On 27 August 2016, H.E. Mr. Chalit Manityakul, Ambassador of Thailand to India, attended the laying foundation stone for the construction of the permanent campus and the 1st convocation ceremony of Nalanda University at Rajgir, Bihar. On this occasion, the Thai Ambassador has presented through H.E. Mr. George Yeo, Chancellor of the University, donation from the Thai private sector of approximately USD 27,000 to Nalanda University for establishing the Thailand Fund for Nalanda University. Combined with the earlier Thai private sector’s contribution of USD 5,000 in 2012, the fund is expected to be allocated to be scholarships for the Thai students pursuing MA Programme in the School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religions of Nalanda University in the next academic year. This activity ispart of the commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Establishment of Thailand and India Diplomatic Relations in 2017.
About 500 people attended the convocation ceremony including H.E. Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India, H.E. Mr. Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar, H.E. Mr. Ramnath Kovind, the Governor of Bihar, H.E. Mr. George Yeo, the former Foreign Minister of Singapore and current Chancellor of Nalanda University, H.E. Mr. Hassan Wirajuda, former Foreign Minister of Indonesia, Prof. Amartya Sen, Nobel prize laureate and world renowned economist, H.E. Mrs. Preeti Saran, Secretary (East), Ambassador of Japan to India and diplomats from ASEAN countries, China, Japan, Nepal etc.
President Pranab Mukherjee laid the foundation stone and presided over the convocation ceremony. He conferred the chancellors gold medal to two students and handed over Post graduate degrees to students of the first batch of the modern-day Nalanda University, the first ever in 800 years.
During the ceremony, Chancellor George Yeo expressed his appreciation to many parties and organisations which support the revival of this historic University, mentioning also the role of Thailand. He expressed his appreciation to the work and unwavering support of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn who is a member of the University’s International Advisory Panel, and commended Prof. Propod Assavavirulhakarn, the Thai linguist and Buddhism scholar, for his valuable guidance as a member of the Governing Board of Nalanda University.
Buddhism plays an important role in connecting Thailand with India. Historically, the original Nalanda University was a well-known centre of Buddhist learning, and for many Thai pilgrims today, visiting the old site of Nalanda University is a part of their spiritual journey. Thailand is ready to assist the revival of Nalanda University as the world’s leading educational institution. It has already signed the MOU on the Establishment of Nalanda University with India in 2015 and extended USD 100,000 for the Establishment Project. Thailand stands ready to support the School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religions in all areas, especially in the fields of academic development and cooperation, student and faculty exchange programmes as well as disseminating information on the School’s education programmes to attract more Thai students.
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Royal Thai Embassy, New Delhi
2 September 2016