Amartya Sen to head panel on Nalanda University


Patna : Nobel laureate Amartya Sen will head a panel that will oversee the opening of an international university in Nalanda in Bihar, and its first meeting will be held in Singapore in July.

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Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi made the announcement here Saturday.

"Amartya Sen will head the panel that will finalise the broad contours of Nalanda University and suggest ways to attract foreign investment," he said.

The idea of the university was first mooted in the late 1990s but it was President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam's initiative in early 2006 that gave shape to the project at the ancient site of Buddhist learning.

The excavated site of the ancient university at Nalanda is protected as a place of national importance. A 5th century architectural marvel, the university was home to over 10,000 students and nearly 2,000 teachers.

Other members of the panel are Sugata Bose, a grand nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, who teaches at Harvard University in the US, Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo and a minister each from China and Japan. All three countries are expected to fund the university.

After the Singapore meeting, three more meetings will held in China, Japan and Bihar.

Modi said the state government had begun acquiring 500 acres of land for the university.

The proposed university will be fully residential, like the ancient Nalanda seat of learning. In the first phase of the project, seven schools with 46 foreign faculty members and over 400 Indian academics would be established.

The university will impart courses in science, philosophy and spiritualism along with other subjects. A renowned international scholar will be its chancellor.

Nalanda is the Sanskrit term for "giver of knowledge". Nalanda University, which existed until 1197 AD, attracted students and scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey besides being a pedestal of higher education in India.

Though it was devoted to Buddhist studies, it also trained students in subjects like fine arts, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, politics and the art of war.