Chapter : 4. Print Culture and The Modern World

Print and Censorship

Print and Censorship
(i) Early measures to control printed matter were directed against Englishmen in India who were critical of Company misrule and hated the actions of particular company officers. The company was worried that such criticisms might be used by its critics in England to attack its trade monopoly in India.
(ii) By the 1820s, the Calcutta Supreme Court passed certain regulations to control press freedom and the company began encouraging publication of newspaper that would celebrate British rule. In 1835, Governor General Bentinck agreed to revise press laws. Thomas Macaulay formulated new rules that restored the earlier freedoms.
(iii) After the revolt of 1857, as vernacular newspapers became assertively nationalist. Enraged Englishmen demanded a clamp down on the 'native' press. In 1878, the Vernacular Press Act was passed, it provided the government with extensive rights to censor reports and editorials in the Vernacular press. From now on, the government kept regular track of the vernacular newspaper published in different provinces.
(iv) Despite repressive measures, nationalist newspapers grew in numbers, reported on colonial misrule and encouraged nationalist activities. When Punjab revolutionaries were deported in 1907, Bal Gangadhar Tilak wrote with great sympathy about them in his Kesari. This led his imprisonment in 1908, provoking in turn widespread protests all over India.

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