PM Modi inaugurates Nalanda varsity campus, says books can be burnt not knowledge - Hindustan Times

PM Modi inaugurates Nalanda varsity campus, says books can be burnt not knowledge

Jun 19, 2024 01:42 PM IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said a country that protects its human values knows how to recreate its history

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that the inauguration of the campus of Nalanda University, close to the ancient ruins of Nalanda, symbolised the beginning of the golden era for India and an introduction of the country’s ability to recreate its glorious history.

The new campus of Nalanda University in Bihar. (PTI)
The new campus of Nalanda University in Bihar. (PTI)

“The books can be destroyed in flames, but not knowledge. A country that protects its human values knows how to recreate its history,” he said after inaugurating the sprawling 455-acre state-of-the-art campus of the university. He said he was fortunate to be in Nalanda within 10 days of the start of his third term and he viewed it as a good omen.

Modi earlier visited the ruins of the ancient Nalanda University, which was destroyed by Bakhtiar Khilji. The new Nalanda University was conceived as an icon of Asian renaissance and the voice of an Enlightened Asia.

Bihar governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar, chief minister Nitish Kumar, external affairs minister S Jaishankar, his deputy Pavitra Margherita, heads of mission of 17 countries, chancellor Arvind Pangarhiya and vice chancellor Abhay Kunar Singh were present on the occasion.

Modi said that Nalanda was not just a name, but an identity, a respect, a mantra and an introduction with India’s enormous capability. “It epitomised the Asian and global heritage within the campus. The new Nalanda has also involved many countries and will certainly strive to be a knowledge centre like the ancient seat of learning,” he added.

He said that education was the focus of his government, and he was confident that Nalanda University would emerge as the main centre for cultural exchange and be a symbol of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.

“I am happy to know that students from over 20 countries are studying here. In the last 10 years, higher education has witnessed a significant change in India with growing number of Indian universities finding place in the global rankings. The 21st century is said to be Asia’s century, but that can happen only through education. Education strengthens economic growth and culture. It creates leaders. Education should be used for the betterment of humanity,” he added.

Referring to the International Yoga Day on June 21, he said that what was seen as Indian has been adopted by the world and it has developed into a global festival. The same, he said, is happening with Ayurveda, which is now being accepted across the world as a way for sustainable living.

“That is what India stands for and that is why it is heard when it says one world - one health, one world - one family - one future’. Our quest for a developed Bharat is based on education, which is undergoing transformation to lay greater emphasis on innovation and research, besides development of scientific temper from a young age. The focus is on developing a research-oriented higher education system and a complete and comprehensive skilling system,” he added.

Modi said that the reforms in the education sector has led to opening of premiere global institutions in the country and top Indian institutions in other countries to provide the best to the students. “Nalanda University will also go to all corners of the world. The whole world is watching India and its youth. The next 25 years will be crucial for the future of India and the world. The students at Nalanda University will have great responsibility to take the message from here to wherever they go to be agents of positive change,” he added.

Jaishankar said that the inauguration of the campus was a notable occasion. “It represents the revival of a global bridge of learning that can build relationships even further than in the past. Realising our commitment to the East Asia Summit and the Act East policy, Nalanda contributes to the rejuvenation of civilisational linkages, celebration of our shared cultural heritage and appreciation of the immense diversity of our existence,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, chief minister Nitish Kumar thanked Modi for speeding up the work for development of the campus of Nalanda University and urged him for its further progress. “The Bihar government will do whatever more needs to be done by the state government,” he added.

Kumar also dwelt on the visualisation of the concept to recreate Nalanda’s grandeur. “It came from former President late APJ Abdul Kalam during his address to the Bihar Legislature in 2006 March and form then the initiative started. Parliament had passed the Nalanda University Bill in August 2010, but the academic session started in 2014 and the campus development picked up once you came to power,” he added.

Nalanda was a confluence of the cross-cultural influences of South Asia and East Asia. It fostered a civilisational dialogue and inter-faith understanding of religious pursuit in the broader context of civiliational knowledge. It represented the commonalities of Asian culture and values. The new institution is an attempt to recreate the power diplomacy by bringing together divergent interests in the Asia Pacific region.

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