Academic journal article Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society

The Role of Vernacular Press in the Subcontinent during the British Rule: A Study of Perceptions

Academic journal article Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society

The Role of Vernacular Press in the Subcontinent during the British Rule: A Study of Perceptions

Article excerpt

Introduction

The Sub-continent of South Asia has been considered as a geographical entity with varied boundaries in different periods of time in spite of internal rifts and external invasions. Its historical existence has remained under query for the traditional and modern developments. One may say that the epochs of Indian history, and their evolution, have been determined by the appearance of foreign influences from time to time. The social system of India and its philosophy of life have been nurtured and enriched with the contribution and impact of different civilizations. In the modern era coming of the Portuguese and the British in India marked a great impact through modern Western sciences and philosophy upon the Indian world. The Subcontinent witnessed great changes in the period of British rule which determined its importance in the realm of history and philosophy. Its historical patterns have been discussed by different historians with the explanation of socio-political and economic factors. In this article, it has been tried to explore the nature of British rule and its practical realization in the cultural context of India. It describes sociopolitico and administrative trends which were presented in the vernacular press ofthat time. The vernacular press presented the analytical explanation of conflicting perception of the rule and the ruled. CH. Philips in his book the Historical Writings on the Peoples of Asia: Historians of India, Pakistan and Ceylon made valuable observations on the historical sources used by different authors, and on those forces of history which determined the outlook of historical process. He also delineated them on behalf of their explanatory factors. In this book one of the article of J. B. Harrison on 'Moreland as Historian' clearly depicts the nature of the historian that favourably lined-up with those who have given primacy to the economic factors in constructing the history. But herein is studied the evaluation ofthat system that studied the British empire with its united and effective general administration and the response of the public. This study manifests also the general perception of the English that their intrusion in Indian's life was justified by a feeling of social superionity. The British had a "general feeling that they were ideally qualified to rule", and had a "racial superiority."1

Some of the Britishers believed that local people were resistant when reforms were not in accord with their social tendency and traditions. Some of these administrators had a view that they would give peace and security, justice and mercy, but interfere with the local society as little as possible, leaving it to its own devices. Men like Abbe Raynal and James Forbes found much merit in the ancient ways of life as well as depth in the Indian traditional thought and culture.2 These views shed light over their general attitude towards the local mannerism but the thrust of administration forced them to interfere into local community affairs by the stretch of their own meta-design. One of the seventeenth century missionary and empiricist Abbe Dubois published a text on the people of India and held a view that the Europeans should "leave their cherished laws and prejudices, since no human effort will persuade them (the Indians) to give up, even in their own interests and let us [the Europeans] not risk making the gentlest and most submissive people in the world furious and indomitable by thwarting them."3 This kind of thought and attitude had an inbuilt conflict which could not be resolved so easily in the environment of India which was alien to the British and the Europeans. The British reacted to any such act by the people of India which was not in accord with their perception. [Sometimes this conflict arose due to the new systems and measures introduced by the British. Such was a case of the introduction of printing press and publication of newspapers, first by the Englishmen, in immitation of their publications in England. …

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