Lumbini-Kapilvastu Day Blog

Welcome to Lumbini, Nepal – the birthplace of Buddha

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LUMBINI: Mikel Dunham’s interview with Lisa Choegyal

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 11, 2012

Lisa Choegyal is a tourism consultant who works throughout the Asia Pacific region, specializing in pro-poor sustainable tourism planning and marketing. With a background in the private sector, she was for over 20 years Director of Marketing of Tiger Mountain, Nepal’s pioneer trekking, adventure and wildlife operator. Based in Kathmandu, she has worked since 1992 as a senior associate of TRC Tourism (formerly Tourism Resource Consultants) in Wellington, New Zealand  (www.trctourism.com). Lisa was Team Leader of the ADB Ecotourism Project 2000-2001, DFID tourism monitor on TRPAP 2001-2005, tourism-marketing specialist for the ADB SASEC program 2004-2008, and prepared the UK Aid DFID Great Himalaya Trail development program for SNV Nepal 2006-2010. She serves on a number of non-profit boards related to tourism and conservation, and is New Zealand Honorary Consul to Nepal since 2010.

-LISA CHOEGYAL-sm

02-nun at Lumbini
DUNHAM: How do you assess the current framework for development in Lumbini, the framework that is already and has been in place for a long time?

CHOEGYAL: The institutional framework is interesting with so many stakeholders, different factions and historical complexities. UNESCO has a crucial role to play to preserve its world heritage status. The Lumbini Development Trust (LDT) is the obvious main custodian although it needs to be evolved into an Authority rather than a Trust. It is typical of the current political scenario that existing institutions become politicized. . Perhaps it was felt, in this case, that it is easier to create a parallel organization and just blow LDT out of the water. Three billion dollars is a convincing figure.

I’ve worked on Lumbini, from a tourism perspective, on and off, for the last twenty years but most recently with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) tourism infrastructure study, where I was part of a consulting team that designed the South Asian Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) tourism components. SASEC is an ADB grouping of five countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India – actually the north and northeast States of India – Nepal and Sri Lanka. We worked for six years as tourism sector advisors on the SASEC program with our firm, TRC Tourism, which is based in Wellington, New Zealand. SASEC was modeled on the ADB’s Greater Mekong Sub-Region tourism program, on which TRC had also been tourism advisors (Cambodia, China (PRC, specifically Yunnan and Guangxi), Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam).

In many ways, South Asia was easier than the Mekong because we were dealing with countries that were used to working together in tourism, and had been cooperating and selling joint packages for decades — whereas in the Greater Mekong, many of them had been emerging from long-term conflicts. We were able to make a lot of headway in the tourism sector in South Asia, whereas other SASEC sectors, such as water resources roads and large-scale infrastructure had a much more complex agenda. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lumbini World Peace City: A vision and perspective

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 3, 2011

By Karna Sakya
Second World Buddhist Summit. 2004
Lumbini Nov.30-Dec.2.2004

Abstract –

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. Read the rest of this entry »

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