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  • Shail Kumar

Nalanda 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. In summary, we made significant progress towards our mission of making India’s higher education system world class:

  1. Building the University of the Future in India (UFI): Assembled an exceptional Global Advisory Board and launched UFI in April. Developed UFI’s master plan by November, and by December initiated efforts to raise $400 Million to establish UFI.

  2. Advising Governments: Met with a number of central and state government leaders and started advising Government of Delhi.

  3. Educating Stakeholders: Gave a number of talks and interviews and wrote a number of articles on the importance and urgency of transforming India’s higher education system.

  4. Strengthening Nalanda 2.0 Organization: Received 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in April and also became eligible to receive company-matching funds. Closed the year counting over 200 people from around the world as Nalanda 2.0 donors, volunteers, advisers, and well-wishers.

Here is a more detailed report:

Building the University of the Future in India (UFI):

"Nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come." — Victor Hugo

UFI's Objective: To set up a multidisciplinary research university in India that, by 2050, is ranked amongst the top 25 universities in the world and whose faculty members and alumni have won at least 3 Nobel Prizes.

Why build UFI: Great universities are multidisciplinary in nature and serve as engines for education, research, and innovation. They drive economic growth, solve the problems of humanity, and make life better for people.

As an example, Stanford University has over 2,100 award winning faculty members, including 19 Nobel laureates and 2 Field Medalists. Companies such as Google, Cisco, Yahoo, HP, Charles Schwab, eBay, Instagram, VMWare, and Tesla have Stanford roots. According to a 2012 study, since the 1930s Stanford entrepreneurs (faculty and alumni) have started 39,900 companies, which in turn have created 5.4 million jobs and generated US$2.7 trillion in revenues annually. This is the kind of “return” Stanford has delivered on its investment. The culture of excellence radiates outwards and impacts organizations, society and individual behavior, uplifting everyone.

India needs a hundred such universities. Currently it has none. This gap must be addressed urgently.

The energy and thought behind UFI: To address this challenge and opportunity, by April 2018, we assembled an exceptional team of 23 leaders to be UFI’s Global Advisory Board. They include faculty members, leaders in academia, research, and nonprofit institutions, entrepreneurs, and senior industry executives in India, Singapore, and the US.

Some of them are:

  • Dr. A. Paulraj: award-winning faculty member, Stanford University

  • Dr. Pramod Khargonekar: Vice-Chancellor Research, UC Irvine

  • Mr. R. Gopalakrishnan: Author, Adviser, Former Director, Tata Sons

  • Dr. Anil Kakodkar: Former Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission of India.

Left to right, some of the Global Advisory Board Members at a meeting in May 2018

Dr. A. Paulraj, Dr. Krishna Saraswat, Mr. Arjun Malhotra, Dr. Prith Banerjee,

Mr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Dr. Ajit Singh, Mr. Shail Kumar

By November we developed a master plan for the university and by December we initiated efforts to raise funding for UFI.

Key next steps: We estimate that UFI, a private nonprofit university, will need close to $1 Billion in funding to reach its sustainable financial state after the 10th year of starting operations. We are planning to raise $400 Million from philanthropists in India, the US, and around the world to launch UFI.

To learn more about the initiative and its Global Advisory Board visit:

Advising Governments:

Policy level changes can make an impact at a greater scale and speed. In 2018, we:

  • Provided inputs to Modi Government's New Education Policy Committee.

  • Met with a number of state governments leaders such as KT Rama Rao (Telangana), Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia (Delhi), and Chandrababu Naidu’s team (Andhra Pradesh).

  • Started advising the Government of Delhi on its higher education initiative.

L-R: Mr. KT Rama Rao, Minister, Telangana and Mr. Shail Kumar, President, Nalanda 2.0

Educating Stakeholders:

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi

  • Before a problem can be solved, it must be first acknowledged. Thus, we continued to write, meet with stakeholders, and make presentations at a variety of forums such as:

  • Interviews with PanIIT, The Industry Show and The Open Forum.

  • Talk at IIT Alumni of Greater Houston event and a booth at Google’s Diwali celebrations in Mountain View.

  • Articles for NHRD Network Journal, January 2018 volume 10 and for The Logical Indian.

To read the articles and listen to the videos, visit:

Strengthening Nalanda 2.0 Organization:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

A strong team and well-resourced organization are enablers for advancing Nalanda 2.0’s mission. We:

  • Received 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from Internal Revenue Service. (April)

  • Became eligible to receive company funds in employee-matching program in Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Microsoft, Intel, Adobe, Applied Materials, Sony, LinkedIn, Nvidia, Workday, and Apple.

  • Started fundraising and have received approximately $73,000 in gifts and grants from the Deshpande Foundation, Tarsadia Foundation, and 161 donors. The contributions have ranged from $5 to $25,000.

Count over 200 people from around the world as Nalanda 2.0 donors, volunteers, advisers and well-wishers.

To make a gift, visit: The funds will enable us to build capacity, pay salaries and expenses, educate stakeholders, advise state governments, and make UFI a reality!

I am excited about how much we have done and achieved in such a short amount of time and with limited resources. For Nalanda 2.0, 2018 was stellar and we are poised to make 2019 even better!

Please contact me if you would like to make a contribution to Nalanda 2.0 and advance its mission of making India’s higher education system world class. 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.

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