, Goutam Buddha was born in Lumbini. Emperor Ashoka erected a stone pillar in Lumbini in 2049 BC to mark the auspicious birthplace of Lord Buddha. Fahim from China visited and described about Lumbini in 399-414 AD. Another Chinese traveler Huan Tsang visited here in 606 AD. Ripu Malla paid homage in 1312. Khadga Shumshere Rana and Dr. A Fuhrer discovered Asokan pillar in 1886. Mukherjee carried out archeological exploration and excavation in 1932-39.
King Mahendra presented a proposal to develop Lumbini as a Buddhist Pilgrimage at the assembly of World Fellowship of Buddhists in 1956. UN Secretary General U Thant formed a UN International Committee for the development of Lumbini in 1967. In 1975, Lumbini Development Committee was formed. Kenjo Tange prepared a Master plan in 1978. UNESCO enlisted Lumbini as a World Heritage Site in the culture category in 1997. In the following year, the World Buddhist Summit passed a resolution to declare Lumbini as “the Fountain of the World Peace and Holiest Pilgrim Center for the Buddhist and Peace Loving People of the World”. The 20th General Conference of the World Buddhist Fellowship unanimously endorsed it. Later in December 1999, UNDP has commissioned Dr. Kwaak Young Hoon and Dr. Abelardo Brenes to carry out a vision and scooping evaluation of the Lumbini Master Plan. All above historical documents indicate that there are no other religious or cultural sites in Nepal which has drawn so much of international attention. These concerns are substantial enough to explore a vision of how Lumbini could be positioned as a World Peace City.
Pride and Prejudice –
Lumbini is a peerless landmark of the Buddhist world. Every Nepali loves to be proud of Lumbini. But the sad paradox is Lumbini remained always neglected. Nepalese Buddhist is a highly dedicated community. Somehow the government could not win their heart and mind. The government seem sympathetic towards Buddhism but with prejudice. We claim Buddha as a son of Nepal but we have failed to implement his teachings. For hundreds of years, Lumbini lay hidden beneath the earth. Even after its discovery, it remained in the state of hibernation and oblivion until U Thant resurrected its importance.
Finally, with the help from United Nation, Kenzo Tange drew a master plan. At that time, there was a tremendous euphoria for Lumbini. Actually a remarkable progress was made in getting land, rehabilitating people, demarcating boundaries, afforestation, building road to Lumbini including avenue plantation. Obviously the credit goes to Lok Darshan Bajracharya. Tange did draw a vision in the paper, but Darsan carved the mission on the ground. Tange had forgotten Lumbini long ago, but Lumbini remembers Tange all the times, contrarily, Darshan consistently involves in Lumbini from the very beginning but Lumbini sometimes tries to forget Darshan. I am sorry to say that lack of sense of judgments has often created lots of misunderstanding in Lumbini. Critical appreciations may reform the quality of work, but elements of ungratefulness deform the whole project. Certainly World Peace City cannot run with pains in the neck.
Despite UN support, Lumbini master plan could not kick-off in a full scale. For just face saving reasons, the government provided a meager sum of money for basic administration, but had always failed to provide enough financial resources available for Lumbini development. The Lumbini master plan schedules were always procrastinated failing to implement it for more than 30 long years. However, in mid nineties, Lumbini began to metamorphose into a vibrant Buddhist pilgrim site, thanks to various international Buddhist cooperation agencies. Surprisingly enough, the Nepalese Government put holy pictures of Lumbini in denomination and currency notes, but failed to fulfill promises to provide infrastructure in Lumbini.
In 1998, the World Buddhist Fellowship unanimously passed the resolution to declare Lumbini as “the Fountain of the World Peace”. But even after an official endorsement, the Nepalese government has not yet even gazetted this declaration. The government argues that Fountain of the World Peace is just a slogan. I don’t understand why the World Buddhist Conference has to declare the congress “a mere slogan”. Who is fooling around whom?
Pride alone is not enough to make Lumbini a World Peace City; the most important commitment for this venture is a dire need of performance that is unprejudiced. It is high time that we realize the importance of this place and start from here a cooling process in the politically boiling condition of our country and provide relief to the tormented minds of our people. If we don’t do this now, then don’t blame others, blame us.
Cultural landscape –
Most of the office bearers in Lumbini Development Trust are committed and dedicated. Despite good intention, the project could not achieve good results due to obstacles arising in the process of development from myopic but unpredictable political biases. Sometimes unnecessarily pocking nose in project affairs by outsiders and so-called well-wishers have also disturbed a lot. A World Peace City cannot be built on the hot bed of criticisms and arguments. In many cases, witch hunting and destructive criticism have marred the sprit of euphoria in Lumbini. A World Peace City needs harmony. There should be an element of trust, sense of judgment and most importantly unanimous consensus followed by coordination and cooperation between Lumbini Development Trust, monasteries, local communities, religious leaders, archeologists, historian and common devotees.
