The Sikkim Legislative Assembly passed a bill on 21 September to establish a Buddhist university in the northeastern Indian state. To be known as Khangchendzonga Buddhist University (KBU), the institution will become the first private Buddhist university in India and the first university in Sikkim to be founded by the Sikkimese people.
In a press release dated 22 September, the chief minister of Sikkim, Prem Singh Tamang, expressed gratitude to the members of the Legislative Assembly for passing the KBU bill: “This is a fulfillment of the SKM [Sikkim Krantikari Morcha] Party’s manifesto to build a Buddhist university in Sikkim and will place Sikkim prominently on the map of higher education in India and the world.” (Summit Times)
The press release also stated that KBU would advance Buddhism in Sikkim and the world, while also focusing on the development of teachers in the state and surrounding areas through “innovative models of education and offer cutting-edge vocational programs with a broad-based foundation in liberal arts so that students of lower and lower middle class can be prepared for rewarding careers in India and outside.” (Summit Times)
Sikkim is a multi-ethnic and multilingual state located in northeastern India, bordering Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet. According to data from the 2011 census, a 57.8 per cent majority of the population follow Hinduism, with Buddhists accounting for 27.4 per cent and Christians 9.9 per cent. Although Vajrayana Buddhism is the second-largest religion in Sikkim, it is the most prominent, playing a significant role in public life.
Education Minister Kunga Nima Lepcha, who introduced the KBU bill in the Legislative Assembly, said the new university would promote knowledge, understanding, and development in all members of the community. By creating and developing innovative educational models in higher education, Lepcha added, the KBU would also achieve its goals through providing reflective educational and research opportunities.
The KBU is to focus on developing professional skills in emerging areas of business by providing innovative and high-quality programs and training in Buddhist studies, education, vocational domains, liberal arts, social sciences, science and engineering, hospitality and tourism, architecture, medicine, and related areas so that students from lower and lower middle class backgrounds can be prepared for rewarding careers.
The university is to be modeled on the guidelines laid oput by the National Education Policy in India and is to help the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include quality education, employment and economic growth, and sustainable cities and communities.
In response to a question to the Sikkim Legislative Assembly by member Shri. Sonam Venchungpa, Lepcha said the KBU would be affiliated with the University Grants Commission (UGC), once it is established and functioning.
The session of the Legislative Assembly, which also passed eight other bills, was limited to a single session due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
CM congratulates Denjong Charities for founding Khangchendzonga Buddhist University (Summit Times)
Day 01 of the 3rd Session of 10th SLA (The Voice of Sikkim)
Sikkim Assembly passes bill to set up Buddhist university (Devdiscourse)
Sikkim Assembly Passes Bill to Setup Khangchendzonga Buddhist University (Northeast Today)
CM Congratulates Denjong Charities, Thanks Assembly Members for Khangchendzonga Buddhist University (Sikkim Express)