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Central varsity status for Nalanda would be betrayal: Amartya Sen

Posted on Feb 19 2014 | IANS

Kolkata, Feb 19 : Economist Amartya Sen Wednesday dismissed reports that he had threatened to quit as the revived Nalanda University's chancellor, but said a bureaucrat's suggestion that it be treated like a central varsity would be a "complete betrayal" of the Asian signatories and Indian parliament.

"One officer of the finance ministry suggested it (the Nalanda University) should be treated like an Indian central university...that would be a complete betrayal to our Asian colleagues... it would be a complete betrayal to the Indian parliament..

"It would be a complete betrayal of the Indian people who have told that we are building up an international university in the mode of Nalanda in the past," the Nobel laureate told media persons on the sidelines of an event here.

The Nalanda University is coming up in Bihar following an initiative of the Indian government and the 18 East Asia Summit (EAS) countries, around 12 km from the ruins of its ancient namesake that was the meeting point of thousands of scholars and thinkers from across the world till the 12th century.

"The Nalanda University Act also says it's an international university," noted Sen.

China has already committed USD 1 million for the project, Singapore has pledged USD 5-6 million and Australia about USD 1 million Australian dollars. All the funds have been committed on a voluntary basis.

During his trip to Brunei in October last year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inked agreements with seven EAS countries that have pledged their commitment to the Nalanda University project.

The memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed with Australia, Cambodia, Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand, Laos and Myanmar. India signed the Mou with China during the prime minster's visit to Beijing in November.

"Nine countries signed up...five of them have already committed money to Nalanda. We are very keen on financial accounting even by CAG...but to say that we must follow the rules of the central universities is ridiculous," he said.

Sen clarified he had not expressed any desire to quit as Nalanda chancellor.

"I am not never occurred to me...why should I resign? It's a complete construction ... from allegedly some ministry of external affairs officer...I don't know who," said the internationally acclaimed economist.

Earlier, media reports had said that Sen threatened to resign after the finance ministry raised queries on the financial management of the mega revival plan that involves a massive package of Rs.2,727 crore as financial support over a 12-year period.

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