Once, there was a criticism leveled against LDT of turning pilgrimage site into Disneyland. The comment is harsh and hurting, but the criticism is valid to some extent. The lack of vision, scrutiny, and regular supervision and most importantly the administrative acumen on the part of LDT have encouraged some concessionaries to build few irregular, illegal and a bit iconoclastic physical structures that are unpalatable in the beautiful landscape of serene Lumbini sanctuary. This is not acceptable in the World Heritage Site or the proposed World Peace City. Refined perception, positive thinking and understanding other’s point of view are very necessary to build a World Peace City.
I have a great respect for the devotion and dedication of the religious leaders who actually have made Lumbini a great place of worship. Nevertheless, we cannot overlook the obsession of recreating monasteries their own niches. That may unknowingly hamper the overall cultural landscape of Lumbini. The significance of Lumbini is not restricted to the four walls of individual monasteries. What one may think right is not enough to make a rule of thumb? One has to see things from other side of fence. Living in, practicing on and creating things inside Lumbini is sensitive. If we are determined to develop Lumbini as World Peace City, then no one can do what they want simply because they think they are right, pious, virtuous and acceptable.
The Future of the Asia’s Past-
Lumbini is perhaps the first and only active religious place that is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The reason that the world’s most prestigious secular organization listed Lumbini in the world heritage site is not because of religious importance but because of its immense historical and archeological significance. The United Nation Education and Cultural Organization UNESCO seek to encourage the identification, protection, and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972. Lumbini falls in cultural category. Cultural heritage refers to monuments, group of buildings and properties with historical, aesthetic, archeological, ethological, or anthropological value. In this classification, religion is not mentioned. For us Lumbini may be a holy sacred religious place, but for rest of the world, it is an outstanding place of peace, harmony, archeology and history.
The raison d’etre of Buddhism is not based on folklore or legend, it is a history nothing less than history. Lumbini is not a ‘never-never-land’; it is the terra firma where the time has signatured loud and clear. If we ever try to confine Lumbini in a small pocket of religious and communal boundary, we are doing a great mistake and we are the big looser. We cannot hold a sun in our palm. Lumbini is a sun that belongs to the world. Developing Lumbini as a World Peace City is an attempt of showcasing the Future of the Asia’s Past.
Whether we develop Lumbini as a World Peace City or the Fountain of the World Peace or Zone of Peace or the Sanctuary of Serenity or whatever, we have, first, to learn many things from our mistakes that we have had committed in the past. If someone asked me what are the main problems of Lumbini, I instantly give three most important causes of deteriorating Lumbini, they are firstly POLITICS, secondly POLITICS and thirdly POLITICS. Lumbini indeed had suffered a lot from the myopic politics and its dirty manipulations.
Apart from redressing pollution of politics, we also have to change our mindset if we really want to talk about Lumbini in a global context. Aspiration alone does not bring result. We have to be liberal, broad-minded, and most importantly sophisticated enough to understand the universal values of democratic norms and consideration. Although Buddhism is secular and liberal, some of us have not been able to forsake the emotional attachment and possessiveness of Lumbini as a religious site. Lumbini may be an intellectual playground for few, a religious place for some and birthplace of many, but a Paradise of Peace like Lumbini cannot be a prerogative of any class, creed and intellectuals. There is no place for ethno-centrism in a World Heritage Site. Feelings are appreciable, so are faith, sentiments and wisdom but they alone are not enough to develop Lumbini. Only the combined effort of religion, wisdom, and action; ‘Dharma, Marma, & Karma’ can bring a logical balanced, and sustainable development in order to create Lumbini a true World Peace City.
Conflict management –
Nepal was a peaceful country. Ten years of unstable politics has made all Nepalese restless and tensed. In view of current conflict situation in Nepal, peace is of paramount importance to the people. The desire for peace has become almost like an obsessions for them. In this regard, they would welcome any effort- small or big – from any country or institution that would contribute to establishing peace in Nepal. The initiative to establish a world peace city in Lumbini will be highly appreciated in this context.
However, Nepal like the rest of the world, we will have to learn to adjust to the fast changing order. In the contemporary world, one has to live in the modern world with modern problems, which are the direct and indirect results of all kinds of conflicts – political, social, racial, religious and economic.
It is an irony that the conflict management now has become a profitable profession all over the world. The institutions that manage conflicts are mushrooming very fast. The developed countries are responsible for apple of discords in the developing societies, and they are the ones who benefit from producing and selling arms and ammunition to conflict affected nations. But what a paradox! The conflict management institutions are flourishing in the same developed countries.
