First board meeting of Nalanda university set for February

IANS, January 30, 2008

Patna, India -- A plan of action for setting up the ambitious Nalanda International University modelled after the famed ancient seat of Buddhist learning in Bihar is set to be chalked out during the first board meeting in February, an official said on Wednesday.

<< Kalam to attend first board meeting of Nalanda university

Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who was appointed the first Visitor of the proposed Nalanda International University last year, will attend the first board meeting Feb 8. "The first meeting of the nine-member board, including Kalam, will be held in Patna for preliminary discussions and will chalk out a plan of action for setting up the university in Nalanda," the official said.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had appointed Kalam last year as the first Visitor of the proposed university under the University of Nalanda Act, 2007. According to the act, the visitor will play a key role in the constitution of the governing body - the supreme body of the university. The visitor will also have the power to inspect the varsity and appoint one or more people to review its work and progress.

The chairman of the nine-member board, Y.S. Rajan, former advisor to the president of India, will also attend the first meeting.

"The board headed by Rajan was set up by the state government with approved budget of Rs.10 million to prepare a roadmap for the university and will function till its formal establishment," a senior official of the state human resource development department told IANS.

Rajan played a major role in preparing the draft of the University of Nalanda Act, 2007 that was passed by the state legislative assembly last year, the official said.

According to official sources, the first board meeting of the proposed university was fixed keeping in view the two-day Bihar visit of Kalam, who would deliver the inaugural "Arya Bhatt Popular Science Lecture" here Feb 8. The state science and technology department will organise the lecture.

It will be Kalam's maiden visit to Bihar after leaving the country's highest office last year.

The idea of the university was first mooted in the late 1990s, but it was Kalam's initiative in 2006 that gave shape to the project at the ancient seat of Buddhist learning. "Kalam along with Rajan will also visit the site of proposed university in Nalanda," the source told IANS.

The dream to revive Nalanda University moved a step closer to reality with the mentor group headed by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen meeting twice in the last six months.

The Nalanda Mentor Group, constituted by the External Affairs Ministry at the request of the government of Bihar last year, is aimed at spurring the revival of Nalanda as a centre of intellectual excellence.

Besides Sen, the group comprises Singapore's Foreign Minister George Yeo, Harvard historian Sugata Bose, academician and writer Lord Meghnad Desai and scholars and experts from Japan and China.

The university, to be located in Bihar, will have 46 faculty members hired from abroad initially and their number will increase to 582 by the end of the 10-year project.

The Bihar government has sanctioned Rs.10 million for setting up a board and establishment of an office in New Delhi, which will carry out the liaison work of the proposed university.

The university will be built at a cost of Rs.6.3 billion and the Bihar government has already completed acquisition of land (448.0957 acres) required for the campus.

Students and scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey, besides India, attended the original Nalanda University, which existed until 1197 AD.

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