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The much-awaited Nalanda University starts functioning from Monday with two schools, 15 students and 11 faculty members. Of the students, five are women.

Set up following a 2010 special Act of Parliament, the university acquired 455 acres at the Rajgir foothills but as there has not been any construction so far, it will for now function from Rajgir Convention Centre, a state government building. Government-owned Tathagat Hotel will serve as the hostel.

Though each discipline is to have a maximum of 20 students, only 15 in all have joined in the two schools of the planned seven that will be starting Monday. The 15 were selected from around 1,000 applicants after multiple screening and tests. The admission process is still on. Of the 15, three students are from Bihar.

The students include a Bhutan university dean on study leave and a postgraduate in Buddhist Studies from Japan. The first two schools to start are the School of Ecology and Environmental Studies and School of Historical Studies.

While two of the faculty members are from abroad — Samuel Wright from the US and Yin Ker of Singapore — the Indian teachers too have experience of teaching at foreign universities. The university plans to stick to a faculty ratio of 1:8.

From the Rajgir Convention Centre, classes are expected to shift to a makeshift building in a month. Construction work on own campus is expected to start from February 2015.

At the Tathagat Hotel, 40 rooms have been hired for students and teachers. The five women students are lodged on a separate floor.

Vice-Chancellor Gopa Sabarwal said despite the university starting with only two schools, “it was a dream come true”. “Of the 11 teachers, seven have arrived. All teachers have outstanding careers. We hope to add schools of linguistics and literature, economics and management and also public health in a year.”

She added that the idea was to blend values of the ancient Nalanda university with the contemporary. Collaborations have been tied up with a number of foreign universities, including Yale.

Shashi Ahlawat, a B.Tech from Technological of Textiles and Sciences, Haryana, is among the five students enrolled at School of Historical Studies. Despite her science background, she said, a brush with competitive exams showed her that “I am cut out for excelling in history”.

Ngawang, the dean of historical research at Royal University of Bhutan, said there can’t be a better place than Nalanda University to study history. “Ever since the Bhutan government introduced Bhutan and Himalayan history in 2011, I had been thinking of studying history,” he said.

Anshuman Shekhar quit a job at an IT firm to enrol at the School of Ecology and Environmental Studies. He had studied microbiology at Bharati Vidyapeeth University, Pune.

Akiro Nakamvva, a post-graduate from the University of Tokyo, will also be studying history at Nalanda University.

Sabarwal said though classes are planned

Source: www.indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/nalanda-univ-starts-today-from-a-convention-centre-with-15-students-lodged-in-a-hotel/

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Buddha Mahabodhi TempleThe tourism ministry has launched a plan for the development of Buddhist circuits in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar that would create around 10,000 jobs and indirect employments.

Minister of Tourism and Culture Shripad Yesso Naik along with tourism ministers of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh launched the strategy document investing in the Buddhist Circuit here.

Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, in his maiden budget, had assigned Rs 500 million rupees for the development of five tourist circuit, the Buddhist circuit is one of them.

The total cost of the project will be Rs. 4.5 crore , of which the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the arm of the World Bank, will contribute 40 percent, which will be Rs.1.8 crore.

Ministry of Tourism will contribute Rs.2.25 crore and two state governments will offer five percent each, which is Rs.22.50.

“This is a proud moment for us., We put everything in place to start work on developing circuit take at least two months,” said Mr. Naik.

Onno Ruhl, World Bank’s country director for India said that they chose to work on this project as it would help to generate employment opportunities for the people of those states who need better ways of employing their people.

Mr Ruhl also added that World Bank has been working to eradicate poverty but people need jobs. If I compare India with other countries, it has potential but that is not matching to what the world is offering,” said Mr Ruhl.

He elaborated on the focus towards building better roads, hotels and infrastructure for pilgrims and tourists.

Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Vaishali (Bihar), Sarnath, Kushinagar and Kaushambi (Uttar Pradesh) to be developed in the first phase.

These are the prestigious sites and routes where Buddha spent his time, grew up and gave his first sermon.

