Sunday, May 11, 2008

Japan may revive monastery

BHAGALPUR: After Nalanda, it could be Vikramshila's turn to be developed as a modern university. If the recent visit of the Japanese delegation to Vikramshila here is any indication, the erstwhile monastery could once again be swarming with students.

The visit by an 11-member Japanese delegation to the heritage site recently had given hopes to academicians here, that what was once a learning centre for Buddhists, could well become a university of the future. The delegation, too, had also expressed its willingness to invest in the dilapidated site.

Led by Harao Shimada, the VC of Chiba University of Commerce and economic adviser to former PM Junichiro Koizumi, the delegation had been on a seven-day trip to India to explore "congenial and feasible investment opportunities" at Vikramshila, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Shimada was accompanied by representatives of JP Morgan Asset Management, Fortis Investment, Yamazaki Associates and eight other Japanese companies. During the visit, Shimada clearly said, "We would wish to see Vikramshila flourish."

JP Morgan Asset Management president and director Keiichi Miki, FortisInvestment director Kazuhito Yoshihara and
Yamazaki Associates director Yosheo Yamazaki also showed keen interest in developing the economic climate around the ancient Buddhist seat of learning.

India Centre Foundation, an independent organisation co-ordinating with groups from both countries to build parallel diplomatic ties, impressed upon the Japanese delegation to visit the Vikramshila heritage. Social worker and the foundation member Vibhavkant Upadhyay and senior BJP leader Nishikant Dubey were the facilitators.

Talking to TOI, Dubey said the delegation would serve as opinion makers of the Japan government and its people, as it would explore the possibility of developing Vikramshila like that of Nalanda University.

However, Dubey was not verbose about the invest issues, as he remarked, "It is too early to expect big investments, but the delegation has given out positive vibes," Dubey said, adding that everything now depended on the team's reports and subsequent interest of Japanese companies.

Vikramshila University, founded in 8th century, had grown into an international centre for Buddhist learning. At the beginning of the 11th century during the reign of King Ramapala, the university had 160 teachers and 1,000 students living at the monastery.