Vedanta University links categorized to various topics

To make it easier to find various information regarding Vedanta University I have categorized various articles/reports on them. Hope this will be useful in seeing the real value of Vedanta University and convincing people of Odisha that we must thwart the BJP and Congress efforts to take Vedanta University to Karnataka and Andhra respectively.

  1. Must see youtube video on the story of Vedanta University.

  1. Vedanta University Home Page
  2. Initial blog to watch the progress of Vedanta University
  3. Petitions to thwart attempts to take Vedanta University away from Odisha
    1. Petition to the Honorable Governor of Orissa to give assent to the Vedanta University bill passed by Orissa assembly in July 2009 (more than a year back)
    2. Petition to the CM to seek the PM’s help regarding Vedanta University
    3. Petition to Delhi to stop putting hurdles on the Vedanta University project and to facilitate its establishment
  4. Categorizing the articles on Vedanta University in this blog
    1. Accolades for its campus master plan
    2. Ads
    3. Anil Agarwal
    4. Appeal to Anil Agarwal
    5. Architects and Construction Contracts
    6. Beyond the Puri main campus
    7. BJP attempt to steal it to Karnataka
      1. Orissa BJP opposes Karnataka BJP lures
    8. Congress attempt to steal it to Andhra
      1. Andhra Science City plan: They have had plans like the Vedanta University township for a long time. So they are doing their best to take Vedanta University from Odisha.
      2. Congress ruled Andhra’s overture
      3. Environment minister Jairam Ramesh, Congress MP from Andhra, creates hurdles
      4. Orissa Congress opposes Andhra Congress lures
    9. CSR in Puri
    10. Honorable Odisha governor (a former member of Congress) has not signed the Vedanta University bill which was passed in July 2009
    11. International media coverage
    12. Land Acquisition and Land Use (Why so much land?)
    13. Medical College progress
    14. Pictures, master plan layouts, Videos
    15. Provisions for Orissa students
    16. Rally, petitions and articles in its support
    17. Rebuttals to opposition arguments and unsubstantiated rumours
    18. Slowing brain drain
    19. Vedanta University Bill
    20. What does $1 Billion buy? What is once in a century opportunity?

3 comments September 13th, 2010

Coverage of Vedanta University in the international media

Vedanta University is covered in major news papers and magazines across the world:

Vedanta University master plan has won awards

March 30th, 2008

Charlie Rose interviews Anil Agarwal (includes Mr. Agarwal talking about Vedanta University)

From a interview by a New York area PBS station. (He talks about Vedanta University at 3:20.)




February 24th, 2008

Vedanta University masterplan wins one of the 15 2008 Charter Awards of the Congress for the New Urbanism

Following is an excerpt from

The Congress for the New Urbanism announces the recipients of its 2008 Charter Awards, the annual prize honoring the best of the New Urbanism. The 14 winning professional submissions and one student/faculty submission were chosen by a seven-member jury of leading urbanists last month, with Andrés Duany serving as chair. In fulfilling and advancing the principles of the Charter of the New Urbanism, the projects reveal the power of well-executed urbanism to strengthen communities, achieve broader sustainability and create places worthy of respect and admiration.

The awarded projects are found in the U.S. and four other countries: the Bahamas, India, Saudi Arabia, and Scotland. Among US regions, the Southeast again had a strong showing, followed by the Midwest. All but one of the awarded neighborhood- and block-scale projects in the USA are built or under construction, and none are on true greenfield sites. Several projects directly address quality affordable housing design, including one HOPE VI development from Chicago and a national pattern book for affordable houses. Several projects bring well-executed, innovative housing types to unexpected locations, like small Southern cities.

Duany and other jurors said winning projects demonstrated excellence, often in the face of difficult contexts or other challenges requiring ingenuity to overcome. The awards will be presented on April 5, 2008 in conjunction with the 16th Congress for the New Urbanism in Austin. See images and descriptions of all awardees.

Following are some details from the page

Location: Orissa, India. University

Charter Award Winner:

In India today there is only one seat for every 10,000 university applicants, and those lucky enough to find a seat have limited choices of single disciplinary universities. To meet this unprecedented demand, the project’s design sought to create a multi-disciplinary University for 10,000 students.

