Nearly 200 villages around the proposed Nalanda International University in Bihar will be developed soon. It will change the socio-economic conditions of thousands of families, eagerly waiting for development since the last several decades.
This was disclosed by none other than Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Patna on Friday.
"Nearly 50 villages around the proposed Nalanda International University have already been marked for the economic development and work is going on to identify other villages," Nitish said.
The Patna-based K P Jaiswal Reserach Institute was assigned the job by the state government early this year for identification of villages that were linked with the ancient Nalanda university.
Experts said that 200 villages used to be attached to the ancient Nalanda university.
Official sources in the Chief Minister's Office told rediff.com that Nitish Kumar is taking keen interest to develop villages around the proposed university to establish linkages like the ancient Nalanda university.
Nalanda, about 100 km from Patna, is the famous Buddhist centre of learning in Bihar. Lord Buddha is known to have visited the town several times. So did Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainisim.
Nalanda is also the home district of Nitish Kumar. He won the last Lok Sabha election in 2004 from Nalanda seat.
"The state government has chalked out a special plan to develop these villages," an official said.
All the basic amenities including, schools, roads, safe drinking water and electricity will be provided in these villages and job opportunities will also be created for the villagers.
The government will take help of international funding agencies and Japan, Singapore, Thailand and Mauritius for the development of these villages around the proposed university.
According to official sources, the villages will be developed in such a way to ensure the daily requirements of the students of the proposed residential university spread in nearly 500 acres of land.
The state government has already acquired the land.
"It will provide the best package for rehabilitation of all displaced farmers for acquiring the land for the university," officials said.
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 will strive to create a world free of war, terror and violence.
The government had appointed former president A P J Abdul Kalam as the first visitor to the proposed university.
The first meeting of the Nalanda Mentor Group, headed by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen to oversee the opening of the university was held in Singapore in July. Three more meetings will be held soon.
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.
Tibetan Spiritual leader Dalai Lama had offered to donate artifacts of Tibetan Buddhism to the proposed international university.
The detail project report was prepared by the Educational Consultants of India, a consulting company.
The DPR 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.
Some 1,137 students from both 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.
The excavated remains at Nalanda are protected as a site of national importance. The university, a 5th century architectural marvel, was home to over 10,000 students and nearly 2,000 teachers.
Nalanda is the Sanskrit name 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 like fine arts, medicine, mathematics.