Sessions at Nalanda University by 2010: Amartya Sen

August 19th, 2008 - 11:43 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 19 (IANS) Academic sessions at the reborn Nalanda University, on the lines of the pioneering institution set up in Bihar in the fifth century, should begin by 2010, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has said.”Yes, 2010 is very likely,” Sen, who chairs a panel of high-profile people from India and abroad appointed as mentors of the proposed university, remarked when asked when students will start getting enrolled at Nalanda University.

“The government of India is preparing and we have been preparing a proposal for the East Asia Summit to adopt. That will happen at a meeting in December,” he said during the course of an interview to All India Radio.

“After that, the bill based on that will go to parliament and when the bill is enacted, then we will start appointing and have different schools. The building construction can’t begin until there is a bill,” he explained.

“The land has already been given by the Bihar government. They are also making an initial investment. There would be some initial funding also coming both from Bihar and from the government of India. Then there have been various proposals.”

Sen said the initiative for the university came from the 16 founding members of the East Asia Summit, adding that some of them - including Thailand, Singapore, South Korea and Japan, besides China - will be approached for funding.

“It will probably be an international rather than national university - happen to be located at the site of the old university,” said Sen, who with the panel of mentors met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week on the issue.

“Nalanda is a landmark in our civilisational journey and a revival of Nalanda signifies an Asian renaissance,” Manmohan Singh had remarked at the meeting, while referring to the institution that was destroyed in the 12th century.

The mentors include Lord Meghnad Desai, N.K. Singh, deputy chairman of Bihar’s Planning Commission, Professor Sugata Bose of Harvard University and Professor Wang Banwei of Beijing University.

According to Sen, Nalanda University was started with the patronage of the kings of Patliputra in the fifth century, when there was no similar institution or university in existence anywhere in the world.

“The first university that came up thereafter was in Balonia. That was much later - more than 500 years later. When Nalanda University was destroyed in the 12th century that was just about the time when Oxford University was getting established.”

He said it was an ancient university in the most exacting sense as students from all over the world, particularly China, came to study here. “There were 10,000 students in those days residing in Nalanda.”

Sen also gave some insights into what the mentoring panel had in mind for Nalanda University its new avatar:

- A rector to be named soon on how studies can proceed;

- An international, rather than a national university;

- Located at the site of the old university;

- Have six schools, one of them in Delhi;

- Pursue Buddhist studies but not limited to Buddhism;

- Undertake comparative studies on religion and philosophy;

- Have modern subjects like management and development; and

- Curriculum to also include language and literature.

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