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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Future Perfect

June 10, 2008

Pranava K Chaudhary,TNN
Times of India
June 8, 2008

A throwback to the ancient and a vision for the future. That's how
the present is conceived. The proposed Nalanda International
University (NIU) will play a vital role in reviving the ancient glory
of Nalanda and spreading Buddha's message of international peace and
universal brotherhood across the world in the coming years, chief
minister Nitish Kumar said in Patna recently .

To revive the ancient glory, villages neighbouring the ancient site
of Nalanda will be linked with NIU. Patna-based K P Jayaswal Research
Institute has been entrusted with the job to identify 200 nearby
villages in this region. That an international university at Nalanda
should be set up on the pattern of the ancient centre of education
excellence was one of the 10 visions of former President A P J Abdul
Kalam for the overall development of Bihar. Kalam spelt out his
visions during his address to the joint session of the Bihar
legislature in 2006.

Foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee announced the constitution of the
Nalanda Mentor Group (NMG) in Singapore to help in framing the
details of the proposed university. The first meeting of NMG held in
Singapore last year discussed the organizational structure and the
syllabi for the new institution.

Chaired by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, the eight-member NMG team,
included Singapore's foreign minister George Yeo, Hirayama Ikou of
Japan, Chinese professor Wang V besides Lord Meghnad Desai, Subhash
Chandra Bose's grand nephew Sugata Bose, who teaches at Harvard
University, professor of Buddhism at New York University Tansen Sen
and former professor of history at Delhi University D N Jha. Last
year a Japanese delegation, including two members of that country's
parliament, met Nitish Kumar with a proposal to set up a university
at Nalanda. The delegation, which had earlier met the then President
Kalam in New Delhi, also expressed its willingness to invest in the
project so as to revive the glory of the ancient institution. Without
specifying the exact quantum of investment, a member of the Japanese
team said, "It will be substantial." On its part, the state
government has acquired 500 acres of land between Rajgir and Nalanda
for the university.

Enter Suresh Bhatia, better known as Peace Pilgrim. He has been an
integral part of excavations of ancient Buddhist sites since 1987. A
passionate photographer, who worked for an advertising agency before
venturing into Buddhism, he is also the director of the Buddhist Heritage.

Now 60, Bhatia met his first Buddhist teacher Kalu Rinpoche, founder
of Karma Karju, a Tibetan Buddhist tradition at Sonada, at Darjeeling
in 1982. "I have made extensive exploration of forgotten sites of
Nalanda and Gaya. In the past few months, I have been travelling in
remote areas and heard stories of how the idols of Buddha and
Mahayana were stolen and sold to smugglers. I am writing a book— The
Buddhist Heritage of Bihar," Bhatia told TOI. "The objective of my
work," Bhatia said, "is to update history and promote the Buddhist
sites in Bihar."
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