Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the new campus Nalanda University close to the ruins of its ancient site this afternoon. “Nalanda is a symbol of India's academic heritage and vibrant cultural exchange,” says Modi in his inauguration address in Rajgir, Bihar.

The University is conceived as a collaboration between India and East Asia Summit (EAS) countries. As an embodiment of this regional collaboration, the Head of Missions of 17 countries also attended the inauguration ceremony unveiled a plaque at the new campus and planted a sapling as he inaugurated the campus.

Students from more than 20 countries are already studying at the University that resumed its operations in 2014 at a temporary site with a small cohort of 14 students. A PIB release stated that by 2014, the University had already received almost ₹9.64 crore as voluntary contributions from China, Thailand and Laos. Other participating countries too were expected to contribute as the University progresses.

The newly-built campus houses 40 classrooms in two academic blocks with a seating capacity for around 1900 students. With two auditoriums of a three-hundred seating capacity each, the university campus infuses its ancient inheritance with modernity. In addition, an on-campus student hostel is built for around 550 students. An international centre, an amphitheatre with an accommodation capacity of over 2,000 individuals, a faculty club, and a sports complex are some of the facilities that are built inside the university campus.

Around ₹1,749.65 crore have been used to finance the capital costs of the ambitious project.

What makes the campus different from other university campuses is its quest for sustainability, the Nalanda campus near Pilkhi is a Net Zero green campus with zero water and zero waste model. With its own solar plant, domestic and drinking water treatment plant, wastewater reusing and water recycling plant, the campus is filled with various environment-friendly facilities making it a self-sustainable one.

The prime minister hopes for Nalanda to open up its global campuses across the world like other Indian premier institutions. IIT Delhi recently opened undergraduate admissions in Abu Dhabi and IIT Madras opened up in Sri Lanka among others.

The current chancellor of Nalanda University is Professor Arvind Panagariya who once was the Chief Economist of the Asian Development Bank and the Chairman of the 16th Finance Commission of India.

The university is built near the ruins of the original Nalanda University, which was established around 1600 years ago and is considered one among the world’s first residential universities. The ruins of Nalanda were declared as a UN Heritage Site in 2016. The archaeological site contains the remnants of a renowned 5th century monastic and educational centre that was destroyed in the 12th century.

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