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Nalanda University (Amendment) Bill, 2013

  • The Nalanda University (Amendment Bill), 2013 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on September 5, 2013 by the Ministry of External Affairs and was referred to the Standing Committee for detailed examination. The Act establishes Nalanda University in Bihar as a result of decisions taken at the East Asia Summits.
  • Under the Act, the University is a non-profit public-private partnership, supported by each member country as well as other sources. The Bill amends the Act to provide for the Government of India to meet the university’s capital and recurring expenditure to the extent required.
  • The powers of the University are amended to include the power to set up a consortium of international partners to meet the objectives of the University, and appoint persons working in any other University or academic institution, including those located outside India, as faculty of the University.
  • The size of the Governing Board of the University is being increased to include two persons of eminence and two members from the academic faculty of the University. The Bill also makes provision for the appointment of Deans and Provosts.
     

 

 

 President graces Nalanda University convocation

PATNA : Nalanda University held its first convocation on August 27 here which was graced by the university's Visitor, President Pranabh Mukherjee who also laid the foundations stone of its new campus at Rajgir, Nalanda.

Mr Mukherjee who addressed the first convocation of the university said that he wished the university will truly attain the status of Nalanda of yore.

He said that there are many practices of ancient Nalanda which are worthy of emulation by the new Nalanda. One of the most important characteristics of ancient Nalanda was that it was an international institution where inter-Asian connections, in particular, flourished. Chinese monks like Xuan Zang, Yijing and Huichao among others visited, lived, studied and taught in Nalanda. At a later period, scholars from Tibet kept coming to Nalanda for studying Buddhism and other branches of knowledge. Monks from several other countries including Sri Lanka also came to Nalanda, revealing the diversity of religious and cultural influences on the institution. And, the traffic was not just in one direction. Monks from Nalanda spread their wisdom across the world and had reached China before Xuan Zang’s visit to India.

The President said that the ancient Nalanda was known for the high level of debate and discussion it nurtured. It was not a mere geographical expression but it reflected an idea and a culture. Nalanda conveyed the message of friendship, cooperation, debate, discussion and argument. Discussion and debate are part of our ethos and life.

The President said though the main subjects of study were the Buddhist texts, importance was also given to critiques of Buddhism by various schools, study of Vedas and beyond. The lesson for modern Nalanda is to ensure that this great tradition finds new life and vigour within its precincts. Universities must be the bastions of free speech and expression. It must be the arena where diverse and conflicting schools of thought contend. There should be no room for intolerance, prejudice and hatred within the spaces of this institution. Further, it must act as a flag bearer for the coexistence of multiple views, thoughts and philosophies.

The President said Nalanda was a melting pot of civilizations and modern India should remain the same. We should not close our windows and yet we should not be blown off by winds from outside. We should let the winds flow freely from all over the world and get enriched by them. We should embrace free discussion and debate leaving behind narrow mindsets and thoughts. (Courtesy : PIB)

Nalanda varsity ruins in Unesco heritage list

By Sanjiv Dube
NEW DELHI :
The Centre and Bihar governments' seven-year-long efforts finally bore fruit on July 15. UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, currently meeting in Istanbul included the Nalanda ruins under the "cultural properties" category.   

Nalanda is Bihar's second heritage site to be included in the UNESCO's heritage list -- the first being Mahabodhi Mahavihara in Bodhgaya which was included on June 27, 2002.

Rakesh Tiwari, director-general, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has confirmed the news about Nalanda. "Ruins of the ancient Nalanda University were inscribed on Unesco's World Heritage list on Friday," he said, adding "the final decision was taken today to include it in the coveted list following voting for the same."

The event was preceded by many ups and downs as the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), a Unesco agency that evaluates nominated World Heritage sites wasn't initially satisfied with the Indian presentations forcing Ruchira Kamboj, permanent representative of India to Unesco, to fly from Paris to Istanbul to convince the committee.

Nalanda was established in the third century BC as a monastery but it developed as a university by 4th-5th century AD. ICOMOS in its report had stated that the dossier for the Nalanda ruins provides a weak argument on Nalanda's superiority as a university in comparative analysis with old varsities in Paris and Bologna, Italy. It took time to convince the World Heritage Committee that though the European universities had flourished in the medieval period (AD 500 to about 1500), Nalanda had grown to a large institution of learning by the fourth century AD.

The ASI pointed out to Unesco that Nalanda was a great monastic-cum-educational institution for oriental art and learning in the Buddhist world, attracting students like Hiuen Tsang and I-Tsing from China and other countries.

