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Kalam to attend first board meeting of Nalanda University

January 30, 2008 13:56 IST

Former president APJ Abdul Kalam will attend the first board meeting of the proposed Nalanda International University in Bihar on February 8.

"The first board meeting would chalk out a plan of action for setting up the Nalanda International University," Anjani Kumar Singh of the university's human resource development told on Wednesday.

A nine-member board headed by Y S Rajan, former advisor to the President of India, will also attend the first meeting of the board. The board was set up by the state government with an approved budget of Rs 1 crore to prepare a roadmap for the university and will function till its formal establishment.

The state government had appointed Kalam as the first visitor of the proposed university under the University of Nalanda Act, 2007. The Bihar assembly unanimously approved the University of Nalanda Bill, 2007, in March 2007 for the setting up of an international university. The bill stated that the international university would strive to create a world free of war, terror and violence.

The idea of the university was first mooted in the late 1990s, but it was Kalam's initiative in 2006 that gave shape to the project.

The first two meetings of the Nalanda Mentor Group, headed by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen to oversee the opening of the university, was held in Singapore, followed by Tokyo in 2007. The third meeting is scheduled to be held in China this year.

The detailed project report states that in its first phase, the university will offer only post-graduate, research, doctoral and post-doctoral degrees. However, the DPR is also in favour of offering undergraduate courses in specific areas.

The university will impart courses in science, philosophy and spiritualism along with other subjects. An internationally known scholar will be the chancellor of the university.

Around 1,137 students from India and abroad will be enrolled in the first year. By the fifth year, the number will go up to 4,530. In the second phase, the enrolment of students will increase to 5,812.

The university, on a sprawling 500-acre campus, will have a 1:10 faculty-student ratio. The 46 international faculty members will receive an estimated $36,000 per annum as salaries.

Nalanda, about 100 km from Patna, is a famous Buddhist centre of learning in Bihar. Lord Buddha is known to have visited the town several times, as did Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainisim.

Nalanda is also the home district of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who won the last Lok Sabha election in 2004 from the Nalanda seat.

Anand Mohan Sahay in Patna