Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yale Univ likely to mentor Nalanda University !!

One of the most prestigious global institutions Yale University may assist India's ambitious plans to revive Nalanda University, the ancient seat of higher learning in Bihar. The ministry of external affairs (MEA) is in talks with the Ivy League university which will initially mentor the proposed varsity's first department - a school of environmental studies, government sources confirmed to a major daily.

"We may then seek to extend this cooperation," a senior official said.

Though no formal MoU has been signed between India and Yale yet, the American university is ready to assist in the project.

"We are happy to extend our support to this project, about which we are in touch with the Indian government," said George Joseph, assistant secretary for international affairs at Yale, the first university in the world that had a school of environmental sciences.

Nalanda International University is being built by India in collaboration with China, Japan and Singapore, countries that have also contributed funding for the project.

For Yale, the tie up represents the latest in a series of steps to increase its footprint in India. The university runs annual leadership programmes for Indian MPs.
Read more: http://goo.gl/SShPS

The other Nalanda in West Bengal !!

A group of researchers discovered a forgotten shrine between Medinipur in West Bengal and Jalesar in Orissa, on the south bank of the river Subarnarekha. What we know as the Moghulmari Buddhist Monastery is believed to have been a structure similar to the ancient Nalanda University.

The researchers, led by the late Dr Ashoke Dutta, reader at the department of archaeology, University of Calcutta, were in search of a lost course of the Subarnarekha when villagers drew their attention to a mound of artefacts, mostly stone inscriptions. The team found several hundred small figurines and started investigating. They discovered that beneath the 20x80 square metre mound was a 3,600 square metre space — most likely to hold mass prayer or meetings — in ruins. Remnants, excavated and analysed through carbon dating and other methods, indicate that this used to be a huge monastery, set up at least 1,400 years ago.

Their findings suggest that what is Moghulmari today was a part of Dantapur, a place mentioned by Chinese pilgrim and Buddhist Hiuen Tsang, who spent 15 years travelling through India in the seventh century, in his treatise Si-yu-ki (The Records Of The Western World).

It is believed that Dantapur was named after the word ‘tooth’, indicating that one of Buddha’s teeth was preserved when the shrine was built, according to a junior member of the team of archaeologists and historiographers engaged in the project.

The name is believed to have changed from Dantapur to Moghulmari after 1575 AD during the reign of Akbar the Great. Bengal was almost entirely overrun by the Moghul troops. Gujar Khan, a chief general of the Kakshals, a turbulent clan of Chagatai Turks, destroyed the Moghul van in a battle in Midnapur. The defeat of the Moghuls is symbolised in the rechristening of the region.

In May this year, Dr Datta submitted his final report, to be released in due course. “Paleographic scans, art and styles of relief prove beyond a doubt that this monastery dates back to the sixth century. The sandstone architecture, reflected in the bricks, has explicit similarities with remnants like Vikramshila, Nalanda and Moynamati of the aforesaid period in Bihar and undivided Bengal,” he said, a fortnight before his demise.

There are remains of ‘pradakshina path’ (pathway of Buddhist monks), but the entrance to the monastery and the spot where the deity was placed remain unknown. The structures that withstood the effects of time are a massive square, surrounded by rooms and a hall.

Perhaps the most important discovery is a statue of the Buddha in the bhumisparshamudra (touching the earth with fingers) flanked by Bodhisattvas. Besides these, equidistant pillars, extensive stucco (sandstone decoration using water, lime, marble and gypsum) imprints indicate that it was from the pre-Pala age of greater Bengal (comprising undivided Bengal, Bihar and Orissa).

Prof Bratindranath Mukherjee, past president of Indian Science Congress and a doyen among historiographers, confirmed that it was set up between the sixth and seventh centuries, and resembled the Gandhara architectonics.
Read more: http://goo.gl/COuxQ

Sunday, September 16, 2012

India wants stronger university ties !!

India wants to have a 'stronger' collaboration with Bangladesh's public and private universities in the field of science, technology and innovation, its envoy says.

Indian High Commissioner Pankaj Saran expressed the interest when he called on University Grants Commission's (UGC) Chairman Prof A K Azad Chowdhury on Tuesday.

According to a UGC media release, they agreed to introduce exchange visit of Vice-Chancellors and increase the number of fellowships, scholarships in Masters and Ph.D programme for Bangladeshi students at Indian universities.

The high commissioner also offered to make arrangements so that funds are available for higher education from the Tk 5 billion aid money earmarked for small projects in Bangladesh.

He called for active collaboration and participation of Bangladesh in the newly established Nalanda University in India.

UGC Chairman assured the envoy of extending 'all out cooperation' in the collaborative efforts.

He also drew the envoy's attention to setting up of a 'Bangladesh Bhaban' in Shanti Niiketon as part of collaboration and cultural exchange initiatives.

The envoy extolled Bangladesh's progress in the education sector, according to the media release.
Read more: http://goo.gl/SQE1e

Lord Meghnad Desai: Nalanad University to be the best university of 21st century !!