According to ASI records, Nalanda university flourished as a university 700-800 years after its establishment as a monastery. In the seventh century AD, there were around 1,500 students and 1,000 teachers in the university. The students and teachers came from all across India, China, Tibet, Nepal, Korea and several other Southeast Asian countries. The university had big classrooms, hostels, laboratories and libraries among other facilities. Apart from Buddhist studies, other streams including human sciences were taught, and there were clearly specified procedure for admission to the university.

As per ASI records, subjects taught at Nalanda included theology, grammar, logic, astronomy, metaphysics, medicine and philosophy. There are references that the ancient Nalanda city was spread over an area of 16 square kilometres, of which only an area of around 1 sq km is excavated. The extensive remains are of six brick temples and eleven monasteries arranged in a systematic layout.

Unesco had first included Nalanda in its tentative list of World Heritage site in the year 2009. The process of preparation of the fresh nomination dossier - a formal application for seeking a position in the coveted list - started in 2013.

Nalanda varsity comes alive after 800 years

By Our Correspondent
PATNA :
Without Nagarjuna or Shilabhadra, the university of Nalanda came to life once again nearly 800 years after it was destroyed by Muslim raiders.

On September 1 eleven teachers and 15 students gave university chancellor Amartya Sen's dream project a symbolic start at a makeshift campus, 12 km away from the ruins of ancient Nalanda University, which was destroyed by Muhammad Bin Bakhtiyar Khilji, a general of Mohammad Ghori in the 12th century.

Gopa SabharwalTo begin with, classes started in ecology and environmental studies besides historical studies. “We are in the process of accepting more students and our faculty members, too, will be joining us once their previous engagements are over,” said the university Vice-Chancellor Gopa Sabharwal.

The university administration has made a temporary arrangement to lodge its students in a state government hotel, where it has hired 40 rooms and three suites for holding classes. “One floor of the hotel is for the boys, while another one is for girls. The university will run a mess at the hotel for its students as well as faculty members,” the VC said.

The VC Gopa Sabharwal and dean, academic planning, Anjana Sharma apprised the 15 students of the first batch of the mission and vision of the university. Five faculty members and other varsity officials were also present in the one-hour-45-minute event that was followed by high tea.

The event began with the book signing by Nalanda Pioneers — the first batch of students — at the first floor foyer of the Rajgir Convention Centre, around 5 km from the varsity’s upcoming new campus and around 2 km from the Rajgir bus stand. Then the venue of the programme shifted to the ground floor auditorium, where dean Sharma welcomed the students. Lighting of the traditional lamp followed at 3.05pm.

Thereafter, Sabharwal addressed the students. She made a PowerPoint presentation on the varsity, focusing on its vision and mission.


The university came into being following passage of the “Nalanda University Act” in November 2010.

Inspired by the erstwhile Nalanda Mahavihara, where the university offered a choice of many subjects — philosophy, astronomy, literature, logic, Buddhism and Hinduism —the modern Nalanda University has been funded by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and other ASEAN (Association for South-East Asian Nations) countries. The tuition fee for the PG courses has been pegged at Rs 3 lakh per annum, plus an administrative charge of Rs 75,000, besides fee for boarding and lodging.

High hopes

The university has triggered off high hopes among the local residents who feel that the university will give the sleepy township, Rajgir, an economic boost.

The local dhabhas and street food joints are optimistic that they will cater to more customers, while owners of departmental stores are confident about an upsurge in business once the university gets going. The jobless ones see it as a source of employment.

Sanjay Singh, the president of Rajgir Hotel Association, said: “We expect more guests in this tourism town once the university starts functioning. Parents of the students would put up in hotels whenever they come to visit their wards. That way, there will be an upswing in business in the hospitality sector in the near future.”

Average occupancy rate at Rajgir’s premium hotels is 30-35 per cent. At budget hotels, the figures vary from 45 to 50 per cent.

Ranjan said: “Students from across the globe would come to study at Nalanda University. Naturally, our occupancy rate will go up in the days to come.”

With Nitish no more Bihar chief minister, Rajgir residents seem to be now banking on the university for an economic boost. Ashok Kumar, the proprietor of a departmental store at the Rajgir bus stand square, barely 2.5 km from the upcoming Nalanda University campus, said: “Nitish had tried to promote Rajgir as a tourism destination. But it is history now. We are now banking on the university to boost our business. I’m sure its rippling effect will push up my sales.”

Centre okays global status, money to Nalanda

From Sanjiv Dube
NEW DELHI
: On February 28 the Union cabinet approved an allocation of Rs 2,727.10 crore to Nalanda University to meet its financial requirements from 2010-11 to 2021-22 and approved tax exemptions to the institution.

It also approved amendments to the Nalanda University (Amendment) Bill, 2013 as suggested by Parliament`s Standing Committee on External Affairs and accepted by the Government.

