The government has nominated four new members to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament. The newly nominated members include classical dancer Sonal Mansingh, leading RSS vicharak (intellectual) Rakesh Sinha, sculptor Raghunath Mohapatra and farmer leader Ram Shakal. They will have a six-year term. As per the Fourth Schedule (Articles 4(1) and 80(2)) of the Constitution of India, 12 members are nominated by the President of India for a six-year term for their contributions to art, literature, science, and social services. Currently, there are 8 nominated people in the house while three seats were lying vacant in April and one seat since June. The other eight Rajya Sabha members include Subramanian Swamy, Mary Kom, Rupa Ganguly etc.
The newly elected member Rakesh Sinha is an academic and a writer. He is an Associate Professor at Motilal Nehru College, Delhi University. He writes regular columns in various English and Hindi newspapers. He is also a regular commentator of prime-time TV shows, presenting the views of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on a range of socio-economic issues. He is currently a board member of the Indian Council of Social Science Research and formerly a member of Film Certification Appellate Tribunal. He has written a number of books including a biography of RSS founder K.B. Hedgewar. This biography was published from Publication Division, which is the publishing arm of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. This 273-page biography was so well researched and full of references that even a Congress government could not stop getting it published by the Publication Division. The other works of Rakesh Sinha include Swaraj in Ideas: decolonization of the Indian Mind, Secular India: Politics of Minorityism, Is Hindu a Dying Race?, Philosophy of Social Revolution, Deceptive equality, Terrorism and Indian Media, Critical analysis of Sachar Commission report etc. He is the founder of the Delhi-based think-tank India Policy Foundation.
The next nomination, Sonal Mansingh is an Indian classical dancer and Guru in Bharatanatyam and Odissi dancing style. Her grandfather was Mangal Das Pakvasa, a freedom fighter, and one of the first five Governors of India. She is a classical dance exponent and the founder of Centre for Indian Classical Dances, New Delhi. A two-time Padma awardee, she has been performing for nearly six decades. A documentary based on her life titled ‘Sonal’, directed by Prakash Jha, had won the National Award for the best non-feature film in 2002.
Ram Shakal is a farmer leader and former BJP lawmaker. He has also been a three-time member of the Lok Sabha, representing the Robertsganj constituency of Uttar Pradesh. Ram Shakal started his political journey as an RSS pracharak. Ram Shakal is a post-graduate in political science. His nomination is befitting reply to parties and people who accuse the BJP of being Dalit virodhi. The party nominated a Dalit for the post of president, the highest office in India. Now the party has nominated a Dalit as Rajya Sabha member where previous Congress government nominated the stars from Bollywood who used to show up the house. This is also a reply to those that say that the RSS does no give opportunities to Dalits.
The fourth nominee is Raghunath Mohapatra who is an architect and sculptor from Odisha. He was awarded Padma Shri in 1975 and Padma Bhushan in 2001 and Padma Vibhushan in 2013 on occasion of 64th Republic day of India. Practicing since 1959, Mr. Mohapatra has trained over 2000 students. He has contributed to the preservation of traditional sculpture and ancient monuments and has worked on the beautification of the Sri Jagannath Temple, Puri. Mr. Mohapatra’s famous works include a six-foot high statue of the Sun God carved in grey sandstone in the Central Hall of Parliament, the lotus carving at Vir Bhoomi memorial of Rajiv Gandhi in New Delhi, and the Wooden Buddha in Paris.
These people chosen by the government have made an excellent contribution in their respective fields. They range from sculpting to classical dance to social work. This is also an attempt to give recognition to people coming from fields other than Cricket and Bollywood and non-leftist circles. The mainstreaming of RSS intellectuals is a big takeaway from the nominations. The previous Congress led government used to nominate people from glamorous fields to the Rajya Sabha for sake of its own popularity and couldn’t think beyond the left for including intellectuals in the upper house. This government came with a different approach and nominated people who have excellent achievements in their fields.
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