International university to revive Nalanda

by Sandeep Bhushan, NDTV News, December 22, 2006

Nalanda, India -- In the land of red flags, private senas and caste struggle lie the magnificent ruins of Nalanda. The forgotten city may soon acquire a second life with an international university planned close to the 15th century centre of learning.

"We are setting up an international university in Nalanda. Work will begin on the project soon," said Nitish Kumar, Bihar Chief Minister.

A week after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Japanese counterpart signed a joint statement, which included setting up an international university, the project is on fast track.

International cooperation

Already, a Nalanda Bill is being drawn up to provide a framework for international cooperation and 700 acres are being acquired.

It's from Nalanda that Buddhism first travelled to China and then across South East Asia and China is paying back this debt. A Chinese team has just trekked to Nalanda via the Silk Route, first taken by the seventh century Chinese monk Xuan Zang or Hiun Tsang.

Nalanda was also very much on the agenda of Chinese Premier Hu Jintao's recent visit.

"Nalanda is very well-known across all countries in Asia, which is why I am here," said Edward Tan, Chinese Tourist.

The stunning ruins of Nalanda are an intrinsic part of brand Bihar - a new reinvented Bihar. They are also a critical part of India's 'Look East' policy. The project is also likely to benefit local people. All in all, a win-win situation for everyone.

"This is a time for Asia's economic revival. Countries here are looking for such focus and Nalanda provides such a rallying point," said N K Singh, Deputy Chairman, Bihar Planning Board.

In a state where even the best thought out plans get derailed, this may prove to be a huge challenge.