The so–called the champions of the conflict management countries regard conflict a normal, unavoidable and necessary. They work to create a world and communities where conflict’s position function is maintained and negative tendency are managed in effective way. They prescribe to transform the existing conflicts into positive direction rather than to suppress them. They believe that conflict is best managed in democratic way. Actually, this approach is not very far from truth. However, conflict is the beginning of a procession of resolution that finally lands in amicable solution. But if we are obsessed by self-interest and power politics, and if we become oblivious of other’s wish and choice we can never make progress in conflict resolution. This is the key to the conflict in every sphere of our lives. Therefore conflict is never ending; rather it is ever changing and always growing phenomena.
Cultural Harmony and Religious Tolerance-
In the context of Lumbini, we are very fortunate that we do not have any serious conflict inside the sacred garden of Lumbini, thanks to the Buddha’s teachings, cultural harmony and religious tolerance. However, some conflicts are noticed to some extent at management level among the trust members, concessionaries and some stakeholders, because conflict is directly proportionate to delivery of services.
I also see some indirect intellectual conflicts between the hard-line conservationist and development faddists in Lumbini. It is not yet prominent, but it can create undesirable impacts in future. As usual, when the developers see the cost of everything and values of nothing and similarly when scholars see only value not cost, such attitude and syndrome of not realizing value but cost or vice versa eventually land up in a quagmire where we will be fighting a loosing battle and ultimately leads us to nowhere.
Taking into consideration of past political exploitation that took place in Lumbini projects, we still foresee anticipation of such malpractices. I have no intention to blame democracy. I comprehend democracy as a Pandora’s Box that may releases stings and surprises but also spring eternal hope and anticipation. I have faith in democracy, which is a dynamic process of filtering positive results in action. However the problem is anti-establishment syndrome that has confused and frustrated us. Skepticism and anxiety when spread beyond the boundary bring conflict and cause profound impact on society and eventually it affects the country’s future. The disillusioned society needs to be resuscitated with trust, faith, morale and confidence. As truth has many faces, we need to understand its all aspects. When we look at thing from both side of fence, it gives us a sense of judgment and a power of positive thinking. Once we cherish our self-esteem, optimism, confidence and hope, peace prevails. With this hope, I am confident that establishing World Peace City in Lumbini is not an impossible dream. If we are committed and dedicated, we can translate this dream into an action.
Think globally, act locally –
The objective of the Lumbini World Peace City is not to create mega-city of the world or does it have any intention to deface the existing villages into shantytowns. A world peace city does not carry any feature of cosmopolitan metropolis of the consumer’s world. Precisely speaking, the aim of the Lumbini World Peace City is to recreate a quintessential city system of the Buddha’s era in 21st century format. World Peace City is not at all the vulgar exhibition of modernism.
Conventional wisdom says ‘think globally, act locally’. The strategy of developing Lumbini World Peace City is to build up a small self-contained, traditional and low cost but conventional, comprehensive and innovative city system with lots and lots of greeneries. In other words, the city carries a flavor of revisited nostalgia of Kapilbastu. This is a modest attempt to recreate a town planning system like Bhaktapur.
The cultural landscape of the whole city system should be predominantly inspired by the time-honored tradition, which will be a vernacular architectural renaissance in a true sense. There should not be any hanging wires, no chemical, biological, and visible and sound pollution. Charming roads adorned with avenue plantation connect adorable inexpensive household, which are not taller than the height of the tree or monuments. Basic facilities such as water, electricity, sanitation and drainage facilities, school, community college and hospital will be provided to the denizens of the Lumbini World Peace City. The economic activities should be supplemented with cooperative farming, dairies, cottage industries, soft tourism, micro financing, and other value-based entrepreneurship but not polluting industries. In a nutshell, Lumbini World Peace City should be a cultural, natural, social, religious, archeological and most importantly an eco-friendly city with a sublime landscape that enhance an ambiance of unified symbol of peace and harmony.
Dr Kwaak and Dr. Brenes have recommended four books of agenda to develop Lumbini and serve as a road map comprising short, medium and long–term plans. I fully agree with their most visionary and innovative agenda. They are
1. Metaphysical Templates for the Urban Designers and Regional Planner. The designing and planning of the World Peace City is not to create and develop a city of ‘consumerism, competition and greed’. The urban design of the Lumbini World Peace City should ‘depart from the status-quo of the metropolitan character rather it serves to help us enter into a more harmonious, sustainable, and equal global village civilization signifying especially the teaching of Buddha and the UN’s vision of peace.’ Dr. Kwaak and Dr. Brenes further draws attention on designing and planning the World Peace City that the governance and system of management based on social and economic justice; creation of environmentally sound and culturally conserving development alternatives; education for the promotion of global community values; the vision for the future and its sustenance of a credible multi-religious vibrant faith community.
2. Urban Design Master Plan- This is intended to embody the shape of the World Peace City The key attributes should resonate in the urban design of the World Peace City as a 21st century city; educational city; world citizen city; peace city; environmental city; cultural city. They further suggest seven planning components for the development of the Lumbini World Peace City. 1- Overall vision concept; 2- Land use and built form; 3- movement and circulation; 4- landscape water, and ecological preservation; 5- public facilities allocation; 6- telecommunication and infrastructure; 7- and implementation and phasing program.
