Nalanda International University: A Great Initiative

by Bibhuti Bikramaditya, Patna Daily, March 27, 2007

Daejeon, S Korea -- At last, Bihar government presented a Bill for the revival of Nalanda International University at Nalanda. We all should appreciate and give congratulations to the present government with a thumping desk to start the process of the revival of this International University which was known for the ancient seat of learning till 1197 AD.

This university attracted 10,000 students and 2,000 scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey, besides being a pedestal of higher education in India and produced great scientists in the past, Aryabhatt was one of them who came to Bihar at the age of 13 from Kerala (some people says he was born nearby Patna) and become Vice chancellor of the University. Though it was devoted to Buddhist studies, the varsity also trained students in subjects like fine arts, medicine and mathematics.

In the post independent era, talks were going on for the revival of this university and the demand was started in early 1990s but it took serious turn when our the President of India, Dr. Abul Kalam suggested to revive this university while addressing the both houses of Bihar Assembly. This gave impetus to this process and become an eye opener for Bihar government. Hats off to our beloved President of India. He deserves appreciation for this great initiative.

As per the reports, Japan and Singapore have shown interest in investing about Rs.4.5 billion ($100 million) in the university. Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama has offered to donate Buddhist artifacts to the proposed university.

A high-level international team of consultants is going to be formed for the establishment of the International University. In the initial phase, Nobel laureate Prof Amartya Sen and British Economist Professor in London School of Economics & member of the House of Lords, Lord Meghnad Desai have agreed to be part of an international group of consultants. The state government is also in the process of roping experts from Singapore and Japan and other countries for the revival of this unique university.

The report states that in its first phase, the university will offer only post-graduate, research, doctoral and post-doctoral degrees. However, the report - prepared by the Educational Consultants of India, a consulting company under the union ministry of human resource development - is also in favor of offering undergraduate courses in specific areas.

The university will impart courses in science, philosophy and spiritualism along with other subjects. An internationally known scholar will be the chancellor of the university and 1,137 students from both India and abroad will be enrolled in the first year. By the fifth year, the number will go up to 4,530 and in the second phase, student enrolment will increase to 5,812.

The university, spread over a 500 acres, will have a 1:10 faculty-student ratio. The 46 international faculty members will receive an estimated $36,000 per annum as salaries.

The University of Nalanda Bill, 2007, states that the international university would strive to create a world free of war, terror and violence.

According to Chief Minister Sri Nitish Kumar, "This (bill), which is not only for Bihar or even India, will act as a facilitator for what will emerge as a centre for renaissance of the east. He strongly feels that the university will become a reference point for international relations and a centre for peace and resolution of disputes.

We do hope this University will be the center of excellence, will gather students from all over the world in all areas of life sciences and physical sciences including arts, culture and spiritualism which is the backbone of India.