Saturday, July 9, 2011

Nalanda Mentor Group holds meet in Patna

The Nalanda Mentor Group, headed by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, held a meeting here on Wednesday to discuss the progress of setting up an international university at the ancient seat of learning, an official said.

The meeting was attended by Singapore's former foreign minister George Yeo, Lord Meghnad Desai, Sugata Bose of Harvard University and others to discuss the progress in the setting up of the university, said a state human resource development official.

The university's vice chancellor, Gopa Sabbarwal, was also present. This is the second meeting of the group. The first was held at Bodh Gaya in 2009.

The university plans to begin its first academic session by 2013 at its new campus in Nalanda and begin the admission process from 2012.

Sen, who arrived here Tuesday to release a report on primary education in Bihar, will also visit Rajgir in Nalanda district on Thursday.

"Sen and other members of the mentor group will visit the site of the upcoming university," the official said.

The idea of the university was first mooted in the late 1990s. In 2006, then president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam's initiative gave shape to the project, which is to come up at the ancient site of Buddhist learning.

The excavated site of the ancient university at Nalanda is a place of national importance. A fifth century architectural marvel, the university was home to over 10,000 students and nearly 2,000 teachers.

Named after the Sanskrit term for 'giver of knowledge', the ancient varsity, which existed until 1197 AD, attracted students and scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey, besides being a seat of higher education in India.

Though it was devoted to Buddhist studies, it also trained students in subjects such as fine arts, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, politics and the art of war.

Officials said the Bihar government had already acquired nearly 500 acres of land needed for the university and infrastructure work has already started at the site.

The proposed university will be fully residential, like ancient Nalanda. The university will have courses in science, philosophy and spiritualism along with other subjects. IANS

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