Saturday, November 20, 2010

Singapore Buddhist groups to help finance Nalanda university !!


Singapore Buddhist organisations have offered funds amounting to around $5-10 million for building a library at the proposed Nalanda University which will be a global centre of learning.
“The Singapore Buddhist community is making an important gesture to finance the library,” Nalanda Mentors Group Chairman and Nobel economics prize winner, Amartya Sen, told reporters here Tuesday.

He said the groups were looking at both private and public funding for the university, which is estimated to cost Rs.1,005 crore ($425 million).

Pegged as a symbol of global cooperation in education, the Nalanda University, proposed to be set up in Bihar near the same site where an ancient university flourished centuries ago, will have schools on Buddhist studies, philosophy and comparative literature, historical studies and ecology and environmental studies.

“It was one of the greatest intellectual achievements in the history of the world,” said Sen, referring to the ancient seat of learning.

The Nalanda Mentors Group, constituted in 2007 and chaired by Sen, has been giving a concrete structure to the plan to revive the educational institution, which had attracted students from across the world in ancient times.

George Yeo, visiting Singapore foreign minister and member of the mentor group, said he hoped “that by the East Asia summit, the bill will be passed and work will begin”.

He was referring to the proposed legislation to be tabled during the current parliament session which will govern the operations of the university.

Amartya Sen also introduced the new vice-chancellor designate for the university, Gopa Sabharwal, a sociology professor in Lady Shri Ram college.

Read More: Singapore Buddhist groups to help finance Nalanda university

Nalanda University will take time to grow: Amartya Sen !!


The grand vision of resurrecting the ancient international glories of Nalanda University may take some time to fulfil as ambitions are being tailored to current financial limitations, admitted Amartya Sen, chairman of the Nalanda Mentor Group.

The Group concluded its two-day meeting here on Tuesday, having worked on a blueprint to set up the international venture. The first big step toward making the dream a reality is likely to be taken this week, when the Nalanda University Bill, approved by the Union Cabinet last month, is introduced in Parliament.

However, Dr. Sen admitted that the University would be starting relatively small — and the growth could be relatively slow. “The building work will begin as soon as the Bill passes…I should imagine that within a couple of years, there will be buildings and we will begin faculty appointments. You must understand that a university takes a long time to establish.”

He pointed out that it was unclear when the ancient university was started, with a section of historians saying that it probably began life as a local institution in the 4th century and grew to an international stature in the 5th century. Its heyday came only in the 7th century.

Money — or the lack of it — is part of the reason for the slow growth envisaged. Answering a question of the international nature of the student body, Dr. Sen said that while the University was committed to a globally diverse population, it would be “feasible when the funding comes up.”

Similarly, when asked about the lack of science courses in an institution that was renowned for its mathematicians and astronomers in ancient days, Dr. Sen pointed out that the study of science required expensive equipment in modern days.

“It is much more expensive than setting up literature or business schools. The feasibility question did influence the choice of subjects,” said Dr. Sen, adding that the Bill allowed for the addition of new schools later. “If we were to raise more money, could we start a new School of Mathematics or Astronomy? Of course, yes.”

In fact, his repeated phrase was “in the fullness of time,” curbing the impatience of questioners demanding a deadline for the project.

The only money currently available is the Rs.50 crore, allocated by the Planning Commission as an endowment fund in the form of special grant for the commencement of activities. However, the Bill puts the estimated cost of establishing the University at Rs.1,005 crore. Funds are being welcomed from private donors, as well as the governments of the east Asia region, which have initiated the project in the first place.

Read more: Nalanda University will take time to grow: Amartya Sen

World’s oldest university poised for revival in India after 800 years !!


Nalanda University, an ancient seat of learning destroyed in 1193, is poised for revival.

According to The Independent, an ambitious plan to establish an international university with the same overarching vision as Nalanda - and located alongside its physical ruins - has been spearheaded by a team of international experts and leaders, among them the Nobel-winning economist Amartya Sen.

This week, legislation that will enable the building of the university to proceed is to be placed before the Indian parliament.

“At its peak, it offered an enormous number of subjects in the Buddhist tradition, in a similar way that Oxford [offered] in the Christian tradition - Sanskrit, medicine, public health and economics,” Sen said yesterday in Delhi.

