Press and Education Developments Notes

James Augustus Hickey in 1780 started The Bengal Gazette or Calcutta General Advertiser, the first newspaper in India, which was seized in 1872.

More newspapers/journals came up—The Bengal Journal, The Calcutta Chronicle, The Madras Courier, The Bombay Herald.

Early Regulations

  • Censorship of Press Act, 1799: Lord Wellesley enacted this, anticipating French invasion of India.
  • It imposed almost wartime press restrictions including pre-censorship.
  • Licensing Regulations, 1823: The acting governor-general, John Adams, who had reactionary views, enacted these.
  • According to these regulations, starting or using a press without licence was a penal offence. Rammohan Roy’s Mirat-ul-Akbar had to stop publication.
  • Press Act of 1835 or Metcalfe Act: Metcalfe (governor-general—1835-36) repealed the obnoxious 1823 ordinance.
  • The new Press Act (1835) required a printer/publisher to give a precise account of premises of a publication
  • Licensing Act, 1857: Due to the emergency caused by the 1857 revolt, this Act imposed licensing restrictions
  • Registration Act, 1867: This replaced Metcalfe’s Act of 1835 and was of a regulatory, not restrictive, nature. As per the Act,
  1. every book/ newspaper was required to print the name of the printer and the publisher and the place of the publication
  2. a copy was to be submitted to the local government within one month of the publication of a book.

Imp. Newspaper and their Founder

  1. The Hindu and Swadesamitran: G. Subramaniya Aiyar
  2. The Bengalee: Surendranath Banerjea
  3. Voice of India: Dadabhai Naoroji
  4. Amrita Bazar Patrika : Sisir Kumar Ghosh and Motilal Ghosh
  5. Indian Mirror : N.N. Sen
  6. Kesari (in Marathi) and Maharatta (in English): Balgangadhar Tilak
  7. Sudharak : Gopal Krishna Gokhale
  8. Hindustan and Advocate : G.P. Verma

Vernacular Press Act, 1878

The Vernacular Press Act (VPA) was designed to ‘better control’ the vernacular press and effectively punish and repress seditious writing. The provisions of the Act included the following.

  1. The district magistrate was empowered to call upon the printer and publisher of any vernacular newspaper to enter into a bond with the government undertaking not to cause disaffection against the government or antipathy between persons of different religions, caste, race through published material
  2. The printer and publisher could also be required to deposit security which could be forfeited if the regulation were contravened, and press equipment could be seized if the offence re-occurred.

The Act came to be nicknamed “the gagging Act”. The worst features of this Act were—

  1. discrimination between English and vernacular press,
  2. no right of appeal
  3. In 1883, Surendranath Banerjea became the first Indian journalist to be imprisoned.

Newspaper (Incitement to Offences) Act, 1908

Aimed against Extremist nationalist activity, the Act empowered the magistrates to confiscate press property which published objectionable material likely to cause incitement to murder/ acts of violence.

Indian Press Act, 1910

This Act revived the worst features of the VPA—local government was empowered to demand a security at registration from the printer/publisher and fortfeit/deregister if it was an offending newspaper, and the printer of a newspaper was required to submit two copies of each issue to local government free of charge.

During and After the First World War

In 1921, on the recommendations of a Press Committee chaired by Tej Bahadur Sapru, the Press Acts of 1908 and 1910 were repealed.

Indian Press (Emergency Powers) Act, 1931

This Act gave sweeping powers to provincial governments to suppress propaganda for Civil Disobedience Movement. During the Second World War-Under the Defence of India Rules, pre-censorship was imposed and amendments made in Press Emergency Act and Official Secrets Act.

Education Under Company Rule

  • Calcutta Madrasah was established by Warren Hastings in 1781 for the study of Muslim law and related subjects.
  • Sanskrit College was established by Jonathan Duncan, the resident, at Benaras in 1791 for study of Hindu law and philosophy.
  • Fort William College was set up by Richard Wellesley in 1800 for training of civil servants of the Company in languages and customs of Indians (closed in 1802).

A Humble beginning by Charter Act of 1813

  • Efforts of enlightened Indians such as Raja Rammohan Roy bore fruit and a grant was sanctioned for Calcutta College set up in 1817 by educated Bengalis, imparting English education in Western humanities and sciences.
  • The government also set up three Sanskrit colleges at Calcutta, Delhi and Agra.

Orientalist-Anglicist Controversy

  • Within the General Committee on Public Instruction 1823, the Anglicists argued that the government spending on education should be exclusively for modern studies.
  • The Orientalists said while Western sciences and literature should be taught to prepare students to take up jobs, emphasis should be placed on expansion of traditional Indian learning.

Lord Macaulay’s Minute (1835)

  • This was in favor of Anglicists over Orientals.
  • British planned to educate a small section of upper and middle classes, thus creating a class “Indian in blood and colour but English in tastesin opinions, in morals and in intellect” who would act as interpreters between the government and masses and would enrich the vernaculars by which knowledge of Western sciences and literature would reach the masses.
  • This was called the ‘downward filtration theory’

Efforts of Thomson

James Thomson, lieutenant-governor of NW Provinces (1843- 53), developed a comprehensive scheme of village education through the medium of vernacular languages.

