Global design competition for Nalanda university

Monday, February 21, 2011

NEW DELHI - As the historic Nalanda University is set to be rebuilt, Vice Chancellor Gopa Sabharwal said Monday that a global design competition for the building’s architecture will be announced in three to four months.

Talking to reporters in Delhi at a press conference, the newly appointed vice chancellor said that the new university will be built on an area of 446 acres, 10 km from the site of the ancient university of Nalanda in Bihar.

The university will be built in Rajgir, which is 10 km from the site of the historic Nalanda university. A global designing competition will be announced in coming three or four months for finalising the architecture,” Sabharwal said.

The Nalanda University Bill was passed by the parliament during the monsoon session in August 2010 and a notification for its creation was issued in November.

While the work for creation of infrastructure has already begun, the construction of the building and other details will start once the designs are finalised.

The design must get ready by next year. We will try to built it as soon as possible but it is difficult to give a time frame,” she said.

The university, which will be an international state-of-the-art institution, will have post graduate courses in six disciplines.

The course include Buddhist studies, philosophy and comparative religions, historical studies, international relations and peace studies, business management in relation to public policy and development studies, languages and literature and ecology and environmental studies.

Talking about the courses, Nalanda mentor group chairman and nobel laureate Amartya Sen said that the courses like Buddhist philosophy and religious studies aimed at connecting the modern university to its historic past when Nalanda was the centre of learning that attracted students from all over the world.

Courses like Buddhist studies, comparative religion, literature and history will connect it to its past. I hope some day we can also include astronomy in the courses as it was taught in the ancient Nalanda university,” Sen said.

Asked about the absence of science related courses, Sen said that creation of infrastructure was one of the main reasons for this.

“You cannot teach science without a lab, so infrastructure was one of the main reasons why we have stressed on humanities. In the course of time, science courses will get included,” he said.

While the government of India has created an endowment fund for the creation of the university, the project has also attracted contributions from many other countries including Singapore, Australia and China.

We got $7 million from Singapore, $1 million from China, Australia is funding a chair, while Laos has given $50,000,” Sabharwal said.

Speaking on the occasion, Foreign Minister of Singapore George Yeo said that the aim was to create a university to facilitate exchange of ideas.

“It will be a place where human beings gather and each contribute to development of others,” Yeo said.

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