Nalanda revival in time race - Amartya Sen and Shashi Tharoor push for legislation

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By JAYANTH JACOB in Delhi
  • Published 14.09.09
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New Delhi, Sept. 13: Legislation for the proposed Nalanda International University, a revival of one of the first great universities in history, is racing against the winter session deadline.

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, Shashi Tharoor, the minister of state for external affairs, and the Bihar government have been pushing for the legislation. Sen chairs the mentoring group for the proposed university, whose other members include economist Meghnad Desai, Rajya Sabha member N.K. Singh, Sugata Bose of Harvard University and Wang Banwei of Beijing University.

Before a bill is brought before Parliament, the Prime Ministers of East Asian countries that partners in the project will adopt a document on the establishment of the university.

“I held discussions with Amartya Sen when he was here during Independence Day. We also discussed the progress of the project when we spoke again later,” Tharoor told The Telegraph.

“The state government is providing the land. It is not on the original Nalanda site, being protected by the Archaeological Survey of India, though it is a revival of the old university. Now, Parliament has to enact legislation on the university,” the minister said.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and Rajya Sabha MP from the JD(U), N.K. Singh, recently met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and foreign secretary Nirupama Rao to discuss the subject. “We hope the Prime Ministers of the East Asian countries adopt the document and Parliament passes the enabling legislation in the winter session,” N.K. Singh said.

Parliamentary legislation is required because the university is being set up with international collaboration. Some of the world’s best-known academics will teach there. Countries that have shown interest in the project include Japan, China, Thailand and Singapore.

An international board of trustees and an executive council will oversee the functioning of the university.

The university curriculum will focus on research involving collaboration among all these countries. Research on Buddhism will be an important component.

N.K. Singh said the members of the mentoring group had already seen the land where the proposed university would come up. The state government owns the land, he added.