Window Seat | Mrinal Chatterjee | 27.1.19


Indian Newspaper Day

On a sleepy cold morning of January 29, 1780, the first newspaper of India: ‘The Bengal Gazette or Calcutta General Advertiser’ was published by a young Irishman James Augustus Hicky and with that an illustrious journey began. January 29th is observed as Indian Newspaper day to commemorate the beginning of that journey.

Though news dissemination in some forms had been there for a long time, but systematic and structured news dissemination began only in 17th century in some European countries including England. From 18th century onwards newspapers spread in various English colonies like America, Africa and India.

Barring some exceptions like Hickey’s Bengal Gazette, the earlier avatars of newspapers were confined to being the mouthpiece of administration. Gradually newspapers began to assert its independence and began to reflect reality and people’s voice. The administrative backlash was prompt and harsh. But the noose tightening in the neck couldn’t stifle the soul of Freedom of Press. In 19th-20th century, the Press worldwide rose from the shambles of ordinariness to become the fourth estate of the State.

In India, newspapers strived to dispel the superstitions and social maladies, fought hard for freedom from alien rule and in many regions for a separate province on linguistic basis. The Freedom struggle formed the bedrock of character of the Indian Journalism. It was in this era that the sanctity of facts, justice to the masses and largely an anti-establishment approach became the hallmark.

Post-independence, the press in India has evolved and grown over the years both vertically and horizontally. It has survived Radio and Television and will survive the digital era communication. Newspapers have reinvented itself to negotiate new technology or new communication platforms.

It will continue to do so.

Kottayam Diary: The conclusion

Declaration: The heading is a rip-off from Bahubali 2: the Conclusion.

Last week I wrote about Kottayam, Kerala which I visited recently on a teaching assignment at Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), which has its Southern India Campus here. A beautiful campus of IIMC spread over 10 acres of land is coming up at Pampady, about 16 km east from Kottayam city, which is also known as Akshar Nagari or the City of Letters for its early foray into organized education.

Kottayam has enamoured me so much that this week also I am writing a few pieces on it.

When I was there, the controversial movie Accidental Prime Minister was released in Kottayam without any protest and threat to disrupt screening. Though I did not find time to watch the movie there, I found no report of any disturbance from anywhere in the city and I was happy about that.
I strongly feel, no film, cleared by the CBFC should be stopped or barred from screening by any which means.

4 things that I noticed in Kottayam

There is hardly any honking on roads, even if the roads are narrow and has heavy traffic. I noticed this in Sikkim and also in Aizwal, Mizoram.
There are no stray cattle or dogs on road, even in rural areas. Hence roads are cleaner and safer.
There is a general cleanliness. People do not throw garbage around. You hardly find anybody with shabby and dirty clothes.

People by and large are friendly and courteous. Even, the auto drivers are not rude and haughty. One line of caution: autos are very expensive here. Buses are cheaper than many other states. But most of the buses have signage only in Malayalam that makes it difficult for people not knowing Malayalam use it.

Art at Public Spaces

The nearest airport to Kottayam is at Kochi. Kochi Airport is fully powered by solar energy. It has a unique architecture in sync with the distinct Kerala style. Even the chairs have a distinct Kerala feel.

From Kochi I flew to Mumbai. Since the connecting flight to Bhubaneswar was a good three hours away- I had the opportunity to explore Mumbai International airport. It is a veritable museum of Indian Art and Crafts. Artifacts from almost all states of the country have been tastefully displayed here.

I believe art in public spaces not only increases the aesthetic quotient of the place, it also showcases the art and craft for the uninitiated.

Some big Railway stations also have done this. This could be tried in other places like smaller railway stations and bus stands as well. Innovative wall paintings, murals could be tried.

Social Gatherings

Winter is a festive season in Odisha, Bihar and the plains of West Bengal, wherever the winter is not too harsh-  with many marriages, thread ceremonies, nirbandh (sagai) happening. These are good occasions for catching up with relatives whom you have not met for quite a while. You exchange pleasantries, chitchat on everything under the son including other relatives and current political affairs and local gossip. Initially you think it is a huge waste of time but at some point-to-point you kind of begin to enjoy it all, especially the local gossip.

Temples everywhere in Odisha these days are busy with multiple marraige, nirbandha, thread ceremony, etc taking place. If you want delicious vegetarian food free, enter any temple find a suitable place and partake. Just smile at anybody who looks at you with a questioning eye.

Tailpiece: Job Rotation

A husband visited a marriage counsellor and said: “When we were first married, I would come home from the office, my wife would bring my slippers and our cute little dog would run around barking. Now after ten years it’s different. I come home, the dog brings the slippers and my wife runs around barking.”

Said the counselor, “Why complain. You are still getting the same service. In the corporate world they call it…..Job Rotation!”

(Courtesy: Social Media)



Mrinal Chatterjee is a journalist turned media academician. He lives in Dhenkanal, Odisha. He writes fiction and columns. A compilation of this column written in 2018 has published on 26 January 2019. [email protected]