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Building Universities

January 2008
Building Universities

Speaking of revivals, Vedanta and Nalanda—two venerable words from the ancient past—will become more widely known if the construction of two new universities in India gathers steam. Already, the Bihar government has acquired 448 acres for the proposed Nalanda University. Now it seems to be the turn of neighboring Orissa, where a major university called Vedanta, modeled on Stanford, will be built with the help of Anil Agarwal, a British-based billionaire who never went to college. His personal donation of $1 billion is apparently the world’s largest contribution by an individual to an educational institution. Agarwal’s mining company has come under fire for its environmental violations, and some Indian activists remain uneasy about him. Others, though, praise Agarwal and think that the proposed university, with its multidisciplinary approach, would be a great step forward for the state—and India—in higher education. Work on this long-term project begins this year.

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