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Nalanda University was established in November 2010. The University came into being by a special Act of the Indian Parliament – a testimony to the important status that Nalanda University occupies in the Indian intellectual landscape. Nalanda is a stand alone international university unlike any other established in the country. Located in the town of Rajgir, in the northern Indian state of Bihar, Nalanda University is mandated to be "an international institution for the pursuit of intellectual, philosophical, historical and spiritual studies". This new university contains within it a memory of the ancient Nalnda University and is premised on the shared desire of member States of the East Asia Summit countries to re-discover and re-strengthen "educational co-operation by tapping the East Asia Regions centres of excellence in education…[and] to improve regional understanding and the appreciation of one another's heritage and history"(The Nalanda University Act).

 

 

Nalanda University has been designated as an "institution of national importance".  The particular emphasis of this university, an emphasis which sets it apart from all other existant universities in the region, is its foundational philosophy. This philosophy seeks to recover the lost connections and partnerships that existed in the region called Asia, before the onset of historical forces that led to their dissolution. Asian cultures have many such links that go deep into the past and are reflected in many common cultural features. The re-discovery of inter-Asian linkages in recent times has led to a resurgence in discovering and building upon a shared history. Nalanda University is envisaged as an icon of this new Asian renaissance: a creative space that will be for future generations a centre of inter- civilizational dialogue.

Nalanda's Revival

Eight hundred years after the destruction of Nalanda, former President of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, while addressing the Bihar State Legislative Assembly, in March 2006 mooted the idea of  reviving the university.  In his speech he envisaged it as a university that would revive the glory of the ancient  seat of learning.    

The State Government of Bihar quickly adopted the visionary idea and consulted the Government of India on the way ahead. It also began its search for a suitable location for the new Nalanda University.  It identified and acquired 450 acres of land for the University in Rajgir¸ Bihar.

The establishment of this University was marked by a high degree of cooperation by the State of Bihar and the Government of India. They set out to find the best minds they could put together to deliberate upon the form and structure of the new University and the international co-operation and partnership which would govern the establishment of the University. The team that was formed to oversee this project in June 2007, was termed the Nalanda Mentor Group and was chaired by Nobel Laureate, Professor Amartya Sen.  This Group is now the first Governing Board of the University.

 

Since the hallmark of the ancient Nalanda was its internationalism, the Government of India decided to share this proposal with the leaders of the East Asia Summit ('EAS').  The proposal was first shared with the sixteen members States of the EAS at the Cebu Summit in Philippines in January 2007.  The Member  States welcomed the regional initiative for the revival of Nalanda University. At the fourth Summit held in October 2009, at Hua Hin, Thailand, members supported the establishment of the Nalanda University and encouraged regional networking and collaboration between the University and existing centres of excellence in East Asia. 

 

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