Why World Peace City-
Lumbini is the place where mind and heart cherish for peace. This is the land when eyes are closed, heart opens. Kindness, compassion and empathy are the synonym of Buddhism. The eyes of Buddha are the emblem of love. And Lumbini symbolized ultimate peace and harmony. If there is any appropriate place in this region to be declared a World Peace City, it is the Lumbini.
This is the important task to be performed; not that we would but we should and we could. There are more than enough reasons to make Lumbini a World Peace City.
• Lumbini is the birthplace of Lord Buddha, apostle of peace
• Lumbini is a sacred place of worship for million of Buddhists from all over the world.
• Lumbini is a World Heritage Site listed by UNESCO.
• Lumbini is the Fountain of the World Peace endorsed by the World Buddhist Summit.
• Lumbini provides ultimate ambiance of peace and harmony.
• Lumbini has fascinating monasteries run by various countries.
• Lumbini is full of monks, clergies, religious and spiritual leaders. When the mere presence of a person of peace can be an inspiration to others and even affect the surrounding, just imagine with so many monasteries, monks and religious person in Lumbini, how much they could play roles in disseminating peace. This is the biggest inspirational source of peace to make Lumbini a World Peace City.
• Lumbini has a potential to develop as a world class Pilgrimage Site.
• Goutam Buddha airport near Lumbini is eventually going to be an international airport.
• World Buddhist University is going to be established here.
• Lumbini lies in the religious triangle of the World’s Buddhist circuit.
• Mobilization of economic and technical grants, fund and resources are easier, because of its historic, architectural and natural importance. International organizations like UNDP, UNESCO, IUCN, International Crane Foundation, Bilateral and multi-lateral government agencies, leading world Buddhist organizations and foundations have already shown lots of interest in developing Lumbini as natural and cultural heritage site.
• Lumbini is a fastest growing tourism destination, which is now conspicuously visible in the World map of tourism. With so much of tourism potential, Lumbini cannot stay in an unprivileged rural state.
• The present village level administration cannot cope with growing demand and needs. It is incapable to address the ever-growing challenges of cosmopolitan nature. No one can stop the inevitable growth of urbanizing in Lumbini. Before any unplanned and uncontrolled urban growth takes an ugly grip, Lumbini has to be planned, designed and developed as World Peace City before it’s too late.
• And finally and most importantly peace still prevails in Lumbini. In the recent history of Lumbini, not even a drop of blood has ever shed in the name of ethnic or political riot. Religious harmony and cultural tolerance still profoundly exist in this region. And there are consensuses from all walks of life to make Lumbini a Zone of Peace.
World Peace City Initiative-
The establishment of the World Peace City in Lumbini strengthens the sprit of Panchashil, the teachings of Lord Buddha, fulfill the norms and condition of World Heritage Site and satisfy the aspiration the Foundation of the World Peace. Declaration of World Peace City would also contribute significantly to the strengthening national peace process in Nepal. Once Lumbini is declared World Peace City, it will be incumbent upon all government machineries of Nepal, the authorities of the contiguous territories of the neighboring country, and all other government and non-governmental agencies of the world to help promote it and extend cooperation for social and economic development, protection of the environment, conservation of resources and peace and security of this region.
Even the rebels of Nepal will have to adhere to this universal appeal for peace and will not be able to disown their responsibility to respect this international declaration.
It will also make it obligatory for all political parties to recognize Lumbini as Zone of Peace. This will pave the way for the elimination of the presence of military, police, and security forces and rebels militia in the declared World Peace City.
It will thus reduce tension in this zone by creating a congenial atmosphere for abandonment of use of arms and resolve all problems in non-violence conflict resolution. Even a small pocket of zone of peace in Lumbini can and will inspire the people of Nepal to strive peace and security in the rest of the country.
World Peace City will help, among many other things, achieve communal harmony in the multi-racial society of Nepal especially in this region inhabited by people of different religious faiths. It also bring an understanding and mutual respect among people of all nationalities in this newly developed internationalized domain of Lumbini as well as cessation of all acts of aggression including neo colonial dominance. It paves the way to create an atmosphere for the development of culture of peace as promoted by UNESCO and will encourage other cities in Nepal to follow suit.
It shows our commitment to actively contribute to a more peaceful future, through a range of initiatives, starting with new strategies for a more peaceful community, development of education program and promotion of peace, non-violence and respect for all communities.
How to proceed ahead –
When there is a wish, there is a way. Declaration of World Peace City in Lumbini may seem ambitious, costly and administratively cumbersome, but there are many cases in the world that even local communities and administration have established a Zone of Peace in a local level. To make the approach more comprehensive, we follow certain pattern of execution. This will be a pragmatic strategy to start immediate ground works and at the same time convince local communities to campaign establishing a World Peace City in Lumbini. The Nepalese government has already committed to declare Lumbini a World Peace City, but the zone of peace program becomes operational when the population is knowledgeable of how to lead a life peacefully. We have to understand that peace is not the result of removing political conflicts alone. Actually peace flows from the protection of human rights, and elimination of poverty.
