Ramesh Pokhriyal (born 15 July 1959), known by his nom de plume Nishank is an Indian author, poet and politician serving as the Minister of Human Resource Development in the Second Modi Ministry. He represents the Haridwar Parliamentary constituency of Uttarakhand in the 17th Lok Sabha.
Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank'
|Minister of Human Resource Development|
|Assumed office |
30 May 2019
|Prime Minister||Narendra Modi|
|Preceded by||Prakash Javadekar|
|Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha|
|Assumed office |
16 May 2014
|Preceded by||Harish Rawat|
|5th Chief Minister of Uttarakhand|
27 June 2009 – 11 September 2011
|Preceded by||B. C. Khanduri|
|Succeeded by||B. C. Khanduri|
|Born||15 July 1959|
Pinani, Uttarakhand, India
|Political party||Bharatiya Janata Party|
Kusum Kanta Pokhriyal
(m. 1985; died 2012)
|Children||3, including Arushi Nishank|
|Alma mater||Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University|
Pokhriyal married Kusum Kanta Pokhriyal on 7 May 1985, with whom he has three daughters. One of their daughters, Arushi Nishank is a classical dancer. His wife died on 11 November 2012 in Dehradun at the age of 50.
Pokhriyal started his career as a teacher in Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-affiliated Saraswati Shishu Mandir.  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. 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 Lok Sabha’s 17th session and the Chairman of the Assurance Committee. He is a representative of Haridwar constituency in the Lok Sabha. He was the Member of Legislative Assembly of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand for five consecutive terms from 1991 to 2012. He was elected first time in 1991 from Karnaprayag ward for three consecutive terms. In 2014, he resigned from Doiwala, and elected from Haridwar for Lok Sabha. On 30 May 2019, he was sworn in as a Cabinet minister in the 2nd Modi Government.
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. They have been described by some critics and literature connoisseurs as "heavy on patriotism, light on literary quality". 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.
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. 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). Pokhriyal has listed two different dates of birth on official documents, a discrepancy that he attributed to the Hindu horoscope.
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. 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. Pokhriyal's claim to have received an M.A. degree from Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University have also been called into question.
In 2019, after being appointed as 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.
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". He also misquoted that Charaka, hailed as one of the principal contributors of Ayurveda, was the first person who researched and discovered atoms and molecules, when in actuality, 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. He said ancient physician Sushruta was the world's first surgeon.
- "Profile: Steady innings for Pokhriyal in state politics". The Times of India. 24 June 2009. Retrieved 25 June 2009.
- "Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank gets HRD ministry in PM Modi's new cabinet | india news". Hindustan Times. 31 May 2019. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
- "Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank | National Portal of India". www.india.gov.in.
- Bhatnagar, Gaurav Vivek (29 August 2019). "HRD Minister Pokhriyal Under Fire for Using 'Doctor' Prefix Without Real PhD". The Wire. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
- "Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank(Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP)):Constituency- HARIDWAR(UTTARAKHAND) - Affidavit Information of Candidate". myneta.info. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
- "Members : Lok Sabha". 184.108.40.206.
- "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.
- "Arushi Nishank featured in Forbes Middle East". The Pioneer. 26 October 2018. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
- "Former Uttarakhand CM's wife dies". Hindustan Times. 11 November 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
- "Former Teacher at RSS-affiliated School, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank Now Human Resource Development Minister". Network 18. 31 May 2019. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
- "Members : Lok Sabha". 220.127.116.11.
- DehradunMay 31, Press Trust of India; May 31, 2019UPDATED; Ist, 2019 00:52. "Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank: Poet-politician gets a ministerial berth | What you need to know". India Today. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
- Sharma, Kritika (7 June 2019). "HRD minister 'Nishank' has written 44 books — high on patriotism, 'low on literary value'". The Print. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
- "Astrology is above science, says BJP MP Nishank". The Hindu. 4 December 2014. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
- DelhiDecember 4, IndiaToday in New; December 4, 2014UPDATED; Ist, 2014 13:40. "Astrology is No. 1 science for the entire world: BJP MP Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank to Parliament". India Today.
- "Astrology is above science, says BJP MP Nishank". The Hindu. 4 December 2014 – via www.thehindu.com.
- "'Because of Hindu Horoscope': HRD Minister's Clarification Over Row on Different Dates of Birth". News18.
- "Fake degree or not, PM Narendra Modi trusts this BJP leader to be HRD minister". India Today.
- "Maneesh Verma writes to President urging to term Nishank's oath null and void". The Times of India.
- Sharma, Kritika (31 August 2019). "HRD minister Pokhriyal has many PhDs, his office says & slams complaint against his degree". Retrieved 9 January 2020.
- "HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank wants all his note sheets in Hindi". www.telegraphindia.com. 9 July 2019. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
- Joshi, Ruchir (27 July 2019). "Is Hindi going the German way?". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
- MumbaiAugust 11, Asian News International; August 11, 2019UPDATED; Ist, 2019 08:26. "Nasa says talking computers may become reality due to Sanskrit: BJP leader". India Today.
- D’Souza, Dilip. "How Sanskrit came to be considered the most suitable language for computer software". Scroll.in.
- "Shashi Tharoor on how Hindutva discredits science and distorts history". www.dailyo.in.
| Member of Parliament
2014 – present
B. C. Khanduri
| Chief Minister of Uttarakhand
27 June 2009 – 10 September 2011
B. C. Khanduri
| Union Minister of Human Resource Development
31 May 2019 – present