“UdantMartand” was the first Hindi newspaper published by ShriYugal Kishore Shukla of Kolkata on May 30, 1826. It was a weekly, which was published every Tuesday and cost Rs 2/- per year. He continued to publish for one year and seven months. Hindi-speaking Kolkatians took no interest in the magazine, as expected, which caused its premature closure with the following editorial on December 4, 1827 – “The day marks the death of UdantMartand, Here he goes at sunset at last “. Udant was not a political newspaper; but he can never be despised for his contribution to the Hindi language. Born in 1788 in Kanpur, Shuklaji was a procedural reader in DewaniKachehari of Kolkata and has the ability to edit a magazine. Besides Hindi, he could write in Brajbhasha. He could have opposed the English but his eyes remained on the method of English merchandise. UdantMartand, although very short-lived, paved the way for Hindi journalism, which later not only served as a vehicle for social, political and academic change, but became the voice of the Indian freedom struggle.
Kashi’s “Banaras Akhbar” (1845) was one of the first weekly newspapers published in any Hindi state. Although the name of the newspaper is in Hindi, it was composed using words from three Devnagari languages, Arabic and Persian, which makes it difficult for commoners to read. Curiously, the editor of this fiery bilingual newspaper was a Marathi-speaking GovindRaghunathThatte. A monthly, “BuddhiPrakash” came out of Agra in 1852 under the editorship of MunshiSadaSukhlal. For this magazine, a prominent French professor GariandTasse went so far as to say: “He used to print essays and interesting short stories. Even articles of pure academic values such as history, geography, mathematics, education and other subjects have been published there”.
The outbreak of the 1857 mutiny sparked a new political consciousness in the Hindi belts and a vehement protest against the brutal tyranny of the British colonialists. With a new political consciousness and a sincere desire to advance his own Hindi language, Bharatendu Harishchandra was inspired to promote social, economic and academic reforms in Hindi regions. He used to scour contemporary newspapers, books and magazines to find avenues for Hindi readership. He was not only well versed in Urdu, Hindi, Brajbhasha, Khadiboli, Bangala but also English, which shows his connection with Western literature. In 1868, he motivated Hindi writers by publishing Kashi’s monthly “KaviVachanSudha”. At first it published the collected works of poets, but later it also became a fortnightly allowing prose works. In 1875 Sudha became a weekly and started publishing in both Hindi and English in 1885.
Bharatendu had created the twinkle by releasing “Sudha” in Hindi-speaking areas. When we were all deep in the slumbers of ignorance, he raised awareness among the masses and advocated for gender equality. He dreamed of Indian autonomy, of total sovereignty, and that was before the founding of the Indian National Congress. An influential magazine “Bharat Mitra” was edited by RudraDutta Sharma on May 17, 1878 from Kolkata. Bharatendu revealed that Bharat Mitra was a political journal, although containing genetics topics. Bharatendu’s age in Hindi literature and journalism is considered a golden age and marks not only a growing awareness among Hindi speakers but also the strong backlash against British repression.
“Saraswati” is said to be the first most popular Hindi monthly, which was published by ChintamaniGhosh of Prayag to Indian press in 1900. It was recognized by NagariPrachariniSabha. Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi took over the editorship of “Saraswati” in 1903 and the third stage of the Hindi Renaissance began with his campaign to raise awareness among the Hindiwallas both socially and culturally. Although its main objective was to suppress the feudal and colonial system in all walks of life, yet somehow it was patronized by the government, which prevented the paper from speaking out directly and openly against English rule. Dwivediji was full of patriotism, although he was very much in favor of British judiciousness and good governance. He cared about both the owner of the newspaper and the British government. He reformed his faults after 1906 and stopped speaking less against the British government; if necessary, he criticized her vehemently. The Hindi Renaissance during the Dwivedi era was the age of revival where social, political and economic issues were gradually reflected in poetry; while the songs evoked a theme of social excitement.
