Filmmaker Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri was on Monday appointed the new cultural representative of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Agnihotri is also a member of India’s Central Board of Film Certification. His appointment to the council was formalised by its President Vinay Sahasrabuddhe.
“I am extremely honoured by Indian Council For Culture Relations, India’s apex body on the promotion of great Indian culture across the world for including cinema, and I am deeply honoured for being the first person from the Indian film industry to represent the cause of this industry in the overall cultural promotion globally,” Agnihotri said in a statement. “I will perform my duties as a cultural ambassador representing the film industry with the best of ability.”
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Independent India’s first education minister, founded the Indian Council for Cultural Relations in 1950. According to a press release from the council, its main functions are “formulation and implementation of policies and programmes pertaining to India’s external cultural relations, to foster and strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other countries; to promote cultural exchanges with other countries and people, and to develop relations with nations”.
Agnihotri, who has made films such as The Tashkent Files and Buddha in a Traffic Jam, has made several controversial claims in the past. In 2019, he claimed that former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru vacillated when the Indian Army asked him for permission to attack Pakistan during the 1965 war. Nehru had, in fact, died the previous year.
In 2018, Agnihotri claimed to have coined the term “Urban Naxal” and asked people to make a list of them. According to Agnihotri, an Urban Naxal is an intellectual, influencer or activist who is an “invisible enemy of India”. He even wrote a book titled Urban Naxals: The Making of Buddha in a Traffic Jam.
Agnihotri had also claimed that 40% of India has been overrun by Maoists, and that institutions like the Jawaharlal Nehru University are full of them. He is yet to offer any concrete evidence to back his claims.