Ramesh Pokhriyal, who made headlines in 2014 when he said “science is a dwarf in front of astrology,” took over as Union human resource development (HRD) minister on Friday.

The appointment of Pokhriyal, a former Uttarakhand chief minister, comes at a time when all eyes are on the new education policy expected during the Narendra Modi government’s last tenure. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological parent, has been pushing for a change in the existing policy and reforms in the higher education system. The Sangh also criticised the government for the delay in presenting the report of the committee, headed by former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan, formed to draft the new policy.

Author of over 40 works, which includes books, short stories,and travelogues (written under the pen-name Nishank), Pokhriyal earned his PhD degree from the Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University in Uttarakhand. An alumnus as well as a former teacher of the RSS-affiliated Saraswati Shishu Mandir, he succeeds Prakash Javadekar in the ministry. He was a member of several committees in Parliament during the 16th Lok Sabha. It was in his last tenure as MP that he stoked a controversy by saying, “Astrology is the biggest science. It is, in fact, above science. We should promote it.” His comments came in for criticism from academics and scientists.

First Published:
May 31, 2019 23:13 IST

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