|Amartya Sen (third from left) at the release of the book in Patna on Saturday. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey
Patna, Feb. 22: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen today dismissed speculation that he had threatened to resign from the post of chancellor of the upcoming international project, Nalanda University.
On the eve of Nalanda University’s governing board meeting on Sunday, Prof Sen was in Patna to release the book, “Archaeology and Art of Ganga, Gandak and Kosi Basin” in honour of Piyushendu Gupta, a noted medical practitioner and art historian.
Prof Sen said: “There is no truth in reports about my resignation from the post of chancellor of Nalanda University.” The Nobel laureate said the upcoming Nalanda University should be granted international university status, but a section in the government is trying to treat it as a central university.
“A section of the government suggested that Nalanda University be treated like an Indian Central University, it would be injustice to our Asian colleagues as nine countries are part of the project and it would not only be a betrayal to Asian countries but also to the Indian parliament,” Sen said.
Sources said of nine participating countries in the international project coming up at Rajgir, around 110km south of Patna, many have provided funds for the project. Sources said China has contributed US $1 million and Thailand US $100,000 among others.
The university is going to start its first academic class from September this year with two courses — Historical Studies, Ecology & Environmental Studies. The total number of students when all seven schools start teaching by 2017-18 is expected to be 2,450.
Sen once again said that the glory of Nalanda University would not be confined to the country. Earlier, Dr Piyushendu Gupta, noted medical practitioner and historian was conferred with the Itihas Ratna award of the Asiatic Society Bihar. The society was set up in 1999 by a group of intellectuals with an aim to conduct basic research in secular and scientific ways to unravel the dynamics of social change.
Prof Sen presented the award to the octogenarian. Dr Gupta is father of noted economist Saibal Gupta. On the occasion, a felicitation volume titled ‘Archaeology and Art of Ganga, Gandak and Kosi basin, Bihar’ was released in Dr Gupta’s honour.
The book has been edited by Patna-based historian Dr O.P. Jaiswal and Dr Bijoy Kumar Choudhary, director of KP Jayaswal Research Institute, Patna.
Praising the book, economist Lord Meghnad Desai, who is also a member of the Nalanda University governing board member, said: “A lot of writings of Piyushendu Gupta have been reproduced in the book and it has a critical inquiry into the history of Bihar.”
The book is a pioneer attempt on regional history of the state, particularly in the field of art and culture and contains 48 articles related to cultural, lingual, historical and sociological dimensions of Bihar’s cultural zones. The volume has three parts written in English and the fourth and final one in Hindi. In the recent past, Itihas Ratna has been conferred upon many eminent persons, including Bipan Chandra, late Prof RS Sharma and Irfan Habib.