Nalanda blame game begins

The government blamed the Centre on Wednesday, accusing it of slacking in submitting a proposal with Unesco to include the ancient Nalanda university ruins on the World Heritage Sites list.

By Piyush Kumar Tripathi and Amit Bhelari
  • Published 23.06.16
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The government blamed the Centre on Wednesday, accusing it of slacking in submitting a proposal with Unesco to include the ancient Nalanda university ruins on the World Heritage Sites list.

Deputy chief minister Tejaswi Yadav told The Telegraph that the onus was on the Centre to prepare a technically sound proposal for the ruins. He insisted that the Union ministry of culture submitted the proposal through the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Bihar government had very little role in it.

The Telegraph reported in its "Dossier damper on Nalanda tag" report on Wednesday that the International Council of Monuments and Sites, a professional agency that offers advice to Unesco on World Heritage sites, has pointed out several "weak points" in its proposal submitted for inclusion of the ruins on the coveted list.

Unesco included the Nalanda ruins on its tentative list of World Heritage sites in 2009.

Reacting to the report, Tejaswi said Union culture minister Mahesh Sharma couldpersonally visit the Nalanda ruins to assess the ground-level situation. The state government, the deputy chief minister promised, will provide all possible support to him for getting the ancient university ruins included on the World Heritage list expected to be declared in mid-July.

"The ancient Nalanda university ruins are a matter of pride for not only Bihar but the entire country," he said. "It symbolises a high level of education in India even in the ancient times. Even today, the Nalanda ruins are the second most visited place in India for Buddhist followers and pilgrims from across the world after Bodhgaya. If Unesco is unsatisfied with the proposal submitted for inclusion on the World Heritage list, it shows the lack of seriousness of the central government."

Senior BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Sushil Kumar Modi, however, put the blame on the Nitish Kumar government.

"Any government would want the maximum number of sites to be included on the World Heritage list. It is, in fact, a matter of pride for all of us that the Nalanda ruins are included on the tentative list of the World Heritage Sites," he told The Telegraph. "Whatever shortcomings have been identified by Unesco in the dossier submitted for inclusion of the Nalanda ruins in the final list would be rectified. All possible efforts would be made to ensure that it gets included on the World Heritage list next year."

According to documents submitted by ASI to Unesco, the ancient Nalanda university rose into prominence in 5th century AD as a great monastic-cum-educational institution for Oriental art and learning in the whole Buddhist world, attracting students and scholars like Hiuen Tsang and I-Tsing from China and other distant countries.

The process of preparing the nomination dossier - a formal application for seeking a position on the coveted list - started in 2013. Sources claimed the ASI made several delays in submitting the dossier with the culture ministry. It was supposed to submit the dossier by September 1, 2014 but finally submitted it in October the same year.

"If Unesco is not satisfied with the dossier, which took three years to be prepared, one can imagine the level of seriousness which must have gone into it," Tejaswi said. "If the Union culture minister, Mahesh Sharma, feels certain criteria have not been fulfilled, then he can personally visit Nalanda to review the situation. The state government will leave no stone unturned to ensure that Nalanda is included on the World Heritage list."