India's First English-Language Newspaper Published: This Day in History – Jan 29

On 29 January 1780 On 29 January 1780, India’s and Asia’s first printed newspaper ‘Hicky’s Bengal Gazette’ started its publication. It was a weekly English newspaper started by an Irishman. This article shares very interesting snippets about the editor and the newspaper.

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Chronology of Events

  1. Hicky’s Bengal Gazette was also known as the Original Calcutta General Advertiser.
  2. It was an English language weekly that was started by James Augustus Hicky, a rather eccentric Irishman.
  3. The newspaper was published in Calcutta, the centre of colonial India during that time.
  4. Hicky acted as the paper’s writer, editor and publisher.
  5. The paper was largely in the format of a tabloid and Hicky used it to poke fun at various East India Company officials with whom he had personal differences.
  6. Initially, the paper took a neutral stance on issues. But later, he changed his stance and started ridiculing the Company and its officials.
  7. He often used innuendoes and made-up names to talk about real-life personalities.
  8. His paper was much-read by colonial officials in Calcutta and they did not take kindly to his writings.
  9. He accused the East India Company of corruption and inefficiency. He also targeted the Governor-General Warren Hastings and accused him of maladministration.
  10. He even accused Hasting’s wife of corruption. He was promptly sued for libel and sentenced to prison.
  11. Hicky continued to publish his paper from jail and he further accused Hastings and company of corruption through his writings.
  12. Fresh lawsuits were filed against him. Then, another rival paper, the India Gazette, which was funded by Hastings, stated circulation.
  13. The Bengal Gazette could not stand up to the competition and it was soon driven out of business. It ceased publication on March 23, 1782.
  14. Even though short-lived, Hicky’s Bengal Gazette provided inspiration for later educated Indian reformers to start their own newspapers with more serious anti-colonial and nationalistic sentiments.
  15. Many other newspapers were published in the 18th century like the Calcutta Gazette, Bengal Journal, Oriental Magazine of Calcutta, Bombay Herald, etc.
  16. The Bombay Samachar which was started in 1822 is the oldest newspaper in Asia still in print. It is in the Gujarati language.
  17. The Bombay Times was started in 1838 and continues its run as the Times of India.
  18. Today, India is the second-largest newspaper market in the world. There are over I lakh publications in the country in English and various other languages.
  19. Newspapers have contributed in its own way to the freedom struggle and in the progress of the country post-independence in the form of spreading information and knowledge, and also by keeping alive public opinion on various issues.

Also on this day

1939: Subhas Chandra Bose became the INC’s President.

See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.

The above details would help candidates prepare for UPSC 2023.

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