Long defunct Nalanda University is to restart again. Once had been highly cherished for its intellectual and educational values, this one of the world’s most ancient universities will start functioning from February 2014, though beginning on a small scale. The first batch of students, faculty and staff will by the end of the February move to Rajgir which is about 100 km from Patna and adjacent to where the infrastructure of the international university is planned to be erected.
With the aim to become an international centre of learning in Bihar state and to restore its previous esteem, Nalanda University at present has 40 students or Nalanda fellows. However, they would operate out of the temporary campus till the actual structure comes up.
Supported by the Bihar government, this project will be monitored personally by the Bihar chief minister, Nitish Kumar.
Restructuring this old defunct university is an initiative of the Indian government and the 18 East Asia Summit (EAS) countries. It is set to come up around 12 km from its ruins of ancient times when it was attended by thousands of scholars and thinkers from all over the world till the 12th century AD. It was then smashed by an invading Turkish army led by Bakhtiyar Khilji, a general of Qutbuddin Aibak. They set the university on fire and the fire in the huge library is believed to have been on blaze for several days.
The modern centre of excellence is set to be raised within a 446-acre campus which is marked by around eight-km high boundary wall. Due to be completed by 2020, this residential university will have, as planned, seven schools - all for postgraduate and doctorate students, and its first academic session will be started from February, this year.
Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has been appointed as the chairperson of the university. The first batch of students would be enrolled for two postgraduate programmes in history and ecology and environmental studies.
The Nalanda University (Amendment) Bill 2013 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 05 September 2013 by the Ministry of External Affairs and was referred to a parliamentary standing committee whose report was set off in the Rajya Sabha during the winter session of parliament.
A huge amount of Rs. 2, 700 crore cost was cleared by the department of expenditure to spend on the establishment of the university over 10 years. However, the approval of the cabinet committee on economic affairs is now being sought.