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Question-1

Give reasons for the following:

a) Woodblock print only came to Europe after 1295.
b) Martin Luther was in favour of print and spoke out in praise of it.
c) The Roman Catholic Church began keeping an Index of Prohibited books from the mid-sixteenth century.
d) Gandhi said the fight for Swaraj is a fight for liberty of speech, liberty of the press, and freedom of association.

 

Solution:
a) In 1295, the Italian explorer Marco Polo returned from his exploration in China. In China wooden block printing was popular at that time. He brought this technique with him, when he retuned to Europe.


b) Martin Luther expressed his ideas through print. His publication, ‘Ninety Five Theses’ challenged the orthodox practises of the Roman Catholic church. His publication was posted on a church door and this brought about many debates. This eventually led to the Reformation.

He translated the New Testament, and 5000 copies were sold in a short time. Hence Martin Luther was in favour of print and spoke out in praise of it


c) The Roman Catholic Church faced a lot of dissent from the mid 16th century. People started writing about God and His creations in different ways. The Church banned books which did not follow its ideals. So, the Church felt it necessary to keep a record of the banned books. This record was called the ‘Index of prohibited books’.


d) Liberty of speech, liberty of the press, and freedom of association were 3 important factors that were necessary to cultivate public opinion according to Gandhi. He said that the fight for ‘swaraj’ was the fight for Liberty of speech, liberty of the press, and freedom of association.

Question-2

 Write short notes to show what you know about:
 
a) The Gutenberg Press
b) Erasmus’s idea of the printed book
c) The Vernacular Press Act
c) The Vernacular Press Act

 

Solution:
  1. Gutenberg was the son of a merchant and grew up on a large agricultural estate. Since his childhood he had seen the way wine was made by pressing the fruits. Later he learnt the art of polishing stones and became a master goldsmith. He also learnt to create lead moulds used for making trinkets.
Using all the skills he had acquired, he developed on the existing print technology and invented the first printing press in 1430s.

He made moulds, using metal, for the letters of the alphabet. He used these moulds for printing.

By 1448, Gutenberg perfected the printing system.

  • The first book he printed was the Bible.
  • 180 copies were printed in three years.
  1. Erasmus was a Latin scholar and a Catholic reformer. He criticised the excesses of Catholicism. He expressed a deep anxiety about printing. He felt that though there were a few books that were good most of the books were harmful to the human intellect.

Erasmus felt that it created glut and too much of any thing was harmful. He said that books were full stupid, ignorant, slanderous and scandalous raving. Many books were irreligious and the value of publication was lost due to these books according to Erasmus.

 

  1. In 1878, the Vernacular Press Act was passed, as vernacular newspapers became assertively nationalist. The Act was modelled on the lines of the Irish Press Laws.

The Vernacular Press Act provided the government with extensive rights to censor reports and editorials in the vernacular press. When a report was judged as rebellious, the newspaper was warned, and if the warning was ignored, the press was liable to be seized and the printing machinery confiscated.
 

In spite of these repressive measures, nationalist newspapers grew in numbers in all parts of India. These papers reported on colonial misrule and encouraged nationalist activities.

Question-3

What did the spread of print culture in nineteenth century India mean to:
 
a) Women
b) The poor
c) Reformers.

 

Solution:
a) Lives and feelings of women were written with intensity. This increased the number of women who took to reading. Liberal husbands and fathers started educating their womenfolk at home and some sent them to schools. Many journals began carrying writings by women, and explained why women should be educated. They also carried a syllabus and attached suitable reading matter which could be used for home-based schooling.
 

There was also a negative side to the introduction of books were women were concerned.

Conservative Hindus believed that a literate girl would be widowed.

Muslims feared that educated women would be corrupted by reading Urdu romances.

Social reforms and novels created a great interest in women’s lives and emotions. Women’s opinions and views were slowly considered and respected. Stories were written about how about how women were imprisoned at home, kept in ignorance, forced to do hard domestic labour and treated unjustly by the very people they served. Stories about the miserable lives of upper-caste Hindu women, especially widows also appeared in print. These stories paved the way for the liberation of the suppressed Indian woman.


b) Very cheap small books were brought to markets in nineteenth-century and sold at crossroads, allowing poor people travelling to markets to buy them. Public libraries were set up from the early twentieth century, expanding the access to books.

Libraries were usually located in cities and towns.
 

Caste discrimination was a major topic discussed in the print media.


c) During the early nineteenth century, there were intense debates on religious issues. Changes within the colonial society were debated in different ways, and religious beliefs were interpreted differently. Some criticised existing practices and campaigned for reforms, while others opposed reformers. These debates were carried out in public and in print.

