“I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world.” – Henry Luce

Friday, 6 October 2017

RAJA RAM MOHAN ROY & Indian Journalism

The Press is  aptly referred to as the fourth pillar of democracy other three pillars are Legislature, Executive and Judiciary . We consider press as free from bias and prejudice. Press reflects the realities of this world as wished by social and political world. The press tries to motivate, mesmerize or change the opinion of the people in such a way that people of a particular taste will be addicted to a particular newspaper. This is how a newspaper turns or moulds the language of the news as well in such a manner that it can fulfill its desired goal. It can represent murder and bloodshed along with love, mercy and kindness.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was born in a famous family of Bengal in 1772. He was a great scholar of Sanskrit, Persian, and English and knew Arabic, Latin and Greek.

 Rammohan was a great champion of the freedom of the Press. His efforts to liberate the Press were made with the aim of education Indians about the affairs of the nation in their true perspective. He himself published newspapers in English, Bengali and Persian for the purpose of creating mass consciousness as a veritable check against the British authoritarianism. Besides being a great social reformer Ram Mohan also made a valuable contribution to Bengali literature and he is regarded as the father of Bengali prose. He was the first to realize the value of the newspapers as an instrument for diffusing intellectual light. His earliest books on Bengali prose were Vedanta – Grantha and Vedanta - Saar which were published in 1815 and 1816 respectively.
Contributions of Raja Ram Mohan Roy
 The study of the history of freedom of press reveals that Raja Ram Mohan Roy was an ardent(devoted) supporter and patronizer of freedom of press. He was a pioneer of Indian Journalism. He brought out journals in some major languages including Bengali, Persian and Hindi in order to create socio-cultural and political awareness among the people of India .  e was deeply devoted to the work of religious and socialreform, so he founded the 'Brahmo Samaj* in 1825. Hecondemned polytheism and idol worship and propagatedthe concept of one God. His religious ideas hadassimilated elements of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism andmodern European liberal philosophy. He translatedancient Indian works on religion and philosophy intoBengali.
Raja Ram Mohan Roy was basically a social reformer who contributed significantly for the elimination of the Sati System and for the spread of Women Education in the country. He is truly said to be the ‘ 
Father of the Indian Journalism .
 Ram Mohan Roy tried to spread literary, political and scientific knowledge among the Indians. He had the intention of presenting popular demands and grievances before the Government by creating public opinion on current issues and topics. The purpose Raja Ram Mohan Roy had in mind could not be served properly if there was no freedom of press
Roy published magazines inEnglish, Hindi, Persian, andBengali. He publishedBrahmonical Magazine inEnglish in 1821.

With his inspiration following three newspapers came into being: 

1.  Sambad Kaumudi ,(Bengali); 2.  Mirat-ut Akhbar (Persian),        3. Brahminicial Magazine 

One notable magazine of his was the Sambad Kaumudi , published in1821. Samvad Kaumudi began under the editorship of  Bhabani Charan Banerjee. But Banerjee left the Newspaper after 13 issues because of the disputewith Roy on the points of Sati System and other  social reforms. Ram Mohan took charge of it. The Sambad Kaumudi was intended for the common people. Ram Mohan used the new Bengali prose style for the man in the street Banarjee launched a separate newspaper called ‘Samachar Chandrika’ and   promoted staunch Hindu values with its help.Sambad Kaumudi became bi-weekly in January1830 and continued for 33 years.

An article contained the description of the miserable condition of the Hindus suffering from caste prejudices. Another issue contained an advice to the Hindus to become tradesman rather than mere clerks. The paper also appealed to the government to establish trial by jury in the Zila and Provincial Courts. In Apirl 1822, Ram Mohan started Persian Weekly named the Mirat-ul-akhbar (Mirror of News). Through this paper he tried to communicate his political and social views to the educated elite according to their needs.
In 1822, Ram Mohan wrote an editorial about the trial protesting against the cruel treatment meted out to one Pratap Narayan Das who had succumbed to the injuries caused by whipping ordered by John Hayes, the Judge of Camilla. As a result of this Hayes was tried by the Supreme Court in April that year. Ram Mohan‟s editorial was translated into English, and published in the Calcutta Journal of May 14, 1822 by its editor, James Silk Buckingham who was a great friend of Ram Mohan. In all his publications Ram Mohan emphasized the important of subjects having educational value, besides those on politics and theology. During 1821 – 24 he published in the Mirat-ul-Akhbar several articles on scientific subjects like “Echo in Acoustics” Properties of the Magnet”, “Behaviour of fishes” Description of a Baloon, etc. His persistent Advocacy for the introduction of scientific education bore fruit long after his death. But there was a section of journalists which was opposed to the liberal attitude of Sambad Kaumudi.
2.  In 1822, Ram Mohanpublished MIRAT-UL-AKBAR in Persian language. The Mirat-ul-Akhbar happened to be the first journal in Persian language to be published in India. In the Prospectus of the Mirat-ul-Akhbar, published in the first issue of the weekly, Ram Mohan wrote that the object of the paper was not to shower praises upon its promoters or his well-wishers or to scandalize anybody. On the contrary, it aimed at reaching the truth, In its second issue Ram Mohan published his article on the British Constitution

3.Brahmonical Magazine ceased to exist after publication of few issues. But Sambad Kaumudi, a newsweekly, covered topics such as freedom of press, induction of Indians into high ranks of service and separation of the executive and judiciary.
Ram Mohan’s Role as a Journalist:-
Ram Mohan played an important role in promoting Indian Journalism. He was the first Indian to realize the value of the newspaper as an instrument for diffusing intellectual light.

