Ruins of the ancient Nalanda University
Patna, Feb. 24: Nalanda University got another boost when Thailand today announced it would become a participating country for the ambitious project of reviving the glory of the ancient seat of learning.
The nine other foreign countries that have pledged to participate in the project are Australia, Cambodia, Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand, Laos, Myanmar, China and South Korea. India has already signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with these countries.
While seven of the countries signed MoUs during the East Asia Summit in Brunei in October 2013 in which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had taken part, China and South Korea inked the MoU later.
Sharing the developments about the Thai pledge for support to the university, which came during the meeting of the international advisory panel of Nalanda University in Rajgir today, vice-chancellor Gopa Sabharwal said: “The Thai ambassador to India, Chalit Manityakul, who, too, attended the international advisory panel meeting, agreed to become a partner in the international project.”
Sabharwal also said it would further strengthen the case of according international status to the university with more countries joining the project.
At the meeting, Manityakul, sources said, was impressed with the progress in starting the university courses later this year. Thailand has been quite keen for the international collaboration, the sources said, quoting Manityakul.
Thai princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who is on a visit to India, also took part in the meeting of the international advisory panel, which is headed by George Yeo, former foreign minister of Singapore.
Other prominent members who took part in the meeting were Hassan Wirajuda, former foreign minister of Indonesia and governing board member, and British economist Lord Meghnad Desai.
About Monday’s development, Anil Wadhwa, secretary (east), ministry of external affairs, said: “With Thailand agreeing to become a partner in the project, the international project would get more endowment from the Thai government.”
Nalanda University sources said even before becoming the participating countries in the international project, the Thailand government has provided $100,000. Japan has pledged to use its official development assistance for renovation of highways leading to the university.
Some of the participating countries, which have made voluntary contributions in the project, include China (donating $1 million), Laos ($50,000) and Australia. Australia offered Australian $ 1 million for a chair in the school of ecology and environment studies. Citizens of Singapore too have offered to design, build and delivery a university library at a cost of $5 million.
The idea to revive Nalanda University was first mooted in 2005 and by APJ Abdul Kalam, who was President then.