While planning, designing, developing World Peace City, the Lumbini Development Trust should act as a custodian and mobilize local communities and other organizations to coordinate and cooperate in the peace movement and mobilize them to participate in the sustainable development in the proposed World Peace City. It is also urgent that Lumbini World Peace City be administered under the norms of Zone of Peace criteria and at the same time protects and restores the spectacular landscape of history, culture, religion, archeology and nature in and around Lumbini.
Bottom-up approach –
The government decision and authorities’ mechanism from the top do not successfully established a Zone of peace. Many peace zone models failed because of top-down mechanism. The top down concept is nice but those at the bottom may not trust it. Unless the people are vested in the peace-building process, or better said, unless there is a bottom-up approach complementing the top-down approach, it is quite likely that there will be little substantive progress. Without the participation from the grassroots level, the instrumentalities will be perceived more as rhetoric than engines for building peace. To carry out the bottom- up approach, after raising consciousness and developing skills, local communities have to sign an agreement to commit themselves to establishing a zone of peace. This agreement outlines the responsibilities that communities would undertake as part of their commitment to create a zone of peace in designated Area. Smooth transformation of Lumbini Development Trust into a Lumbini World Peace City depends on the ability of the top-down and bottom-up approach to coordinate with each other.
Initial steps include.
1- The custodians of the World Peace City create a cell for contacting, informing communicating people about peace project
2- Conducting workshops on peace projects, HRD for peace educator, conflict managers, and non-violent resolution of conflicts
3- Forming community organizations to see peace progress, community development, and protection of environment.
4- Training and skill development on awareness of human right and civic sense and performance of one’s duty in community
Some of the demographic and infrastructural data from the surrounding village of Lumbini, studied undertaken by Deep Kumar Upadhya are very interesting. It shows that Lumbini harbors 53 % Hindus, 42% Muslims and 5% Buddhists. In this situation, a peace city cannot be developed without the consensus, understanding and sympathy from other religious and ethnic group. Without winning the heart of the local people, a World Peace City is a distant dream.
In this connection, I have great admiration for Vikkchu Maitriya, a modest young and dynamic Buddhist monk who has been working tirelessly for last eight years in the different villages of Lumbini. He provided health services, and promoted Buddha’s teachings to indigenous communities in the surrounding villages. He has provided drinking water supply and other essential services. I think he is following the exact teaching of Buddha. No institution and system work in isolation.
The other data of the field survey says 59% local people had fair knowledge and 15% had good knowledge about Lumbini project. That shows a positive trend. Regarding Lumbini project, 37% of respondent expected to involve them in income generating activities, 35% looked forward to receiving, 17% expect education program for their children. Expectation of the people always indicates the sign of potentiality.
The most encouraging note in the survey are 14 % people are interested to contribute even financial resources to Lumbini project, 25% would contribute labor, 60% love to involve in programs. And all one hundred percent of respondents agreed on the incorporation of tourism promotion activities in the development of Lumbini.
Every data of Deep Kumar Upadhya indicates positive trend to develop Lumbini as a fascinating biosphere of human civilization. Even 51% of the unprivileged respondents revealed that they are interested in conservation and restoration works. This is a wonderful symptom to proceed ahead to develop Lumbini as a World Peace City. In spite of less than desired knowledge about Lumbini, 99% of people wanted Lumbini project to become an autonomous body.
Voice of the People is the Voice of God –
Nepal enjoyed a peaceful life for many years. But now the situation has changed. As the country approaches the beginning of a new millennium, people’s sprit remains undiminished in the face of multiple conflicts. All kinds of challenges are steeped in all forms of violence and peacelessness. Even at the Buddha’s birthplace, recently we have some records of insurgency problem. In these crucial circumstances, just by the wish of the government cannot turn Lumbini a World Peace City. The declaration the government has to be endorsed by the people whole-heartedly. The voice of the people is the voice of god. No conflict, no violence and no war can be won by the barrel of gun. Only one can fight against it and they are the PEOPLE, the PUBLIC and the PEN. Even Napoleon the great was said to be afraid of ‘Armless People and the Pen’.
Abraham Lincoln said “Darkness can never be dispelled by the darkness, only by light. The role of power is darkness. The rule of law is light.” And the light is the education.
There is no administrative, institutional and mechanical model in the world that can assure to give us any guarantee of providing peace. Peace prevails only when man is contented and contentment avail only when mind is tamed. The Mind is tamed only though education.
