Perhaps, Monday was the happiest day in former chief minister Nitish Kumar’s life.
One of his dream projects — rebirth of Nalanda University — that he initiated in 2006 is finally a reality now.
Nitish, in his blog, stated that on Monday he spoke with Nalanda University vice-chancellor Gopa Sabharwal and congratulated the teachers and the students.
“History has taken a turn today. Studies in Nalanda University have started again after more than 800 years,” he stated, stressing that the university was known as the centre of education throughout the world when there was no communication system and students came from far-flung areas in India and abroad to study at the varsity.
He added that more than 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers stayed in Nalanda during that time.
“Education in Nalanda was pure. It was bereft of commercialisation and professionalism. Strategies to defeat a nation in war were not taught. Rather it concentrated on the development of human beings. It served human civilisation from the 5th century to the 12th century. When it was destroyed, a phase of history ended. India’s leadership in the world in the field of education and the golden period of Bihar had its sunset,” he stated in the blog.
Nitish added that the roles of former President Abdul Kalam, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and former foreign minister of Singapore George Yo in starting the Nalanda University were crucial.
“The Centre and the state played a proactive role right from the vision of the university to the acquisition of land and making the temporary structure available. Everything was hastened,” Nitish observed, expressing hope that Bihar will regain its status of being an education hub.
Incidentally, the idea of starting the Nalanda University was mooted by Dr Abdul Kalam when he had addressed a joint session of the legislative bodies of Bihar in 2006.
The acquisition of around 500 acres in Rajgir met with strong resistance and Nitish had to face stone-pelting in his home district — Nalanda.
“Previously, it was a state-sponsored project and the Bihar government passed bills to establish the university. However, the Centre stepped in and declared that it would be a central project. Dr Amartya Sen was made the chancellor and chairman of the governing body. Nitish wanted Dr Kalam to be the ‘visitor’ of the university but the governing body was not keen. Nitish worked so hard to overcome so many hurdles for the project,” said a senior BJP leader, stressing that the credit should go to the former chief minister.