Dialogue with States: Japan Meets Bihar
FICCI's Forum of Parliamentarians in partnership with the Embassy of Japan organized the 'Dialogue with States – Japan Meets Bihar' in Patna on 11 June 2018. The Japanese Ambassador to India, Kenji Hiramatsu had announced this joint initiative of Japan Embassy and FICCI's India Japan Forum of Parliamentarians during the budget session in April 2018.
The first dialogue titled 'Japan Meets Bihar' held at Patna brought together a comprehensive group of stakeholders comprising elected representatives, senior industry members of the region, policy makers and Indian and state government officials.
Chair of FICCI's India Japan Forum of Parliamentarians, Bhupender Yadav, Member of Parliament, expressed optimism and said, 'I always encourage interactions like this. Exchanges like this endeavour to fortify people to people connect which is one of the primary pillars of India Japan collaboration. India's partnership with Japan has always been special. I am confident that India and Japan collaboration with focus to Bihar will flourish in years to come especially with focus on sociocultural hub.'
Speaking at this dialogue, Harshvardhan Neotia, Past President, FICCI and Chairman of FICCI's Forum of Parliamentarians Council, said, 'To further deepen the outreach, FICCI in partnership with the Embassy of Japan has launched Dialogue Series with States focusing on the growing convergence in the political, economic and strategic interests of the nation at national and state level. As Mahatma Gandhi said, India lives in its villages. For FICCI, it is very important as India's national industry association to connect to states as that is where real economic progress, innovation and development are initiated. It is increasingly important to form the international connect as well, as we see states reaching out to countries abroad for partnerships for development.'
In his keynote address, Ambassador Hiramatsu said, 'Bihar is the state best suited to inaugurate this new initiative. This state is not only the 'Heart of India', but also represents the spiritual and religious ties which usher in the long, deep and wide-ranging relationship between Japan and India. Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar visited Nara Prefecture including Todaiji Temple in February 2018, and discussed with Nara Governor, Shogo Arai, about pursuing a friendship arrangement between the state of Bihar and Nara Prefecture. I strongly hope that future-oriented cooperation between the two provinces with common Buddhist heritage will be materialized.'
Chanchal Kumar, Principal Secretary, Government of Bihar, pointed out, firstly, we are interested in semi-high-speed rail linkage 'Ahimsa Rail' for tourist places on the Buddhist circuit. We have asked for financial and technological support for the said rail service connecting the important tourist locations of Patna, Gaya, Bodhgaya, Rajgir and Nalanda. Secondly, as Japan is highly experienced and efficient in handling the natural disaster matters and as Bihar is also a disaster-prone state with the constant threat of floods and earthquakes, cooperation in technological and management skills for disaster management would be welcome. Thirdly, to strengthen traditional and cultural bonding, we proposed to have a twinning agreement between the Japanese state/prefecture of Nara and the state of Bihar. As both the places are historically connected with the Buddhist cultural exchanges such bonding will not only reconnect the two ancient civilizations but it will also strengthen the bilateral relationship between India and Japan.
Shaibal Gupta, Director, ADRI, spoke about the vision of creating Bihar as the rural cultural hub. KPS Keshri, President, Bihar Industries Association, made a presentation on business and economic positivity in Bihar.
Harshvardhan Neotia, Past President, FICCI and Chairman of FICCI's Forum of Parliamentarians Council (centre) with Kenji Hiramatsu, Japanese Ambassador to India (3rd from left).