It has not been possible to establish when the first Urdu Periodical was printed in South Asia or elsewhere since the printed books on Urdu language and literature present misleading information. Nadirn Sitnpuri RAyS that “Urdu Akhbar was issued from Calcutta under the editorship of Ikram Ali in 1810 and this was the first Urdu newspaper.”
In corroboration of this statement he _quotes Saiyed Hamid Hussain Qadri, who remarked on page 86 his Dastan Tarikh-i-Urdu that Maulvi Muhammad Baqir published Urdu Akbar from Dehli and it was the second Urdu newspaper; but in fact the first Urdu Akhbar was issued from Calcutta in 1810, by , Maulvi Ikram Ali. This is further clarified by Saiyed Rais Ahmad Jafri (Bahadur-Shah Zafar, p. 478). He says that in 1835, there was set up a lithe press in Dehli and in 1836 Maulvi Muhammad Baqir issued ‘Urdu Akhbar’ from Dehli which was the second Urdu newspaper.
This Urdu Akhbar was published from Calcutta by Maulvi Ikram AU in 1810. On the other hand Maulana Imdad Sabri, the author of Tarikh-Sakhafat Urdu, page, 51 records that “The first Urdu newspaper was issued from Calcutta in 1821 and it was called ‘Mirat-ul-Akhbat’ published under the auspices of Ram Mohan RBi”.
Mr. Atiq Siddiqi provides us with more authenticated facts concerning ‘Mirat-ul-Akhbar! He says that Ram Mohan RBi decided to issue a Persian newspaper entitled ‘Mirat-ul-Akhbar’ in March 1822, and the first issue was published on 20th April 1822.
In support of his statement he quotes from Calcutta Journal:- “The editor (Mirat-ul-Akhbar) informs the readers that in this country many papers are published but so far no Persian newspaper has been published which can supply news to the people of South India in particular and others in general who are unable to understand English. Therefore, he is going to publish a Persian Newspaper.”
. Obviously ‘Mirat-ul-Akhbar was the first Persian news Paper and not the still’s Urdu newspaper as stated by some authors.
So far as ‘Urdu Akhbar’ is concerned, no copy is available and it is difficult to believe without adequate proof that such an Urdu newspaper ever existed. Secondly, it is confirmed by Siddiqi that ‘Mirat-ul-Akhbar was a Persian newspaper.
The first Urdu newspaper Jami Jahan-Nama, was printed from Calcutta in May 1823. Khurshid says that “the publication of ‘Nami Jahan-Nama’ from Calcutta in 1822 made the beginning of Urdu and Persian journalism.
It Actually the Persian paper was issued in May 1822 and was also called ‘Nami Jahan-Nama, Siddiqi had the opportunity of examining these copies preserved in the National Archives of India.
The earliest one still extant is No. 133,29 December 1824 (Siddiqi supplies a photograph of No. 174, 12 October 1825). On the title page the name of the newspaper is written in Urdu followed by number and date of issue. Underneath is notice in English that reads:-
“European Gentlemen, who may wish to be supplied with this paper, either for their own perusal, or from a benevolent desire to diffuse knowledge among the native members of their establishment may be supplied with it, an application to
TARACHUND DUTT of Colootolluh at three Rupees per month including the Door.” It appears as though the Urdu ‘Jami Jahan-Nama’ was a supplement to the Persian paper, but this was not the case because the Urdu paper was itself a complete paper in all respects with a separate title page. One of the earliest issues in the Urdu language quoted by Siddiqi is No. 81, 29 December 1824, ?n the title page of which the following notice:-
“The Editor of” the Jami Jahan-Nooma begs leave respectfully to notify in the public, that with a view of rendering this publication more interesting, entertaining and instructive to the European portion of its supporters, resolved to publish, in future, a Supplementary Sheet in the pure Hindoostanee or Oordoo Tongue, at the additional trifling charge of Four Annas the Number, or One Rupee per month, if taken together with the Two Persian Sheets, but if taken separately
Two Rupees will be charged for it per menseum. ” it was printed in Naskhliq type, but Abdul Salam Khurshid views it as printed neither entirely in Nastaliq type nor Naskh, but as a reflection of both characters. By this he certainly means that it was Taliq typefaces.
After four years and eight months continuous publication this Urdu newspaper was .discontinued on 23 January 1828. In the last issue it was mentioned that to date the paper had consisted of eight pages in Persian and four in Urdu and there forth all twelve pages would be printed in the Persian language. On 6 May 1823, an application n as made by Mather Mohen and Mini Ram for permission to issue Persian-Urdu ‘Shams-ul-Akhar.’
According to William Carey it was discontinued in 1827. There is evidence that it was in the Urdu language, because the copies of this paper at the N.A.I., as recorded by Mr. Siddiqi, are in the Persian language.
“The second Urdu newspaper was issued in 1837 from Dehli, entitled ‘Dehli Akhbar.’ It was issued by Maulvi Muhammad Baqir father of Maulana Muhammad Hussain Azad. Saksena in his History of Urdu literature has given 1838 A.D. the year in which Urdu Akhbar was issued from Dehli.
It is obviously incorrect, as reported by Siddiqui, that from January 1840 to December 1841, the issues of Urdu Akhbar are extant in the N.A.I. and that the first is No. 153, 26th January 1840.
IT we count the back issues, it becomes apparent that the first number must have appeared in the beginning of 1837. Maulvi Muhammad, editor and proprietor of the newspaper had set up a press first known as ‘Matba-i-Jafaria’ and later as the ‘Urdu Akhbar Press’ from which a large number of Urdu books were printed.
