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UFI, AI-led multidisciplinary research u

Nalanda 2.0’s mission of making India’s higher education system world-class is about empowering people and benefitting the society:

  • Educating the youth,

  • Upskilling and reskilling its professionals,

  • Addressing problems that matter to society and industries, and

  • Spurring research, innovation, start-ups, and the economy.

With 1.4 billion people in India, which is close to 1/6th of world's population, Nalanda 2.0’s mission is a win-win for India and its people and the global humanity.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation are expected to disrupt industries, jobs, and labor market around the world. Thus, more than ever before, higher education is going to provide a critical foundation for fulfilling lives, careers, and lifelong learning. India is also facing several mega challenges such as food, water, health, poverty, energy, environment, and climate change, which need sustainable solutions now. 

Unfortunately, India's higher education is in crisis. (read the link for a  detailed case and six key metrics that point to the crisis.) In a post-COVID-19 world, Nalanda 2.0’s mission is more important and urgent than ever before.

What is Nalanda 2.0 doing to advance this mission? Since its inception in October 2016, powered by an exceptional team of Founder & President, Board of Directors, Global Advisory Council, and a dedicated team of volunteers, Nalanda 2.0 is tackling some of the toughest challenges and opportunities facing India's higher education system. It is building a world-class multidisciplinary research university, educating stakeholders, and advising governments.

What are Nalanda 2.0 plans for 2021? Our single minded focus is to launch Ekagrid, which was previously referred to as the University of the Future in India (UFI), as soon as possible. Ekagrid (www.ekagrid.org) will begin by launching the Global Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI). Once it establishes its premier position in AI, UFI will expand its scope and scale to become a comprehensive and multidisciplinary research university. 

COVID-19 is impacting lives and livelihoods globally. We have updated our launch plans in response to the pandemic. Now,  we are in pre-launch phase and expect to complete all actions to start the university in 2022. 

Prof. Arogyaswami Paulraj, Professor-Emeritus, Stanford University is the founding Chancellor of the planned university.

Feb. 17, 2021

The formal name of the University of the Future in India (UFI) is now Ekagrid. (https://www.ekagrid.org)

We are delighted to share that Dr. A. Paulraj, Professor-Emeritus, Stanford University will be the founding Chancellor of the planned university.

Dr. Paulraj is the inventor of MIMO wireless technology, which underpins all 4G, 5G, and WiFi networks, globally. He has won several prestigious international awards such the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal and the Marconi Prize. He is also a recipient of Padma Bhushan. Dr. Paulraj embodies the vision and values of the planned Ekagrid University and will help set the benchmark for excellence. 

Shailendra 'Shail' Kumar, Founder and President of Nalanda 2.0, will be the founding Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Development Officer


Mr. Kumar is the Author of Building Golden India: How to unleash India’s vast potential and transform its higher education system. Now. Formerly, co-founder and CEO of two start-ups, executive in several Silicon Valley-based high-tech companies, and administrator in UC San Diego and UC Berkeley. He is the convener of the university initiative.

UFI, AI-led multidisciplinary research in India is poised to launch in 2021-2022

August 15, 2020

We are poised to launch UFI, AI-led multidisciplinary research university in India, in 2021-2022. After over two years of planning and engaging with stakeholders, we have:


  1. Built an exceptional team,

  2. Developed an actionable plan

  3. Received support of industry executives and at the central and state government levels,

  4. Shortlisted Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Pune as top location choices for the university, and 

  5. Established a growing network of AI experts in academia and industry who are ready to join or partner with the university.


For Phase 1, we are raising at least $70 million in philanthropic funding to launch the university and build the Global Institute for AI. The AI-enabled Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us. And, actions taken now will determine the winners and losers in the post-COVID-19 world. Time is of the essence!

India's New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 is now in force

July 29, 2020

India’s New Education Policy 2020 (NEP2020), which was approved recently, is a significant step in the right direction. When implemented thoughtfully and with a sense of urgency it can make India vibrant and the lives of its people much better.


We are also pleased to note that since its inception in 2016 Nalanda 2.0 has been advocating many of these reforms in India’s higher education system. Nalanda 2.0 Founder & President Shail Kumar first outlined these recommendations in his book Building Golden India: How to unleash India's vast potential and transform its higher education system. Now. (published 2015) In 2017, a US-based Nobel Laureate presented this book to India’s Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi.

Our journey also included writing articles and blogs, speaking at conferences, universities and companies, and meeting with decision makers and thought leaders. (Read: our 5-point case, blogs, and articles)

Read the full report here.

Listen to a webinar and learn about Nalanda 2.0 and its 2020 plans

May 02, 2020

Nalanda 2.0 made significant progress prior to COVID-19 outbreak and are updating our plans to respond to the new challenges posed by it. In this webinar, we share an update on Nalanda 2.0, its three initiatives of building the University of the Future in India, advising governments with evidence-based policy recommendations, and educating stakeholders, and our future plans.


