The Phoenix is an apt metaphor to depict the revived Nalanda University. Like this mythical bird, the historic campus was resurrected after being burned down to ashes. According to the university’s website, historical findings revealed that ancient Nalanda had a remarkable life lasting 800 years from the fifth to the twelfth century CE.
After a gap of hundreds of years, the new avatar of Nalanda University opened its doors for the first batch of students in 2014, around 12 kilometres from the original site. The restored Nalanda University is again aiming to become an icon for a new Asian convergence, a creative space and a centre of inter-civilisational dialogue for future generations.
The university is built upon a foundational philosophy that seeks to re-establish lost connections in the Asian region. The ideal is shared among students and teachers. Surrounded by the picturesque Rajgir Hills of Bihar State, India, wisdom seekers from all over the world have come to deepen their knowledge at this monumental location.
Stretching around 450 acres, Nalanda University students come from 31 countries, including ASEAN Member States. They are recipients of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) scholarship and the Nalanda University ASEAN Scholarship scheme. The ASEAN interviewed two of them to learn about their stories.
Months into the pandemic, Dr. Disa Edralyn understood that the risk of contracting the coronavirus is higher for medical workers in Indonesia.
The 27-year-old doctor, who is currently inactive to focus on her speciality study on anaesthesiology, was tested positive with COVID-19 in July. Earlier, her 61-year-old dentist mother was also infected by the virus.
Managing personal finances could seem like solving a complex equation—from figuring out how to save money without losing your social life or cutting down on meal expenses, to dealing with your parents’ poor financial choices. Looking for solutions to your everyday money problems? Online resources like The Simple Sum are offering informed answers.
Women-led micro and small-sized enterprises in Cambodia can now keep track of their finances through an easy-touse bookkeeping app, Kotra Riel.
When we travel, it is almost inevitable to hit some potholes on the road. As passengers, bumpy rides that jolt us out of sleep can be quite unpleasant and even hazardous.
Thirty-three-year-old Chai Kok Chin says this is a problem in his hometown in Sarawak, Malaysia, so he sought to remedy it for the sake of comfort and safety.
Chai and his team at NEUON developed RoadPlus, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to detect and report potholes. This technology makes it easier for authorities to monitor road conditions and dispatch repair crews, especially under the Zero Potholes Initiative. RoadPlus is also designed to reduce traffic congestion and improve connectivity. Chai believes that better and safer roads can lead to higher productivity.
The team introduced the technology at MyHackathon 2020, a Malaysian Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation competition to look for innovative ideas and solutions that would benefit Malaysians. RoadPlus became one of the winners.
Now, Chai and his team continue to work with municipalities across Sarawak to mainstream the initiative. They participated in the ASEAN-India Start-Up Festival in Cibinong, Indonesia, in October 2022 to promote the use of this technology beyond Sarawak.
Soaking in the stunning views of Koh Rong Samloem’s pristine beaches while feasting on fresh seafood are some of Langda Chea’s most cherished memories. The 33-year-old travels whenever he needs to recharge from work. However, the ardent traveller recalls that getting to Cambodia’s gorgeous white sands and scuba diving spots was once a challenge. Growing up in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Langda has had some unpleasant experiences during his intercity trips.
Taking a larn taxi (រថយន្តតាក់ស៊ី), operated by drivers everyone calls “uncles,” was the fastest and the most convenient option to get from Phnom Penh to his parent’s hometown in Battambang City. Larn is a shared taxi, which usually accommodates 4-5 passengers at a time. Langda struggled with uncles at crowded terminals where they would fight tooth and nail for potential customers. Langda says the ordeal made him feel like prey hunted by vultures.
As much as securing taxi rides were always unpleasant for him, Langda would dutifully make the trip home every Khmer New Year, Pchum Ben and other special occasions. After making countless intercity trips, he finally realised: he could do something to make his journey more enjoyable.
While on a five-hour larn ride to Battambang City, he got the inspiration to build an online platform, BookMeBus, so customers can book seats on a bus or shared taxi ahead of time. This way, he thought, the customers would fight for their seats, not the other way around. During the 253-kilometre excursion, Langda convinced the uncle, who was driving him, that it was a feasible idea.
In 2015, his idea came to fruition, and both drivers and passengers hopped on the BookMeBus platform. Since then, many Cambodian travellers have been enjoying safer and more comfortable trips by bus, ferry, and taxi. The booking service is now also available for trips to Viet Nam, Thailand, and the Lao PDR. Two years after it launched, BookMeBus won a gold medal in the start-up category of the ASEAN Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Awards.
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