Rajya Sabha passes bill to rebuild Nalanda University (Lead)

August 21st, 2010 - 6:23 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 21 (IANS) The Rajya Sabha Saturday passed a bill to re-establish the historic Nalanda University in Bihar as an international institute of learning.
The bill, which was introduced in the house last week, was passed in a special sitting Saturday.

The Nalanda University Bill, 2010, will establish a central university in Nalanda district of Bihar, on the lines of the ancient university which was founded there in 5th century AD and became a centre of learning for students from across South Asia.

Giving clarifications on the bill, Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur said the bill was being introduced by the ministry as 16 other countries are partnering in the re-establishment of the university.

“The name and motto of the university will be decided by the group of mentors, an international architecture competition will be held for finalising the design of the university,” Kaur said replying to members’ suggestions.

Participating in the debate, senior Congress member Karan Singh requested the government to pay special attention to the architecture of the university and not build it “with PWD (public works department) architecture”, a demand which was backed by many other members.

Agreeing with the suggestions made by members in the course of debate, the minister said the present bill was only a skeleton and the suggestions made by the members will be accommodated in it.

The minister also informed the house that a joint secretary-level officer will be appointed to monitor the work of the university.

Kaur stressed on increasing the reach of the university beyond South Asia to countries across the world.

While introducing the bill, the minister had earlier informed the house that Singapore government has committed to give assistance of 5 million dollars for this purpose.

Karan Singh also underlined that the ancient seat of learning which thrived for 800 years, was destroyed by Turkish invader Bakhtiyar Khilji and is now being rebuilt again after 800 years.

Communist Party of India-Marxist member Sitaram Yechury, however, pointed out that the re-establishment of the university must not be to “settle scores of the past but to build a glorious future”.

“Nalanda was not only a temple of knowledge but also a temple of religious tolerance which we need to learn today,” Yechury said.

Janata Dal-United member N.K. Singh, who is also a member of a mentor group led by noted economist Amartya Sen looking after the re-establishment of the ancient university, said that the university will be an “icon of Asian renaissance”.

The University of Nalanda is proposed to be re-established under the aegis of the East Asia Summit (EAS), as a regional initiative.

The central government constituted a Nalanda Mentor Group (NMG) in 2007, under the chairmanship of Sen, to examine the framework of international cooperation and proposed structure of partnership which would govern the re-establishment of this University.

The NMG also has representatives from Singapore, China, Japan and Thailand.

The re-built university will focus on Buddhist studies, philosophy and comparative religions, historical studies, international relations and peace studies, business Management in relation to public policy and development studies, languages and literature and ecology and environmental studies.

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