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Week 7: India's Information Panic

Seminar Questions

  • How and why did the colonial government regulate the newspaper press in India?
  • What topics did Indian newspapers address?
  • Who defended the freedom of the press, and on what grounds?
  • How did vernacular newspapers respond to censorship?

Seminar Readings

** ‘An Act for the Better Control of Publications in Oriental Languages’, Act No. IX of 1878, Government of India.

** Dacosta, John, Remarks on the Vernacular Press Law of India or Act IX of 1878 (London, 1878)

* Bonea, Amelia, The News of Empire: Telegraphy, Journalism, and the Politics of Reporting in Colonial India, c. 1830-1900 (Delhi, 2016), 204-265

Additional Readings


Hicky’s Bengal Gazette (Calcutta, 1781-1782), available online via University of Heidelberg

The Times of India (Bombay, 1861-2007), available online via ProQuest Newspaper Database

Indian Newspaper Reports, available on microfilm 3397-3557 in Warwick University Library

The Friend of India (Calcutta, 1818-1876), selected issues are available on Google Books and

Parliamentary Inquiry into the Claims of Mr. Buckingham on the East India Company (London, 1834)


Bayly, Christopher, ‘Knowing the Country: Empire and Information in India’, Modern Asian Studies, 27 (1993)

Bayly, Christopher, Empire and Information: Intelligence Gathering and Social Communication in India, 1780-1870 (Cambridge, 2000)

Chatterjee, Partha, Texts of Power: Emerging Disciplines in Colonial Bengal (Minneapolis, MN, 1995)

Codell, Julie, ‘Introduction: The Nineteenth-Century News from India’, Victorian Periodicals Review, 37 (2004)

Darnton, Robert, ‘Literary Surveillance in the British Raj: The Contradictions of Liberal Imperialism’, Book History, 4 (2001)

Fisher, Michael, ‘The Office of Akhbār Nawīs: The Transition from Mughal to British Forms’, Modern Asian Studies, 27 (1993)

Frost, Mark, ‘Pandora’s Post Box: Empire and Information in India, 1854–1914’, The English Historical Review, 131 (2016)

Gupta, Uma Das, ‘The Indian Press 1870-1880: A Small World of Journalism’, Modern Asian Studies, 11 (1977)

Hirschmann, Edwin, ‘Using South Asian Newspapers for Historical Research’, The Journal of Asian Studies, 31 (1971)

Hirschmann, Edwin, Robert Knight: Reforming Editor in Victorian India (Oxford, 2008)

Kaul, Chandrika, Reporting the Raj: The British Press and India, c.1880-1922 (Manchester, 2003)

Morton, Stephen, States of Emergency: Colonialism, Literature and Law (Liverpool, 2013).

Roy, Tapti, ‘Disciplining the Printed Text: Colonial and Nationalist Surveillance of Bengali Literature’, in Chatterjee, Partha (ed.), Texts of Power: Emerging Disciplines in Colonial Bengal (Minneapolis, MN 1995).

Seminar Handout

Week 7 - Handout

Seminar Powerpoint

Week 7 - Powerpoint