(Photo of Nalanda’s main structure – on 17th July, 2010)
A proposal by India’s External Affairs Ministry to introduce a bill in the Parliament to set up Nalanda as a centre of excellence was approved at a cabinet meeting on Thursday in New Delhi. The revival of Nalanda was initiated by a resolution at the East Asian Summit in Thailand in Oct,2009. “The university will work under the public-private partnership (PPP) and the governments of member states will give funds to the university on a voluntary basis. India as the host country will make significant contribution in the initial stage. The Planning Commission already allocated Rs 50 crores as endowment fund in the form of a special grant.”
Nalanda located in the present Indian state of Bihar, it is traditionally believed, was a centre of learning since 5th century BC. However Archaeological evidence has confirmed its existence only since 6th century AD. “Nalanda had eight separate compounds and ten temples, along with many other meditation halls and classrooms. On the grounds were lakes and parks. The library was located in a nine storied building where meticulous copies of texts were produced. The subjects taught at Nalanda University covered every field of learning, and it attracted pupils and scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey.” “At its heydays it is said to have accommodated 1500 teachers and 10,000 students from India and abroad.” It began to decline from 9th century AD and in 1193 Nalanda was destroyed by Turkish Islamic Invader Bhaktiyar Khilji and its library was burnt.
The new Nalanda University will be built in the vicinity of the original which is a declared world heritage site. The state govt. of Bihar has acquired five hundred acres of land for the project and it is planned to acquire five hundred more. “A project office has been leased in the city (New Delhi) for the proposed university. The Nalanda Mentor Group, chaired by Professor Amartya Sen, will draft the statutes for the university.” It “will have six schools, Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religions, Historical Studies, International Relations and Peace Studies, Business Management in relation to Public Policy and Development Studies, Languages and Literature and Ecology and Environmental Studies”.
1. Times of India and The New Indian Express issues dated 9th July, 2010 and The Hindu issue dated 8th July 2010.