Nalanda 2.0 is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission of making India's higher education system world class.
Why does this matter? The future of India and its 1.3 billion people will be decided by how well they are educated and prepared for their lives and careers. In an increasingly knowledge-based, global, competitive, and connected world, more than ever before, higher education is going to provide a critical foundation for the youth. A vibrant higher education system is also an enabler of lifelong learning, and a thriving research, innovation, and start-up ecosystem. Great universities also preserve and create knowledge.
Thus, the universities are the new temples of our society. Nalanda of ancient India was a leading center for higher learning in the world. Unfortunately, India’s higher education system is in crisis. Consider these facts:
- India's gross enrollment ratio (GER), one of the measures of access, is a measly 27% (UNESCO, 2015). This is in sharp contrast to most developed countries, which have a GER of 50-95%.
- And the youth who do have access to higher education receive such dismal quality of education that 70-90% of the college graduates in India are considered unemployable by the industry (NASSCOM, 2009).
- As a result, industry is spending 6-12 months in training these recent graduates for productive work (Kumar, 2015).
- India’s premier institutions: the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) enroll less than 0.2% of students.
- Even after 70 years of independence, India does not have even one world-class multidisciplinary research university. And, only one university was ranked in the Top 500 of Global Rankings (ARWU, 2017).
Nalanda 2.0 is addressing this important and time-sensitive challenge and opportunity with a 3-pronged plan:
- Building the University of the Future in India (UFI),
- Educating stakeholders on the importance and the urgency of the transformation, and
- Advising decision makers with evidence-based policy recommendations.
With 1/6th of world's population in India, transforming India's higher education system is a win-win for India and its people, the US, and the global humanity.
Nalanda 2.0 has an exceptional team with experiences from several world-class multidisciplinary research universities such as Stanford and UC Berkeley, and India’s premier institutions such as the IITs and IIMs. And, it is making an impact across all three fronts.
1. Launched Building the University of the Future in India (UFI) initiative in April 2018. There is an across the board excitement for bringing this initiative to reality, partially reflected in the leaders in industry, academia, research, and entrepreneurship who have joined UFI's Global Advisory Board. The team developed UFI's master plan by Nov. 2018. In Dec. 2018, we initiated efforts to raise $400 Million in funding to launch UFI. Future plans include secure funding for UFI by Dec. 2019 and starting foundational actions such as building the founding team, securing the land, and developing the physical master plan after that.
2. Educating stakeholders: Nalanda 2.0's Founder & President Shail Kumar wrote a book on this subject titled: Building Golden India: How to unleash India's vast potential and transform its higher education system. Now. (Published Oct. 2015) Close to 2,000 copies of the book have been sold and gifted. The book has received international acclaim from academic and business leaders.
Shail Kumar has given talks at universities such as Stanford, UC Berkeley, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Gandhinagar, and the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta, and forums such as Berkeley India conference, IIT Bay Area Leadership conference, and Harvard India Conference.
Finally, he and some of Nalanda 2.0 volunteer team have co-written several articles and blogs on this subject, which have published in Fair Observer and The Logical Indian. He has also been interviewed by organizations such as The INDUStry Show and PanIIT USA.
3. Advising decision makers: Shail Kumar has met officials in the Prime Minister’s Office, MHRD, NITI Aayog, New Education Policy Committee, and state leaders such as Andhra Pradesh’s CM Chandrababu Naidu, Delhi’s CM Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, and Telangana’s Minister K.T. Rama Rao and discussed ideas to transform the higher education system.
In Sep. 2018, started advising the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. In March 2019, Nalanda 2.0 became the Knowledge Partner for reforming higher education in Delhi.
For 2019, Nalanda 2.0 is planning to raise $500,000 to help accelerate and amplify its impact. The funds will be raised from three key streams: major gifts, corporate matching program, and crowdfunding. These funds will be used to augment operating capacity and fund operating expenses, which are crucial to raising funds and implementing foundational actions for UFI, engaging decision makers in India, and educating stakeholders.