World Peace City through Peace Education-
Lumbini cannot be developed as an island of Peace. Without the goodwill of the community, no institution can prosper. A basic need of the community has to be provided and a basic dream of a man has to be fulfilled. Immediate goal of the World Peace City is not only to draw a realistic master plan, but the program has to be immediately followed by poverty alleviation through infrastructure development, forestry, agriculture, tourism, and cottage industries. While undertaking poverty alleviation program, another most important task is carrying out the peace education. It should be done simultaneously. Peace education helps to address rights and duties of diverse culture and religion and at the same time pacify the unreasonable grievances of the local population and communities. Peace education prepares them to voice their realities, experiences, understandings, biases, commitments, hopes, despair, and dreams.
Effective peace education is a wonder medicine. It raises basic questions of over materialist lifestyle and consumerist ideology propaganda by the dominant modernization paradigm. In promoting respect among culture, mutual learning, and adaptation of indigenous values, the education strategies can be constructive to building culture of peace. While we proceed ahead in the process of developing Lumbini as a World Peace City, it is extremely necessary that we change the mindset of the people and community through effective education. The local community group, living and coping with the crisis situation are the major player in transforming violence into peace. Education movement, dedicated to building more peaceful futures for humanity, inevitably have their own dynamics in terms of theory and practice.
The educational dimension includes
*education for nonviolence,
*human right education,
*social justice education,
*education for international understanding,
*education for sustainable development etc.
Non-formal education models-
Education for peace is as relevant and essential in educational institutions as in nonformal or community context. There is also growing consensus that rather than continuing peace education to separate subject, the infusion or integration of peace perspective across the whole curriculum including extracurricular activities. Apart from formal peace education in school and college curriculum, the participatory teaching and learning strategic non-formal education also needs to be well and wide spread among all sectors and level of society.
Participatory learning strategy include
• popular street theatre,
• Song and dance compositions,
• poetry and story writing, imaging and other futures exercises,
• poster drawing,
• mural painting,
• participatory action research projects,
• dialogical lectures, media and textual content analysis,
• political and social advocacy projects
• peace rally,
• field exposures,
• peace museums,
• peace fairs and exhibits,
• peace conferences and forums,
Such participatory strategies in peace education need to be relevant to specific social and cultural conditions. Peace education is the first and foremost strategic step to be taken seriously in the process of establishing a World Peace City. In other word, peace education is the foundation of Lumbini World Peace City.
World Peace City through political commitment –
Politics is based on people. And every politician raise rhetoric slogan for the sake of people. Hence, a Peace Proposal wished by the local people has to be accepted by the ruling political party, opposition party, rebel political party. There should not be any bone of contention. A declaration proclaimed in this fashion should be accepted and treated as the country’s testament of Peace.
The comprehensive scope of democratic security may appear utopian, especially in the context of political restlessness but in reality it is an objective that can be reached. If we remain cautious of our rights and duties, the judiciary, military, police, rebels, custodian and communities can follow the code of conduct prepared by the World Peace City. However, no zone of peace can exist unless the police and rebels respect it. Nepal deserves achieving the zone of peace after many years of being tormented by the political conflicts. Nepal will be on the correct path if the government as well as rebels get obliged and committed themselves to support the establishment of World Peace City in Lumbini as wished and aspired by the people. And this is the perfect beginning.
Zoning of World Peace City –
Declaration and demarcation of any zones and sites for conservation, preservation or peace generally draw debates and arguments. Lots school of thoughts, ideas and suggestions in selecting and demarcating Lumbini World Peace City can be entertained. However, just giving romantic proposal and suggestion cannot be materialized but may hamper the process of endeavor. If the proposal is not practical, it may gather dust in the table. The proposal has to be suitable to adopt under the giving political, financial, social as well as geographical circumstances. And most importantly, its implementation has to be administratively comprehensive. There are four options for demarcation of Lumbini World Peace City.
A. Include whole Lumbini Anchal to be declared as a Zone of Peace.
B. Declare Kapilabastu District including Goutam Buddha airport as Peace District.
C. Select Tilaurakot, Niglihawa, Gotihawa, Kudan, Sagarhawa, Devdaha,
Ramgram and all other Buddhist Sites to be declared as Heritage Sites
D. And declare the sacred garden of Lumbini, its buffers zone and
Adjoining villages as a World Peace City.
A peace proposal is always appealing. We all wish to accommodate as much as we can and as many places as possible in the peace proposal. But taking into consideration of the current socio-economic, political and administrative constraints, the fourth option seems to be more realistic. I fully agree with Dr. Kwaak and Dr. Berenes’s suggestion to extend the scale of city from 1 x 3 sq. miles to ten square miles area. I insist that the Lumbini World City system incorporates all adjoining surrounding villages and keep the sacred Lumbini garden as ‘the Sanctum of the Sanctuary’ of the Lumbini World Peace City.
