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
- Hicky’s Bengal Gazette was also known as the Original Calcutta General Advertiser.
- It was an English language weekly that was started by James Augustus Hicky, a rather eccentric Irishman.
- The newspaper was published in Calcutta, the centre of colonial India during that time.
- Hicky acted as the paper’s writer, editor and publisher.
- 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.
- Initially, the paper took a neutral stance on issues. But later, he changed his stance and started ridiculing the Company and its officials.
- He often used innuendoes and made-up names to talk about real-life personalities.
- His paper was much-read by colonial officials in Calcutta and they did not take kindly to his writings.
- He accused the East India Company of corruption and inefficiency. He also targeted the Governor-General Warren Hastings and accused him of maladministration.
- He even accused Hasting’s wife of corruption. He was promptly sued for libel and sentenced to prison.
- Hicky continued to publish his paper from jail and he further accused Hastings and company of corruption through his writings.
- Fresh lawsuits were filed against him. Then, another rival paper, the India Gazette, which was funded by Hastings, stated circulation.
- 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.
- 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.
- Many other newspapers were published in the 18th century like the Calcutta Gazette, Bengal Journal, Oriental Magazine of Calcutta, Bombay Herald, etc.
- The Bombay Samachar which was started in 1822 is the oldest newspaper in Asia still in print. It is in the Gujarati language.
- The Bombay Times was started in 1838 and continues its run as the Times of India.
- 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.
- 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.
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