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PM in Japan, Day 1: Modi and Abe sign MoU to develop Varanasi into Kyoto-like ‘smart city’

Kyoto will provide cooperation in the fields of conservation and modernisation of cities.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | Kyoto | Updated: August 31, 2014 11:13 am
The pact is in line with Modi’s vision of building 100 ‘smart cities’ across India. (Source: AP photo) The pact is in line with Modi’s vision of building 100 ‘smart cities’ across India. (Source: AP photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Osaka on Saturday and, within hours, oversaw the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe to turn Varanasi into a ‘smart city’ with help from Kyoto. The pact is in line with Modi’s vision of building 100 ‘smart cities’ across India.

Under the smart heritage cities programme, Kyoto will provide cooperation in the fields of conservation and modernisation of cities, as well as art, culture and academics.


While Kyoto and Kashi share many similarities historically, there is a wide gap in where they stand today.


First, the similarities: Kyoto is called the city of ten thousand shrines, while Varanasi boasts of numerous temples and ghats. Kyoto has been the imperial capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years, while Varanasi is considered one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Both cities also have rivers flowing alongside them.

Now, the differences: Kyoto has modernised while keeping its old city, temples and monuments alive, while Varanasi has languished in its past glory. Kyoto’s streets are wide and clean, with magnificent tree-lined boulevards — something Modi witnessed on his way to the luxurious Westin hotel.
Varanasi’s squalor and narrow roads have prompted the PM to resolve to clean up the city. Varanasi’s Ganga river is polluted and the ghats need repair, while Kyoto has a number of rivers, canals and other navigable waterways. While Yodo, Kamogawa and Katsura rivers flow through Kyoto, its Late Biwa canal is a major infrastructure milestone.

These differences are likely to be highlighted by Kyoto’s mayor Daisaku Kadokawa when he makes a presentation to Modi on Sunday.
Indian officials in Kyoto said Modi’s plan of 100 ‘smart cities’ is one of the major focus areas during the visit.

“The Prime Minister is keen on rejuvenating Indian cities as urban centres, and Kyoto is a magnificent example of how a city preserves its cultural heritage while modernising itself. It, therefore, dovetails into PM’s own emphasis on rejuvenation of cities in India while preserving their cultural heritage as also his focus on what is widely known as ‘smart cities’. Kyoto, in the Japanese lexicon, is known as a smart city which is environmentally friendly, which preserves its heritage and which is at the cutting-edge of technology. All these three are important in PM’s vision of rejuvenating our cities,” Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, said.

On Saturday, Abe received Modi and hosted him for a quiet dinner. The two are slated to make a joint appearance at the Toji Buddhist temple. Modi will also visit the Kyoto University Centre, which focuses on stem cell research — another area of cooperation he wants to cement with Japan.

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  1. K
    Kunna Dash
    Feb 13, 2015 at 12:23 am
    We from India an Friendship Center and Gulab Kali Samriti Sewa Sansthan have planned to organise Drum Beating Program on 26th Feb 2015 in “ Subah-e-Banaras (Morning of Varanasi)” i Ghat, Before Sunrise Program and we are glad to tell you all that our permission has been granted by the Cultural Deptt. One anese artist, Nachos Miyahara from Kyoto(Heritage city of an) having an experience of 10years in Drum Beating is a leader of ZYU-KY band, one of the famous rock bands of an have come here to explore his talent along with his other artists.. KYOTO the same place which was visited by our Prime-Minister when he went in an some months ago and had took the decision of making Varanasi like Kyoto. We are indeed proud that we have an artist from the same place here and we can see his talent as well as a glimpse of culture of an too. So, we on behalf of our artist invite you all to come and attend the program and motivate the artists so that further also we could have an honour to call the more artists from an and promote the exchange of culture between both the countries. You all will also have an opportunity to meet some other anese artists and students and can have an talk with them regarding anese culture and tell them about our Indian culture. Also after this, In Holy Place of Jagannath Puri, we have organized Puri Rock Fest on 2nd March 2015 where he is going to join in this fest along with many other anese artists. After, which they will go back to an. So, kindly come to attend this program and give us a chance to show you something extraordinary Regards, Kunna Dash (President, India an Friendship Center) Web:/academy_english Satish Chandra Mishra (President, Gulab Kali Samriti Sewa Sansthan) ◆バラナシ イベント詳細 Subah-e-Banaras (Morning of Varanasi) Web:CC/sbp Facebook: ◆プリー イベント詳細 Puri Rock Festival  Web: Facebook:uri-Rock-Festival/360403577473574?fref=ts
    1. A
      Aug 31, 2014 at 7:47 am
      Hundreds of ideological sects in india which foreigners bunched together and came to be porly referred to as Hindus revel in their diversity, their core is structured in a mannerthat will sprout more diverse school of ideological thoughts even in future. But this has exposed a weakness to foreign invaders and one way to counter the religious invasion of India is for Hindus to fall back to more compact Indian ideological thoughts like Buddhism and fight back along with other South east nations who share the same ideology, por Hinduism is too diverse to counter monolithic foreign religions of Islam and Christianity and through the channel of religious freedom the Indian religious ideny is under grave threat.Modi should engage with other Buddhist countries as well and form a common front to sauard our diverse cultural existance, if India falls, then it will only be matter of time that all indigenous schools like Shaivites, Vaishnavites, Ramkrishna, jains, Sikhs, Buddhists - no one will survive the agressive conversion to Islam or Christianity.
      1. A
        Aug 31, 2014 at 3:14 pm
        The shramana tradition did runparallel to the Brahmana tradition and that is the beauty of Indianideological thought, the potential to blossom into so many different platformswas available only here. Many so called generic Hindu communities actually fallin multiple category of faiths; leaving out the extreme spectrum, most Hindusare also Jains/ Buddhists/ Sikhs or worshipper of any other strain includingbeing Nastik, till such the basic cultural strain is the larger Hindu (cultural)or Indian. As far as Brahman tradition is concerned, yes the rot did set in butafter a glorious high and it seems that with every new generationthe Brahmana tradition is fading away fast and a new modified por Hinduism istaking shape, this is transitional and dangerous period for generic Hinduism, Hindus shld fall back on stable Buddhist school of thought orelse be poached, as in words of Pope the ‘Great Harvest of Faith’.. Itis in the survival interest of both the Shramana.tradition and generic Hindu tocome together and fight the conversion menace..the two schools even though ever at loggerheads were like two brothers, violent at times,but sta together as a larger family..But with generic Hindus gone there will be nohope for any other brother to survive..
        1. A
          Anuradha Kalhan
          Aug 31, 2014 at 7:33 am
          The anese took over the restoration and maintenance of heritage Buddhist sites like Ajanta and Ellora, Sarnath in India long ago. They did a great job. Now they will do the same for the ancient city of Varanasi sacred for Hindus ! They have the skilled manpower, managerial capacity and build the ability to do that on an international scale! Why does India not do the same and restore Varanasi itself? It should be a much needed learning experience in remapping our cities.
          1. C
            Aug 31, 2014 at 5:24 am
            Long live Indo-an Friendship
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