Ten square mile is a perfect size to be declared as world Peace City. It is very sensible and convenient to have one single and sizable urban unit. It will easier and extremely practical to plan, design, develop, implement, administer, institutionalize and sustain the World Peace City system in Lumbini
When I first joined Lumbini Development Trust ten years ago, I refused to visualize Lumbini within the parameter of 3 square mile. Apart from scanty nature in sacred garden, the faceless fallow land and apathetic dwellings outside the park in the surrounding villages made Lumbini an indifferent pilgrimage. Therefore, I always had my concern that the Lumbini Trust could not be operated in isolation. Aesthetically and philosophically, Lumbini had to be stretched beyond the sacred garden and it could not be confined only within 3 square mile of area.
I gave a long proposal to carry out two specific projects; 1. Community education and awareness campaign 2. Greening campaign in Lumbini and beyond.
As a forester by academic qualification, I always wished to grow a mixed-luxuriant forest in Lumbini rather than an orchard-like uniform Dalbergia sisso forest. I was also very keen to popularize community forestry around Lumbini. To carry out a greening campaign outside Lumbini, we managed to get the technical support from the IUCN to reestablish the old forest nurseries and set up a new one in Parsa for raising enough plants for free distribution. The sight of uncultivated land around Lumbini garden looked so barren and ugly that I personally visited and insisted many landowners from Kathmandu to plant trees rather than keeping useless and fallow. We explored the possibilities raising seedlings of trees of Buddha’s era. I don’t know how the conditions of those forest nurseries are now. But I am very glad to hear that one Tibetan Monastery is distributing seedlings to villagers.
We had also initiated body of teachers for familiarization trip to Lumbini. The objective was to bring community awareness on Lumbini project and greening campaign. We extended peace education program to various local schools through them. We made teachers as our target group to bring multiplier effects in the communities. I always believe in the strength of education to bring unity in diversity.
Organizational set up-
1. The structural organization, professional and scientific institutionalization are very important feature to operate World Peace City system. Here are some few suggestions.
2. Lumbini World Peace City Development Trust LWPCDT should be administered as an autonomous body with the patronage of His Majesty the King.
3. A full-time working chairman appointed by the His Majesty Government of Nepal should run LWPCDT.
4. The official status of the chairman remains as of an assistant minister of HMG.
5. The Chairman is based in Lumbini.
6. An autonomous institutional set-up of the LWPCDT should be created under the especial Act passed by HMG as King Mahendra Nature Conservation Trust KMTNC.
7. LWPCDT will have three wings
A. Zone of Peace Office to deal with education, awareness campaign, training, conflict management.
B. Lumbini Infrastructure Development and Administration Office to handle all infrastructure work road, transport, drinking water, drainage, electricity, biodiversity conservation, urban planning and development.
C. International Relation and PR to deal with bilateral, international agencies, UNDP, Fund Raising, and inter-monasteries affair.
8. All the three offices will be chaired by the chairman. All three offices will head by full time Peace Manager, Project Director, and Director International Affair respectively.
9. LWPC DT should be run by the board of trustee.
10. The chairman will be appointed by the council of ministers and approved by the patron of the Trust
11. LWPC DT trustee should not exceed more than 15 members. Its composition should consist of
One parliament member from the same constituency,
One village development chairman,
One Representative from existing monastery,
Chairman of Dharmodaya Sahha,
One leading archeologist
Representative from U.N.P.D (Nepal)
Ministry of Culture member
Ministry of Tourism
Ministry of Foreign Affair
Ministry of Finance
Member, National Planning Commission
Two leading Buddhist scholars nominated by the chairman
11. Peace Committee include 7 members.
1. Chairman Ex-officio LDT
2. Secretary (Project Director LDT).
3. Two local community representative
4. One monk representing monasteries
5. And three well-trained conflict managers.
12. Infrastructure development committee is composed of archeologist, historian, tourism expert, professional managers, and urban landscape engineer.
13. International Relations Committee includes office bearer and 2 representatives from the various monasteries.
14. Institutional set-ups-
Three different possible models could be envisaged.
1. Government institution with political appointments
2. Autonomous body with maximum political appointments
3. Autonomous institution with balanced political and institutional appointments.
The first model has have already been tested in a form of Lumbini development Trust. Second one could go haywire with no bureaucratic and institutional control. The third model seems more practical as, while we harness the dedication and commitment of political appointments, the institution run in a system through bureaucratic channel.
At this stage, it is a very pre-matured agenda to be discussed. However it gives some bottom-line information for a structural formation of the institution. Political appointments, nomination and selection of the chairman and members of the steering committee are always a matter of debate. Whatever model we select, there is always a room for discussion. And there is no full proof system or device that can give 100% guarantees to fulfill the mission statement. The biggest challenge is get a best and competent chairman or CEO. At no circumstances, he/she should be appointed by the influence of political parties or religious or ethnic group. The selection of the boss of the organization should be professional and business like. But once appointment is done, he should be fully trusted- no back-biting and no leg- pulling.
