Nalanda University - A quest to make India knowledge centre - Hindustan Times
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Nalanda University - A quest to make India knowledge centre

Jun 20, 2024 11:12 AM IST

At present, the institution runs six schools. There are 137 scholarships on offer for international students.

For Nalanda Univeristy, named after the ancient seat of learning that drew scholars from far and wide around 1600 years ago, the sprawling state-of-the-art Net Zero campus is a big step forward in the quest for the glory that once drew scholars from far and wide.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a group photo with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, EAM Dr S Jaishankar and others during the inauguration of the new campus of Nalanda University in Bihar on Wednesday(ANI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a group photo with Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, EAM Dr S Jaishankar and others during the inauguration of the new campus of Nalanda University in Bihar on Wednesday(ANI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed happiness that the university’s around 500 regular students are from 20 countries. “Nationality was not a criteria for admission in the ancient Nalanda and the new Nalanda will also develop on similar lines,” he said after inaugurating the campus.

Though the university shifted to its new under-construction campus in 2020, the work went into completing the huge exercise. The university had once planned inauguration by the PM during 2022, but that could not materialise. But the PM made sure that he should inaugurate it in the very month of his third term.

In pics: PM Modi inaugurates new campus of Nalanda University in Bihar

The infrastructure development work, said a senior official of the university, is 90% complete. It has 24 large buildings. The huge modern library and a 2000-capacity auditorium remain to be completed. The campus blends the flavour of the ancient Nalanda with modern facilities.

On September 1, 2014, the university had its tryst with destiny with the start of the academic session at the International Convention Centre at the Buddhist pilgrim town of Rajgir, barely 10 kms from the Nalanda ruins, which was declared a UN heritage site in 2016 and which formed the backdrop at the G-20 Summit last year.

The first phase of construction of the university campus included the construction of academic and administration buildings, residential buildings for faculty, staff and students, amenities buildings, campus Inn and the international centre.

Nalanda University is an Identity, an honour, says PM

In the first phase, the water bodies and lakes for rain water collection and distribution for the campus was developed. Besides, it included development of internal roads, walkways and landscape. The entire construction is in accordance with requirements of green building certification by GRIHA and net zero energy, water and waste management strategies.

The construction also involves innovative technologies for desiccant evaporative (DEVAP) cooling of the environment. The campus has water bodies spread across 100 acres in the 455-acre area.

The visualisation of the Nalanda University had started in 2006 itself when former President APJ Abdul Kalam had talked about reviving the glory of ancient Nalanda during his address at the Bihar Legislatire. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar referred to the Nalanda University journey while thanking the PM for speeding up the work to see this day.

At present, the institution runs six schools - Buddhist Studies, Philosophy & Comparative Religions; Historical Studies; Ecology and Environmental Studies; and Sustainable Development and Management. There are 137 scholarships on offer for international students.

The students enrolled in the postgraduate programmes and PhD programme for 2023-27, are from Argentina, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Liberia, Myanmar, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, the USA, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.

A new dawn for Nalanda: Reviving an ancient seat of learning

Nalanda University has collaborates with 17 nations, including Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Mauritius, Myanmar, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam. There are more likely in the days to come, said a university official.

However, the biggest challenge for the university will be to live up to the expectations it has been set up with, as it has to match the ancient Nalanda that had 10000 students and 2000 teachers from across the globe and was regarded as the world’s first residential university. The ancient one was destroyed by Bakhtiar Khilji in the 12th century, almost coinciding with the emergence of Oxford. Now, the new Nalanda has been set up to establish India as the knowledge centre of the globe that it once was in its quest to be a powerful nation.

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