Wednesday, November 3, 2010


It is not surprising, in the circumstances, that no English newspaper had come into being in India although the Company had installed a printing press in Mumbai in 1674 and provided a generous supply of types and paper. Another press was installed in Chennai in 1772. An official printing press was established in Kolkata in 1779. It is significant, in this context, that the first attempt to start a newspaper in Kolkata was made in 1776 by an European, Mr. William Bolts. He had resigned from the Company's service earlier that year after censure by the Court of Directors for having engaged himself in private trade against the code of discipline prescribed by the Company for its employees. The notice of his intention to embark on the printing enterprise made it known that he had "in manuscript many things to communicate which most intimately concerned every individual." This evidently gave rise to alarm in official quarters. He was directed to quit Bengal and proceed to Chennai, and from there, to take his passage to Europe. No attempt was made by any public spirited man to emulate Mr. Bolts' initiative for 12 years until 1780 when James Augustus Hicky ventured into Journalism, mainly because of his high connections in the East India Company administration.
The new editors trod warily the trail, which Hicky had blazed for them. The India Gazette had given undertakings as demanded by the Company. The Calcutta Gazette was an official publication. The Bengal Journal offered to publish all Government advertisements free of charge. Nothing is known of the fate of the Calcutta Chronicle beyond the fact that issues of the paper are to be found in the Imperial Library, Kolkata, (between 1782 and 1790). The three other papers seem to have been conducted without any incident till 1791, except that in April 1785, the publication of Orders and Resolutions of the Council under the title of "General Orders" was banned.

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