As designers their aspiration was to create a campus master plan which would reflect not only the goals and philosophies of this new University, but would be Indian in spirit. The result of these intentions led to a simple ‘parti’ of two overlapping circles inscribed within an oval. The circles represent the balance between the two major areas of discipline, Arts & Humanities and Science & Technology. Intersecting these circles in a spoke are areas for housing and student life, and surrounding these forms are professional schools, a medical school, and hospital. At the core is a crescent open space which is the heart of the University, demonstrating a strong focus on the creation of a sustainable, pedestrian-oriented campus that fully embraces the principles of responsible development.

A total of approximately 500 buildings on 280 sites are identified within the university precinct to accommodate the anticipated student population, all of which will be no more than 5 stories, and have green roofs. Several localized sewer treatment plants will provide grey water for irrigation and toilet flushing and several utility pad sites for water storage, electrical transformers, pumps and cooling towers have been identified to maximize efficiency of utility services.

Transect Zone(s): T6 core.
Status: Plan Approved
Guiding Charter Principle(s): Principle 1, Principle 3, Principle 5, Principle 6, Principle 7, Principle 8
Project or Plan’s Scale: Region
Features: Affordable/subsidized housing, Civic buildings & parks, Green buildings, Live/work, Transit oriented development.
Land area (in acres): 8700
Total built area (in sq. ft.):
Total project cost (in local currency):
Retail area (in sq. ft.):
Office area (in sq. ft.):
Industrial area (in sq. ft.):
Number of hotel units:
Number of residential units (include live/work):
Civic uses (type and size): University, Townships, Exhibition Ground, Airport, Resort, Agricultural Research, Horticulture, Athletics & Sports Facilities, Utility Substations, Conference Center
Parks & green space (in acres): 440
Project team designers: Ayers/Saint/Gross Inc, Architects+Planners
Project team developers: Ayers/Saint/Gross Inc, Architects+Planners

Previous site status:

Starting/Ending date of construction/implementation: 2009 –

The goal of this design is to offer an array of academic interests and a centralized area for student life surrounded by a mixed-use space including professional schools and a hospital. The unique geometrical design of the New University will create a balanced environment of living and learning.The goal of this design is to offer an array of academic interests and a centralized area for student life surrounded by a mixed-use space including professional schools and a hospital. The unique geometrical design of the New University will create a balanced environment of living and learning. The goal of this design is to offer an array of academic interests and a centralized area for student life surrounded by a mixed-use space including professional schools and a hospital. The unique geometrical design of the New University will create a balanced environment of living and learning.

Location: Orissa, India.

February 24th, 2008

Adam Gross, design principal at the Baltimore architectural firm Ayers Saint Gross, discusses the design of Vedanta University in Maryland Radio

Adam Gross, design principal at the Baltimore architectural firm Ayers Saint Gross, discussed the design of Vedanta University with Tom Hall the Arts and Culture Contributor for Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast and the host of Choral Arts Classics on January 25 2008.

Some of the new details about the university that I learned from listening to this broadcast are as follows:

  • 2:35: The construction is expected to start in Spring 2008.
  • 2:39: First classes are supposed to start in 2009.
  • 2:41: First phase they plan to have 3100 students and 400 faculty in next 2 years.
  • 2:54: Second phase they plan to have 10,000 students and reach that milestone in another 5 years.
  • 3:02: Third phase they plan to have 40,000 students.
  • 3:04: In 25 years they plan to reach build out of 100,000 students.

February 10th, 2008

A campus for India, shaped like a mandala: New Urban News article on Vedanta University

From the SEPTEMBER 2007 issue of New Urban News

A campus for India, shaped like a mandala

Courtesy of Ayers Saint Gross

Vedanta, the largest new university in the world, will have a plan that draws from Indian spiritual traditions.

On an expanse of flat rural land near the Bay of Bengal, earth-moving is to get under way this fall for an extraordinary institution. Vedanta University — to be built with a billion dollars donated by Indian industrialist Anil Agarwal — will have a shape like no other university on the planet (see plan, above, and on home page).

Dhiru Thadani, lead architect-planner at Ayers Saint Gross (ASG), has been spending about one week per month in India, spearheading the master-planning of the approximately 10,000-acre project. Thadani and his team have produced a remarkable, complex layout, one that suggests an elaborate mandala.

