Showing posts from November, 2011

China Efforts to Reviving Buddha Nalanda University

The Times of India ran a news item, on Nov 16th, about China giving a cheque of $ 1 million in the efforts to revive the Nalanda University. This marked the first donation for the ambitious project to rebuild a university in place of the one that was destroyed several centuries ago. Founded in the fifth century, Nalanda was a renowned centre of learning when Europe was still in its dark ages, drawing scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey. Over 2000 professors instructed around 10,000 students in religious studies, medicine, mathematics, astronomy and politics. It was burnt to the ground by Bakhtiyar Khilji''''''''s troops invading the nation in the 12th century.

Dubbing it as the “Icon of Asian Renaissance”, the Economic Times mentions that its revival would come as India and China lay claim to being the economic superpowers of the future. The revival is taking place under an international initiative by the East Asia Summ…

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India's Missile Man APJ Kalam ready to renew Nalanda link

APJ Abdul Kalam, who as President of India had first proposed setting up of the Nalanda International University, today agreed to chief minister Nitish Kumar's request to serve the upcoming centre of excellence as a visiting faculty. Kalam was in the state capital on the invitation of the Assembly secretariat to address members of both Houses of the legislature.

It was during his address to a joint sitting of the legislature in March 2006 that Kalam, then President, had first mooted the idea of Nalanda International University on the lines of the great ancient seat of learning. Kalam on Tuesday played professor to the "class of legislators", imparting them lessons in leadership and tips on how to transform themselves into perfect leaders of the people.

Nitish, who was among the "students", recalled how Kalam was the "first visionary" to envision the Nalanda university, becoming its first visitor. "Kalam's vision has seen the light of day with P…

Chinese Ambassador Presents One Million US Dollar Donation to Nalanda University, Bihar

on behalf of the Government of the People's Republic of China, H.E. Zhang Yan, Chinese Ambassador to India, presented a donation of one million US dollars to the proposed Nalanda University at the Indian International Centre. Dr. Gopa Sabharwal, Vice-Chancellor of Nalanda University received the donation. Mr. Wang Xuefeng, Minister of the Chinese Embassy in India, Dr. J.N. Mishira, Joint Secretary (Nalanda) and Mr. Gautam Bambawale, Joint Secretary (East Asia), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, and other representatives from the university attended the donation ceremony.

In his remarks, Ambassador Zhang Yan said that H.E. Mr. Wen Jiabao, Premier of the State Council of China, made the announcement of the donation during his visit to India in December, 2010, as a friendly gesture from Chinese people to Indian people. It marked a substantial step by the Chinese side to take an active part in this important and meaningful project. Through friendly discussion, it was a…

Revival of ancient Asian university hits trouble !

Plans to revive Nalanda university in India, one of the world's oldest seats of learning, as a totem of Asia's renaissance are facing trouble as supporters admit to little progress in fund-raising.

The Indian parliament passed a bill in August 2010 approving plans to rebuild the university, which was founded in the fifth century, close to its ancient ruins in the impoverished eastern state of Bihar.

Backers hope the proposed new campus will one day attract thousands of the finest teachers and students from around the globe, just as the university did centuries ago.

But money has been slow in coming to turn the $1 billion dream into reality, despite the support of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Indian government.

"It took 200 years for the first Nalanda university to be built," Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen, who is piloting the project, lamented at a recent conference in New Delhi.

"I hope it won't take as long for this…

Influential Chinese monks set to visit Bodh Gaya amid Nalanda University work

A group of 30 monks linked to the Buddhist Association of China is going on a visit to Bodh Gaya and other Indian towns and cities as part of a move to strengthen people-to-people relations between the two countries. The highlight of the visit will be a ritual during which new monks will be ordained at the Chinese Buddhist temple at Bodh Gaya.

The visit is seen as a significant political move because the association is closely linked to the Communist Party of China, and plays an important role in helping the government enhance its relationship with countries with significant Buddhist presence. It played a key role in sending and displaying relics from the body of Lord Buddha, in Myanmar recently.

The group led by association president Chuan Yin is expected to meet Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, experts involved in the establishment of the Nalanda International University and the officials of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations in New Delhi. The monks are expected to visit diff…

APJ Kalam wishes to teach at upcoming Nalanda university

Former President A P J Abdul Kalam on Tuesday expressed his desire to teach at the upcoming Nalanda University.

"I disassociated myself from the project as the visitor to the university because I want to teach there after the university becomes functional," Kalam said as he conducted a class at a free residential English school, Shoshit Seva Sangh (SSS), at Khajpura in the state capital. About 250 students belonging to underprivileged sections attended the class.

Kalam earlier visited the dormitory, classrooms and cafeteria of the three-storey school building and expressed happiness to know that most of the schoolchildren were able to speak English. Kalam conducted the class in English.

"I was just like you one day, living in a dormitory and working hard, like you, to acquire knowledge," he said.

The former president also recited a poem to inspire the children: You are born to fly, you are born to fly; You are born with potential, you are born with goodness; You are bo…

President to look into complaint against Nalanda University VC :Kalam

President Pratibha Patil in her capacity as the Visitor of the Nalanda International University would look into any complaint about competence of its Vice-Chancellor Dr Gopa Sabharwal, former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam said today. "The Visitor will look into any complaint against Sabharwal," Kalam, who recently dissociated himself from the Nalanda university project as its Visitor, said in reply to a question by ruling JD(U) MLA Irshad Ahmed during an interactive session in the state assembly premises.

