External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj inaugurates Nalanda University

A development authority will also be set up for upliftment of surrounding villages

Rajgir (Bihar): Ancient Nalanda University, which once attracted students from across the world, was on Friday formally inaugurated in its modern 'avatar' by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj here.

Hailing the occasion, Swaraj said as in the past the university would serve as 'bridge and foundation' in linking the country with the world through knowledge.

"It is wrong to say that today we are rejuvenating the 427 AD Nalanda University because tradition never dies ... Nalanda is not just a university but a tradition.

"Nalanda University is a link between the past, present and future," she said at the function held at the International Conventional Centre.

Nalanda University was deeply etched in history and like in ancient times would serve as a magnet to attract students from across the globe, Swaraj said, adding during her recent visit to Bangladesh she found people there were interested in it.

Seeing the 'tremendous response' to the university it has now been decided that it would not be confined only to east Asian nations but would be opened to students from other countries too, she said and promised all help to it.

The Centre had already alloted Rs 2,727 crore, which would be spent in building a high class campus of the university in 10 years, Swaraj said.

The minister supported Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's request to the Centre for an airport here so that foreign students and dignatories could reach the university, which is situated about 12 km from the ruins of the ancient one and 100 km from Patna, easily.

Manjhi was present at the function along with many foreign dignatories, besides members of his ministry.

The foreign dignatories included Lim Thuan Kuan, Singapore High Commissioner to India and Chalit Manityakur, ambassador of Thailand in India. Diplomats from Australia, Vietnam, Germany, Japan and Laos were also present.

Secretary, East, to the External Affairs Ministry Anil Wadwah and university Vice-chancellor Gopa Sabarwal, faculty member Lord Meghnad Desai, former diplomat N K Singh and a host of intellectuals were also present on the occasion.

Manjhi in his speech hailed his predecessor Nitish Kumar for his 'far sightedness' in reviving Nalanda University, which was first proposed by former president A P J Abdul Kalam while addressing a joint session of Bihar Assembly and Legislative Council in 2006.

Bihar government had given 446 acres for the university and another 1400-1500 acres had been identified for constructing an airport, he said and sought Centre's help.

The state would also set up a development authority for the uplift of the surrounding villages in keeping with the ancient tradition.

The university came into existence by a special act – The Nalanda University Act passed by Parliament and classes in the School of Ecology and Environmental Studies and School of Historical Studies have already begun with 15 students and 11 teachers at the under-construction residential building on September 1.

On its scheduled completion in 2020 the revived university will have a seven schools for postgraduate and doctorate students.

The seven schools would be Economics and Management, Information Sciences and Technology, Linguistics and Literature, International Relations, Peace Studies and Buddhist studies Philosophy and Comparative Religion, besides Historical studies, Ecology and Environment.

The ancient university came into being during the Gupta period in 6th century AD and was destroyed in 1193 AD by the army of Turkish ruler Qutbuddin Aibak's general Bakhtiyar Khilji.

After Kalam mooted it, the Singapore government proposed revival of the ancient university having international character and suitable to the modern times.

China has contributed one million dollars, Singapore five million dollars, Thailand of one lakh dollars and Australia one million Australian dollars.

Noble Laureate Amartya Sen was appointed the Chancellor in 2012. He was not present in the formal inauguration today but a message from him was read out on the occasion.

Total built up area of the Nalanda University will be 3,66,811 square metres with 38 buildings which would accommodate 7,000 people at a time. There would be central library built on an artificial lake and have a full glass dome.

Watch: Nalanda university to be formally re-inaugurated by Sushma Swaraj

( Source : PTI )
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