Friday, March 30, 2007


Letter from the Vedanta University project CEO

29th March 2007

Dear Friend,

We are pleased to share with you, as well wishers of the proposed
Vedanta University in Orissa, the developments to-date and our
objectives in the project. The Vedanta University will be
established in the state of Orissa, along the Puri-Konark highway.

We recall with pride the glorious past when Orissa had Ratnagiri
University, known around the world. With the active support,
encouragement and good wishes from all of you through your
constructive communication in the various blogs, e-mails and
internet communications, we are confident of making Orissa once
again a globally recognised center for higher learning.

Anil Agarwal Foundation, a “not for profit” institution, has been
founded by Mr. Anil Agarwal, Chairman, Vedanta Resources Plc,
London, for making a significant contribution to a core requirement
of India viz. Education.

Anil Agarwal Foundation (AAF) has the vision of creating a
world-class, multidisciplinary university in India, of the quality
of Nalanda, Ratnagiri, Takshila of Ancient India and Harvard,
Stanford and Oxford of today. The new institution will be called
“Vedanta University” to truly reflect the philosophy and pride of
our Country.

The proposed Vedanta University will be an independent,
professionally managed and “Not For Profit” institution based on an
endowment from AAF as seed capital. It will be a Private University
to be set up under an Act of the Orissa State, and will operate on
efficient management principles, generate resources for fuelling
continuous growth in Research and Academics.

Vedanta University will have the following objectives:

1. Create a World standard research driven university where
academics and research will support and benefit from each other.

2. Build a Global scale university with a wide variety of subjects
and specialisations namely arts, sciences, economics, commerce,
education, public administration, communication, law, business
management, engineering, medicine and other professional fields.

3. Offer to all its graduates, irrespective of their specializations
a strong foundation in basic disciplines like liberal arts, basic
sciences, economics, communication, philosophy, behavioural
sciences, mathematics and IT.

4. Provide here and now within the shores of India knowledge based
education to India’s youth, to prepare them as scholars, scientists
and leaders for taking India forward.

5. Provide academic facilities, IT network / library, laboratory and
research facilities, residential and recreation infrastructure which
will make Vedanta University totally self contained like the best
universities in the world.

6. Offer bachelors, masters and research degrees in various
disciplines and offer a unique combination of intensive
specialization as well as extensive cross disciplinary study.

7. Build an organization with most competent faculty for teaching
and research and highly professional non-academic management team.

Vedanta University will promote greater learning and would place
India on the global map of academic and research agenda. It will
develop mechanisms to involve students in research as an integral
part of their learning, and partner with industry in promotion of
new ideas and innovations.

The University will have colleges and schools for various
disciplines, research laboratories & research parks, residential
colonies for students, faculty and staff, complexes for sports,
entertainment & recreation, conference centers, significant open
space to create the right atmosphere inside the campus, transport
and other infrastructure, over an area of 8000 acres. The proposed
university is planned to ultimately have 100,000 students and
corresponding faculty and staff with complete infrastructure.

This will lead to creating a vibrant township. The local population
will immensely benefit by the direct and indirect employment
potential during the project construction phase and subsequent
running of the University. Unlike an industrial project, which gets
constructed over a finite period of 3 / 4 years, the University will
be continuously expanded thus offering sustained employment
opportunity for local population.

The land for the University will be procured at fully priced current
market rates with no subsidy nor grant allocation of land by
Government. The acquisition is getting delayed and this has pushed
back the construction of the project.

We have engaged world-renowned campus planners, US-based Ayers Saint
Gross, to develop a campus master plan. India based STUP consultants
are engaged to do the detailed design for construction and the Phase
- 1 plans are already finalized. We hope that we are able to
progress with commencement of construction soon.

We also need the passage by the Orissa State Assembly of necessary
legislations to establish Vedanta University. We hope this happens
soon enough.

We are extremely passionate about building a philanthropic
institution that will educate tomorrow’s Nobel Laureates, Olympic
athletes, heads of state, civic leaders, and social transformers. We
believe that the university will prove to be a perpetual
contribution to society that will generate global leaders for
centuries to come.

We have launched our website
to provide you with more updates. We
request you to visit our site. As a person who is keen to see this
University come up to bring glory to Orissa, you may feel free to
contact me at
if you have any advice or

With Regards
*C.V. Krishnan *
*CEO *

Some personal observations:

One can understand the eagerness of the promoters of this "no profit" project to invoke the glorious past of Orissa. But you should first be sure about your facts, especially when you are dealing with history. For your kind information there was never ever any university in ancient or medieval Orissa by the name of Ratnagiri. I think you are referring to the Pushpagiri University that finds a mention in the accounts of 7th century Chinese traveller Hieun Tsang.

Secondly, right or wrong, the fact that the donor-promoter of this proposed world-class university has a huge business interest in Orissa gives rise to suspicion in the minds of many.

This might be true, Sampad, but do not undermine the potential of such a University in India, particularly Orissa. The project will invoke the glorious past of India as a knowledge center. The University seems to be independent of the business interests of Anil Agarwal, they may be in the same state, he may benefit from doing good; but nevertheless, he is doing good in a way that few in this country have ever been willing to do.
Mr Ismail
Greetings. You may be right but it's a question of perceptions.And I have already said those were my personal observations.

I do not know where you are based but I belong to Orissa and I love my state and share the dreams of fellow-Oriyas who want it to make it big one day.

But I don't feel convinced about the project because it has sounded too pompous and vain-glorious from the very start. Creating a great university is not a cut-and-paste job nor does it have much to do with billions and billions of dollars.

Of course there is a potential for a great university to GROW in India. But you can't CREATE it even if you want to and have the resources to do it on a giant scale.It's no pre-fabricated block that you can place anywhere you like nor is it to be conceived as a factory which will produce the right stuff just because you have installed the right machinery.

