• lakshmi singh

Buddhist Studies-Indian Universities offer programmes

G

overnment is keen to promote Buddhist Studies in India, and is preparing a comprehensive database of Indian universities offering Buddhism courses. The UGC has sent a directive to all the universities to provide relevant information on Buddhism-related programmes. This is believed to revive India as a global centre of Buddhist learning and culture. With the world grappling with war and terrorism, the time is right to introduce Buddhist Studies to youngsters around the globe. “The society is getting increasingly consumerist and is ridden with xenophobic anxiety. A coherent symmetric understanding and values of brotherhood has vanished and there is a need to build peace and harmony, and Buddhist Studies is the best way to do it,” says Sunaina Singh, vice chancellor, Nalanda University. India have had a monastic tradition of knowledge, which needs to be audited, reviewed, and relooked to make it relevant in today’s needs. “A kind of enlightened approach is required, which will also help in shaping the psyche of the youngsters,” Singh adds. Also, in the last 20-30 years, a lot of Buddhist relics have been found at many places in India, and therefore it is an attempt by the government to update the curriculum. “India has the natural heritage of Buddhism, and by combining the new information compiled through the archaeological excavations, we can make it more meaningful. This will also help in building a co-relation in today’s life,” says Bhagwati Prakash Sharma, vice chancellor, Gautam Buddha University, Noida. Besides, China, Sri Lanka and South-East Asian countries, there are followers of Buddhism even in the US, Europe and other parts of the world, who can be encouraged to take up these courses. “By revisiting the Buddhism curriculum, we can integrate all the tenets of Buddhism which will attract the world,” says Sharma. “India has a strong bond with the South East Asian countries. If we upgrade these courses and offer quality education then we can attract more international students,” says Sharma. Gautam Buddha University has 150 international students studying at various levels. Anand Singh, dean, International Relations, Nalanda University says that the government is trying to connect with the Buddhist nations particularly in SAARC and ASEAN countries by using the Buddhist linkages in its foreign policy. “Government has two objectives - first is to develop India as an education hub and the other is to counter China, which is trying to become a torch-bearer of the Buddhist nations,” says Singh. “Emphasis on Buddhist Studies is a part of Track-II diplomacy as it will play a major role in boosting the economy and culture, where India wants to compete with China if not dominate,” says Anand Singh.