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Congress slams Manipur govt’s advisory on publication of books

Hareshwar Goshwami said the latest decree of the government is like shutting our mouths before we speak and put an end before we write

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Imphal: Joining the chorus of many intellectuals and academicians who voiced their concerns regarding the recent notification of Manipur government on publication of books and journals, Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee Saturday slammed the state government move and said it’s nothing but Modi-fied facism of the 21st century.

It may be noted that the State’s Higher and Technical Education, in a notification issued on September 15, stated that all books pertaining to Manipur’s history, culture, tradition and geography will have to be approved by a State-appointed panel before they are published.

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University vice-chancellors and college teachers – serving and retired – will comprise the 15-member committee to be headed by Manipur Education Minister, the order issued by Higher and Technical Education Joint Secretary, Divedita Lairenlakpam said.

Speaking to media persons, MPCC’s vice president and senior spokesperson, Hareshwar Goshwami, said the latest decree of the government is like shutting our mouths before we speak and put an end before we write, which is totally against the ‘freedom of speech and expression’ guaranteed by Article 19 of Indian Constitution.

Terming the government instruction as ‘rarest of the rare case’, Goshwami, who himself is a writer, said that even the Fascist Nazis did not issue such an order and that this was done to win blessings from ‘next to God’ Modi by the head of the state.

In Germany, Facist Nazis established the National Socialist Teachers League in 1929 to control education and the teachers. In India, the BJP-led governments established National Elementary Education Mission (NEEM), etc to saffronise education. In Nazi Germany, all Jewish teachers and teachers with undesirable political beliefs, such as communists were dismissed. BJP’s assault on education is well explained by Nalini Taneja of Delhi University, Department of History, the Congress leader contended. 

The recent  order issued by the government of Manipur well reflected some of the basic tenets of neo-Fascist thinking and thought, i.e. radical ideology, authoritarian and totalitarian views, said Goshwami and added that  this ‘dictatorial’ order was issued despite the existence of “The Press and Registration of Book Act, 1867”.  Nothing in this Act is seen as any provision to obtain permission from any authority, state or central before a book is published, the Congress leader said. He also advised the government to maintain a Catalogue of Books with certain information of the published book. 

Goshwami further maintained that publishing houses and publishers also have their own rules and regulations to process for publication of  a book. They have their own editors, editorial boards to review books. They are also bound by the Press and Registration of Book Act, 1867. The authors and publishers are frequently charged under Sec 499 of the IPC, 1860 and in some cases their books were forfeited. This shows that under the normal course of law any undesirable elements found in a book can be contested in a court of law, he added. 

How can one share his/her hard-earned data and materials with others before they get published, Goshwami questioned. 

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