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Ahead of D-Day, peek into future

- Orientation programme for first batch today to brief students on international varsity

Nalanda University is set for a smooth and steady rehearsal for take-off with the orientation programme for its first batch on Friday.

Sights set on quality education, the varsity would set sail without much hype. Only the faculty members, university officials and students would take part in the programme from 2pm at Rajgir Convention centre, around 110km southeast from Patna.

The objective of the orientation session is to inform students about the international project and the reason behind why the Asian countries have come together to revive the ancient seat of learning.

The university would debut with two postgraduate schools — School of Ecology and Environment Sciences and School of Historical Studies. Chancellor and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen firmly believes Nalanda University would stand for the passion of propagating knowledge and understanding. He would not be present at the orientation programme, though.

Vice-chancellor Gopa Sabharwal said: “Dean, academic planning, Anjana Sharma, around seven faculty members, other university officials and I will participate in the orientation programme. Some leading faculty members would address the students.”¯

Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of tourists at the holy site of Buddhists, the convention centre would offer students the right ambience to learn about the vision, mission and values of the prestigious international university. Vice-chancellor Sabharwal, senior faculty member Samuel Wright and a few other teachers would give the debutants an insight of the ancient university and its new version. Besides Wright, the assistant professor of historical studies trained at the University of Chicago, Yin Ker, the assistant professor of historical studies, would speak on the occasion. Yin is a passout from Asian Art History at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Faculty members Prabhakar Sharma, Somnath Bandyopadhyay and Kashshaf Ghani would also be present at the orientation programme. While Sharma is a Masters in water resources engineering from Washington State University Pullman, US, Bandyopadhyay studied environmental sciences in Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. Ghani, a passout of University of Calcutta, has interest in Sufism and Islam in South Asia.

The varsity has not issued any dress code for the orientation programme. But the 15 students and the seven faculty members, who will take part in the session, are expected to be at the convention centre on Friday in formals.

Educationists of the state expressed happiness over the revival of the ancient seat of learning on the eve of its debut in new avatar. Bharti S. Kumar, the retired head of the department of history, Patna University, said: “The revival of the ancient university will open new avenues of study and research.”

He urged the Indian government and the participating countries to take extra care of the university so that it becomes a centre of excellence.

The revival of Nalanda University, being developed around 15km from the ancient Nalanda University ruins and 4.5km from Peace Pagoda in Rajgir, germinated in 2007. Several Asian nations, including China, Singapore, Japan and Thailand, jointly announced the plan to revive the university of repute of the past. It reverberated with educational activities in Nalanda district from the 5th century AD to the 12th century, until it was ransacked and burnt to ashes by Turkish invaders.

The new university would be a global institution with focus on research and pan-Asian integration. It will stress on study of local issues of environment, agriculture and livelihoods.

The Indian government has sanctioned Rs 2,727.1 crore to the university for the construction of its campus during its establishment phase from 2010-11 to 2021-22.

The university has been receiving funds from its partner countries as well. “Australia has offered Australian$1 million for a Chair in the School of Ecology and Environment Studies. Japan has pledged its official development assistance for the renovation of highways leading to the university,” vice-chancellor Sabharwal said.

China would contribute US$1 million for a China floor in the library. Thailand has pledged US$1,00,000 and Laos US$50,000 for the revival of the ancient university.