The university, coming up near the site of the ancient seat of learning in Nalanda, about a hundred kilometres from Patna, is scheduled to start classes in autumn this year.

The cabinet had, in June last year, approved the Nalanda University (Amendment) Bill, 2013. However once it was tabled in the Rajya Sabha, it was referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs which submitted its report recently. The matter was again brought to the cabinet as the government wanted to accept a few suggestions of the committee.

The government on Friday agreed to incorporate amendments to the Nalanda University (Amendment) Bill, 2013, as suggested by the parliamentary panel.

The parliamentary panel had suggested amendments such as making the governing board a seven-member body instead of five, one each nominated by seven participating and non-participating countries of the East Asia Summit. Countries, such as China, Thailand, Laos, Singapore, Australia, and Japan have either made or offered voluntary contributions.

The panel also suggested inclusion of words such as “non-state, non-profit, self-governing international institution having academic freedom for attainment of these objectives.” It had suggested among others that the Vice-Chancellor shall also perform the role of member-secretary of the governing board.

A press note issued by the Press Information Bureau here on February 28 said that the preamble of the University Act would include that it is a “non-state, non-profit, self-governing international institution having academic freedom for attainment of these objectives”.

To further buttress the international stature of the institution, the cabinet also gave the go-ahead to the Headquarters Agreement, which has been signed between the Ministry of External Affairs and the Nalanda University for giving privileges and financial immunity like tax exemptions to the university and its staff. The agreement has been partly notified pending clearance from the cabinet.

Section 21 of the Nalanda University Act says that the members of all academic staff and their dependents shall enjoy privileges like exemption from taxation in respect to salaries, honoraria, allowances and other emoluments in connection with their services.

However, the Central government had to enter into an agreement with Nalanda University to ensure such privileges are made available. The MEA had prepared a Headquarters Agreement in this regard which was signed in July last year.

Under this, the foreign academic staff will get appropriate visas and be exempt from foreigners’ registration.

The agreement said the foreign faculty and staff members will enjoy the freedom to maintain within India movable and immovable properties. They can purchase, hold or dispose of any currencies, securities and funds through authorised channels.

Such privileges are extended only to the personnel of other international organisations such as WHO, Unesco and Unicef.

The Act will have a provision to extend similar immunities to the university. This means the assets of the university and its income will be exempt from all direct taxes, customs duties and prohibition and restriction on imports and exports in respect of articles imported or exported by the university.

The amended bill will now be brought to Parliament for passage.

Vice-chancellor Gopa Sabharwal expressed happiness over the cabinet’s decision for funding and bringing amendments to the Nalanda University Act. “The amendments approved have retained the international character of the university,” Sabharwal said.

The PIB press note quoted the following as the amendments proposed by the Standing Committee and accepted by the Government:

i. In respect of the University, inclusion of the words "non-state, non-profit, self-governing international institution having academic freedom for attainment of these objectives" in the Preamble;

ii. Also, a mention of the inter-governmental Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of Nalanda University that came into force on October 10, 2013 and the provision that any other State that subscribes to the object and purpose of the establishment of the University to become signatory to the MoU;

iii. Vice-Chancellor shall also perform the role of Member-Secretary of the Governing Board;

iv. The Nalanda Mentor Group will continue as Governing Board till members referred to in clauses (c) to (h) of sub-section (1) of section 7 are nominated;

v. The Headquarters Agreement specifying privileges and immunities of the academic staff will be made applicable from the date of signing of such Agreement; and

vi. Instead of five members from the participating countries of the East Asia Summit, the Governing Board will have seven members, one each nominated by seven participating and non-participating countries of the East Asia Summit.

The jurisdiction of the University shall extend to the whole of India and to centres established within or outside India. The University is an international institution of national importance.

Backgrounder

The Nalanda University (Amendment) Bill, 2013, designed to further streamline the governance structure of the University and provide it the financial support required for the establishment of a world class institution of high learning, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha in August 2013. The Parliament`s Standing Committee on External Affairs scrutinised the Bill and presented its Report to both the Houses on 17thDecember, 2013.

The Committee endorsed the objectives and the following specific provisions of the Amendment Bill:

1) The Government of India may meet both capital and recurring expenditure of the University to the extent required;
2) Retrospective application of the University`s Statutes, Ordinances and Regulations;
3) President of India will be the Visitor of the University;
4) Two members of the academic faculty will be nominated by the Vice-Chancellor to the Governing Board;
5) Secondment of persons to join the University will be allowed; and
6) Non-participating countries of the East Asia Summit will be allowed to collaborate in developing the University as an international centre of excellence.

 

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