Stung by scathing criticism against arbitrary and opaque manner in which Nalanda University Project is being run by Amartya Sen, Sen decided to give a befitting reply to Nalanda critics through a speech on the subject of “Nalanda -World’s Oldest University and Contemporary Asia” at Asia Society, New York on 22nd September, 2011.The speech turned out to be a dumb show as his eloquence failed while comparing Takshshila University and Nalanda University.
He chose to straddle a different path. His musings were concentrated on Newton’s mystical propensity, Galileo and the University of Padua, Al-Azhar University, Oxford and Bolonia. Nothing on Nalanda tradition, Buddhist studies, Nalanda Masters like Nagarjuna, Kamalshila, Shantideva, Dinnaga. There was no justification on the appointment of hand-picked VC , her astronomically high salary, non-furnishing of Final report. But, he was in for a surprise. The unexpected occurred when the anchor raised the issue of allegation of corruption. Amartya Sen had to give a clarification that no money goes through his hand and raised the bogey of another ‘Anna Hazare” rising against him. He recorded a 4-minute 27 seconds video to respond to Nalanda critics and the same was uploaded on the Asia Society Homepage. Amartya Sen finds himself on a shaky foundation.He realized that critics voices are gaining appeal in his presumed citadel of NewYork. He decided to spring a befitting surprise to Nalanda critics back in India.
On 6th October, an Open Session on ''A 21st Century University: (Re) Calling the Past' was organized at Nehru Memorial Museum & Library Auditorium, Teen Murti House, ostensibly as a cover –up exercise. MEA issued media advisory to journalists to attend the same. Nalanda University staff went in a dizzy frantically calling journalists and editors to join Professor Amartya Sen for an open session on Nalanda University. But, the massive effort met with further embarrassment. Sen was not forthcoming on any issue. He admitted about the astronomically high salary of the VC-designate and advised her to voluntarily cut at par with the VCs as prescribed in the UGC regulations. At least ,he conceded that the UGC norms does exist, in contrast with his hand-picked VC-designate, who is outlandish in rejecting every rule, regulation and accountability for the functioning of the University. He muttered another lie that Kalam was appointed Visitor when he was the President, and now that he no longer is the President; he does not want to be a Visitor. Sen again is on a misinformation trail. Kalam was appointed Visitor by the Bihar Government on 24th August, 2008 when he was no longer the President. Kalam even visited Nalanda in February, 2008 and was elated with the future task to accomplishing the mission of reviving a great centre of learning. Kalam’s term as President was over on 24th July,2007.
When journalists raised the pointer as to when the University is set to be functional, he refused to give any time-frame and blamed "over bureaucratic control" and "difficulty" in getting funds for the delay in setting up the varsity. It is a new alibi to divert criticism against own incompetence.
Only a few weeks earlier, in his speech and an interview given to Shreeya Sinha, an award-winning young journalist; Amartya Sen had blamed “hierarchic and caste-ridden mindset” of the academicians who had raised the issue of minimum eligibility for the post of the Vice Chancellor. Now another reason , another scapegoat only to make merry and para-hopping at the cost of public exchequer to continue with privileges extended to unauthorized close-group.
One thing that has clearly emerged is that Amartya Sen is too old now and has gone into geriatric mode. He needs rest to refresh memories. On 6th July, 2011; the NMG functioning as Interim Governing Board also incorporating in the group a Vice Chancellor –designate who is not authorized by law to be the member of the Interim Governing Board, declared to media at Patna that “the Nalanda University will begin its academic activities from the 2013-14 session from rented premises”. Within few months, Amartya Sen’s non-committal to furnish any prospective time period takes out the winds out of the motley group’s consistent bragging.
After the third Meeting of the Nalanda Mentor Group at New York in the first week of May,2008 Amartya Sen stated ''We are expecting that the foundation of the institution, with some luck, would be sometime in 2009. By the time classes begin it has to be more time, possibly a year or two from then,''.
Again in an interview to All India Radio on August 19, 2008, when asked when students will start getting enrolled at Nalanda University, Sen remarked "Yes, 2010 is very likely,"
In the first meeting of the interim Governing Board held at New Delhi on February 21, this year; his team claimed that the revived Nalanda University plans to start its first session at a new campus by 2013.
China could build the world’s longest sea-link bridge that stretches to 41.58 km and links the port city of Qingdao to Huangdao district in the eastern part of the country within four years(2007-2011). But, here is a man with all sorts of awards in his kitty, who has led a team for four years just to plan about building a university and is now admitting that there is no time-line for the project. He is blaming the critics, academic community, Indian minister and now bureaucracy for the “delay”. He being a Member of the National Committee on Commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda must have read what Swami Vivekananda expressed in a lucid poem, “No One But Me to Blame.” It is another matter that he never found time to attend single meeting in this National Committee, too busy with his itinerary of addressing the mighty business leaders and the high-ranking western universities. Though the Buddhist itinerants spread the fragrance of “One Asia’ from the hub of Nalanda on mule and foot; the postmodern airborne itinerant has brought into disrepute a pious tradition by his omission and commissions and all “wrongful reasons.” Will he ever recite “No One But Me to Blame! No One But Me to Blame !”?
(Niraj Kamal is the President, Society for Asian integration and renowned for his published works on the philosophy of Pan-Asianism. He is a published poet.)
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this report are purely those of the author and may not in any circumstances be regarded as the official view of BiharTimes.
We really appreciate the efforts of Bihar Times to keep the MENTOR GROUP under pressure . Here in
Singapore (where I stay) "The Straits Times" had also a week back came out with news article on
NALANDA UNIVERSITY with issues close to the same raised by BIHAR TIMES .
Keep the pressure on ,