Tweet by Anil Agarwal, Chairman, Vedanta Limited
Aaj se 1600 saal pehle, with universities like Nalanda and Takshashila, duniya bhar se students Bharat aate the. Lekin aaj har saal university ki padhai ke liye, Bharat se lakhon students duniya bhar mein jaate hain. In 2022-23 this number was 10 lakh students. One study has estimated that by 2024 around $80 billion of foreign exchange will be spent by Indian students studying overseas, not just for fees but also living costs which can be substantial. This pains me.
My first trip outside India, several years ago, was to the US where I had gone in search of equipment and funding for my own business. I was amazed at the speed with which things happened, the quality of entrepreneurship and the grand vision that lay at the core of everything they did. I hadn’t experienced this in India. I realised that the difference lay in education system. Their 40 top universities lay great emphasis on R&D, entrepreneurship and on enabling students to study with flexibility, subjects that were close to their heart.
These universities have strong connects with the world of policymaking and both feed into each other, creating excellence in both academia and government. Fundamentally this is why America is where it is today.
I always carried this learning with me and when I was doing a business project in Odisha, I decided that I would create a world class university and education city in the state. While travelling between Puri, the home of the sacred Jagannath temple and Konark, the site of the historic Sun Temple, I saw the potential of creating this institution on the waterfront, like Harvard and Boston city.
My vision was clear: to create a university that would be home to 1 lakh students and a city that would be home to 5 lakh people. While the university would have all courses available, there would be special focus on liberal arts, medicine and entrepreneurship. No meritorious student would be deprived of a place in university for lack of resources. 30% of students admitted would either be charged a subsidised fee or no fee at all. Although the government was willing to give the land free, I was determined to pay market price. I allocated $1 billion for the university from my own resources and committed to raising another $2 billion from other sources. We appointed renowned academic William Chace, President of Emory University in US to lead our university.
Unfortunately, world doesn’t want India to become an education hub. Many NGOs got involved and took the matter to the Supreme Court. It has taken several years and the vision still remains a dream.
Now with the reforms introduced by the Government, there is an opportunity to extend scope of the university to become a digital university. Many more students can benefit.
I am hopeful that I will sit in the campus of this university in my lifetime and interact with the finest minds and best talent from all over India. What we can do in India, no one else can do.
Kya aap mere saath hain ?