New Delhi: George Yeo, a former foreign minister from Singapore will be the new chancellor of Nalanda University, announced Indian external affairs ministry today. The 60 year old is currently serving as a member in the governing board of the prestigious university, which was set up in 2010 to revive the ancient seat of learning in Rajgir, Bihar.
“George Yeo, former Foreign Minister of Singapore is to be the new Chancellor of Nalanda University,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.
Mr Yeo was conferred the Padma Bhushan – the third highest civilian award – in 2012, he has been involved in the setting up of the university from the start, that will focus on research work in historical sciences, environment and ecology.
This decision comes after Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has resigned as Chancellor on 19th February this year, alleging that the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) did not want him to continue, a claim denied by the government. The renowned economist and critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi had opted out of a second term as Nalanda University Chancellor despite the governing board unanimously voting to elect him on January 13, this year.
The ancient Nalanda University, which functioned from 413 AD to 1193 AD, was renowned internationally as a centre of learning, and attracted research scholars from all over the world. It was destroyed in the 12th century by an invading Turkish army.
The idea to revive Nalanda University was initially mooted in 2006 by the then President, APJ Abdul Kalam. It was approved by an Act of Parliament in 2010, and it was only in September last year that the university opened to students. Only 15 students were selected from over 1,000 applicants.