In the mid-16th century printing press was introduced to India by the Portuguese missionaries. Towards the end of 18th century, a number of newspapers and journals were printed. Gangadhar Bhattacharya’s Bengal Gazette was the first newspaper to be started by an Indian. Print and newspapers became a useful medium to convey views.
Later, several religious texts were published in portable form which increased the readership of these texts. Growing reading culture resulted in people wanting to read novels, stories, poems and social and political issues.
When visuals also became a part of the print culture painters like Raja Ravi Varma provided their artwork for circulation. Caricatures and cartoons were also published which depicted the social and political issues of the society.
Women became an important part of the print culture. Several women writers wrote passionately about women’s lives and their emotions. These included Kailashbashini Debi, Tarabai Shinde, Pandita Ramabai.
Reading and print culture spread rapidly in India. Battala, a place in Calcutta was devoted entirely to the printing of popular books. Public libraries were established in towns, cities and a few prosperous villages making books more accessible. Jyotiba Phule, wrote about the injustices of the caste system in his book Gulamgiri. The millworkers of Bangalore cotton also set up libraries to educate themselves.