'Nishkam Karmayogi': Who Is Manoj Soni, The New Chief Of UPSC?
Dr Manoj Soni was appointed as the new UPSC Chairman on 5 April, and his tenure will end on 27 June 2023.
Dr Manoj Soni, a monk associated with the Anoopam Mission of the Swaminarayan sect, was appointed the Chairman of the country’s premier government recruiting agency, i.e., the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on 5 April.
According to this report, Soni was appointed as the UPSC Chairman on Tuesday (5 April), and his tenure will end on 27 June 2023. Dr Soni has been appointed to replace the previous UPSC chairman Pradip Kumar Joshi. Prior to this assignment, Soni has also served as the vice-chancellor of two universities, and has earned several national and international awards and recognitions.
Who Is Manoj Soni?
Dr Manoj Soni is currently a Member of the UPSC. Before being appointed the head of the UPSC, Soni served three terms as vice-chancellor (VC)- two consecutive terms as VC of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Open University (BAOU) for six years (2009-2015), and one term as VC of The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda (The MSU of Baroda) for three years (2005-2008). Notably, when Dr. Soni, at the age of 40, became the VC of the MSU of Baroda, he was the youngest ever VC in the country.
A scholar of Political Science, with specialisation in International Relations (IR), Dr Soni has taught IR at Sardar Patel University (SPU), Vallabh Vidyanagar between 1991 and 2016, except for the period when he served as the VC of the two universities.
Dr Soni’s doctoral research on the “Post-Cold War International Systemic Transition and Indo-U.S. Relations” was later published as a book entitled “Understanding the Global Political Earthquake” by the Ashgate Publishing Limited, New Hampshire, an internationally acclaimed publishing giant based in the United Kingdom (UK) in 1998.
Dr Soni has earned several awards and recognitions including the rare honour of “Honorary Mayor-President of the City of Baton Rouge” by the Mayor-President of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.A. in 2013, for his exemplary leadership in empowering disadvantaged sections of society with IT literacy. In 2015, Dr Soni was conferred with the World Education Congress Global Award for Distance Learning Leadership by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, London, UK.
Dr Soni has in the past served on the Boards of Governors of several institutions of higher education and public administration.
The Struggle Behind Soni’s Success
Born on 17 February 1965, Soni lost his father at a very young age. In order to support his family and fund his early education, Soni was forced to sell incense sticks in the Bhuleshwar area of Mumbai, where his father once used to sell semi-finished clothing in the footpath market. Facing severe economic hardship, in 1978, his mother decided to move to Anand district in Gujarat, where Soni, after failing his Class 12 science exam, opted for Arts at the Raj Ratna PT Patel College.
As his father was a member of the Swaminarayan sect’s Anoopam Mission in Mumbai, the mission supported Soni’s education and he remained associated with the mission at Mogri, in Anand district since then. On 10 January 2020, Soni received diksha (initiation) as a nishkam karmayogi (selfless worker) as a follower member of the Swaminarayan sect.
The sadhus of the Anoopam Mission did not renounce the world but accepted it. They did not take vows of chastity, obedience, and poverty; instead they had families and participated in life on an every-day level but focused on a mission of service to others. Members of the mission donate their earnings for charitable works such as running hospitals, schools, dispensaries, supporting colleges and social work in tribal areas.
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