Showing posts from September, 2011

Reviving Nalanda International University - A lecture with Amartya Sen

The modern world, to be sure, has a great deal to offer from which people in the past would have liked to have learned and would have been thrilled to learn, but the past too had some great examples of intellectual great truth that can both inspire and inform us today,” Amartya Sen articulated near the end of his 45 minute lecture at Asia Society, New York. A brilliant man with a good sense of humor, Sen spoke on his efforts of reviving the oldest university in the world, Nalanda located in Bihar, India. A topic close to his heart since he was little, Sen’s compassion and deep interest for the subject was evident throughout his lecture, garnering the attention of the 250 audience members that gathered to hear him speak.

Nalanda dates back to the 5th or 6th century and was already 600 years old when the first European university--located in Bologna, Italy--was established. While there is evidence of other institutions of higher education already established in Asia, such as the ancien…

Kalam not ready to reconsider decision on Nalanda: Nitish

Former President A P J Abdul Kalam is not ready to reconsider his decision not to continue as Visitor of the proposed Nalanda International University (NIU), Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said today. "Kalam Saheb has declined to continue as Visitor of NIU and he is also not not ready to reconsider his decision," Kumar told reporters here. Kumar said "the state government had enacted a law for setting up the Nalanda University and decided to appoint Kalam as its Visitor. "But the state legislation became null and void after the Centre passed a bill for setting up Nalanda International University which has the provision that the President will be the Visitor of the University and will nominate its Vice Chancellor." Despite the law, the central government made a request to Kalam to continue as Visitor and External Affairs Minister S M Krishna too appealed to Kalam to hold the post, Kumar said. "I personally met Kalam in New Delhi a couple of days ago and reque…

Vision for a new Nalanda International University !!

Nalanda international University, the world's oldest centre of higher learning, is being re-established through an Asian initiative, involving India, China, Singapore, Japan and Thailand. Amartya Sen, Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University, is chairman of the Interim Governing Board of Nalanda University. Professor Sen, the recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics, believes that Nalanda stands for the passion of propagating knowledge and understanding. It was a residential university, and at its peak had 10,000 students from many countries, especially China, Korea, Japan, and Turkey, studying various subjects. Professor Sen responds to Shreeya Sinha's questions about the project ahead of a lecture he will give at the Asia Society in New York on September 22. Excerpts:

What was the original ethos behind Nalanda University?

Old Nalanda as an educational institution was fully dedicated to the pursuit of learning. It was committed to educational excellence…

Kalam’s refusal to be Visitor at Nalanda International University questions its credibility!!

The preparations for revival of Nalanda International University and start its academic session in 2013 has received a major setback after former President APJ Abdul Kalam refused to be the first Visitor at the university.

Kalam’s decision has not only shrugged the much talked about project rather the whole plan is now tangled in various technical hassles.

The fate of the ancient university that is being revived in collaboration with16 nations and with a whopping investment of over Rs 1000 crores is now in limbo.

While Kalam has refused to be the first Visitor at the university, the appointment of the already chosen Vice Chancellor, Dr Gopa Sabharwal is also waiting for his approval, making her position questionable.

She has been fulfilling the responsibility as the varsity’s VC since October 2008 on the direction of the Foreign Ministry and the recommendation of the Mentor Group led by Amartya Sen.

Speaking to Dainik Jagran, Gopa said, “The government informed about Dr Kalam’s decision in…

Amartya comes to NIU VC Gopa's defence

The appointment of Dr Gopa Sabharwal, currently associate professor at New Delhi's Lady Shri Ram College For Women in Sociology, as the vice-chancellor of the upcoming Nalanda International University (NIU) has kicked up a row in academic circles across the country. Scholars have questioned her 'academic' as well as 'administrative skill' to run a university like NIU.

But now, Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize winning economist who was the chief of the erstwhile Nalanda Mentor Group (NMG) and is now the head of the varsity's governing council, has come to her defence.

Breaking his silence on the controversy from Boston, Sen, in an interview to a US-based organization, Asia Society, said that Sabharwal's academic qualifications are excellent and her administrative ability is well established. She is totally committed to the Nalanda project.

"Her involvement with Bihar and willingness to be based in Nalanda contrasted sharply with some others who could have been…

Nalanda University: Nitish fails to change Kalam’s mind

With A P J Abdul Kalam dissociating himself from the proposed Nalanda International University, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday reached out to the former president in an attempt to persuade him to reconsider. Sources close to Kumar, however, said Kalam may not change his mind.

Kalam, who had been appointed the university’s first visitor, recently decided to disassociate himself from it. Nitish is learnt to have been taken by surprise as he had personally sought the former president’s services to push the university project. In fact, the project had got on track during Kalam’s tenure as president.

Kalam, it is learnt, offered all possible support from his side but politely excused himself from reconsidering his decision during his meeting with the CM at his residence in the Capital on Friday.
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Urgency to Revival of world oldest University !!

AT a summit meeting of leaders next week in the Philippines, senior officials from India, Singapore, Japan and perhaps other countries are scheduled to discuss the revival of an ancient university in India called Nalanda. It is a topic unlikely to receive much mention in the Western press. But no one should underestimate the potential benefits of this project to Asia, or the influence it could have on Asia’s role in the world, or the revolutionary impact it could make on global higher education.

Americans are used to thinking about the rising powers of Asia — China, India, South Korea and even some of the smaller countries — primarily as formidable economic competitors. In the case of Beijing, we also recognize the potential for superpower political and military status. But there are at least two questions that are key to Asia’s future that we do not generally ask.

First, for all the talk about the rise of Asia in the “knowledge age” that we live in, are these countries ultimately const…

A Reader ‘appointed’ as VC of Nalanda International University

A Reader serving as the Vice Chancellor of an International University! Sounds somewhat grotesque, yet this is the fact.
If the RTI reply of November 22 last year is to be believed Dr Gopa Sabharwal, Reader in the Department of Sociology in the Lady Sri Ram College is the Vice Chancellor of the Nalanda International University, whose idea was conceived by the then President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam.

Though she has nothing to do with the Buddhist Studies, on which the University specializes, she as the VC draws a salary of Rs 5,06,513 per month, double than the VC of Delhi University. Not only that she and seven of her associates are drawing salaries since October 2010.

But that is not the strangest part of the story. What is ridiculous is that the Minister of State for External Affairs, E Ahamad, told Rajya Sabha on August 25, 2011 that no VC has been appointed by the government.

Interestingly, Dr Gopa did not meet the mandatory qualification set by the University Grants Commission (UGC) for …

Dr A.P.J Kalam Dissociates Himself From Nalanda University

Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has dissociated himself from the upcoming Nalanda International University in Bihar, says his aide.

The former president's personal secretary R.K. Prasad told IANS over telephone from Delhi that Kalam dissociated himself from the university, which is coming up in Nalanda district, about two months ago.

"Kalam is no longer connected with the university," Prasad said. He had earlier been appointed the university's first visitor, a key post.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's office could not confirm the news. An official in his office told IANS: "We have no information of any such thing."

Media reports here say Kalam was not in agreement with some of the decisions of the Nalanda Mentor Group (NMG).

Kumar himself is yet to say anything on the issue.

An official associated with the proposed Nalanda International University said three months ago Kalam had refused to be the visitor.

"Kalam turned down the offer in mid May wh…