Irshad Ahmed alleged that Sabharwal, earlier a Reader of New Delhi's Lady Sriram College, lacked adequate experience to lead this ambitious project. Sabharwal's appointment as the VC was opposed by a group of academicians recently. "The Visitor is the competent authority to appoint vice-chancellor and other teachers for the university. I have full confidence that she will take a decision in this respect with due consideration of related subjects," Kalam said…

Nalanda Farmers sell land to cultivate knowledge

Villagers and Farmers of Nalanda district, Bihar are a happy a lot. Reason is they have sold their cultivable land for a greater cause. Their land will no longer yield grain but will certainly become fountain of knowledge from where the light of education will spread across the world.

Bisheswar Prasad, whose six bighas of agriculture land was acquired early this year, said his land has been blessed by goddess Saraswati. "What I want to see is that the dream project comes up during my life time,"' said the 80-year-old farmer of Bilkhi village under Chhabilapur police station.

The land of almost all farmers, big and marginal, in these two villages comprising a total of 500 acres have been acquired by the state government for the proposed Nalanda International University for which all basic formalities have been completed.

"No project could be as big as this and we are all waiting for the day when the dream will be realised," said Nanhu Singh, a youth at Khaira whil…

Dr. Amartya Sen Said Bureaucratic hurdles delaying Nalanda University !

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Friday blamed “bureaucratic barrier” as a major hurdle for the delay in starting of the Nalanda University, which is being established in Bihar, close to the ancient historic institution of learning.

“The reason for delay is the bureaucratic control. We are having some problem in getting the sanctioned funds released but we should be able to deal with it,” Professor Sen, who also chairs the Governing Board of the University, said.

Explanations for bureaucratic queries take a lot of time, he said, while speaking at an open session on “Nalanda University: A 21{+s}{+t} Century University: (Re) Calling the Past'' here.

Dismissing a growing perception that the University was in trouble and that the former President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, had disassociated himself from it as the first Visitor, Professor Sen said the delay was only because of bureaucratic hurdles, which could be partly due to ignorance, and Mr. Kalam had disassociated himself only because he …

Stress on developing more tourist site Near Nalanda

A power-point presentation was made on Nav Nalanda Maha Vihara on Thursday emphasised on developing more tourist sites and preserving the heritage. It also emphasised on linking 200 villages with the proposed Nalanda International University. Chief minister Nitish Kumar was present on the occasion

Art and culture secretary Vivek Kumar Singh said if all the sites in Nalanda were developed as tourist spots, the visting tourists would extend their stay.

The CM stressed on linking tourism with village economy and said 200 villages should be integrated with Nav Nalanda Maha Vihara.

Nitish asked for documentation of heritage site and reorientation of Venu Van in Nalanda. A coordination committee headed by Singh has been constituted with the representatives of ASI and KP Jaiswal Institute and other related bodies.
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Nalanda University Bill !

The University of Nalanda is proposed to be established under the aegis of the East Asia Summit (EAS), as a regional initiative. Government of India constituted a Nalanda Mentor Group (NMG) in 2007, under the Chairmanship of Prof. Amartya Sen to examine the framework of international cooperation, and proposed structure of partnership, which would govern the establishment of this University as an international centre of education. The NMG also has representatives from Singapore, China, Japan and Thailand. The NMG has met six times. The last meeting was held in New Delhi on 2-3 August 2010.

India has initiated steps to introduce the Nalanda University Bill 2010 in the Parliament. An endowment Fund has been allocated by India in the form of a special grant for the commencement of activities and till such time the Nalanda University becomes sustainable on its own.

The Government of Bihar has acquired about 500 acres of land at Rajgir (in the vicinity of the original Nalanda University of th…

Taxila a glow, but Nalanda in shadow

A few years ago, a regional conference in Islamabad gave some of us Indian scientists an opportunity of a visit across the border. I was keen to take advantage of this occasion to see the site of the ancient university of Takshashila (Taxila). It turned out that there were many of us with the same desire and our hosts obliged by arranging a bus tour. Presumably, they had sorted out the technical problem of our visas being limited to Lahore and Islamabad only. Visas limited to specific cities are issued to Pakistanis by India as well.

There are several sites distributed over a few kilometres pertaining to this ancient university. The relics are exhibited in a small but elegant museum. Such records as are available, including references in the Ramayana, tell us that the town of Takshashila was founded by King Bharata in the name of his son Taksha. Records also show that the university itself was functioning well around 800 BC. By the time Alexander visited India, the university had devel…

Amartya Sen: Bureacratic delays in Nalanda

Noted economist and Nobel laureate Prof. Amartya Sen has blamed bureaucratic delays for the money sanctioned for the proposed Nalanda University not being made available for use to get the university going. He also

took a gentle swipe at Indian bureaucracy, saying that India is quite famous for bureaucratic control.
Without mincing words, the Nobel laureate told a large gathering at the capital’s Teen Murti House auditorium that while the funds had been sanctioned, it was “difficult to get it out of the kitty”. Asked how much money was needed, he responded by saying, “As much as we can get.”
The university being set up under an international initiative by the East Asia Summit with the ministry of external affairs involved in its setting up.
Prof. Sen, who is the chairman of the governing board of the proposed Nalanda University, was giving a presentation on it here on Friday evening. Asked when the first two of the seven schools that are planned for this university will come up, Prof. Sen…

Nalanda International University updates

Nalanda International University was dreamt of by former President Kalam together with Prof Sen- two tallest Indians. Prof Sen then put together an eminent group of persons from Asia who represent their respective governments. These Asian governments will also contribute significantly to establishing the university that is being set up through an enabling legislation passed by the Indian Parliament. So it is not just India's university but an International University. The university is expected to become self sustaining and will not needs oodles of tax payers cash as most Indian university after ot has been set-up.

We in India seem to have become so bureaucratic in our approach that we do not realise that to establish an International Institution of higher education there is a need for a young and dynamic leader who is not constrainted by the self-defeating and uninspiring UGC. Infact you may be aware that UGC (and AICTE) will soon shut down and the end of its archaic processes…