16 June, 2021

Nalanda: An Avatar In Distress

The resurrection of an ancient centre of learning runs into modern problems

Manoj Sinha
Nalanda: An Avatar In Distress

Some nine centuries after the great seat of Buddhist learning was felled by the march of history, Parliament passed the Nalanda University Act in August 2010. Controversies continue to swirl around this ancient university being brought to life by an act of faith and law, mentored by a high-powered group of worthies led by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen. Questions continue to be asked about this modern-day liberal university in the making. Will Nalanda University take shape in New Delhi or in Nalanda, near Patna? Will its vice-chancellor be permanent? But most importantly, can Bihar, not exactly known for the quality of higher education it imparts, play host to an international university which, in its heyday (possibly in the Gupta dynasty era from the 6th century BC to the 12th century AD) was the repository of world knowledge?

The search for answers confuses matters even further. A call to the Union human resources and development ministry is almost invariably deflected to the Union ministry of external affairs, which is the nodal ministry...

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