Buddhist course in Calcutta University finds few takers

The Statesman, Dec 26, 2007

KOLKATA, India -- Calcutta University’s (CU) efforts to encourage foreign students to opt for its new Buddhism course fell flat when the university failed to upload the course details onto their website and only seven students enrolled.

Last year, as a part of the University’s 150th anniversary, it introduced a post-graduate diploma course in Buddhist studies under the department of Pali. Apart Pune and Delhi University, CU is the only educational institution to offer this course.

However, the university failed to enroll a single foreign student in this course. Six students who signed up for the course withdrew after failing to produce the necessary migration certificate.

According to a CU official, it was later found that the course was not properly uploaded onto the school’s website. The university’s original intention was to allow foreign students to download the admission form and submit it online. But this idea flopped as the ‘new courses’ website link, which detailed the Buddhism course was not operational.

The university’s policy of requiring a migration certificate as a prerequisite for course enrolment acted as a hindrance as well. “Many students who were already doing their PhDs in other state universities thus could not produce the requisite certificate and their enrolments were cancelled,” said another official.

In order to prevent this from happening again, CU done away the requirement of migration certificates and has activated the new courses website link.

According to Prof. Manikuntala Haldar, course coordinator, the course includes Lord Buddha’s ideas and thinking and offers an understanding on the basic tenets of Buddhist history and philosophy as well as Buddhist epigraph, art and architecture.

The course offers 20 seats and graduates from any discipline can enroll. Even in-service candidates can participate in the course as it is held in the evening. The two hour classes are held four days a week.