Question 1 Give reasons for the following:
(i) Woodblock print only came to Europe after 1295.
(ii) Martin Luther was in favour of print and spoke out in praise of it.
(iii) The Roman Catholic Church began keeping an Index of Prohibited Books from the mid-sixteenth century.
(iv) Gandhi said the fight for Swaraj is a fight for liberty of speech, liberty of the press, and freedom of association.
Answer 1 (i) In 1295, Marco Polo, a great explorer, returned to Italy after many years of exploration in China. We know that China already had the technology of woodblock printing. Marco Polo brought this knowledge back with him. Now Italians were able to produce books with woodblocks and soon the technology spread to other parts of Europe.
(ii) Print made Martin Luther able to publish his ideas as a religious reformer. In 1517, he wrote Ninety Five Theses in which he criticised many of the practices and rituals of the Roman Catholic Church. He challenged the church to debate his ideas. Luther’s writings were immediately reproduced in vast numbers and were widely read. This led to a division within the Church and led to the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Luther expressed his gratitude to print, by saying, ‘Printing is the ultimate gift of God and the greatest one.’ Several scholars, in fact, think that print brought about a new intellectual atmosphere and helped spread the new ideas that led to the Reformation.
(iii) In the sixteenth century, Manocchio, a miller in Italy, read a few books and reinterpreted the message of the Bible and created a view of God and its Creation. It infuriated the Roman Catholic Church. Manocchio was hauled up twice and ultimately executed. Then Erasmus, a Latin scholar and a Catholic reformer, also criticised the extremes of Catholicism. The Roman Church, in order to control these developments, imposed severe controls over publishers and booksellers and started maintaining an Index of Prohibited Books from 1558.
(iv) In 1922, Gandhi strongly spoke about liberty of speech, liberty of the press and freedom of association when the Government of India tried to crush the three powerful vehicles of expressing and cultivating public opinion. At that moment he encouraged Indians to fight for Swaraj, for Khilafat which meant a fight for liberty of speech, liberty of the press, and freedom of association.
Question 2. Write short notes to show what you know about:
(i) The Gutenberg Press
(ii) Erasmus’s idea of the printed book
(iii) The Vernacular Press Act
Answer 2 (i) Johann Gutenberg developed the first known printing press in the 1430s. He had seen the wine and olive presses right from his childhood. As he had learnt the art of polishing stones he became a master goldsmith acquiring the expertise in creating lead moulds used for making trinkets. He innovated his own design drawn on from his knowledge. The olive press provided the model for the printing press and moulds were used for casting the metal types for the letters of the albhabet. By 1448, Gutenberg perfected the system and printed the first book of the Bible. As Gutenberg devised a way of moving the twenty-six characters of the Roman alphabet around, so as to compose different words of the text. It was known as the movable type printing machine. It remained the basic print technology over the next 300 years. It made the production of books faster. It could print 250 sheets on one side per hour. It was in fact a revolution in print technology.
(ii) Erasmus was a Latin Scholar and a Catholic reformer. Like Martin Luther he criticised the excesses of Catholicism but unlike him, he was not grateful to print. He expressed a deep anxiety about printing. For him books were stupid, ignorant, slanderous, scandalous, irreligious and seditious. These kinds of books were too many and so they had reduced the value of the good books.
(iii) The Vernacular Press Act was passed in 1878. The Act provided the colonial government with extensive rights to censor reports and editorials in the vernacular press. From now on the government kept regular track of the vernacular newspaper published in different provinces. When a report was judged as seditious, the newspaper was warned. If the newspaper ignored the warning, the government had right to seize the press and confiscate the printing machinery.
Question 3 What did the spread of print culture in nineteenth century India mean to:
(ii) The poor
Answer 3 (i) As a result of the spread of print culture in the 19th century India, women’s reading increased enormously in middle-class homes. Liberal husbands and fathers began educating their womenfolk at home, and sent them to schools when women’s schools were set up in the cities and towns after mid-19th century. But conservative Hindus and Muslims were not in favour of educating women. Sometimes, rebel women defied them. The story of a Muslim girl is worth-mentioning here. Her family wanted her to read only the Arabic Quran which she did not understand. So, she insisted on learning to read and write in Urdu, a language that was her own. In East Bengal, in the early 19th century, Rashsundari Debi, a young married girl in a very orthodox household, learnt to read in the secrecy of her kitchen. Later, she wrote her autobiography Amar Jiban which was published in 1876. From 1860s, a few Bengali women like Kailashbhashini Debi wrote books highlighting the experiences of women about how women were imprisoned at home, kept in ignorance and forced to do hard domestic labour. In 1880s, in presentday Maharashtra, Tarabai Shinde and Pandita Ramabai wrote about the miserable lives of uppercaste Hindu women, especially widows. In 1926, Begum Rokeya Salehawat Hossain, an educationist and literary figure, strongly condemned men for withholding education from women.
