With the exception of a few brief intermissions, throughout the British rule in India severe controls were put on the growth of public opinion and on the literature of nationalism or self rule. Even during the East India Company’s administration, when nationalism had not taken deep roots in the Indian soil, attempts were made to suppress free expression and thought. James Hicky, father of the press in India, was tortured for his bold censure of government abuses and peculations; he was arrested and imprisoned and his paper, The Bengal Gazette, established in 1780, came to an abrupt end in 1782. William Duane, the fearless American editor of the World, who later on created a commotion in the American press and politics, met with the same autocratic treatment from the government. Charles Maclean, Holt McKenley, James Buckingham, C.J. Fair, Sandford Arnot, William Adam, all had to suffer government vengeance in various forms of deportations, arrests, confiscation of press establishments or suppression of their newspapers and other publications. Lt. Colonel William Robinson was the worst sufferer. For a small letter to the editor of the Calcutta Journal on promotions in the army, published on May 16, 1822 he was ordered to leave the country within 24 hours in spite of his ill-health and he died on his way to England. The government always felt with Thomas Munro, the ‘incompatibility of a free press and the domination of strangers’ in this country.
July 1976, volume 1, No 3