Source: ndtv.com

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A Mercedes Benz luxury bus service between Bihar and Jharkhand with GPRS, TV and WI FI facilities would hit the roads formally from this Monday.

The luxury buses each costing cost Rs 1.20 crore would run between Patna and Tata, Ranchi and Gaya and would be expanded further in the near future, official sources said.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar rode one of the buses between Raj Bhawan and the State secretariat to flag off the service on Saturday.

Former Andhra Pradesh MP Girish Sanghi, whose company Girish Infrastructure would introduce the buses, said that good motorable roads in Bihar and the paying capacity of the people made his company decide to launch the service.

He said his company had an agreement with the Bihar State Road Transport Corporation to introduce the buses on public-private partnership basis.

Stating that there were nine buses at present, the sources said, “the State plans to buy 100 more luxury buses.”

Mr. Sanghi said as an introductory offer, tickets for the Patna to Ranchi trip would be Rs 495, Patna to Tata Rs 695 and Gaya to Ranchi Rs 310. – PTI

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With a view to providing better facilities to physically challenged and elderly people, the railways has taken a decision to ensure availability of battery-operated vehicles at all important stations of Indian Railways across the country. It has worked out the details in this connection.

According to a Railway Board official, the railways intends to provide four-seater vehicles to help the targeted people in boarding trains at important stations.

The board recently issued necessary guidelines to each zonal railways to introduce this system. The task to operate such vehicles will be outsourced to private agencies, he said adding railways would provide this facility free of cost. Under the plan, railways would provide free electricity to private service providers at stations for charging the batteries of these vehicles. But it would be the sole responsibility of the service providers to maintain battery-operated vehicles on their own, sources said.

According to sources, railways has already indentified service providers in different zones of the railways across the country. It is likely to enter into a deal with service providers as per railway terms and condition for at least one year. The deal could be renewed further depending on the performance of service providers, sources said.

According to ECR sources, railways has decided to introduce this facility at major stations like Patna Junction, Mughalsarai, Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Samastipur and Barauni to fulfil the needs of physically challenged and elderly persons. A final decision in this connection will be taken soon, sources said.

According to Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Danapur, L M Jha, railways has now provided a special parking facility for physically challenged people in the circulating area of Patna Junction. The space has been provided at the west end of the station, near the Computerized Reservation Office, he said.

The DRM said that railways has set up an Air Conditioned (AC) mortuary at the RMS end of Patna Junction. The unclaimed bodies would no longer be thrown into the circulating area causing difficulty to people visiting Patna Junction or making an exit from there, he said.

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CM Nitish Kumar on Friday appealed to JD (U) legislators to plant 40,000 trees in every assembly constituency to make the state government’s Harit Bihar Abhiyan (Green Bihar campaign) a grand success. He also asked them to enrol 40,000 new members in every assembly seat.

The JD (U) had planned the party’s tree plantation programme in tandem with Bihar Harit Abhiyan. Nitish said the tree plantation drive had to be undertaken on a war footing to save environment. He said that every person joining JD (U) should first plant a tree.

Shrawan Kumar, the party’s chief whip in the state legislative assembly, said that at the JD (U) legislators meeting, specially convened to discuss the campaign to make Bihar green, all legislators took a pledge before the CM to participate wholeheartedly in the Harit Bihar Abhiyan. Nitish welcomed the two MLCs from LJP and one from Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), who had recently joined the party.

He told party legislators to be personally present at the block level meetings in their respective constituencies during handing over of cheques to Indira Awas Yojna beneficiaries and keep a close watch on any incident of corruption in various welfare schemes of the government. They should also prevent middlemen in Indira Awas Yojna, which had affected many needy people. Stressing on state government’s bid to remove corruption from the state, Nitish said the legislators had a major role to play in fair distribution of money for different schemes to the beneficiaries.

Shrawan Kumar told TOI that the state government had already enacted a law to check corruption and for seizure of property of corrupt officials. He said that there was no question of the LJP legislator Naushad Alam, who had joined JD (U), going back to his old party.

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