In 1907, the weekly “Sahitya” was published by Madan Mohan Malviya of Prayag and in the same year “Hind Keshari” was launched in Nagpur by MadhavRaoSapre. A young Kanpur enthusiast, Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi launched a flamboyant and revolutionary weekly “Pratap” in 1910, the spokesperson for young rebels who aspired to an Angrej-mukt Bharat. The paper rendered not only a revolutionary dimension but also new upheavals. Another important journalistic contribution to Hindi is the appearance of “Prabha” in 1913, first published from Khandwa by KaluramGangrade and MakhanlalChaturvedi and later in 1919 started to come out from Vidyarthi’s “Pratap Press” of Kanpur .
‘Prabha’ was also a newspaper dedicated to the struggle for freedom. “Chand” was an important newspaper allied with “Prabha” and “Pratap”. He sowed the seeds of poisonous cacti among the Indians for the English by publishing Nand Kumar’s writing “Phansi”. “Chand” showed the seed’s hatred against English colonial rule as Winston Churchill had for the Indian natives and played a pivotal role during the freedom movement. The popular three-volume book written by ShriSundarlal “Bharat meinAngareji Raj” was immediately banned and seized; but despite government intrusions, thousands of its copies were distributed throughout the country.
In 1920, Shiv Prasad Gupta cast “Aj” from Kashi to facilitate the struggle for freedom. On August 19, 1921, Gandhiji launched the Hindi version of “Navjiwan”. Acharya Shiv PoojanSahay started by editing the monthly newspaper “Adarsh” in 1922. In the same year, a weekly newspaper “Madhuri” was started from Lucknow under the management of DulareLalBhargav. “Madhuri” gained a good reputation in a short time, as it was mainly a literary journal. Publication of the Hindi weekly “Matwala” started on August 26, 1923 from Kolkata, to which were attached such prominent Hindi literati like SuryakantTripathiNirala, Mahadev Prasad Seth, ShivpoojanSahay, Bechan Sharma “Ugra” and NavjadikLalSrivastava. “Matwala” was a frank diary of wisdom and humor, with pointed and cordial commentary. He had fearless and fearless commentary on culture, society, communalism and politics, because of which he had to walk on the cutting edge of censorship for six years. In 1928, it was again from Kolkata that Banwari Das Chaturvedi started editing the monthly “Vishal Bharat”. He opines that Chaturvediji had more journalistic morality than literary foresight and that there was no tiptoe freedom struggle in the paper. In 1933 Gandhiji launched “HarijanSevak” which was the vehicle of his crusade against untouchability and poverty.
The later phase of MunshiPremchand was the trend towards extremism. The massacre of JalianwallaBagh, the return of the Simon Commission, the engagement for “Purna Swarajya”, the condemnation to the hanging of Bhagat Singh, the round table in London bear witness to political extremism. Such was the time of repressions and political upheavals that Premchand began to publish “Hans” in 1930. The fire of patriotism lit by Bharatendu, and passing through the editorial excellences of Vidyarthi, reached its apogee by the politico-literary review of Premhand. Premchand’s early works reflect that the idea of Gandhism influenced him. But, little by little, he changed his own vision of politics and literature. He enters the world of literature by giving up the service of academy inspector during the turbulent period of political passions by transforming Premchand from Dhanpat Ray. He illustrated the odds and oddities of British rule for the people of India with fierce virulence in his literature as well as in his “Hans” editorials, which resulted in punitive sentences by the Raj. He introduced a weekly called “Jagaran” with “Hans”; although he disappeared but “Hans” is still alive. Premchand is one of those Hindi writers who condemned the British line through his regular writings. In September 1936, in the last issue of “Hans” in his lifetime, a brilliant essay “Mahajani Sabhyata” was published, which is a testimony to Premchand’s sharpened revolutionary consciousness.
The country witnessed ups and downs of many Hindi newspapers and newspapers during the independence struggle and most of them acted as an effective weapon for social and political revival. Hindi journalism has been the backbone of the struggle for freedom through the formation and propagation of nationalist ideology and the building of strong national feeling and consciousness among the masses. His contribution has always been welcomed by the Indian people.
(The author is a technocrat and an academician.)
The writer is a technocrat and an academician