Orissa has been taken for a ride by many including its revered political leaders. So if the dream is genuine let it start from humble beginnings with the right kind of faculty and right kind of courses and create the credibility base that is missing in the project.

I shall be the proudest and happiest Oriya if that indeed happens. But trumpets, however loud they're blown, would never do the trick. That's what puts many people like me off.

The ruins of a major ancient university and center of Buddhist learning, Ratnagiri, was recently discovered in Orissa. Scholars from far away lands, such as Greece, Persia and China used to study philosophy, astronomy, mathematics and science at this famed University. Taxila, Nalanda and Ratnagiri are the oldest universities in the world. The ruins of Ratnagiri University have not been fully excavated yet.

i think you are being over pessimistic.i am also from orissa and i dont know why you think it should be impossible to build such a university in orissa.

May the current ground reality in orissa, makes it look like pompous and over ambitious but it is not being planned like copy/paste or prefabricated blocks.They do have a long term phase wise plan to devlop it over a decadeand have hired one of the best consultant in the world.

I dont know why everyone should be getting red at the word " profit" Profit is not as bed as a word as being made out by the marxist, afterall it is one of the fundamental driving force of human activity and endeouver to progress.

although i do belive it should not be the sole motive of any project specially in the health and education sector, i feel there is nothing wrong in having a wish for something in return. For me it is an assurance that this project will be completed in my home state, unlike the political promise and socialistic dream of having a uniform world.
Money is a very important factor in making a good University. Top university professors are extremely mobile and sort after all over the world. In US there are bidding wars after good professors. So I would not minimize the money dimensions.

Mr Bikash, as a student of ancient Indian history and Buddhism I don't have to fall back on am aware that there are many who still call it Ratnagiri University. But academic discipline requires loyalty to settled facts.Yet since you have raised the issue let me inform you that archaeologists like Dr Debraj Pradhan who have conducted extensive excavations at the Langudi Hill in Jajpur district claim that the Puspagiri Mahavihar and university complex was located there. While the exact location of Pushpagiri University is still controversial ( many identify it with the present-day Lalitgiri ), the name of the university was Pushpagiri and not Ratnagiri... at least as late as the 7th century AD.

And no I am not against Profit. It's the promoter who harps on being driven by a "non-profit" motive. And we still do not know where that donation amount of one billion dollar has been deposited and ear-marked for the University project.

And I surely agree with Mr Chitta that money is an important factor.
But only big money is not enough. You need much more to 'create' a 'great' university.

I shall stay away for a while from this debate and wait for other people to comment.

Of course money is not the only thing to make a great university; but it is a very important parameter. Anyway, one has to wait to see who Vedanta University hires as their CAO (Chief Academic Officer and Provost) and their Deans. That will tell a lot. So far the actions of Vedanta university has been top quality. The architect they hired is top notch in terms of campus design. They have also hired a reputed consulting company and a reputed recruiting agency.
I have few concerns about this university.

1) Land acquisition: I hope this project does not go same way as Nandigram or Singur.

2) Autonomy: Does this univ come under purview of AICTE/UGC? Then the issue of reservations comes into picture. I am not sure whether a world class univ can come up which is hamstrung in terms of myriad restrictions. Neither would world class faculty join such a university.

3) Tuition: I am assuming world class univ needs world class faculty which in turn requires world class salaries. How are faculty salaries taken care of? Market based tuition, endowment?

An excellent business model is the Indian School of Business at Hyderabad, the only world class educational institution in India in terms of quality research.
Sampad Babu,
Some questions raised by you have been that announcements have been pompous. As a matter of fact they have been low-key and quite conservative.

Actually, they seem to believe in actions as opposed to publicity.

I don't think it matters if there was a ratnagiri university in the past. What we need to see if the future.

Regarding the scepticisum, there might be reasons for it. But it would help if we do get wait and watch it carefully, as opposed to mindless opposition.

Finally, a small note: It might be good to dream for success because if this university happens then we will have an excellent growth in all arenas in the state.
Dear Umashankar Babu,

Yes it matters if people who want to set up a world-class university are not sure about the facts that they project in their support. After any one serious about academics can not take facts for granted.

The launch of the project was pompous to say the least. Were you there when it was launched ? Well I was there and I know.

Of course there is no problem waiting and watching because that's what Oriyas have done over centuries.

My only problem is that I don't dream the way many fellow Oriyas do and I don't believe that people who are eternally in in the business of making money can ever do justice to my dreams.

There's no harm in waiting and watching, as you say. But I don't think I can give you company. Nevertheless do not lose hope.Who knows ? May be one day the tiger would turn hervivorous !!!

Honestly I don't want to spoil the party. So I would prefer to keep quiet and not join issues with anyone any more.


The questions you asked are very pertinent.

We can only hope that the project does not go the Singur way.

On autonomy, I don't think deemed universities (like BITS Pilani) have quotas. But Arjun Singh did try to force them to have quotas. My guess is Vedanta University, if established, will initially be based on a state legislation. The state plans to have such a legislation for at least three private universities that are supposed to be coming up: Vedanta U, U by Art of Living foundation of Shri Shri Ravishankar and ICFAI University. ICFAI University is already supported by similar legislation in couple of other states, Uttarakhand being one.

Tuition will be high. I hope they will line up banks to give loans to those who can not afford as well as have some scholarships. The endowment may support some cost and down the road real estate deals such as building research spaces and leasing them to companies may help in the running of the university.

On faculty renumeration, to have a world class faculty, they have to pay world class salaries. Initially, if they pay 3 times the exisiting salary in IITs, IIMs, and central universities they can assemble a pretty decent faculty and but that may create a ripple on Indian higher education.
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