A sum of Rs 300 crore has been allocated for the celebration of the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev this year, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal said while presenting the state budget for 2019-20 on Monday. "The Government of Punjab as a humble tribute has endeavoured to celebrate '550th Prakash Purab' of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. It is a momentous occasion to celebrate and dedicate ourselves to the message of universal brotherhood given by the Great Guru," Badal said in his speech.
As a part of the ongoing celebrations, the state government has already launched a series of infrastructure development programmes in the historic towns of Sultanpur Lodhi, Dera Baba Nanak and Batala, Badal said. "We shall set up a heritage museum, named 'Pind Babe Nanak Da, at Sultanpur Lodhi, depicting the life and times of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. The museum would help to connect with Punjabis who have been away from Punjab for a long time," Badal said. He said as a part of the celebrations, the government shall establish the Sri Guru Nanak Dev National Institute of Inter-faith Studies in Guru Nanak Dev University at Amritsar.
The institute will provide a forum for study and research on Guru Nanak Dev and on comparative religions. It will also provide a platform for inter-faith studies and dialogue by fostering a better understanding of the contemporary in the 21st century, the finance minister said. Stating that it was a matter of great pride and satisfaction that India and Pakistan had agreed to open the Kartarpur corridor to mark the historic 550th 'Prakash Purab' celebrations, Badal said, "This corridor would go a long way in fostering a sense of goodwill, brotherhood and friendship amongst both the countries. Our government will make every effort to make the corridor to Kartarpur Sahib (in Pakistan) operational before the momentous day."
The state government has decided to establish the Dera Baba Nanak Development Authority for the planned and holistic development of Dera Baba Nanak town as a mark of tribute. "I propose an initial allocation of Rs 25 crore to undertake infrastructure development and other projects in the town in 2019-20. I also propose a humble allocation of Rs 300 crore in 2019-20 for the celebration of 550th Prakash Purab of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. I assure the House that suitable additional support, whatever and whenever required, would also be provided during the year to mark these celebrations," said Badal.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had on November 26 last year laid the foundation stone for the Kartarpur corridor in Gurdaspur district. The corridor was a long-pending demand of the Sikh community.
Pakistan has committed to open the corridor in November on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. "Our government is commemorating the centenary of Jallianwala Bagh Massacre on 13th April 2019. The landmark incident shaped India's freedom struggle against the oppressive colonial regime. To mark this occasion, the state government has planned a number of literary & cultural activities and public functions, including a Shaheed Samman rally in Amritsar. An allocation of Rs 5 crore has been earmarked for this purpose in 2019-20 and suitable additional support would be provided during the course of the year," he said.
(With inputs from agencies.)