Now is the Time to Revive Nalanda Spirit
India needs to revive Nalanda Tradition of learning if it again wants to become a scientific power. This is the key message Amartya Sen, a Nobel Laureate gave during his lecture to hundreds of delegates in the 98th Indian Science Congress being held at SRM University in Chennai. Sen said it was time to recollect the scientific tradition of old Nalanda
Prof Sen reminded that Nalanda University was destroyed 700 years ago by Afghan conqueror Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1193. That was the time when Oxford and Cambridge were taking birth. The oldest European university at Bologna was born when Nalanda had been more than 600 years old. The Al-Azhar University in Cairo, another distinguished university with which Nalanda is often compared, was set up in 970 A.D. -- more than 500 years after Nalanda was founded.
Need to Generate a New Indian Story
This is an old story of old Indian glory. Any modern Indian today cannot just keep repeating and feeling that we were great in the past. Nalanda culture and spirit should pervade Indian mind. Only time will tell how the effort of five countries – Japan, China, Singapore, Thailand and India – to build new Nalanda would be able to do it.
While we revive Nalanda, we need to really think of today’s decay, and try to know who are destroying our universities. Most Indians would agree that the true reason of educational decay is our political and business culture which has taken over our educational system.
Indian Science Declined During Last 20 Years
But government priorities are also to blame. Scientific Advisory Council of the Prime Minister told in a report that the science in India had declined in the past 20 years. It was because of “sub-critical and inadequate investment by the Government and Industry in research.”
One needs to remember how successive Indian Science Congresses had been during the entire previous decade exhorting Central Government to increase R&D expenditure in terms of percentage of the GDP, but it remains stagnant only at 0.8 percent. Prof KC Pandey the General President of the Indian Science Congress said in his address that “advanced countries spend around 30 per cent of their total Research and Development expenditure in the university sector, while in India it is only six per cent.”
Prof Pandey wants that the Centre or state governments, in collaboration with the private sector, should establish Special Education Zones primarily dedicated to the development of higher professional educational institutions and R&D centres.