 The first liberal paper to be published was the Bengali Gazette . Bengali weekly started in Calcutta in 1816 by the enthusiastic members of the Ram Mohan‟s Atmiya Sabha. The newspaper continued to be published till 1820.

The Serampore Christian Mission started another Bengali weekly, THE SAMACHAR DARPAN in 1817, and also published an English journal named THE FRIEND OF INDIA.

The first liberal newspaper in English, THE CALCUTTA JOURNAL, was brought out by James Silk Buckingham in October, 1818.

This was the group of the orthodox Hindus who started the SAMACHAR CHANDRIKA IN MARCH, 1822, counter act the zeal for reform of the Sambad Kaumudi . The Persian editorial of the Mirat-ul-Akhbar written by Ram Mohan were translated into English and were published in the Calcutta Journal, edited by James Silk Buckingham. In this editorial Ram Mohan revealed his great learning and deep knowledge of the political affairs of his time. Ram Mohan‟s editorial criticism of popular Christian faith, English foreign policy and of the British insolence on public roads towards the common people appeared too venomous for the British administration in India to swallow.

Soon the acting Governor- General came down with a heavy hand for the suppression of the liberty of the Press, and promulgated a new Press Ordinance, drastically curtailing free expression of opinion through the press.

Immediately after the enactment of the Ordinance, Ram Mohan closed down the Mirat-ul-Akhbar as a mark of protest. In the last issue of his paper, he declared his inability to go on publishing under” what he considered were degrading conditions and he lamented that he one of the most humble of men, should be no longer able to contribute towards the intellectual improvement of his countrymen. After suspension of the Mirat-ul-Akhbar in 1823 Ram Mohan became connected with several other periodicals, and continued his relentless crusades against irrationalism and suppression of freedom of the Press. In May 1829 English weekly, Bengal Herald was started by R.M. Martin in collaboration with Ram Mohan and Dwarkanath Tagore. It was a liberal periodical with a progressive outlook. It had also a corresponding Vernacular Publication called the Bangadoot printed in Bengali Persian and Hindi and was edited by Nilratan Haldar, a close associate of Ram Mohan. The Bengal Ankara the two leadings liberal English journals of the time in which Dwarkanath Tagore had large interests. Later Samuel Smith a leading book-seller and publisher of Calcutta purchased the Bengal Ankara, which happened to be one of the oldest and leading English papers in the early twenties of the nineteenth century. Under his editorship and guidance, the paper soon grew in popularity and usefulness. In the acquisition of this paper he was given substantial financial help by Dwarkanath Tagore. Dwarkanath was also one of the main proprietors of the India Gazette,

Raja Ram Mohan Roy, three more newspaper continued their  publication between 1821-1891. They were The Reformer’, ‘The Enquirer’ and Gyan Anveshan.  All these newspapers were the promoters of Progressive Hinduism.
Gaudiya Vyakaran is the last work of Ram Mohan. Before this he wrote a book of grammar in English entitled „Bengali Grammar in the English Language‟. Gaudiya Vyakaran was written by him for the School Book Society. The language of this book is very simple and it can well be called modern. Such simple style was unknown in those days of 1830‟s.Since Ram Mohan had his early education in Hindi knowing cities like patna and Varanasi he learnt the language well.

He wrote simple and lucid Hindi and his command over the language was a matter of wonder. His high attainment in Hindi language is testified to by the eminent critic Pandit HazariPrasad Dwivedi,

It is worthy of note that Ram Mohan Roy wrote Hindi prose in Devanagiri script .
Ram Mohan published Hindi translation of Vedanta Sutra in 1815.
In the following year he published another small book dealing with Shastrarth:
Soon Ram Mohan established himself as the third leading writer in Hindi in Devanagiri script.

He is hailed by the latter day critics and authors as the father of Bengali prose. Though there are prose‟s writing even prior to Ram Mohan his specific contributions created a great transformation in the literary genres of the Bengali language and also a social change in the society.

The British East India Company was against Freedom of press in India. But Raja Ram Mohan Roy strongly argued against this view. The company had the fear of public criticism under a free press. Ram Mohan Roy was successful in convincing the authority with his strong logic arguing that in India Freedom of press would not be harmful for the government as people had been loyal to it. Roy pointed out that freedom of press was helpful to both the government and the people.
A free press acts like a channel of communication between the two and solves many problems. People come to know about the plans, programmes, policies and intentions of the government through it. People also express their reactions and grievances through it thus making the governance more effective. A free press helps disseminate knowledge and boosts intellectual improvement. It allows creativity: gives literary, cultural and artistic knowledge and pleasure. The government comes to know about the defects of its policies and administration and gets a scope to remedy those before any crisis arises. Raja Ram Mohan Roy argued that a free press fails revolution and does not nourish it. He felt that there has not been a reduction of violence under a free press. On the contrary, a number of revolutions have taken place in those parts of the world where press freedom was denied. Due to lack of opportunity of expression grievances and discontentment of the people pile up and ultimately burst out in the form of a revolution.

 Ram Mohan Roy however, was not in favour of absolute freedom of press. In stead he wanted reasonable restrictions on it. He believed that those who try to incite hatred in the minds of the Indians against the British nation should be punished. Similarly, an attempt to provoke hostilities with neighbours and friendly states must be duly penalized. The notion of freedom of press as held by Roy was to ultimately establish in India the rule of law and not the rule of persons and their whims.

The Press Commission was established in India for the first time in 1956. After a lapse of ten years came the Press Council in 1966 for the freedom of press. the history of the Indian press when the then Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi curtailed the freedom of press in 1975 with the imposition of the Emergency. She did not allow the newspapers to expose the defence and internal affairs of our country. She was right in her way because it was against the country's safety and integrity. The year 2000 saw a milestone in the media with the passage of the ‘Freedom of Information Act’. 



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