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Nalanda Mentor Group holds inaugural meeting in Singapore

Compiled by Tipitaka Network Newsdesk, Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Nalanda Mentor Group held its inaugural meeting in Singapore between July 13 and 15. The group is established by the Indian government to examine the framework of international cooperation and structure of partnership of the proposed International University at Nalanda, India.

The establishment of the group was announced by Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee during his visit to Singapore in June.

The University is to be established under an Inter-Governmental Agreement to be signed by interested member states of the East Asia Summit (EAS). The 16-member EAS grouping includes the 10 ASEAN members, China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

The mentor group is headed by Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen. The group will have four meetings before the East Asia Summit in November. After the Singapore meeting, three more are to be held in China, Japan and Bihar.

The Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore, host the Nalanda Exhibition on Buddhism in Asia in conjunction with the East Asia Summit.

The revival of the ancient Nalanda University in the Indian state of Bihar was raised by Indian President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam during his state visit to Singapore last January. Following his visit, Singapore hosted the Nalanda Symposium in November 2006.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced at the East Asia Summit in Cebu in January 2007 that India intended to redevelop Nalanda University as a centre for learning and inter-faith dialogue. He also said India welcomed cooperation from member countries of the East Asia Summit.

The Nalanda Mentor Group members comprise:

George Yeo, Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister
Ikuo Hirayama, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador
Professor Wang Bangwei, Peking University
Professor Sugata Bose, Harvard University
Lord Meghnad Desai, Professor Emeritus, London School of Economics
NK Singh, Deputy Chairman of the Bihar Planning Commission
Professor Tansen Sen, City University of New York and
Neelakantan Ravi, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs of India.

Alternate members are:

Professor Wang Gungwu, Chairman, East Asian Institute, Singapore and Susumu Nakanishi, Director, Nara Prefecture Complex of Man'yo Culture, Japan.

Earlier, Bihar state legislatures had passed a legislation for setting up the Nalanda University which embedded the concept of international partnership among various Asian countries to achieve the cherished goal.

Officials said the state government had begun acquiring the 500 acres of land needed for the university.

The excavated site of the ancient university at Nalanda is protected as a place of national importance. A fifth century architectural marvel, the university was home to over 10,000 students and nearly 2,000 teachers.

The proposed university will be fully residential, like ancient Nalanda. In the first phase, seven schools with 46 foreign faculty members and over 400 Indian academics will be established.

The university will have courses in science, philosophy and spiritualism along with other subjects. A renowned international scholar will be its chancellor.

Singapore, China and Japan are expected to fund the university.

Nalanda is the Sanskrit term for 'giver of knowledge'. Nalanda University, which existed until 1197 AD, attracted students and scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey, besides being a pedestal of higher education in India.

Though it was devoted to Buddhist studies, it also trained students in subjects such as fine arts, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, politics and the art of war.

Historians credit Nalanda with spreading Buddhism to South-East Asia, Sri Lanka, Korea, Japan, China and Tibet.

source: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/287845/1/.html
source: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/82304.html
source: http://www.indiaenews.com/education/20070709/59861.htm

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