Tuesday, 13 January 2015

History and evolution of news writing in the Sub-Continent

Evolution of Journalism in the Reign of East India Company :
Though East India Company was granted charter on 31st' December, 1600, but the need of mass communication was felt in 1760. William Bolts was the first person who established a printing press in Calcutta. He was dismissed. Alter leaving India for England, he published a book which could be characterized as unprinted news gazette. However, we can call Bengal Gazette or Hicky ’s Gazette as first regular printed gazette in Indian history.

Hicky’s Gazette :
James Augustus Hicky was in service of East India Company. Differences emerged and due to his grievances against the Company, he became a critic. He was fined and prisoned due to his activities. During his imprisonment, he conceived the idea to issue a gazette. Though he faced many difficulties, yet he had the distinction of publishing the first regular periodical in India. First paper was issued on January 29, 1717. This was four-page weekly gazette in English language. It contained local news and advertisements. In addition to this, sometimes it included a summary of European news.

Hicky’s style was very critical. He used to expose frauds of the workers of E.I.C. No one was reserved. He was punished for divulging John Zakriya who was the priest in first English Church in Calcutta. He was deprived of the postal facilities. He hired the services of a private courier and carried on his business. He criticized the Governor
General and the Chief Justice of Calcutta Supreme Court. In consequence of his severe attacks, he was arrested and sentenced to a term of one year with five thousand rupees as fine. At last, in a helpless condition, he was constrained to stop the gazette.

India Gazette :
It was issued under the auspices of the East India Company to counteract Hicky’s Gazette. Though it was a private gazette, but was fully patronized by the Company. Initially, it was a weekly gazette but soon it became a daily. Other names in Anglo-Indian journalism history are of Calcutta Gazette, Courier, Harkaro, “Madras Gazette ”. “India Herald”, "Bombay Herald" "Bengal Journal”, “Asiatic Mirror”, “Calcutta Journal" and “In the East ". Most of them were privately owned and were critical of the government.

Journalism in Sub-Continent :
Journalism in the Sub-Continent was started with hand-written newspapers by Muslim rulers. Muslim rulers were helped in ruling with information from these newspapers. They came to know from these papers the problems and difficulties of the people, in daily life.

Waqa-e-Nawees :
Waqa-e-Nawees (newsmen) were appointed in all areas to keep the government well informed. Sultans of Delhi were the first who established the system on sound lines but it was the Mughals who really made it flourish. This was the reason that they ruled for quite a long time.

This system was only useful if the news were correct. For this purpose, two persons were appointed, one, a press reporter may get influenced by local rules and administrators to take bribes to misreport. So, only those people were appointed as press reporters (informers) who were honest and had a clean record. The secret reporter was appointed to check the press reporter’s information. These reporters sent their reports a the capital.

Muhammad Bin Tughlaq was the first Muslim ruler who established this system through horse-riders and messengers. The speed for sending information was 250 miles a day. The nobles and local rulers kept their representatives in the king’s court. These representatives wrote down all important happenings in the Court and the information received in the court through the messengers from different quarters and sent them back to their masters. In this way, all the important people of the Sultanate were well informed People were told about the important events and happenings through the medium of mosques.

Sometimes people were informed by drum-beating to make important announcements. When the Mughal rule was declining, many small states were set up in the Sub-Continent. These small states too adopted this system. Many people started handwritten newspapers which were sold at very low price.


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