London School of Economics's Professor Emeritus Lord Meghnad Desai was in the city on Wednesday to deliver a talk on 'The Bhagavad Gita: A secular inquiry into a sacred text' as part of a Distinguished Lecture Series organized by upcoming Nalanda University (NU). Also a member of the NU's governing board, he talked to TOI about his vision of the university, the 'global' tag it has and his fondness for novel writing. Excerpts:

Have you visited the NU site?

Yes... quite a number of times as a member of the varsity's governing board. The archeological site has been well preserved.

How do you visualize the future of NU?

We have planned to give it the shape of a distinctive campus for postgraduate studies. It will surely come up as one of the best universities of the 21st century. It will be a multimedia university equipped with a multimedia library.

Don't you think that Bihar lacks proper infrastructure to accommodate such a mega plan?

It's all about imagination. If the imagination is properly executed, infrastructure will automatically follow. The plan is to design and develop a mini town which will have schools and hospitals. An international jury will choose the designers and developers from across the globe to construct the structures on the varsity campus.

It seems to be a long-term project. When will it take the final shape?

The problem with the people is that they want more and they also want everything quick. The Nalanda University Act is only few months old and things have been moving fast and in the right direction. Had it been a private university, we would have wrapped everything by now. But it is going to be a global university... we cannot make mistakes... it will take time. History and Environment will probably be taught from next September.

In a country like India where there is reservation even in buses, you are unveiling a university sans quota. Why?

It is not another university in the list of existing Indian universities. NU is actually a global university meant for students all over the world. We want our students to be qualified, and those who are qualified do not need quota.

You are also known for writing novels. What was your last novel about?

It was a thriller titled 'Dead On Time', which is about the politics in the UK. And my latest book is 'The Rediscovery of India'.

Are more books on the cards?

Yes. One is about Hindi movie 'Pakeezah' and the other on Bhagavad Gita.
Read more: http://goo.gl/X4WxG

Milinda Moragoda appointed as Advisor to Nalanda University !!

Laureate and Chancellor of Nalanda University, Professor Amartya Sen and the Governing Board of the university have invited Milinda Moragoda to assist in the establishment of the university as an advisor.

The Nalanda University was an ancient centre of Buddhist learning and repository of world knowledge, functioning for 800 years from the 5th-12th century CE. The most famous Buddhist university, it was one of the first universities in the world and reputed to have had in its heyday 2,000 teachers and 10,000 scholars from many countries, including Sri Lanka.

Close to the 12th century, Nalanda was destroyed by invaders.

In 2007, the 16-member East Asian Summit held in Cebu, Philippines endorsed the plan to reestablish Nalanda University in keeping with its original values.

Among the countries that participated at the summit were India, China, Japan, Thailand, and Singapore. In 2009, the East Asian Summit held in Thailand formerly supported the establishment of the Nalanda University and encouraged regional networking between the university and other centres of excellence in East Asia.

In 2010, the Nalanda University Bill was passed by both Houses of the Indian Parliament and received Presidential assent. The government of the Indian state of Bihar has donated 450 acres of land to the university in Rajgir.

The eminent Board of Governors headed by Chancellor Prof. Amartya Sen and Vice Chancellor Prof. Gopa Sabharwal are presently in the process of setting up the university infrastructure. East Asian countries such as India, China, Japan, Singapore and Thailand have pledged financial support for this initiative.
Read more: http://goo.gl/kxUwD

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Vikramshila varsity in Buddhist Circuit likely

The demand for the inclusion of the ancient Vikramshila Mahavihara in the Buddhist Circuit along with other places, has been realized with the ministry of tourism, Government of India, agreeing to include the historical seat of education in the Buddhist Circuit for its unified development in the 12th plan in collaboration with the states concerned.

Vikramshila Mahavihara was one of the two most important centers of Buddhist learning in India during the Pala dynasty. The other was Nalanda University. It was established by King Dharmapala (783 to 820 AD) and at present is located at about 50 km east of Bhagalpur and about 13 km north-east of Kahalgaon railway station on Bhagalpur-Sahebganj section of Eastern Railway.

At present, the area is under the jurisdiction of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) that had undertaken excavations from 1960 to 1981 to conserve the ancient seat of learning, according to sources. BJP MP from Bhagalpur Shahnawaz Hussain, who had made efforts for the inclusion of Vikramshila Mahavihara into the Buddhist Circuit, had raised the issue of delay in the inclusion of Vikramshila Mahavihara in the Buddhist Circuit in Parliament recently.

The Central government agreed to get the ancient seat of learning included in the Buddhist Circuit, informed the BJP MP adding this would not only bring back the glory of the historical Vikramshila Mahavihara but also promote tourism and lead to rapid development on the region.

The Buddhist Circuit includes Lumbini in Nepal, Bodh Gaya, Sarnath near Varanasi in UP and Kushinagar near Gorakhpur in UP.
Read more:http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/Vikramshila-varsity-in-Buddhist-Circuit-http://goo.gl/uBCV2

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Nalanda University VC holds discussion with Nalanda DM !!

