Nalanda International University to be operational by 2013

Nalanda University RemainsNew Delhi, Feb. 21: The revived Nalanda University plans to start its first session at a new campus by 2013.

The tentative timetable was announced here today after a meeting of the Nalanda Mentor Group, the Amartya Sen-headed panel tasked with the revival plan, for the first time since the university’s act came into force.

Sen said he was delighted the ancient university could be revived in his lifetime. “Excellence and fairness in educating people in courses which are intellectually challenging and practically useful would be the guiding principles of the university,” the Nobel laureate said.

Vice-chancellor Gopa Sabharwal said in the first stage, the courses would include Buddhist studies, philosophy and comparative religion, historical studies and international relations and peace studies.

Some of the other programmes that could be offered in the initial phase include business management in relation to public policy and development studies, language and literature, ecology and environment studies and information technology.

The vice-chancellor said infrastructure work had started at the 446-acre plot that the Nitish Kumar government in Bihar had given for the campus, which is around 10km from the site of the ancient varsity.Nalanda University RuinsNalanda University Ruins

Sabharwal said they were getting “fantastic” support and co-operation from the Bihar government for the project. An international competition has been announced to select an architect to design the new campus.

Sen’s group is working on a plan to ensure that villagers around the site benefit from the new varsity. The efforts follow recent protests by some 200 villagers who had objected to the land acquisition. Officials said the problem has since been sorted out.

Sabharwal recalled that villagers supported the ancient varsity by giving donations and food to the students — most of them Buddhist monks.

Now, the plan being prepared by Sen and his team will propose ways to develop the area by, for instance, sending the students to teach in schools and helping set up cottage industries.

Sen himself dwelt on the theme, saying the university would not only generate skills and technical knowledge in Bihar but also throw up employment opportunities while the state got a “world-class university in the process”.

Today’s meeting of the mentor group was attended by Singapore foreign minister George Yeo.

Nalanda’s revival is being carried out under an international initiative spearheaded by the East Asia Summit, a bloc of which India is a member along with China, Singapore and 13 other nations. India is contributing over Rs 1,000 crore.

Sen expressed confidence that the university would be “recognised for its achievements 20 years down the line”.