Wood’s Despatch (1854)

  • It asked the government of India to assume responsibility for education of the masses, thus repudiating the ‘downward filtration theory’, at least on paper.
  • It systematized the hierarchy from vernacular primary schools in villages at bottom, followed by Anglo-Vernacular High Schools and an affiliated college at the district level, and affiliating universities in the presidency towns of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras.
  • It recommended English as the medium of instruction for higher studies and vernaculars at school level.
  • It laid stress on female and vocational education, and on teachers’ training.
  • It laid down that the education imparted in government institutions should be secular.
  • It recommended a system of grants-in-aid to encourage private enterprise.


  • In 1857, universities at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras were set up and later, departments of education were set up in all provinces.
  • The Bethune School founded by J.E.D. Bethune at Calcutta (1849) was the first fruit of a powerful movement for education of women which arose in 1840s and 1850s.

After the Crown Took Over

Hunter Education Commission (1882-83)

  • emphasized that state’s special care is required for extension and improvement of primary education, and that primary education should be imparted through vernacular.
  • recommended transfer of control of primary education to newly set up district and municipal boards.
  • recommended that secondary (High School) education should have two divisions literary—leading up to university and vocational—for commercial careers.
  • drew attention to inadequate facilities for female education, especially outside presidency towns and made recommendations for its spread.
  • More teaching-cum-examining universities were set up like the Punjab University (1882) and the Allahabad University (1887).

Indian Universities Act, 1904

  • In 1902, Raleigh Commission was set up to go into conditions and prospects of universities in India and to suggest measures for improvement in their constitution and working.
  • Based on its recommendations, the Indian Universities Act was passed in 1904.
  • universities were to give more attention to study and research
  • number of fellows of a university and their period in office were reduced and most fellows were to be nominated by the Government
  • Government was to have powers to veto universities’ senate regulations and could amend these regulations or pass regulations on its own
  • Conditions were to be made stricter for affiliation of private colleges
  • Five lakh rupees were to be sanctioned per annum for five years for improvement of higher education and universities.

Government Resolution on Education Policy—1913

  • In 1906, the progressive state of Baroda introduced compulsory primary education throughout its territories.
  • In its 1913 Resolution on Education Policy, the government refused to take up the responsibility of compulsory education, but accepted the policy of removal of illiteracy and urged provincial governments to take early steps to provide free elementary education to the poorer and more backward sections.

Saddler University Commission (1917-19)

  • The commission was set up to study and report on problems of Calcutta University but its recommendations were applicable more or less to other universities also. Its observations were as follows:
  • School course should cover 12 years. Students should enter university after an intermediate stage (rather than matric) for a three-year degree course in university.
  • A university should function as centralised, unitary residential-teaching autonomous body, rather than as scattered, affiliated colleges.
  • Female education, applied scientific and technological education, teachers’ training including those for professional and vocational colleges should be extended.

Education Under Dyarchy

  • Under Montagu-Chelmsford reforms education was shifted to provincial ministries and the government stopped taking direct interest in educational matters Hartog Committee (1929)
  • Emphasis should be given to primary education but there need be no hasty expansion or compulsion in education.
  • Only deserving students should go in for high school and intermediate stage, while average students should be diverted to vocational courses after VIII standard.
  • For improvements in standards of university education, admissions should be restricted.

Sergeant Plan of Education

The Sergeant Plan (Sergeant was the educational advisor to the Government) was worked out by the Central Advisory Board of Education in 1944. It recommended—

  • pre-primary education for 3-6 years age group
  • free, universal and compulsory elementary education for 6-11 years age group
  • high school education for 11- 17 years age group for selected children, and a university course of 3 years after higher secondary
  • high schools to be of two types: academic and technical and vocational.

Sergeant Plan of Education

  • adequate technical, commercial and arts education.
  • abolition of intermediate course.
  • stress on teachers’ training, physical education, education for the physically and mentally handicapped.

Development of Vernacular Education

  • 1835, 1836, 1838 : William Adam’s reports on vernacular education in Bengal and Bihar pointed out defects in the system of vernacular education.
  • 1843-53 : James Jonathan’s experiments in North-West Provinces (UP),included opening one government school as model school in each tehsildari and a normal school for teachers’ training for vernacular schools.
  • 1853 : In a famous minute, Lord Dalhousie expressed strong opinion in favour of vernacular education.

Development of Vernacular Education

  • 1854 : Wood’s Despatch made the following provisions for vernacular education: 1) Improvement of standards, 2) Supervision by government agency, 3) Normal schools to train teachers
  • 1854-71 : The government paid some attention to secondary and vernacular education.
  • The number of vernacular schools increased by more than five-fold.
  • 1882 : The Hunter Commission held that State should make special efforts for extension and improvement of vernacular education. Mass education was to be seen as instructing masses through vernaculars.
  • 1904 : Education policy put special emphasis on vernacular education and increased grants for it.
  • 1929 : Hartog Committee presented a gloomy picture of primary education.
  • 1937 : These schools received encouragement from Congress ministries.

Development of Technical Education

  • Engineering College at Roorkee was set up in 1847
  • Calcutta College of Engineering came up in 1856.