Until 3 May 1840, the title of the paper remained ‘Dehli Akhbar’ but on 10 May 1840, the title suddenly changed to ‘Dehli Urdu Akhbar’. Saiyed Muin-ud-Din and Imdad Beg were engaged in the printing of this paper, but on 12 August 1840, the name of Moti Lal appeared on the imprint.
At the siege of Dehli, in 1857, the British Government executed Maulvi Muhammad Baqir, editor of the ‘Dehli Urdu Akhbar and confiscated his property; this was also the end of the ‘Dehli Urdu Akhbar’. Another Urdu weekly ‘Saiyed-ul-Akhbar’ was issued.by Saiyed Muhammad Khan, who died in 1846 when the editorship was taken over by his brother Saiyed Ahmad Khan.
The paper was discontinued in 1848. Mr. Khan who was born at Dehli in 1817 and died in 1898, was a man of distinguished talents and calculated understanding. He anticipated the need for Muslims to learn English as a result of which the Aligarh Muslim University came into being.
In 1837 the first Urdu periodical ‘Khair Khwah-i-Hindi’ was published from Mirzaqur. Mr. Siddiqi informs us that the India Office Library has got the 1849-1850 issues of this periodical.
This is not true, because the author has examined in the I.O.L.R. Vol. 1 of this periodical dated 1 September 1847, to Apri11850. It is also in good condition.
From September 1847 to- October 1847 it was printed by Pandit Mooti Lal at the Dehli Urdu Akhbar Press and from June 1849–April 1850, was printed at the Orphan School Press, Mirzapur. In the revolution of 1857, the offices from which the paper was published were completely destroyed, but after the British Government gained control over India, this monthly magazine resumed publication as before.
During the late 1840′ Urdu periodicals and newspapers began to multiply. The periodical Muhib·i-Hind’ was printed by Mooti La] at ‘Matba-ul-Aloom’. Again this was a monthly publication edited by Ram Chandar. The L.O.L.R. has in its possession 37 issues dated September 1847 to September 1850.
This paper was discontinued during 1851. The paper used to contain very useful and interesting articles, particularly introducing European knowledge among the natives. Alas the paper was not well supported by the native community, and it was presumably for that reason that it was discontinued. The Government records indicate that ‘Sadiq-ul-Akhbar’ issued from ‘Matba-Dar-us-Salam’ was Persian paper edited by Noor-ud-Din Ahmad.
Mr. Siddiqi has reported that there were two Urdu papers under the same title published from Dehli. The Two issues Vol. 2 No. 11, 19 March 1857, and Vol. 3, No. 12, 23 March 1857 of first Urdu ‘Sadiq-ul- Akhbar’ and one issue of the second paper published in January 1856, are available in the N.A.I.
Among the well known papers published from Agra were the following:- Title .A Press Frequency Editor Matla-ul-Akhbar Matba·j-Akbarj Weekly Sheikh Khadim-uddin Asad-ul·Akhbar Matba·i-Asad·ul·Akhbar ·do- oamar-uc-nn Khan Akhbar-un-Nawah-o- Matba-i·Masdar- -co- Jawahir Lal Nuzhat-ul-Arwah un-Nawadir Noor-ul-Absar Matba·i·Noor·ul-Absar -do- Sadasukh Lal In 1851 Matba-i-Masdar-un-Nawadir began to prosper, not because of the Urdu paper issued from press, but on account of the neat work executed there.
It was mainly due to the neatness of the work, and moderateness of the charges, that the press was brought to the notice of the Government in June by Mr. Wollaston, and the Government gave encouragement to the proprietor. Specimens of lithography and binding were dispatched to the Visitor General of Schools, North Western Provinces and to the Principal of the Rootkee College. Similarly the Noor-ul-Absar PreSR established in the beginning of October, 1852, was very successful in the trade of printing.
A weekly “Noor-ul-Absnr” was edited by Sndasukh Lal. Two hundred copies of this paper were take n by Ro id, with the- sanction of the Over me nt, fur h is schools, and this made the circulation larger than that of any other papers in these provinces with the exception of the ‘Kohi- Noor’ published from Lahore. The Urdu magazines issued from the Benares Press were The Benares Gazette published every ‘Monday, which was badly Iithographed and the “Bagh-o-Bnhar”, edited in 1850 by Kndharnnth Ghose (who resigned during 1851) and Knli Pershad.
The undermentioned issues of the “Bennras Gazette” published at the “Matba-i-Bcnares Akhbar” fire extant and available fit the I.O.L.R. Vol. 2, No. 29·30 and No. 50·52: Vol. 3, No.1 1848·1849 (lithographed is Shckastah character). The Bagh-o-Bahur, 11 weekly journal, contained, besides the current news of the day, disquisitions on medicine, history, astronomy, and the like. Its print, however, was not very satisfactory and the circulation fe II rapidly.
Other newspapers from Banaras included:- Aftab-i-Hindi, weekly, issued from Kashee Press; Snyareen-i-Hind, weekly, published at the ‘Matbai- Mandy-i-Hind; and, finally, the ‘Urdu Bcnares JI ark arah’ weekly, printed at the ‘Recorder Press’. The Sayareen-i-Hind; owing to lack of Support ceased pub contention during 1852. In the same. year Aftab-i-Hind commenced publication at Kashee Press, Be narea. The Urdu Benares Flarkarah ‘ began to print in August 1850 from the Recorder Press and this newly established press made great progress in the field of printing.