president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has dissociated himself from the
upcoming Nalanda International University in Bihar, says his aide.
The former president's personal secretary R.K. Prasad told IANS
over telephone from Delhi that Kalam dissociated himself from the
university, which is coming up in Nalanda district, about two
"Kalam is no longer connected with the university," Prasad said.
He had earlier been appointed the university's first visitor, a
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's office could not confirm the
news. An official in his office told IANS: "We have no information
of any such thing."
Media reports here say Kalam was not in agreement with some of the
decisions of the Nalanda Mentor Group (NMG).
Kumar himself is yet to say anything on the issue.
An official associated with the proposed Nalanda International
University said three months ago Kalam had refused to be the
"Kalam turned down the offer in mid May when a letter from the
external affairs ministry reached him in this connection, nearly
seven months after the gazette notification was issued and the
Nalanda University Act came into force," an official said.
According to officials, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, who headed NMG,
requested Kalam to accept the offer. The latter said he would
teach and have other engagements, but not as a visitor.
The idea of the university was first mooted in the late 1990s but
it was Kalam's initiative in early 2006 that gave shape to the
Later Kalam was appointed the university's first visitor who was
to play a key role in the constitution of the governing body, the
varsity's supreme body.
The visitor will also have the power to inspect the varsity and
appoint one or more people to review its work and progress.
In February 2008, Kalam accompanied by Nitish Kumar visited the
site where the land was acquired for the university.
In July this year, it was decided in the meeting of the NMG that
the university would begin in 2013 with two schools - the school
of historical sciences and the school of environment and ecology -
if the Bihar government provided suitable accommodation.
Officials said the state government had acquired nearly 500 acres
of land and infrastructure work was on at the site.
The university will be fully residential, like the ancient Nalanda.
It will have courses in science, philosophy and spiritualism along
with other subjects.
The new university will be built in an area of 446 acres in Rajgir,
10 km from the site of the ancient university in Nalanda district.
A fifth century architectural marvel, the ancient centre of
learning was home to over 10,000 students and nearly 2,000
teachers from the world over. Though it was devoted to Buddhist
studies, it also trained students in subjects such as fine arts,
medicine, mathematics, astronomy, politics and the art of war.