“It was destroyed in a war. It was [at] just the same time that Oxford was being established. It has a fairly extraordinary history - Cambridge had not yet been born.” He added, with confidence: “Building will start as soon as the bill passes.”

The plan to resurrect Nalanda - in the state of Bihar - and establish a facility prestigious enough to attract the best students from across Asia and beyond, was apparently first voiced in the 1990s.

But the idea received more widespread attention in 2006 when then president, APJ Abdul Kalam set about establishing an international “mentoring panel”.

Members of the panel, chaired by Sen, include Singapore’s foreign minister, George Yeo, historian Sugata Bose, Lord Desai and Chinese academic Wang Banwei.

A key challenge for the group is to raise sufficient funds for the university.

It has been estimated that 500 million dollars will be required to build the new facility, with a further 500 million dollars needed to sufficiently improve the surrounding infrastructure.

The group is looking for donations from governments, private individuals and religious groups. The governments of both Singapore and India have apparently already given some financial commitments.

Some commentators believe a crucial impact of the establishment of a new international university in India would be the boost it gave to higher education across Asia.

Read more: World’s oldest university poised for revival in India after 800 years

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nalanda university to get $4m grant !!


Buddhist organizations in Singapore have committed to give almost $4 million to rebuild the famous library in Nalanda University but the UPA government is yet to pass legislation in Parliament that will give life to this project.

The Nalanda mentor group on Tuesday announced Gopa Sabharwal as the vice-chancellor-designate and hoped that the project would get underway within the next couple of years. Amartya Sen, chairman of the mentor group, said the group had crafted a plan to revive the educational institution, which had attracted students from across the world in ancient times. Sabharwal is a professor in sociology at Delhi's Lady Sri Ram College.

George Yeo, visiting Singapore foreign minister and member of the mentor group, said he hoped "that by the East Asia summit, the bill will be passed and work will begin". Nalanda University is a pet project of the Indian government as a showpiece diplomacy in Asia, resurrecting an ancient seat of Buddhist learning at its original site in Rajgir, Bihar.

Sen said they were looking at both public and private funding for the university. Planning Commission has promised funds for the university, he said. The seat of learning and excellence plans to have partners from universities in the western world, as well as institutes like Chulalongkorn University of Thailand.

Along with Buddhist studies and religion and divinity, the university plans to offer studies in humanities and contemporary sciences like information technology and environment.

Read more: Nalanda university to get $4m grant

International funding sought for Nalanda University: Amartya Sen !!


International funding will be sought for the proposed revival of the ancient Nalanda University, a global centre for learning, and Singapore Buddhist organisations have already offered donations for the construction of a world-class library.
“We will go for international fund raising,” Amartya Sen, chairman of Nalanda Mentors Group and Nobel economics prize winner, told reporters here Tuesday.

“The Singapore Buddhist community is making an important gesture to finance library,” Sen added. They have reportedly offered around $5-10 million (Singapore dollars) to finance the institution.

Sen said they were open to funding from both public and private organisations as well as religious institutions.

Pegged as a symbol of global cooperation in education, the Nalanda University, proposed to be set up in Bihar near the site where an ancient university flourished centuries ago, will have schools on Buddhist studies, philosophy and comparative literature, historical studies and ecology and environmental studies.

The Nalanda Mentors Group, constituted in 2007 and chaired by Sen, has been giving a concrete structure to the plan to revive the educational institution, which had attracted students from across the world in ancient times.

The mentors group held extensive two-day meetings here that was also attended by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

George Yeo, visiting Singapore foreign minister and member of mentor group, said that he hoped “that by East Asia summit, the bill will be passed and work will begin”.

He was referring to the proposed legislation to be tabled during the current parliament session which will govern the operations of the university.

Amartya Sen also introduced the new vice-chancellor designate for the university, Gopa Sabharwal, a sociology professor in Lady Shri Ram college.

“This is an exciting task and a huge responsibility. The primary task is to translate vision of Nalanda Mentors Group,” said Sabharwal.

Asked if Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama was associated with the project, Sen said: “No religious activist is involved in the process. This does not mean that they are out of the frame.”

Source: International funding sought for Nalanda University: Amartya Sen

The Stormy Revival of an International University !!

Classes began in early September last year at a small new international university, called Nalanda, in Bihar in northeast India—one of th...