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dna impact: Mumbai University to set up Buddhist studies centre

Wednesday, 26 February 2014 - 6:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

The Mumbai University obtained UGC grant for a Buddhist studies centre in 2007-08, but never set it up, forcing the commission to recover the money.

Weeks after dna reported that the Mumbai University, which obtained a grant from the University Grants Commission (UGC) for setting up a Buddhist studies centre, never set it up for a long seven years, the varsity has decided to establish the centre spending its own money.

The proposed centre will come up at MU's Kalina campus with a seed fund of Rs 10 lakh. A decision in this regard was taken by the management council of the university last week, said a top official. He also said that a few post graduate courses in Buddhist studies might be launched here from the academic year 2014-15.

Confirming the news, PG Jogdand, dean, Faculty of Arts, said: "Rs10 lakh has been allocated for the centre for which modalities are yet to be finalised.

It is yet to be decided which department this centre would be associated with. "Pali department could be a natural choice as Buddhist scriptures are in Pali and the department has evinced keen interest in it. But lack of infrastructure and permanent staff could jeopardise its plans," said a professor.

According to sources, the philosophy department could bag the centre as it already has some short-term courses related to Buddhism, as well as a new building.

A dna report on January 30 had exposed the MU ('University of Mumbai took UGC grants for Buddhist studies centre it never opened) giving details of the case.

The UGC had launched over 15 Buddhist studies centres in various universities under a scheme, 'Epoch-making social thinkers in India'. Each centre was given Rs 10 lakh under the 10-11th Plan.

The apex education body gave MU the money for the centre in 2007-08. But the centre never materialised despite the varsity having the resources—money, land, staff, and a number of aspirants as the state has a large population of Buddhists.

Not only did the university not set up the centre, it also did not inform the UGC about it, and over the years spent the money allotted to it for the purpose.

Between 2010 and 2012, the UGC convened three meetings in Delhi to review the Buddhist centres set up with its dole money. However, MU officials skipped these meetings. By 2012 end, the apex body cracked the whip and directed MU to refund the monetary grant.

The varsity didn't share with this reporter the details of the amount 'recovered' by the UGC despite repeated requests. However, in a written communication to this paper, it claimed it hadn't received Rs10 lakh, but only half the amount, which also reached "late", and hence the centre could not be launched. MU also claimed that the money it had received was utilised for buying books.

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