India to pay for restoration of Bagan pagodas

India to pay for restoration of Bagan pagodas
The 11th century built Thatbyinnyu Temple in Bagan city, Myanmar. Photo: Rungroj Yongrit/EPA

The Indian Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and Myanmar for the restoration and conservation of earthquake-damaged pagodas at Bagan.
The MoU will be signed during the visit of the Indian Prime Minister to Myanmar from 6-7 September 2017.
Implementation of the project will further strengthen India’s enduring ties in culture and religion with Myanmar,a press statement by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.
"It will also generate immense goodwill for India among the people of Myanmar due to the religious significance as well as the touristic significance of the project," the MEA statement said. "It will also contribute to India’s development partnership with Myanmar."
Bagan is one of the premier tourist attractions in Myanmar.
"It will be an opportunity to showcase India’s expertise in the restoration and conservation of monuments not only to the people of Myanmar but also to tourists from other countries," the statement said.
PM Modi, a devout Hindu but with deep respect for Buddhism, wants to strengthen religious ties between India and Myanmar during his tenure that ends in 2019.
During his visit to Yangon, he will pay a visit to Shwe Dagon Pagoda and the Hindu Kali temple, Indian diplomats in Myanmar said.
"Religion for us is not a narrow concept, it encompasses culture and civilisation and the ties between India and Myanmar have grown from it," says India's ruling BJP leader Ram Madhab.
One Burmese military general was once quoted by the BBC as saying, "When we Burmese buy guns, we go to China, when we want salvation for our soul, we go to India."