Print culture helped in the growth of nationalism in India. Print helped to spread and propagate the idea of nationalism.
The British colonial government kept continuous track of all newspapers and books and newspapers published in India. As Print was a powerful medium to influence the minds of the people, the colonial British Government tried its best to curtail the Print medium by implementing repressive measures which were counter productive
Control of Press Freedom – The Beginning
- The Calcutta Supreme Court passed certain regulations to control press freedom, in 1820’s.
- In 1835, Governor-General Bentinck agreed to revise press laws after there were urgent petitions by editors of vernacular and English newspapers.
- To restore earlier freedoms, new rules were formulated by colonial official – Thomas Macaulay.
- The British East India Company started supporting publication of newspapers that would honour and recognize the British rule in India.
Freedom of Press – Post 1857
- The colonial government began debating measures of stringent control, as vernacular nationlist newspapers became assertive.
- The attitude to freedom of the press changed after the revolt of 1857.
- There was a huge demand for the clamp down on the native press by the enraged Englishmen.
- The newspaper was warned if the report was judged as seditious.
- The printing machinery was confiscated and the press was liable to be seized if the warning given to the press was ignored.
- In different provinces, vernacular newspapers were published, and the British government kept regular track of them.
- Modelled on the Irish Press Laws, the Vernacular Press Act was passed in 1878.
- The new Vernacular Press Act provided the government with extensive rights to censor editorials and reports in the vernacular press.
Result of Repressive Measures on the Press in India
- In 1922, Gandhi spoke about Liberty of press and liberty of speech. He said British Government was trying to crush powerful vehicles of expression and powerful vehicles of public opinion.
- Balgangadhar Tilak was imprisoned in 1908 for his writings in Kesari. His arrest led to widespread protests all over India.
- Balgangadhar Tilak wrote with great sympathy when Punjab revolutionaries were deported in 1907. Balgangadhar Tilak wrote about them in Kesari.
- In all parts of India, nationalist newspapers grew in numbers despite repressive measures.
- Libraries were promoted by social reformers who wanted to propagate the message of nationalism
- Nationalist newspapers encouraged nationalist activities and reported on colonial misrule.
- Militant protests were provoked when attempts were made to throttle nationalist criticism.
- This in turn led to a renewed cycle of protests and persecution.