A mandala — a symbol associated with Hinduism, Buddhism, and other religions as well — is sometimes defined as a geometric pattern that represents the cosmos. The mandala that Thadani’s team has created in the state of Orissa consists of two large, overlapping circles, each half a mile in diameter. They sit within a larger oval that stretches about 1.4 miles from east to west.

Within the two circles and the 780-acre oval, there may eventually be as many as 280 university buildings, predominantly three to five stories high. Thanks to their disciplined arrangement, tight spacing, and consistent heights, the buildings will form dozens of well-defined outdoor spaces, ranging from small private courtyards to quadrangles and parks.

The patterns made by the buildings’ curved, angled, or straight walls will be intricate. Weaving through them will eventually be 100,000 students, plus tens of thousands of teachers, administrators, and others.

Thadani, who was born in Bombay (Mumbai) and educated at Catholic University in Washington, DC, is based in Washington, but has previously worked on large planning projects in his native country. He and Adam Gross, principals at Baltimore-based ASG, say they set out to make the campus “Indian in spirit.”

The western circle, containing humanities programs, has an oval open space at its center and “is organized by a series of radiating spokes representing the Indian flag and the spokes on Gandhi’s spinning wheel,” a master plan document explains. “The eastern circle — science — is organized orthogonally around a central square, representing practice and research that is grounded in the earth.”

Unlike many universities, where the arts and humanities occupy the well-loved, walkable core of the campus, while the science, engineering, and professional schools sit in less lovely, more disconnected settings, Vedanta is striving for an intertwining of disciplines — with all of them enjoying a pleasing ambience.

For protection from the sun and from the 79 inches of rain that fall annually on this section of India, the planners called for continuous arcades, which can also keep the buildings cooler. They encountered some resistance — arcades in India are sometimes associated with housing occupied by the poor — but the logic of the arcades seems to have won out.

Prior to starting Vedanta’s planning, some of the principal figures — from India and the US — toured several campuses. The three- to five-story height of most of the buildings is consistent with precedents the team examined, including the University of Virginia, Stanford University, and the city of Bologna, Italy.

Among their practical advantages, those heights reduce the need for elevators and mechanical equipment. A key element of circulation inside the buildings will be grand staircases placed within atriums. Big rooms, such as auditoriums, will be mostly at first-floor level, to keep most traffic at the lower level. Academic buildings will be constructed mainly of concrete, with stone cladding. “There’s a lot of granite in this area,” Thadani points out, so it’s affordable. Residential buildings may have stone on the ground floor and stucco above.

The goal is for 40 percent of the buildings to do without air conditioning, relying on stone screens, cross-ventilation, and other tactics to ameliorate the hot climate. “That will not be possible in laboratory buildings,” Thadani acknowledges.

In Indian educational circles, one tendency today is for people to want buildings that look very modern, with an abundance of glass — ostensibly forward-looking structures. But across much of Asia, this mindset is producing many buildings that consume power heavily, ignore human scale, inadequately define public spaces, and seem at odds with traditional places. “From the start, we have been emphatically talking about sustainability,” Thadani notes. Emphasizing sustainability can win people over to an architecture that is generally not so flashy but is more economical, more urbane, and presumably of more lasting value.
Besides planning the campus and the surrounding township, which may ultimately have a population of 400,000, ASG is designing three of Vedanta’s first buildings — a library, a science building, and a humanities building. These structures divide a diamond-shaped open space where the campus’s two circles overlap. The firm is also programming three other buildings.

Thadani and Gross are encouraging the client to retain other architects for other buildings. However, the US-based designers hope to continue in a design review capacity once the master plan is in place. As of mid-August, the plan was nearly complete.

This article is available in the September 2007 issue of New Urban News, along with images and many more articles not available online. Subscribe or order the individual issue.

November 18th, 2007

Stanford Daily on Vedanta University

Stanford Daily has an article on Vedanta university with the title "Indian College to be modeled after Stanford."  It talks about the vision behind Vedanta University and asks Indian students in Stanford if they would prefer Vedanta University over Stanford. Most students say they would prefer Stanford; this is understandable as Vedanta University does not exist yet.  Here is an excerpt from that article:

Revti Gupta ‘09 was impressed by Vedanta’s high expectations.

