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Kerala govt asks employees to seek permission for personal pursuits; draws flak

Kerala govt asks employees to seek permission for personal pursuits; draws flak

Thiruvananthapuram: Controversy is brewing over a Kerala government order mandating that employees take prior permission before pursuing artistic endeavours, which the employees have described is against their freedom of expression and creative independence.

As per the recent order by Personnel and Administrative Reforms Department, government employees who wish to publish a book will have to give in writing details of the publisher, the persons who writes the preface, besides even the price of the book.

Curbs have also been laid on publishing of essays, writing research papers, being part of news and feature programmes in television channels, private radio programmes, game shows, film programmes, televised sports competitions and amateur drama.

Prior clearance has also to be sought for reading news or participating in television debates other than those on Doordarshan and Akashvani.

The order also makes it mandatory for the employee to give an affidavit stating that there was no anti-national content and criticism of government's policies in the book.

Opposition leader in the assembly and Marxist veteran V S Achutanandan described the government curbs as "cultural fascism". The order was reminiscent of Emergency days and should be immediately withdrawn, he said.

Hitting out at Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, he said the order shows that he was a follower of Sangh parivar, which allegedly stands for "personification of cultural fascism".

Meanwhile, the Joint Council of state service organisations sought the recall of the order, which it said was to control the creative independence of government employees.

The constitution has given its citizen this freedom which is being curbed by the government order, aimed at controlling freedom of expression, Council Chairman G Motilal and General Secretary S Vijay Kumar said.

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