PATNA: The resurrection of the 800-year-old Nalanda University finally began on Monday, with the idea mooted by former President APJ Abdul Kalam taking eight long years to get going.
Vice Chancellor Dr Gopa Sabharwal said though more than 1,000 students had applied for admission only 15 were found eligible. While the first batch has 15 students and 11 faculty members, only nine students attended classes on the inaugural day.
When asked about the poor enrolment, Sabharwal said it was due to lack of publicity about the international university.
The students who attended the inaugural classes were Arun Gandhi, Lubna Khan, Ranjit Kumar, Jyotimoy Kandula, Nawang (Bhutan), Asi Alawat, Yakiro Nakamora (Japan), Daniel and Sanah Salah. Not a single student joined the institution from countries that had signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nalanda University. The countries include Singapore, Australia, Cambodia, Brunei, New Zealand, Laos PDR and Myanmar.
Of the 11 faculty members, only six — Mihir Dev (Delhi), Somnath Bandopadhyaya (Delhi), Samuel Wright (California), Yin Ker (Malaysia), Kashyap Ghani (Kolkata) and Shrawan Mukherji (Kolkata) — conducted classes on the first day, sources said.
The significant absence of Chancellor Amartya Sen on the inaugural day surprised one and all since he was the key figure from the days of the university’s inception. Some observers believe that the likely poor strength in the classes may have forced Sen to skip the inauguration.
The classes would be held at the Rajgir Convention Centre and construction work in the university campus is likely to start from February 2015.
Making an exception, the government has kept the institution under the External Affairs Ministry and has given a liberal grant which has been largely used to pay the hefty salaries of the VC and other staff members.
The Bihar government has provided 455 acres of land for the university though only the boundary wall has been constructed so far.
Controversies have dogged the university, which was earlier under the scanner of a Parliamentary Select Committee and the CAG. The appointment of the VC, who is yet to become a professor, gave rise to discontentment in academic circles.
Dean of the university Anjana Sharma reportedly refuted the charge that Upinder Singh, daughter of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has been appointed as faculty. She said Upinder Singh may be invited as guest faculty.