An important exemplar of the early periodical press in British India, the Bengal Hurkaru (1795‒1866) was one of the first English-language newspapers published in Calcutta. The word hurkaru, or hircarrah, as it was spelled in the beginning, is a Bengali derivative of the Persian word harkara (messenger). It began as a weekly paper, moving to daily publication on April 29, 1819. By 1833, the Bengal Hurkaru had a circulation of approximately 882 copies. Statistics based on subscriptions show that most subscribers in 1833 were part of the British military (308), mercantile classes (154), and civil workforce (136). The vast majority of copies went to the British in India, with markedly fewer subscriptions among the Bengali community. With regard to content and tone, the Bengal Hurkaru was known as a liberal newspaper and advocate of free discussion of education and other social issues, especially under the proprietorship of Samuel Smith in 1821. In the course of its publication history, the Bengal Hurkaru absorbed other periodicals in Calcutta, such as the Scotsman in the East in 1825 and the Bengal Chronicle in December 1827. Following its merger with the latter, the newspaper’s title became the Bengal Hurkaru and Chronicle, which subsequently merged in 1834 with Dwarkanath Tagore’s India Gazette. In its final issue in December 1866, the following statement proclaimed the end of its run: “We hope that the announcement will cause as much regret to our readers and the Public as it does to ourselves, that with this issue, the Hurkaru, which first solicited public favor on the 19th February 1795, will disappear from the rolls of the Indian Press.”
Contributor: Greenway, Joseph
References: Mrinal Kanti Chanda, History of the English Press in Bengal, volumes 1 and 2 (Calcutta: K.P. Bagchi, 1987‒2008). | P. Thankappan Nair, A History of the Calcutta Press: The Beginnings (Calcutta: Firma KLM, 1987).
Place: Central and South Asia; Bangladesh; Central and South Asia; India; West Bengal
Institution: Library of Congress
Physical description: 4 pages ; 47-62 centimeters