Nalanda: Prestigious Project and My Views

The issue raised by ‘Bihar Times’ about the VC of NIU, Dr. Gopa Sabhrawal and her team that has started operating from New Delhi, must be worrying to many who dreamt of the institute as the revival of the glorious past of Bihar in a grand manner. As I have written earlier I and many wished NIU to have score of autonomous International Schools for teaching, researching, and contributing in the knowledge domain of various subjects from humanities, law and medicine, to science and technology. The head of each of the autonomous school would have been the most respected person in the subject. Even the ancient Nalanda was not restricted to only Buddhist studies. May be that each participating country could have set up a school on a subject best developed by the country. Just for example, I wished Japan to set up a world class school for manufacturing and Japanese system of management. The university would have grown as one and only unique institute in the world attracting students and teachers from all over the world. I had person such as Jagdish Bhagwati in mind to head it as its first Vice Chancellor. I am sure there would have been other Indians and other nationals with worldwide accepted capability who would have been requested, if necessary, by the economist Prime Minister and the engineer Chief minister to help in setting up the institute and ensured of free hand and all support.

As the name includes International, I wished NIU to have the Vice Chancellor and heads of the schools selected from among the best in the world. However, Bihar Times’ question, “Did not Amartya Sen find anyone from Bihar, which has proven fertility in case of academics and scholarship?”is shocking. I wish the Bihar Times would have researched and suggested some names too.

The first Vice Chancellor of an institute such as NIU is certainly a very important person and would have been selected more prudently. Perhaps, the mentor group came to the decision a little too fast in a hurry.

I wonder why Nitish Kumar, who showed so much initiative and enthusiasm to get the project initiated and his protégé NK Singh could not take care of the long term interest of Bihar and the institution. The speed with which the land for the university was acquired and handed over was exemplary. Why is he shirking off the responsibility now?

After my blog on the subject, one of the two persons whose name was in media for VC wrote to me about his fear about the project.

“What will deter people from Nalanda is not hard work (anybody good works 20 hrs a day) or the conditions in Nalanda. It is that it is not clear that the basic plan of the University is well conceived or that there will be support for all the things that are necessary to make it a success. Money is not an issue. But the Mentor group did not understand Indian conditions and what should be in place for the Univ to be a success, and neither does the government.”

The communication highlights the apprehensions of the intellectuals about the government projects of national importance. The governance in the country will still take many years to mature to get the confidence of the people in its intention and support.

I fear the reports of the controversy in media are getting uglier. It should not name person/s and should point at the weakness of the system for such a prestigious project.

I had dreamed also of an international city growing around Nalanda International University on line it has happened over the years around many other universities. Will the government come out will the necessary clarifications to remove the clouds from around the project to see it executed fast.

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