“It is high time someone took action to establish a world class institute in India that is not just IIT and IIM,” she said, referring to the top technology and management schools in the South Asian country, home to nearly one-sixth of the world’s people.

However, like Mehra and Forbes, Gupta said she would still prefer to travel to California to study.

“I would still come to Stanford because it provides a new perspective and an immersion in a cultural experience for me that I would not have been exposed to in India.”

Despite the lack of enthusiasm from students, Linda Hess, co-director of the Center for South Asia at Stanford, emphasized the positive impact of the initiative in the long-run.

“While Indian students who are at Stanford today may not be tempted to go to a university that’s ‘like Stanford’ in India,” she said in an email to The Daily, “the creation of a place like Vedanta University is part of a much bigger picture — the picture called ‘globalization.’

“The assumptions that used to be made about the sources of economic and intellectual power, about who is ‘ahead’ and who is ‘behind,’ are being turned around,” Hess added. “If the vision of its founders is realized, Vedanta University will attract top students from across the globe to India for the same reasons that Stanford is able to do that now.”.

October 24th, 2007

UK Newspaper “The Independent” has a detailed article on Vedanta University

Following are some excerpts from that report by Shailaja Neelakantan.

… Agarwal’s proposed Vedanta University is expected to be different. Undergraduates will study diverse subjects on the way to earning degrees, rather than focus exclusively on one discipline, as is typical at Indian universities. "An engineering student will be able to study literature or economics if he wants to, like in the US," says C.V. Krishnan, chief executive of the university project. Vedanta University plans to offer undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programmes in a huge variety of disciplines. The first phase of the university’s growth, to about 3,000 students, is scheduled to begin next year. In 2023, when it is destined for completion, Vedanta University will house 100,000 students, as well as 40,000 faculty and staff members.

…Nevertheless, he has huge ambitions for Vedanta University. According to promotional materials, Vedanta will boast faculty members and students from all over the world and will produce "tomorrow’s Nobel laureates, Olympic champions and community leaders." Agarwal and his public relations staff talk a good game – he has even likened himself to Leland Stanford, an American who made his fortune building railways in the US and founded Stanford University.

…Still, for Vedanta University’s supporters, its sheer scope is what makes it worth backing. "It could set a new revolutionary benchmark in higher education – and just the force of that argument should allow this project to go ahead," insists Pratap Bhanu Mehta, chief executive of New Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research.

As it is, the country’s 350 public universities serve only seven per cent of its 18- to 24-year-olds, a rate that is half that of other Asian countries. If Vedanta University succeeds, it could stem the rising tide of Indian students seeking an education overseas.

The campus

Is being designed by an American architect in Baltimore who has developed Duke, Carnegie-Mellon and Johns Hopkins universities in the US. It will be built on 8000 acres of land near the Puri-Konark marine drive in Orissa state and the buildings will be arranged in the form of two overlapping circles. The Orissa government has begun to build a four-lane expressway from the new campus to the international airport which is being constructed near the state capital, Bhubaneswar, 70km away. A railway station will also be located on campus. The area will be developed into a large university township that will house a permanent population of 500,000 in addition to the 100,000 students.

Any more?

Yes, there will also be a research and development park serving as an incubator for spin-off companies. Eventually, it is hoped that this will evolve into a large research-cum-education complex resembling Silicon Valley, the economic hub that surrounds Stanford.

Will it work?

The university system in India is under financial strain and is not known for its research strength, except in one or two areas, or for the quality of its academics. Although it has large numbers of keen and well-prepared students, India is not a global player and, unlike China, is not making super-human efforts to build up a stellar university system by recruiting retired or semi-retired university presidents and other staff from the US. That is why Indians spend large sums on getting a good higher education overseas. And it is why India’s Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, announced that he wanted to set up 25 new universities funded by the centre to augment the handful of centrally funded universities already in existence. It is also why he supports Vedanta University.

Whether Vedanta will succeed is debatable, according to Lord Parekh, the British peer who was educated in Bombay and the London School of Economics, and was later vice chancellor of the University of Baroda. First, he wonders where the quality staff will come from for a new university containing 100,000 students. Second, he asks who is going to manage a 40,000-strong faculty.

