Udant Martand was the first Hindi-language newspaper published in India. It was started on 30 May 1826 in Calcutta (now Kolkata) as a weekly newspaper, was published every Tuesday by Pt. Jugal Kishore Shukla.
Publication in India
By the early 19th century, educational publications in Hindi had already started. By the 1820s, newspapers in several Indian languages were starting, including Bengali and Urdu.
However, printing in the Devanagari script was still rare. Soon after Calcutta School Book started printing, Samachar Darpan, a Bengali journal that started in 1819, had some portions in Hindi. However, the Hindi reading audience base was still at a nascent stage. Thus few of the early attempts were successful, but they nevertheless were a start.
Beginning of Udant Martand
A lawyer from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, Shukla was settled in Calcutta and became Proceedings Reader at the Sadr Diwani Adalat(Civil and Revenue High Court), and later on a pleader.
On 16 February 1826, he along with Munnu Thakur of Banstala Gali, Calcutta, received a license to publish a newspaper in Hindi.
The newspaper was started on 30 May 1826. Udant Martand applied a mix of Khari Boli and Braj Bhasha dialects of Hindi. The first issue printed 500 copies, and the newspaper was published every Tuesday. The office of the newspaper was at 37, Amartalla Lane, Kolutolla, near Barabazar Market in Kolkata.
Owing to its distance from the Hindi-speaking areas of North India, the newspaper had difficulty in finding subscribers. The publisher tried to get a government subscription, and patronage in the form of postal fee exemption for eight newspapers to be posted to North India. However, it didn’t receive the subscription and only one newspaper was allowed postal fee exemption, which meant that the paper could never be financially viable.
But it briefly gained prominence for featuring the debate that rose Bengali-language magazine, Samachar Chandrika, and traders from interiors, who were based in Calcutta.
Closure of Udant Martand Publication
However soon due to higher postal rates as well as distant readership, the newspaper ran into financial difficulties. The publication demanded some funding from the government, which didn’t come through, and eventually closed on 4 December 1827. A year later in 1828, the government withdrew government subscription for newspapers, started during the liberal period of Governor-General Lord William Bentinck, which led to several small newspapers closing.
Many years later in 1850, Shukla also started a magazine, Samdand Martand, which ran till 1929.
Today, “Hindi Journalism Day” or Hindi Patrakarita Diwas is celebrated on 30 May each year, as it marked the “beginning of journalism in the Hindi language”.