The vice chancellor of the upcoming Nalanda University, Gopa Sabarwal, discussed the ongoing construction work and other modalities with Nalanda DM Sanjay Kumar Agarwal on Wednesday evening.

She said the modalities of the construction of the proposed university at Rajgir had been finalized and the academic session of the university will begin in 2014 after the building is complete in 2013 decided at the board meeting in Patna.

A probationer, appointed to look into the planned work of the university, will function from the present university office located on the first floor of the Rajgir SDO's office. She added that in the first phase, two departments -- history and environment and ecology -- are proposed to be opened and the process of appointing 26 professors will be completed next year.

The DM said the university's boundary wall will be completed in September and assured the visiting vice chancellor that the district administration is ready to extend any help sought by the university officials. He said if the university authorities required a separate building for the university, it would also be provided by the district administration as and when asked.
Read more:http://goo.gl/KhIuU

Nalanda University Statutes pave way for crony academic appointments !!

While Chief Minister Nitish Kumar might think roadblocks in the path of Nalanda University have been cleared, and Amartya Sen might claim that first two schools will start functioning in 2014, the Nalanda University thinks it can do without academic staff. The low priority assigned to the recruitment of academic staff is evident from the perusal of the Nalanda University Statutes, 2012.

The Statutes are byelaws framed in pursuance of the Nalanda University Act, 2012 for functioning of the University. They define the powers, tenure, and mode of appointment different officials. The focus is on Governing Board, Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Registrar, Finance Officer and International Advisory Panel. The omission of mode of recruitment for academic staff, despite having taken longer time to frame the Statutes than allocated, reflects on the intention of the Governing Board.

The issue of Academic Staff is disposed off within one paragraph under Section 14 of the Nalanda University Statutes, 2012. It states only the obvious that the Vice Chancellor, Professors, Assistant Professors and Visiting Professors will be members of the Academic Staff. Their mode of appointment remains unspecified. The appointments are generally done through Selection Committee, whose composition is specified under the UGC Regulations.

The Central Universities Act, 2009 lays down its Statutes in its Second Schedule. The Section 18 lays down composition for Selection Committee meant to appoint Professors, Associate/Assistant Professors, Registrar/Finance Officer/ Controller of Examination, Librarian, Principal of College or Institution maintained by the University. The Section 19 provides exception to the rules whereby Executive Council may invite a person of high academic distinction and professional attainments to accept a post of Professor or Associate Professor or any other equivalent academic post.

The Nalanda University Statutes, 2012 in Section 3 (l) under Powers and functions of the Governing Board says that Governing Board has the power to appoint Professors, Associate Professors and Assistant Professors or the recommendation of Selection Committee. But it makes abundantly clear that ‘it shall not be necessary to constitute any Selection Committee for making appointment to the post of Professor of a person of high academic distinction, eminence and profession attainment by the Governing Board to accept the post’. High academic distinction and eminence are evidently judged subjectively rather than objectively in a University whose Vice Chancellor is a Reader who has never taught Post Graduation level students.

The Nalanda University Governing Board, who framed these Statutes, is dodgy on formation of Selection Committees but specific on seeking exemption from it. The necessity of not constituting Selection Committee is stated explicitly whereas the issue of Selection Committee has been obscured.

The Nalanda University Act, 2010 under Section 28 (l) says that first Statutes would be made within six months of the commencement of Act. It was patently illegal to enforce the Act without Statutes that define powers and modes of the appointment. In case of other Universities – e.g. Central Universities Act, 2009- the Statutes contained in Second Schedule of the Act are passed as part of the Act by Parliament. The Nalanda University Act, 2010 was enforced w.e.f. November 25, 2010 but not until March 2012, when the Statutes were notified in Gazette of India the Governing Board could not come up with rules on Selection Committee.

The apparent reason behind this faux pas was that the University wanted to avoid the issue of Selection Committee but rather legitimize exemption from it. By doing so it would favour more people through crony appointments. Worse, the University is not at all serious about academics. It just want to secure the interests of chosen few officials like Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, Finance Officer, Registrar etc. The example is not far to seek. For instance under the Central Universities Act, 20o9 from which the Nalanda University Act and Statutes are copied Chancellor and Vice Chancellor are not eligible for reappointment. But under Nalanda University Statutes, 2012 the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor are eligible for unlimited number of reappointments. Under Section 12 (5) the Vice Chancellor has a retirement age of 70- from which Dr. Gopa Sabharwal is faraway. The Chancellor has no retirement age apparently because Prof. Amartya Sen does not recognize that he is well past sell-by-date. The Statutes have apparently been formulated with interests of a chosen few in mind.
Read more:http://goo.gl/BFYXl

India committed to boosting BIMSTEC connectivity: PM

Making a strong pitch for enhanced regional connectivity, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday that India was committed to worki...