(ii) With the spread of print-culture, poor people in the 19th century became interested in reading printed material. They usually bought very cheap small books, meant for them. Public libraries were set up to expand the access of books. From the late 19th century, issues of caste discrimination began to be written about in many printed tracts and essays. Jyotiba Phule wrote about the injustices of the caste system in his famous book Gulamgiri in 1871. Workers in factories lacked education to write much about their experiences. But Kashibaba, a Kanpur mill worker, wrote and published Chhote Aur Bade Ka Sawal in 1938 to show the links between caste and class exploitation.
(iii) From the early 19th century, wider public could participate in public discussions and express their views. New ideas emerged through clashes of opinions. Debates over religious reforms took place, which were opposed by the Hindu and Muslim orthodoxy. They always discouraged people from reading printed material. Rammohan Roy published the Sambad Kaumudi from 1821 and the Hindu orthodoxy commissioned the Samachar Chandrika to oppose his opinions.
Question 1 Why did some people in eighteenth century Europe think that print culture would bring enlightenment and end despotism?
Answer 1 (i) There was a general conviction among the people in the 18th century that books were a means of spreading progress and enlightenment. Many believed that books could change the world, liberate society from despotism and tyranny and herald a time when reason and intellect would rule.
(ii) Print popularised the ideas of the Enlightenment thinkers. Collectively, their writings provided a critical commentary on tradition, superstition and despotism. They argued for the rule of reason rather than custom and demanded that everything be judged through the application of reason and rationality.
(iii) Print created a new culture of dialogue and debate. All values, norms and institutions were re-evaluated and discussed by a public that had become aware of the power of reason and recognised the need to question existing ideas and beliefs. Within this public culture, new ideas of social revolution came into being.
(iv) By the 1780s there was an outpouring of literature that mocked the royalty and criticised their morality. Questions began to be raised about the existing social order.
Question 2. Why did some people fear the effect of easily available printed books? Choose one example from Europe and one from India.
Answer 2 Print created the possibility of wide circulation of ideas and introduced a new world of debate and discussion. Even those who disagreed with established authorities could now print and circulate their ideas. This developed fear among some people. They became apprehensive of the effects that the easier access to the printed words and the wider circulation of books, could have on people’s minds. It was feared that if there was no control over what was printed and read then rebellious and irreligious thoughts might spread. If that happened the authority of ‘valuable’ literature would be destroyed. Expressed by religious authorities and monarchs, as well as several writers and artists, this anxiety was the basis of widespread criticism of the new printed literature that had begun to circulate. For example, in 1517, the religious reformer Martin Luther wrote Ninety Five Theses criticising many of the practices and rituals of the Roman Catholic Church. It challenged the Church to debate his ideas. Luther’s writings were immediately reproduced in vast numbers and read widely. This led to a division within the Church and to the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.
In India, conservative Hindus believed that a literate girl would be widowed and Muslims feared that educated women would be corrupted by reading Urdu romances. Sometimes, rebel women defied such prohibitions.
Question 3. What were the effects of the spread of print culture for poor people in nineteenth century India?
Answer 3 In the 19th century, with the spread of printed books, the interest in reading books also increased among the poor people. To fulfil their desire of reading, cheap small books were published and public libraries were set up for them by the rich.
The problems of the poor people began to be written and published. Gulamgiri of Jyotiba Phule exposed the illtreatment to the low castes. Dr Ambedkar and E V Ramaswamy Naicker wrote powerfully against untouchability. Chhote Aur Bade Ka Sawal of Kashibaba exposed the link between caste and class exploitation. Sudarshan Chakr published a collection called Sachchi Kavitayan.
These books highlighted how poor people were exploited by the upper caste people. These books were read all over India. Efforts were made by the social reformers to improve the condition of poor workers through print.
Question 4. Explain how print culture assisted the growth of nationalism in India.
Answer 4 Print culture assisted the growth of nationalism in India in the following ways:
(i) Several newspapers, that began to be published in India, carried nationalist feelings. They reported on colonial misrule and encouraged nationalist activities.
(ii) Attempts to throttle nationalist criticism provoked militant protest. This in turn led to a renewed cycle to persecution and protests.
(iii) When Punjabi revolutionaries were deported in 1907, Balgangadhar Tilak wrote with great sympathy about them in his Kesari.
(iv) This led to his imprisonment in 1908, provoking in turn widespread protests all over India.