There is one flaw in democratic way of functioning organization. We are always dissatisfied with the system and authorities. Anti establishment syndrome is very detrimental. Ironically, we are happy only when we are there in the system. But unfortunately there is no room for everybody. Sometime we are also happy when there is someone who listens to us. But this is not also possible; because when you make everybody happy we make nobody happy.
That is why I personally believe in an autonomous business-like institution with reasonable degree of bureaucracy rather than a politically predominant ad-hoc organization. Although ex-officio members from the government office may create some bureaucratic problems, there is little chances that the institution become more disorder and political.
The performance of an institution like World Peace City will be satisfactory when we get tremendous support from the community. So we need to select the best possible candidates for full participation. In this matter, the chairman should be trusted for selecting representative from the community and grassroots level. Give him the challenge and give him the credit. Nevertheless someone has to do a dirty work of selecting, nominating and appointing members best of his knowledge. Recommendation on institutional structures, composition of member and selection method may raise lots of arguments and disagreements. Some may say bureaucratic structure would turn LWPCDT into other administrative Byzantine red tapes. Yes, it could happen. Nothing is possible if leadership is not efficient. How democratic it may be, no system in the world will work better if leader is incapable. But the fact of the matter is, at one end, we have to trust somebody.
The concept of the Zone of Peace is a human aspiration in the contemporary world. Universal admiration lies in Buddhism because it is the religion based on the philosophy of secularism. The omnipresence of Buddha’ teachings on peace and harmony are the hallmarks of Lumbini. We all agree in peace. Actually, we cry our heart out for peace, but peace does not come from talk or by wishing, it comes from action. Someone said “a vision without task is a dream; a task without vision is drudgery; but a vision with task can change the world”. Lumbini World Peace City is a vision with purpose to be followed by task. If we can translate this vision into a mission, this will be a great achievement for our country.
Lumbini World Peace City needs visions, dedications and actions. Skepticism suspicion and cynicism cannot implement an institution like World Peace City; we need a lion’s heart not the mind of restless mice. Lumbini is a common heritage for all mankind. The synergism of religion, wisdom and action “Dharma, Marma and Karma” is the only appropriate formula to make the equation of Lumbini World Peace City work. If we can create a World Peace City in Lumbini, this will be a great ‘Gift to the Earth’ from Nepal and from the Nepalese people.
Arnold, Ricke et al (1991) Educating for a Change. Toronto: Between the Lines.
Barrett, Richard J. & Cavanagh, John (1994) Global Dreams: Imperial Corporations and the New World Order. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Bidari, Basanta (2002), Lumbini A Sacred Refuge, Hillside Press, Nepal
Bjerstedt, Ake (Ed) 1993 Peace Education: Global Perspectives. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International.
Boulding, Elise (1988) Building a Global Civic Culture. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.
Burns, Robin J. & Aspeslagh, Robert, Robert (eds) (1996) Three Decades of Peace Education Around the World. New York: Garland.
Clark, John (1991) Democratizing Development. London: Earthscan.
Dalai Lama (1995) The Power of Compassion. San Francisco. Thorson.
Upadhaya, D.K..(1999) Local Participation in the Development of Lumbini.UNPD.
Elkins, Paul 1992 A New World Order Grassroots Movements for Global Change. London Routledge.
Fox, Matthew 1990 A Spirituality named Compassion. San Francisco Harper & Row
Hicks, David (ED) 1988. Education for Peace. London Routledge.
Ivanka, Vana Jakie. Zone of Peace International Foundation ZOPIF. 1997. Washington DC.
Sakya, Karna. 1992. Field Report. Developing Lumbini- ways and means. LDT.
Sakya, Karna 2004 Soch, Nepal Nature Dot Com. Kathmandu
Shakya, Min Bahadur. 1999. Lumbini as a Fountain of World Peace: its religious, cultural, and archeological significance as a World Heritage Site.
Shrestha, Bhubaneshwor. 1995. Review, Lumbini development Mission.
Miller, R.1992. Aid as Peacemaker Ottawa, Carleton University.
Peace Initiatives. December. 2003.Support for Peace and Development Initiatives SPDI. UNDP.
Raman, Lopez Reyes. March.2004. International Center for the study and promotion of Zone of Peace in the World. Hawaii.
Rodil, BR. 1999 Alternative to War. Meladeg Peace Pact.
Kwaak.Y.H&Brenes A.B 1998 .Imaging and Scoping Mission. UNDP.Nepal
Bimal Kumar Sharma. Ex.Member Secretary LDT.
Dipendra Purush Dhakal.Ex. Secretary. Ministry of Tourism. HMG Nepal
Lamichane Kumer. Nepal 1 TV
Lok Darshan Bajracharya, Pioneer and ex Chairman, Lumbini Development Committee.
Prem Bahadur Sakya. President, Nepal Boudha Samaj
Ratna Man Shakya. Member, Steering Committee. LDT.
Subarna Dhan Sakya. Member Secretary Dharmodaya Shabha.