Printed matter and newspapers spread the new ideas and the public were now more involved in state matters as they were more knowledgeable now.
 

As more people started reading about the controversies between social and religious reformers new ideas were born. The Hindu orthodoxy over matters like widow immolation, monotheism, Brahmanical priesthood and idolatry was discussed and soon social reforms were born, championing the cause of the down trodden.

Question-4

Why did some people in eighteenth century Europe think that print culture would bring enlightenment and end despotism?

Solution:
By the mid-eighteenth century, there was a common conviction that books were a means of spreading progress and enlightenment. Many believed that books could change the world, liberate society from despotism and tyranny. They felt that it would herald a time when reason and intellect would rule.
 

Louise-Sebastien Mercier, a novelist in eighteenth-century France, said that the printing press was the most powerful engine of progress and public opinion was the force that will sweep despotism away.
 

In many of Mercier’s novels, the heroes are transformed by acts of reading and become enlightened in the process. He was convinced that the power of print would bring enlightenment and destroying the basis of despotism.
 

Mercier proclaimed: ‘Tremble, therefore, tyrants of the world! Tremble before the virtual writer!’
 

Print popularised the ideas of the Enlightenment thinkers. Their writings provided a critical commentary on tradition, superstition and despotism. They argued for the rule of reason rather than the rule of custom, and demanded that everything be judged through the application of reason and rationality.
 

The Enlightenment thinkers attacked the sacred authority of the Church and the despotic power of the state. This wore down the legitimacy of a social order based on tradition. The writings of Voltaire and Rousseau were read widely; and those who read these books saw the world through new eyes, eyes that were questioning, critical and rational.

Question-5

Why did some people fear the effect of easily available printed books? Choose one example from Europe and one from India.

Solution:
In Europe everyone did not welcome the printed book. Many feared the influence printed books had on the public, as books were now easily available and circulated widely. Those opposed to books feared that if there was no control over what was printed and read, then rebellious and irreligious thoughts might spread.

Martin Luther was a religious reformer. In 1517 he wrote the ‘Ninety Five Theses’ criticising many of the practices and rituals of the Roman Catholic Church.

Manocchio, a miller in Italy, reinterpreted the message of the Bible and formulated a view of God and Creation that enraged the Roman Catholic Church.

The Roman Church was troubled by the questionings of religious faith. They felt that the new reading culture was the cause of this disbelief and imposed severe controls over publishers and booksellers and began to maintain an Index of Prohibited Books from 1558.

In India, the colonial rulers feared the effect of easily available printed matter after the revolt of 1857. Then the attitude to freedom of the press changed. Enraged Englishmen demanded a clamp down on the ‘native’ press.

In 1878, the Vernacular Press Act was passed, as vernacular newspapers became assertively nationalist.

The Vernacular Press Act provided the government with extensive rights to censor reports and editorials in the vernacular press. When a report was judged as rebellious, the newspaper was warned, and if the warning was ignored, the press was liable to be seized and the printing machinery confiscated.


Question-6

What were the effects of the spread of print culture for poor people in nineteenth century India?

Solution:
Very cheap small books were brought to markets in nineteenth-century and sold at crossroads, allowing poor people travelling to markets to buy them. Public libraries were set up from the early twentieth century, expanding the access to books. These libraries were located mostly in cities and towns, and at times in prosperous villages.
 

From the late nineteenth century, issues of caste discrimination began to be written and these writings were read by people all over India.
 

This brought about awareness among the poor who were now able to assert themselves.

Kashibaba, a Kanpur mill worker, wrote and published Chhote Aur Bade Ka Sawal in 1938 to show the links between caste and class exploitation.
 

By the 1930s, Bangalore cotton mill workers set up libraries to educate themselves, following the example of Bombay workers. These were sponsored by social reformers who tried to restrict excessive drinking among them, to bring literacy and to propagate the message of nationalism.
 

Many poor people also got employment in the print industry.

Question-7

Explain how print culture assisted the growth of nationalism in India.

Solution:
The print culture helped immensely in the growth of nationalism in India. The vernacular press published the misrule of the colonial government. It wrote elaborately on the lack of freedom of expression.

Revolutionary ideas were also secretly spread through print. National news papers worked to mobilise public opinion to fight for independence.

Education spread through print culture. It instigated people to join together and oppose colonial rule.
Sambad Kaumudi by Rammohun Roy propagated nationalist ideas.





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