NEW DELHI -- The Modi government is no longer asking Urdu writers in India to refrain from producing content which is critical of the government, but they still need to desist from writing anything which is "against national interest" or creates hatred among communities.
While some writers welcomed the government's move to back down from its anti-government condition, others objected to the "national interest" proviso in the declaration form circulated by the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language.
"Till the government or the council defines what constitutes anti-national, the provision should be put on hold," Ali Javed, an Urdu writer, who teaches at Delhi University, told The Telegraph.
These conditions are for Urdu writers whose books are acquired by the NCPUL, a body which promotes Urdu language under the Human Resource Development Ministry (HRD).
The Telegraph reported today that the HRD Ministry had asked NCPUL to withdraw a clause in a prior declaration form, which had asked writers not to write anything that was against the government or the country.
The revised version of the form is on the NCUPL website.
Last month, The Indian Express had carried a translation of the clause in the Urdu-language declaration: “I son/daughter of confirm that my book/magazine titled which has been approved for bulk purchase by NCPUL’s monetary assistance scheme does not contain anything against the policies of the government of India or the interest of the nation, does not cause disharmony of any sort between different classes of the country, and is not monetarily supported by any government or non-government institution.”
“If a writer wants financial aid from the government, then of course the content cannot be against (the government). NCPUL is a government organisation and we are government employees. We will naturally protect the interests of the government," told the newspaper, last month.
Mocked as the "loyalty form," the government's declaration came under fire from writers in Urdu and other languages. “Does this mean people writing in Urdu are the ones who will write anti-national things?," Shahnaz Nabi, head of the Urdu department at the University of Calcutta, told The Wire, last month.
The other controversial clause which required two witnesses to sign the form has also been withdrawn, The Telegraph reported.
The revised version of the form states: "The contents of the book /periodical /magazine /manuscript / project do not have any material which is against the national interest or which may create any sort of hatred amongst the different sections of society."
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