Monday, October 31, 2011

Nalanda University to have IT faculty while reliving past glory


The proposed Nalanda International University, which aims to recreate the legendary 11th century institution, will adopt a forward looking approach by establishing a department of information technology, Nobel Luerrate Amartya Sen, who heads the university's governing board, said here Saturday.

"India has special skills in the field of IT. It would help in the skill development in Bihar. In fact, Nitish (Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar) has been very keen about it," he told TNN. He praised Kumar for being supportive of the university plans.

"We are also going to teach the glorious history of Bihar as part of the work in the faculty of historical studies," he said.

The Nalanda board, which met in Beijing over the past two days, decided to initially establish two faculties on historical and environmental studies and follow up the effort with more faculties on subjects like Buddhism and Comparative Religion, International Relations and IT. It also decided to go for an international competition to choose the architect for the university buildings.

Sen said the process of establishing the university has been greatly delayed by the ministry of external affairs, which failed to take timely decisions to release funds and resolves issues concerning the appointment of its vice chancellor.

"Nalanda has suffered because of complications at the MEA although there was an enabling act of parliament," he said. The university is also facing a media campaign at the local level in Bihar because some people are taking a parochial attitude towards it.

"A lot of lies have been spread about the Nalanda University," he said. Sen called on critics of the university in Bihar to eschew parochialism, and let it emerge as a world institution that would enhance the State's image as a traditional centre of learning. The university was seeking funds and educational excellence from all countries, he said.

The board has approved Gopa Sabharwal as vice chancellor designate but a formal appointment has been pending because of confusion about the role of former President Abdul Kalam, who was supposed to clear it as the First Visitor of the University.

"It was for the MEA to approach Kalam and clarify if he wanted to continue as First Visitor and it did not do that," Sen said.

None of Indian universities figured in the top 200 universities determined by a survey by the Times High Educational Supplement this month, he pointed out. The effort at Nalanda was to create a world class institution brining in the best of talent from all countries.

"We are inviting funds from all sources, wherever we can get. We can start more faculties if we can get more funds," he said. "We are particularly encouraged by the possibility that Peking University will serve as a collaborator," Sen said.
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