Ramesh Pokhriyal

Ramesh Pokhriyal "Nishank" (born 15 July 1959),[2] is an Indian politician who was appointed on 31 May 2019 to serve as Minister of Human Resource Development and as of July 2020, following the ministry's name change, his title was changed to Minister of Education.[3]

Ramesh Pokhriyal
Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank', 2020.jpg
Union Minister of Education
In office
29 July 2020 (2020-07-29) – 7 July 2021[1]
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
Preceded byHimself as Minister of Human Resource Development
Succeeded byDharmendra Pradhan
Minister of Human Resource Development
In office
30 May 2019 (2019-05-30) – 29 July 2020 (2020-07-29)
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
Preceded byPrakash Javadekar
Succeeded byHimself as Minister of Education
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
Assumed office
16 May 2014 (2014-05-16)
Preceded byHarish Rawat
5th Chief Minister of Uttarakhand
In office
27 June 2009 (2009-06-27) – 11 September 2011 (2011-09-11)
Preceded byB. C. Khanduri
Succeeded byB. C. Khanduri
Personal details
Born (1959-07-15) 15 July 1959 (age 63)
Pinani, Uttarakhand, India
Political partyBharatiya Janata Party
Kusum Kanta Pokhriyal
(m. 1985; died 2012)
Children3 (incl. Aarushi Nishank)
Residence(s)Dehradun, Uttarakhand
Alma materHemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University

Pokhriyal was sacked from his post of education minister in July 2021 amid a cabinet reshuffle. He was also hospitalised for a month due to COVID-19 related complications.[1] He represents the Haridwar Parliamentary constituency of Uttarakhand in the 17th Lok Sabha.[4]

He was the 5th Chief Minister of Uttarakhand from 2009 to 2011. He was member of the 16th Lok Sabha and chairperson, Committee on Government Assurances.

Personal lifeEdit

Pokhriyal was born in Pinani village, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand to Paramanand Pokhriyal and Vishambhari Devi. He received an M.A. degree from Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University.[5][6][7]

Pokhriyal married Kusum Kanta Pokhriyal on 7 May 1985, with whom he has three daughters.[8] One of their daughters, Aarushi Nishank is a classical dancer.[9][10] His wife died on 11 November 2012 in Dehradun at the age of 50.[11]

Political careerEdit

Pokhriyal taking charge as the Union Minister for Human Resource Development (now Education), in New Delhi on 31 May 2019.

Pokhriyal started his career as a teacher in Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Saraswati Shishu Mandir.[12] He was first elected to public office in the erstwhile undivided Uttar Pradesh as a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly from Karnaprayag constituency in 1991, defeating a five-time Congress MLA.[12] He was re-elected in 1993 and 1996 from the same constituency. In 1997 he was appointed to the position of Uttaranchal development minister. He was also Uttarakhand's chief minister (from 2009 to 2011) and served as a member of the Lok Sabha's 17th session and the chairman of the Assurance Committee. He is a representative of Haridwar constituency in the Lok Sabha.[8] He was the member of the Legislative Assembly of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand for five consecutive terms from 1991 to 2012. He was first elected for the Karnaprayag ward in 1991 and served for three consecutive terms. In 2014, he resigned from the Doiwala, and was elected for Haridwar in the Lok Sabha.[13] On 30 May 2019, he was sworn in as Minister of Human Resource Development in the 2nd Modi Government.[14][4] Following the ministry's name change to the Ministry of Education (India) in July 2020, he served under the title of Minister of Education, until being sacked amid a cabinet reshuffle in July 2021.[3]

Literary careerEdit

Pokhriyal has written novels, stories and poems. He has authored 44 books in Hindi, some of which have been translated to English as well as other Indian languages. Most of his books were published by two private publishers – Vani Prakashan and Diamond Books, and many were published between 2009 and 2011, when he was chief minister of Uttarakhand.

One of his works was adapted into the Garhwali film Major Nirala, which was produced by his daughter Aarushi Nishank and released in 2018.[15]

He is honoured by Hindi Writers Guild, Canada in 2021 and was conferred with the "Sahitya Gaurav Samman".[16]


In 2010 while Nishank was the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, he came under the scanner for a land scam.[17] In 2011, he gave in his resignation prompted by a series of alleged land scams against his government.[18]

In 2014, Pokhriyal caused a controversy when he made a statement in the parliament claiming that astrology should be promoted. He said "Astrology is the biggest science. It is in fact above science. We should promote it". Talking about Lord Ganesha, he said that ancient Indians had the knowledge to transplant a severed head.[19] He has also claimed that Sage Kanada had conducted a nuclear test lakhs of years ago (even though according to historical evidence, the sage is likely to have lived only about two thousand years ago).[20][21] Pokhriyal has listed two different dates of birth on official documents, a discrepancy that he attributed to the Hindu horoscope.[2]

In the 1990s, the Open International University for Complementary Medicines of Colombo, Sri Lanka conferred a D.Litt. for his contribution in literature. He subsequently received another D.Litt. degree from the same institution for contributions in the field of science. However, OIU is neither registered as a foreign university nor as a domestic university in Sri Lanka, as confirmed by the University Grants Commission of Sri Lanka.[22] In August 2019, an appeal was filed in President Ram Nath Kovind’s office for Ramesh Pokhriyal's disqualification as minister for citing a ‘fake’ doctorate degree.[23][24] Pokhriyal's claim to have received an M.A. degree from Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University has also been called into question.[6]

