India is seeking to connect with Southeast Asia by reviving an ancient Buddhist university, but the effort is just limping along, with little support from regional nations.
Nalanda University was a centre of higher learning that drew global acclaim from the fifth century AD to 1197 AD. Situated in what is now the state of Bihar in eastern India, the university was destroyed by a Turkic general, supposedly because its library did not include the Koran. The university’s demise, however, had already begun thanks to India’s waning enthusiasm for Buddhism at the time.
Eight centuries later, the Indian government is keen on reclaiming its Buddhist past. The effort is part of New Delhi’s “Look East” policy to cultivate extensive relations with Southeast Asian nations, where rival China exerts more influence.
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