Press In Travancore - Silence Is Golden

  • Published on August 26, 1908
  • By Staff Reporter

It is of course very long since, in the whole of India there began a sort of persecution of the press by certain sections of the bureaucracy; the only papers which have suffered up to this being those which have been thought by the authorities to be connected with treason. By way of suppressing what has been believed by the Sirkar servants to be a bad tendency on the part of the journalists – a tendency, both, to pass whole-sale condemnations of the Government as a body, and to attribute pessimistic motives to Government en masse, the officers of the Sircar have been seen to resort to means perhaps far from desirable. This is a little bit, natural. But, even when far more fierce volcanoes might be bursting in the political circles of India, the southernmost corner of it, going by the name of Travancore, and separating itself from India at least in the respect of popular feelings has to be described by no other expression than “all the air a solemn stillness holds”. If, in the whole of India or even the world, there is a kingdom where the people regard their sovereign de facto as their father, it is the land of Charity. If, in Travancore, there is anything whose entire absence it too striking to escape any one’s notice, it is deviation from loyalty. Further not even one single word of any the least repulsive kind of annotation either on the sovereign personally or on his Government as a corporation, has ever appeared in any of the newspaper about Travancore – not even in the course of strongly impeaching the highly impeachable acts, both, of public servants, as well as of the favourites of His Highness the Maharajah – a fact which certainly means, not only that the sovereign personally and his Government as a working organization are all right, but also that the people have been brought up and trained in the knowledge and belief that it is unofficial to think of any crusade against their further even if the dad might not be all right. These are facts irrefutably established by centuries of standing practical truth. Such being the case, it does not require much of ceremony to record that some stroke of insanity is seen to pervade the statement of our old and “respectable” contemporary the Western star, that      It is time, in Travancore, for the Government, to control the press more stiffy. The “respectable” journal is in need of “some means whereby the Government of His Highness the Maharaja would be prevented from dealing effectively with offending newspapers”! Here, the Star makes itself visible to the world in its true colour in full; for, as understood by it, a “newspaper” is an “unoffending” organ leaving out all “offending” matter, and trying to get, at the hands of others, especially the big-wigs, the certificate “respectable”. This is what the worthy newspaper tries, as much as possible, to be. Either with a view to teaching journalism to our eldest brother in the field, or for the purpose of driving off all misunderstanding, or both, any journalist has to call upon the Western Star to rack its brains and understand, without fail, that criticising and exposing the vagaries of Sircar servants does not count towards badness of any kind but unavoidably counts towards an honest doing of civic and journalistic duties, and that putting down favouritism and throwing off altogether the yoke of favourites even when they might happen to be royal minions goes towards righteousness, as even lunatics might say. If the people or Government, or both, in Travancore were to introduce some law imperatively requiring that that all newspapers in the state should honestly do their work, it would “startle” “a certain section of the press in Travancore”, to which the ‘star’ is imaginarily proud to belong, and that “section, there is no denying, will find itself in a perilous position or deprived of its occupation of” ignoring and even sometimes whitewashing the since of public men As for the suggestion about a Press Association, we are at one with our co-eval and think that it would either kill or exact honest work out of “certain section of the press” which is now waylaying a portion of the public patronage on its way to the press through fudging and blinking and pretending. Why, in short, all can understand that, though “Speech is silver” yet, Silence is golden”. More on this subject shall be said later on. In the meanwhile, Let it be distinctly understood that there are, in Travancore, at least among the ryot and peasant population, people numerically stronger and morally better than the followers of the un”offending” Water Strar       

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