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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Nalanda varsity revival, minus the Dalai Lama

July 12, 2010

ARCHIS MOHAN
The Telegraph (India)
July 8, 2010

New Delhi, July 8 -- Nalanda University will be
revived but the Dalai Lama will have no
association with the project to resurrect the
ancient seat of Buddhist learning, an omission
aimed at respecting China’s sensibilities.

The cabinet today decided to introduce a bill in
Parliament’s monsoon session to revive the
university under an international initiative
spearheaded by the East Asia Summit, a bloc of
which India is a member along with China and 14 other nations.

The university is likely to start by the end of
this year and Buddhist teachings will be an integral part of its curriculum.

The followers of the Dalai Lama -- seen as one of
the greatest exponents of Buddhism’s Nalanda
tradition -- appear to have taken the omission in
their stride. They say India’s decision is
ironical, but understandable, considering New
Delhi’s geopolitical compulsions. “That the
university is being revived with support from
Buddhist countries is more important than His
Holiness being part of the project,” said a long-time disciple.

It was the Tibetan Buddhists, like the Dalai
Lama, who kept the "Nalanda tradition" and the
teachings of Buddhism’s mahayana sect alive after
the burning of the university in the 12th century by invaders.

Although the Dalai Lama will have no role, the
revival plan will be spearheaded by a fellow
Nobel laureate: Amartya Sen. The economist from
Bengal heads the Nalanda Mentor Group, which has
held meetings across East Asia, including in
Singapore and China, to receive proposals for the university’s revival.

The mentor group, which will draft the
regulations next month, will be the university’s
interim governing body till the member-countries
of the East Asia Summit nominate board members.
The President will be the visitor. Gopa Sabharwal
of Delhi’s Lady Sri Ram College is tipped to be its first rector.

The international university will be an
autonomous institution with the Nalanda seal --
kept in a museum in Bihar’s Nalanda -- as its emblem.

The revival is being done through an
inter-governmental agreement between the
member-countries of the East Asia Summit. India
has decided to put in Rs 1,005 crore. The
Planning Commission will contribute Rs 50 crore
till the time the university becomes
self-sustainable. Countries of the grouping will
make voluntary contributions, though the
university will also generate funds through public-private partnerships.

"A project office has been leased out in New
Delhi for the proposed university. This office
will become functional after the bill is enacted
in Parliament," information and broadcasting
minister Ambika Soni said after today’s cabinet meeting.

The proposed university will have the following
schools -- Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and
Comparative Religions, Historical Studies,
International Relations & Peace Studies, Business
Management in relation to Public Policy and
Development Studies, Languages and Literature;
and Ecology and Environmental Studies.

The Bihar government has already acquired about
500 acres in Rajgir, in the vicinity of the original university site.

Another 500 acres are to be taken over. "The
revival of the university will also lead to
greater interest in the Buddhist circuits in
India, benefiting the tourism industry substantially," said Soni.

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