Olympic Sprinter P.T. Usha, music composer Ilaiyaraaja, philanthropist Veerendra Heggade of the Dharmasthala temple, and screenwriter V. Vijayendra Prasad, who wrote the blockbusters Bahubali and RRR, have been nominated to the Rajya Sabha in the category of eminent persons nominated by the President of India.
In total, the President of India nominates 12 persons as his nominees to the Rajya Sabha — persons known for their eminence in the fields of arts and letters, and public service. Out of these 12, seven seats are currently vacant, of which four have now been filled.
All four nominees are from the four southern States of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh, respectively. All four nominees are achievers in their own right, but also reflect a southern push in terms of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attention.
Ms. Usha, born in Kozhikode in Kerala, is not only India’s best known track and field athlete, she also runs the Usha School of Athletics, training young athletes in the sport. She has been given the Arjuna Award and the Padma Shri in the past.
Mr. Ilaiyaraaja, a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan, and many awards for his music, has composed more than 7,000 songs for over 1,000 films (mainly in southern India), and has more than 20,000 concert performances to his credit.
Mr. Heggade has been the ‘Dharmadhikari’ (custodian) of the Dharmasthala temple in Karnataka from the age of 20. A philanthropist, he also runs the Shri Dharmasthala Manjunatheswara Educational Trust, which provides education via over 25 institutions. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2015.
K.V. Vijayendra Prasad is the noted screenwriter behind movies that have are making waves in India and abroad.
Sivaji Ganesan (1982-86), Vyjayantimala Bali (1993-99) and “Cho” S. Ramaswamy (1999-2005) are the other Tamil film personalities who have served as nominated members of the Rajya Sabha.