"Three Chinese universities have invited retired or semi-retired American professors and executive officers to staff their universities," he says. "Singapore is doing the same. These countries are paying well. They have the confidence to hire foreigners."

October 11th, 2007

Economist, UK profiles Anil Agarwal and mentions Vedanta University

Economist, UK has a nice profile of Anil Agarwal and mentions Vedanta University. Following are some excerpts.

… Around half of India’s dozen richest businessmen are self-made men. But none more so than Mr Agarwal, now 53, whose personal fortune is estimated at $5.4 billion. …

He is Indian, and proud to be—hence, he says, his philanthropic scheme to donate $1 billion to found a world-class university in India. Vedanta University will be constructed on a 3,200-hectare site in Orissa and will cater for 100,000 students when it is completed, around 2025. “When you go to the US, you see their large universities, Harvard and Berkeley, and we don’t have them,” says Mr Agarwal. “Yet the biggest thing you can give to people is education.” Sceptics say he has chosen Orissa as the site for the university for political reasons. It is certainly an extraordinarily ambitious scheme. But there is no doubting Mr Agarwal’s ability to overcome obstacles and establish giant enterprises with surprising speed.

July 29th, 2007

Two articles and a slide show on Vedanta University in the Chronicles of Higher Education

Chronicles of Higher Education has two premium articles ( one needs a subscription to read the full article) and a slide show. Following are links to those articles and excerpts from them.

  • Slide show with 11 nice pictures
  • Article 1: For Planners, the Opportunity of a Lifetime

    In an office a few feet from the chop of the Baltimore harbor, architects are drawing plans for a vast university campus on the east coast of India that would be shaped like twin blossoms, bordered by a lake, and entered through any of 34 gates, each with its own name and symbolism. As beautiful as a mandala and as intricate as a postgraduate mathematics problem, it’s almost certainly the most ambitious campus plan ever conceived.

    On more than 7,500 acres, Vedanta University and its environs would accommodate a liberal-arts program, an engineering school, an agriculture college, a medical campus, Olympics-grade sports facilities, townships for faculty and staff members, parklands, a resort, and even its own airport. At the behest of Anil Agarwal, an industrialist who has pledged $1-billion toward its construction, the campus is being designed to house 100,000 students and to fulfill the donor’s dream of creating an institution that is Indian and world-class at the same time. … MORE

  • Article 2: In Rural India, an Ambitious Academic Vision:

    A mining mogul with big ideas is determined to build an elite, American-style university for 100,000 students in Orissa. Farmers, who own the land he wants to develop, plan to resist.

    Bhubaneshwar, India

    A few miles outside the town of Puri, in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, lies Beladala, a farming village of thatch-roofed homes. One recent afternoon a group of farmers sat on the porch of the village’s small school eating a lunch of rice, lentils, and vegetables on plates made of broad leaves. … MORE

1 comment July 9th, 2007

Time Magazine on Anil Agarwal and Vedanta University

Time Magazine in its recent issue lists Anil Agarwal at number in its list of 12 Powergivers. The others in the list are Angelina Jolie, Rania al-Abdullah, Yu Panglin, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud, Sir John Templeton, Li Ka-shing, Pierre & Pam Omidyar, David Rockefeller, Gordon Moore, George Soros, and Bill & Melinda Gates.

Following is an excerpt of what Time says about Mr. Agarwal and Vedanta University.

Cause: University education in India. The London-based mining magnate has pledged $1 billion to establish a world-class, need-blind university in Orissa, eastern India. To be called Vedanta (the name of his mining group), the school will focus on liberal arts, in contrast to India’s many technically oriented schools.

Impact: Vedanta will help address the region’s dearth of university spots, which keeps qualified students from going to high-quality colleges.

It says Vedant University will focus on liberal arts and not like the technical schools in India. What it means probably is that it will not be unidimensional like the IITs were (they are changing), the IIMs are, etc. It does not mean that it will not have disciplines like science, engineering, management etc. In fact Vedanta University’s website lists all these disciplines and my guess is that in their first phase they will have disciplines like Engineering, Management and Medicine (as they recently promised) which are in demand and which will attract paying students.

(Thanks to Jibanendra babu for tipping of about the Time magazine article.)

May 12th, 2007


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