‘Making it a Central varsity will mean misleading nine countries that have pledged support to it’

The Union Finance Ministry has to agree upon the international character of Nalanda University in Bihar. Shaping it as a Central university will mean misleading the nine countries that have pledged support to it, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said on Saturday.

“The hurdle we have to cross is [getting] the Finance Ministry to agree that it’s not a Central university. That it’s an international university catering for international faculty and international students. That ground has been visited again and again, including the Nalanda University Act of 2010,” Mr. Sen, who is the chancellor of the university, said on the sidelines of a function here.

He said the international format of the university was “challenged by one part of the government — the Finance Ministry,” despite the Act and its amendments being passed by Parliament.

“The Act had some mistakes about representation of foreign countries, but that was solved. Suddenly, we have an objection… In India, there is no such thing as a definitive resolution. If a Central university [character] is given to the Nalanda University, it will be misleading to the rest of Asia. The nine countries do not join us to build a Central university in India,” he said.

At the East Asia Summit last year, India garnered support for the university, which is “an attempt to construct or reconstruct the Asiatic academic heritage.” Nine countries, including China, Thailand and Singapore, have so far given a financial commitment.

Mr. Sen’s remarks come in the wake of a controversy over reports that he had threatened to resign. He rejected these reports as “fabricated.” The appointment of a chief executive officer was for the construction project and not the university, he said.

Expressing concern over the delay, he hoped to meet the September 2014 deadline for teaching to begin at the university.

The function was organised by the Asiatic Society of Bihar to honour Dr. Piyushendu Gupta, a medical practitioner and art historian, with the ‘Itihas Ratna’ Award. A felicitation volume, Archaeology and Art of Ganga, Gandak and Kosi Basin, Bihar, was also released.