The panel included Shail Kumar, Founder & President, Nalanda 2.0 and four core team members: Rakesh Misra, Co-Founder, Uhana (acquired by VMware), Deepan Raj Prabakar, Post-Doctoral Researcher, UC Irvine, Hrishikesh Ranjalkar, Principal Engineer Sea6 Energy, and Raj Shekhar Singh, Vice President, Innovaccer. This was followed by audience Q&A.

Help design the University of the Future in India

April 20, 2020

More than ever before, India needs many world-class multidisciplinary research universities. Currently, it has none. An exceptional team of 23 leaders from industry, academia, and research, and entrepreneurs from India, Singapore, UAE, and the US came together in 2018 to build one such university - University of the Future in India (UFI). This is a Nalanda 2.0 initiative. For further details, visit: University of the Future in India.

The goal of this survey is to engage and get feedback from those currently pursuing Phd or have completed Phd. The insights we gather from your responses will help us improve our plans for UFI. The survey should take around 10 minutes to complete. We encourage you to participate in the survey and give your valuable feedback.

Dr. Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan nominated to be the next Director of National Science Foundation

December 19, 2019

We are pleased to share that Dr. Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan, executive vice president and the chief research and innovation officer at ASU has been nominated to be the next Director of NSF. He is also on University of the Future in India (UFI) Global Advisory Board.

University of the Future in India: meeting leaders, refining plans, and advancing the initiative.

University of the Future in India (UFI) will have a game changing impact on students, professionals, industry, and the society. UFI's Global Advisory Board completed its planning in Nov. 2018. Since then, Nalanda 2.0's Founder & President Shail Kumar has also been meeting and speaking with faculty members and academic leaders in universities such as MIT, UC Berkeley, Tsinghua, and Stanford to get their advice on the plans. 

In the photo with Dr. John Hennessy, President (Emeritus), Stanford University, Turing Award winning faculty member and researcher, entrepreneur, and Chairman, Alphabet, Inc. 

Nalanda 2.0 is a Knowledge Partner for Reforming Higher Education in Delhi

Nalanda 2.0 is excited to be the Knowledge Partner with Dialogue and Development Commission for its High-level Committee on Reforming Higher Education in Delhi. The High-Level Committee includes entrepreneurs, and leaders from academia, industry, government, and civil society from India and around the world. 

Watch Facebook Live with Nalanda 2.0 Founder & President Shail Kumar

In an interactive Facebook Live session, Shail Kumar, Founder & President, Nalanda 2.0 answered audience questions on:

- Why India needs a vibrant higher education system in the 21st century,
- How India's higher education system is currently doing, 
- Why there is an urgent need to transform and make it world class, and
- What Nalanda 2.0 is doing to execute this transformation!

The Time to Reform India’s Education System is Now

​Lagging far behind developed nations in university rankings, India must transform its ailing higher education system.

At the Harvard India Conference 2019

Nalanda 2.0's Founder & President, Shail Kumar spoke at the Harvard India Conference 2019.  He was a speaker in the panel on "Innovation in Education: Can India realize its demographic dividend", and moderated a panel on "Education: Skills for the new economy".

Amazon Palo Alto hosted Nalanda 2.0 for a talk and interactive session

Amazon Palo Alto hosted Nalanda 2.0 on Jan. 31 for a talk on "Transforming India's higher education system: Why and How".

Interacting with a highly-engaged audience, Nalanda 2.0’s Founder and President Shail Kumar explained the need for urgent and comprehensive reforms and Nalanda 2.0’s 5-point mission for executing this transformation.

Lessons from Nalanda University of ancient times and Stanford University of modern era for a new India

The lessons from Nalanda of ancient India and Stanford of modern era offer a compelling roadmap to create a better future for India’s youth, society, and its economy. 

Year-end report: 2018 was a stellar year for Nalanda 2.0Nalanda 2.0 had a stellar 2018 — Building the University of the Future in India and beyond!

Thanks to the growing community of Nalanda 2.0’s team, donors, and well-wishers, 2018 was a stellar year for Nalanda 2.0.

IIT Alumni Spotlight: PANIIT USA Interviews Shail Kumar, Founder & President, Nalanda 2.0

The IITian on his journey from IIT Kharagpur to Nalanda 2.0. 

​Nalanda 2.0 launches "Building the University of the Future in India" initiative.

In April, 2018, Nalanda 2.0 launched an initiative to build a world-class multidisciplinary teaching and research university. It is inspired by Nalanda of ancient India and Stanford of the 21st century. 

What can states in India learn from California, a trailblazer in knowledge economy

One idea can change the trajectory of a state's economy and its people—create a world-class higher education system. 

Talk at the IIT Leadership Conference in the Bay Area

India Abroad wrote about the Leadership Conference and Shail Kumar. 

Click here to watch the talk

​Read the book that is the foundation for Nalanda 2.0. 

Building Golden India: How to unleash India's vast potential and transform its higher education system. Now.  (published October 2015) Shail Kumar, Founder & President, Nalanda 2.0 is the author. This book is the fountainhead for Nalanda 2.0's mission, plans, and actions.  


The book includes a foreword by Desh Deshpande, Life Member, MIT Corporation, and has received international acclaim from academic and business leaders. In 2017, a US-based Nobel Laureate presented this book to India’s Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi.

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