In 2019, after being appointed the HRD Minister, Pokhriyal issued a directive saying that all the files and note sheets forwarded to him must be in Hindi. This created controversy with ministry officials, as not all of them had the level of proficiency in Hindi needed to prepare notes in that language, and the norm until then had been to prepare all official notes in English. Even though the government had traditionally encouraged officials to have a working knowledge of Hindi, existing rules did not make it compulsory for officials to be highly proficient in Hindi.[25][26]

In August 2019 at the 57th convocation ceremony of IIT Bombay, Pokhriyal falsely claimed that the U.S. space agency NASA had acknowledged that talking computers could be developed only by employing Sanskrit, which he described as "the world's only scientific language".[27][28] At the same function, he said that Charaka, hailed as one of the principal contributors of Ayurveda, was the first person who researched and discovered atoms and molecules, when in reality, it was 6th century BCE philosopher Kanada who developed the foundations of an atomistic approach to physics and philosophy in the Sanskrit text Vaiśeṣika Sūtra.[29][30]


  1. ^ a b "Pokhriyal relieved from his post", News18, 7 July 2021
  2. ^ a b "'Because of Hindu Horoscope': HRD Minister's Clarification Over Row on Different Dates of Birth". News18. 2 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b Priscilla Jebaraj; Nistula Hebbar (31 July 2020). "Rigorous consultations done before framing new National Education Policy, says Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank". The Hindu. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank gets HRD ministry in PM Modi's new cabinet". Hindustan Times. 31 May 2019. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  5. ^ "Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank | National Portal of India". www.india.gov.in. Archived from the original on 27 June 2015.
  6. ^ a b Bhatnagar, Gaurav Vivek (29 August 2019). "HRD Minister Pokhriyal Under Fire for Using 'Doctor' Prefix Without Real PhD". The Wire. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  7. ^ "Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank (Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP)):Constituency- Haridwar (Uttarakhand) - Affidavit Information of Candidate". myneta.info. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Members : Lok Sabha".
  9. ^ "स्पर्श गंगा अभियानः एक साल में लगाए जाएंगे 10 लाख पौधे, दिल्ली से शुरु हुआ महाअभियान". News18 India. 2 October 2019. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  10. ^ "Arushi Nishank featured in Forbes Middle East". The Pioneer. 26 October 2018. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  11. ^ "Former Uttarakhand CM's wife dies". Hindustan Times. 11 November 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  12. ^ a b "Former Teacher at RSS-affiliated School, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank Now Human Resource Development Minister". Network 18. 31 May 2019. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  13. ^ "Members : Lok Sabha".
  14. ^ "Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank: Poet-politician gets a ministerial berth | What you need to know". India Today. 31 May 2019. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  15. ^ "उत्तराखंडी फिल्म 'मेजर निराला' का प्रोमो दिल्ली में रिलीज, भाजपा सांसद ने लिखी है पूरी कहानी" [Uttrakhand's Film 'Major Nirala' 's promo released in Delhi, BJP MP had written the script.]. Amar Ujala (in Hindi). 13 May 2018. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  16. ^ "Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal honoured by Canada's Hindi Writers Guild". The Hindu. PTI. 17 January 2021. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 9 July 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  17. ^ Gusain, Raju (26 June 2010). "Land scam stink in Uttarakhand". India Today. Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  18. ^ "Nishank resigns as Uttarakhand Chief Minister". The Hindu. PTI. 11 September 2011. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 15 November 2020.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  19. ^ "Astrology is above science, says BJP MP Nishank". The Hindu. 4 December 2014. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  20. ^ "Astrology is No. 1 science for the entire world: BJP MP Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank to Parliament". India Today. 4 December 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  21. ^ "Astrology is above science, says BJP MP Nishank". The Hindu. 4 December 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2020 – via www.thehindu.com.
  22. ^ "Fake degree or not, PM Narendra Modi trusts this BJP leader to be HRD minister". India Today.
  23. ^ "Maneesh Verma writes to President urging to term Nishank's oath null and void". The Times of India.
  24. ^ Sharma, Kritika (31 August 2019). "HRD minister Pokhriyal has many PhDs, his office says & slams complaint against his degree". Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  25. ^ "HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank wants all his note sheets in Hindi". www.telegraphindia.com. 9 July 2019. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  26. ^ Joshi, Ruchir (27 July 2019). "Is Hindi going the German way?". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  27. ^ Asian News International (11 August 2019). "Nasa says talking computers may become reality due to Sanskrit: BJP leader". India Today. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  28. ^ D’Souza, Dilip. "How Sanskrit came to be considered the most suitable language for computer software". Scroll.in.
  29. ^ "मानव संसाधन मंत्री निशंक का दावा- चरक ऋषि ने की थी परमाणु की खोज" [MHRD Nishank claims : Sage Charaka discovered atoms]. aajtak.intoday.in (in Hindi). New Delhi: Aaj Tak. 11 August 2019. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  30. ^ Tharoor, Sashi (25 January 2018). "Shashi Tharoor on how Hindutva discredits science and distorts history". Dailyo.

External linksEdit

Lok Sabha
Preceded by Member of Parliament
for Haridwar

2014 – present
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Chief Minister of Uttarakhand
27 June 2009 – 10 September 2011
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Education
31 May 2019 – present
Succeeded by