Prime Minister Modi to Inaugurate New Nalanda University Campus
Prime Minister Modi to Inaugurate New Nalanda University Campus

Patna: The new campus of Nalanda University, located near the ancient Buddhist center of learning in Bihar, is set to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday. This marks a significant milestone in an initiative that began nearly two decades ago.

Established in 2010 through an act of Parliament, Nalanda University was the result of decisions made at the second East Asia Summit in the Philippines in 2007 and the fourth East Asia Summit in Thailand in 2009. These summits called for the creation of an "international institution for the pursuit of intellectual, philosophical, historical, and spiritual studies."

The university received a major boost under the Bharatiya Janata Party government in 2014, starting its operations from a temporary location with 14 students. Construction of the new campus began in 2017, with a focus on reviving the legacy of the ancient Nalanda University, which was established in the 5th century and attracted students worldwide before being destroyed by invaders in the 12th century.

Wednesday’s inauguration will be attended by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and ambassadors from 17 participating countries, including ASEAN members. These countries—Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Mauritius, Myanmar, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam—have signed memorandums of understanding supporting the university.

Nalanda University currently offers 137 scholarships to international students, funded by the ASEAN-India Fund, BIMSTEC scholarships, and the Bhutan Scholarship from the Ministry of External Affairs. The university provides postgraduate, doctoral research, and short-term certificate courses.

The postgraduate programs have seen increasing enrollment over the past three academic years: 220 students (51 Indian and 169 international) in 2021-22, 228 students (55 Indian and 173 international) in 2022-23, and 322 students (69 Indian and 253 international) in 2023-24. Students have come from diverse countries including Argentina, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Liberia, Myanmar, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Thailand, Türkiye, Uganda, the US, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.

The university comprises six schools: the School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religions; the School of Historical Studies; the School of Ecology and Environmental Studies; the School of Sustainable Development and Management; the School of Languages and Literature; and the School of International Relations and Peace Studies, which is yet to commence. Additionally, there are four centers: the Center for Bay of Bengal Studies, Center for Indo-Persian Studies, Centre for Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies, and a Common Archival Resource Center.

The new campus features extensive facilities, including two academic blocks with 40 classrooms (seating 1,890), two administrative blocks, two auditoriums (seating over 300), hostels for nearly 550 students, and 197 academic residential units. Other amenities include a guesthouse, an international center, a dining hall for 1,000 people, an amphitheater for 2,000, a sports complex, a medical center, a commercial center, and a faculty club.

Nalanda University is a "net zero" green campus, boasting a 6.5-MW DC on-grid solar plant, a 500-KLD domestic and drinking water treatment plant, and a 400-KLD water recycling plant. The campus also includes 100 acres of water bodies and is nearing completion of a 1.2-MW AC biogas-based waste-to-energy plant.

A library capable of housing 300,000 books and accommodating 3,000 users is scheduled for completion in September, further enhancing the academic resources available at Nalanda University.

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