In a new circular that is likely to create a fresh round of controversy , the Centre has informed writers affiliated with the National Council for Promotion of Urdu (NCPUL) that while it is okay to be critical of the government, Urdu authors in the country will need to refrain from producing content “against national interest” or that which creates hatred among communities.
The NCPUL website now features a declaration form that the authors are required to sign. “The contents of the book, periodical, manuscript, magazine and 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 the society,” says the form.
These conditions have been laid out for Urdu writers whose books are acquired by NCPUL, a body which promotes Urdu language under the human resource develop ment ministry (HRD).
While some writers have said that since NCPUL is a government organisation, it is understandable that it would not entertain any material that is against national interest, others pointed out that “national interest” was hard to define and subject to interpretations. Others have termed the move a kind of “declaration of loyalty” and asked why Urdu writers in particular had to sign it.
Tariq Chhatari, an Aligarh-based writer, said the council had effectively reduced writers to “beggars”.”Why should a writer declare that his or her work is not against national interest?” Chhatari asked.