Ex-Singapore foreign minister to be Nalanda University chancellor


NEW DELHI: Former foreign minister of Singapore George Yeo will replace Amartya Sen as the next chancellor of Nalanda University. Sen quit in a huff earlier this year, blaming it on the delay in approval to his second stint.

“George Yeo, former FM of Singapore is to be the new Chancellor of Nalanda University,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

Yeo’s appointment is significant in several ways — it maintains Nalada’s importance as an international university. Yeo has been the driving force of the whole project since its inception and it’s a fitting recognition of his contribution.

More important though, the Indian government wants a pair of hands at the helm of the university that can bring efficiency to the project. The MEA has been frustrated at the delay in the project and in 2013 appointed an official to maintain oversight of the project.

The university is likely to appoint a governing board as well, something it has not done for years, in violation of the Nalanda Act. This might even involve a change in the academic leadership of the university, including the vice chancellor.

Yeo (60), who was conferred Padma Bhushan in 2012, is currently serving as a member of the governing board of the prestigious university.

Sen had withdrawn his candidature as chancellor, saying the Modi government does not want him to continue, a contention which was rejected by the Centre.

Mooted in 2005, the university is being built near the ruins of the historic academic place in Bihar with a number of member-countries of East Asia Summit grouping involved in the project. The Nalanda University Act was enacted in 2010.