Essay on the Development of Press and Public Opinion in India after 1857 AD

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The Indian Press after 1857 developed rapidly due to increasing political consciousness of the people and the establishment of direct telegraphic communication between India and Britain in 1860. Majority of news papers were published in vernacular languages though a few of them were in English.

Among the English dailies most important were the Amrit Bazar Patrika, Indian National Herald and the Hindu. There was a rapid increase of vernacular papers in different provinces of India. The Vernacular papers like Sambad Kaumudi (Bengali), Rast Goftar (Marathi), and the Kesari (Maharashtra) played significant role in propagating views of the Indian nationalists and in exposing the evils of British administration.

By 1876 there were about 62 such papers in the Bombay Presidency, about 60 in North-Western Provinces, Oudh and the Central Provinces, 28 in Bengal and 19 in Madras. The Indian Press reflected the public opinion of the country. Their contribution in educating the people and promoting political and national consciousness were far reaching.

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The 19th century produced great literary figures in the history of India who made a passionate appeal to Indian history, Indian spiritual heritage and patriotic feeling to break away from British dominion.

Among the galaxy of such writers Bankim Chandra stands pre-eminent. He made significant contribution to the development of patriotic feeling in the minds of the people of India during the last quarter of the 19th century by his famous song “Vande Mataram” and famous novel “Ananda Matha”. “Vande Mataram” had been the national anthem up to 1947 and was the key stone of the arch of the Indian nationalism.

It inspired the Indian mass to supreme self sacrifice during the momentous days of the Swadeshi movement. The spiritual side of nationalism was voiced by Swami Vivekananda, who placed Indian patriotism above every thing else and his appeal to spiritual regeneration evoked a warm response from the millions. The credit of bringing militant nationalism to the forefront undoubtedly goes to Bal Gangadhar Tilak of Maharashtra. His slogan “Home Rule is my birth right” echoed through out the length and breadth of India. He organised the Ganapati and Shivaji festivals.

Through his paper ‘Kesari’ Tilak made passionate appeals to the people of India to imbibe the virtue of patriotism, fearlessness and sacrifice. There were few other writers like Hemachandra and Rabindra Nath in Bengal, Dad Bhai Naroji and N.G. Ranade in Maharashtra, who inspired the spirit of nationalism in the heart of Indian youth.

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