In a recent international development, India inked MoUs with seven countries towards realization of the concept of revival of Nalanda University in Bihar. The MoU was inked between India and seven other nations namely Australia, Cambodia, Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand, Laos PDR and Myanmar. The agreements were signed during India’s participation in the ASEAN-India Summit and the East Asia Summit (EAS) held in Brunei. It is a forum for cooperation between various countries of this region with ASEAN and includes Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the US, in addition to the ten ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) countries.
About Nalanda University revival plan:
The idea to revive Nalanda University was first proposed in 2005 by then President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. India wanted to establish international institution that will promote the concept of an Asian community by bringing together future generations in a common objective of making new discoveries of old relationships to realize a unity of minds.
In this direction, the 2nd East Asia Summit held in 2007 in the city of Cebu, Republic of Philippines, resolved to strengthen regional educational co-operation by tapping the East Asia Region`s centres of excellence in education and for the revival of Nalanda University located in the state of Bihar in India to improve regional understanding and appreciation of one another`s heritage and history;
In 2009, the 4th East Asia Summit held in Hua Hin, Thailand, supported the establishment of Nalanda University and encouraged networking and collaboration between the proposed Nalanda University and existing centres of excellence in the participating countries of the East Asia Summit to build a community of learning where students, scholars, researchers and academicians can work together, symbolising the spirituality that unites all mankind.
Keeping these decisions in view, the Government of India has established Nalanda University in the state of Bihar by an Act of Parliament entitled `The Nalanda University Act, 2010 (No. 39 of 2010)`, as an international institution for the pursuit of intellectual, philosophical and spiritual studies and to encourage networking and collaboration between Nalanda University and existing centres of excellence, including in the participating countries of the East Asia Summit.
Nalanda University will enable participating countries to build an academic community where students, scholars, researchers and academicians can collaborate in developing Nalanda University as an international centre of excellence.
What is in the MoU signed by India and the participating countries?
The MoU has the following key points:
- Nalanda University will be a non-state, non-profit, self-governing international institution and will have full academic freedom for the attainment of its objectives.
- It will be located at Rajgir in Nalanda District in the state of Bihar in India (Host Country).
- It will have full legal personality in the Host Country.
- It will have the power to confer degrees, diplomas and certificates.
Objectives and Functions of Nalanda University
- To establish an international institution of learning that will bring together the brightest and the most dedicated students from all countries irrespective of gender, caste, creed, disability, ethnicity or socio-economic background and to give them the means needed for the pursuit of intellectual, philosophical, historical and spiritual studies and thus achieve qualities of tolerance, accommodation and mutual understanding.
- To build an Asian community of learning where the intellectual potential of every student can be developed to the fullest extent possible, and to create an Asian community by strengthening regional awareness.
- To impart education towards capacity-building of Asian nations in the domain of philosophy, language, history and other areas of higher learning vital for improving the quality of their life and those of their brethren.
- To contribute to the promotion of regional peace and vision by bringing together future leaders who by relating to their past history can enhance their understanding of each other`s perspectives.
Funding for Nalanda University revival plan
- The funding for the establishment and operations of the University will be on a voluntary basis.
- It will be governed by a Governing Board who will be drawn from amongst distinguished persons from India and abroad. The President of India will be the Visitor of the University.
- The members on the Governing Board will include 5 representatives from participating nations of the East Asia Summit to enhance their role in developing Nalanda University as an international institution of excellence.
- The Vice-Chancellor appointed by the Governing Board will be the head of the varsity.
The University, its assets, income and other property, in the host country, will be:
- Exempt from all direct taxes. However, the University will not claim exemption from taxes which are in fact no more than charges for public utility services;
- Exempt from customs duties and prohibitions and restrictions on imports and exports in respect of articles imported or exported by the University for its official use, subject to the provisions of pertinent laws, rules and regulations, and provided that articles imported under such exemptions will be disposed of in accordance with local laws of the Host Country; and
- Exempt from customs duties and prohibitions and restrictions on imports and exports in respect of its publications.
Privileges and Immunities
- The University, the Vice Chancellor and its academic staff, and where applicable their dependents and members of the family, will be accorded such privileges and immunities in the Host Country as provided in the Headquarters Agreement signed between Nalanda University and the Government of India.
Visa and Work Permits
- The Host Country will provide appropriate visas to the students, faculty and staff for travel to India to study or work in the University.