Sushma Swaraj to inaugurate Nalanda University on Friday

The ancient Nalanda University, which had attracted students from the world over, will be formally inaugurated on Friday in its modern 'avatar' by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Patna: The ancient Nalanda University, which had attracted students from the world over, will be formally inaugurated on Friday in its modern 'avatar' by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi will also be present at the inaugural function to be held at Rajgir, around 100 km southeast of Patna.

Classes have already begun at the under-construction residential international university, located around 12 km away from the ruins of the ancient university, on September 1 by way of a soft launch and without any ceremony.

According to the programme schedule, Swaraj and other dignitaries will plant trees at the site after which the inaugural function would be held.

The Union government has sanctioned Rs 2,700 crore for the university, the idea of which was proposed by former President APJ Abdul Kalam while addressing a joint session of Bihar Assembly and Legislative Council in 2006.

The university will have seven schools for postgraduate and doctorate students by its scheduled completion in 2020.

Only two of them, the School of Ecology and Environmental Studies, and the School of Historical studies - are currently functioning with 15 students and 11 teachers.

Vice-chancellor Gopa Sabharwal said, "The present 15 were selected from over a thousand students from various countries, who had applied for the seven schools. While one of the students is from Japan, another is from Bhutan. More students will be joining in the coming days and months."

The ancient university began during the Gupta period in 6th century AD and came to an end after being destroyed in 1193 AD by the invading army of Turkish ruler Qutbuddin Aibak led by his general Bakhtiyar Khilji.

After Kalam mooted NU, the Singapore government proposed revival of the ancient University having international character, but suitable to the modern times.

Former Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also showed a keen interest in it and the work on the concept began soon after.

The NU came into existence by a special Act passed by the Parliament - The Nalanda University Act.

Several countries are pitching in with funds for the university with China contributing 1 million dollars, besides Singapore (5 million dollars), Thailand (1,00,000 dollars) and Australia (1 million Australian dollars).

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