Thursday, May 10, 2007

Giver of Knowledge: The Gupta Way?

Nalanda University is set to make a “come-back” from the dead. One of the world’s greatest universities, there is a plan to revive the university. A consortium led by Singapore and INCLUDING India and Japan is attempting to raise 500mn usd to revive the university. Sad state of affairs, since the university lies inside of India and has been one of the greatest centers of education along with Takshashila, banaras and many others.

But that might be a blessing in disguise, since the Indian government seems to have the anti-thesis of the midas touch. I shudder to think what they might do, if un-supervised, to what is undeniably one of histories greatest universities, and surely rivaling the IIT’s, MIT’s and Harvard’s of today, in the sheer number of great thinkers it has produced. Another reason I am disappointed, is thanks to the Indian Press, I am learning of this just now. NY Times covered this early December, 2006 and just now. Sad that indians are informed of something that might concern them after americans find out about it.

But I shall, for once, not think of the negatives that this project might entail if left in the hands of the Sonia gandhi’s and Arjun Singh’s who would not waste their time in putting in place a system of reservation that would surely deprive us of a chance to gain knowledge in India’s greatest university, if they did manage to restore it to its former glory (no small task, especially for an Indian government).

Instead, there is so much that might go well, not just for India, but also asia and possibly the world. Firstly, the project seems like the first real effort at regional cooperation. ASEAN, NAM and the likes are a bunch of bullshit. Old farts lined up around a table, talking about their grandchildrens soccer games and sipping oolong tea. This seems like the first real effort at forging a working alliance that will aid asian countries in restoring some of their past glory.

But is this effort lacking foresight? Some would say so. A Yale School of Management Professor writing for the business section of NY Times seems to have picked up on this lack of foresight on the part of the Indian, singaporean and Japanese delegation. A startup of 500mn doesn’t seem like much when you compare it to operating costs at harvard which runs into billions annually. So what value is 500 million?

I shall leave you with the article by Jeffrey Garten, since any expansion on the above idea will surely tread on plagiarism, and it sounds way more convincing when it comes from a former dean of Yales management school.

Really Old School by Jeffrey E. Garten

P.S. The bulk of this article was typed out early April, so those who are going to stake claim that it was covered in the news a month back, kindly note that I do know that.

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