Publishers fear red tape, censorship, Govt gets a warning
THE HRD Ministry risks losing its role of distributing International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) to publishers in India amid complaints of red-tapism and fears of censorship by the government. On March 29, in a letter sent to Minister of State for HRD Mahendra Nath Pandey, the ISBN International Agency warned that it is “seriously considering” revoking the ministry’s appointment as the agency for issuing ISBNs in India as the number of complaints has “reached unacceptable levels”.
Last year, the HRD Ministry, then under Smriti Irani, digitised the allotment of ISBNs, a move that publishers complain has inexplicably slowed down publishing in India. The new online application system has also raised fears of censorship, with the ministry seeking details of each book before issuing ISBNs. Publishers, for instance, have to provide the book jacket, which carries synopsis and blurbs from authors.