History and growth of PR in India

History and growth of PR in India

Public Relations is a profession that focuses on creating and maintaining a favourable image of an individual, company, or organization to influence public opinion. One of the first instances of PR was back in 1841 when Henry Fielding wrote "The True Patriot" for his campaign for Parliament. This was one of the first examples where someone used PR as a way to get elected.

In India, Mahatma Gandhi is known as a great mass communicator through his strong build of character, rational and logical thinking and ability to rouse emotions and desirable sentiments among the people. Gandhiji considered journalism a by-product of his activities, and the newspaper was a vehicle for him to propagate his views. In 1942, the Quit India Movement was the moment of strengthening the communication system of Mahatma Gandhi. In 1942, the DPR was taken out from the Defence Dept, and in 1945 its focus shifted from war information to welfare information.

Notable dates in the history of Public Relations:

  • In 1776, William Bolt started the publication of a newspaper to keep English people informed about England. In 1780, James Augustus Hickey started Bengal Gazette,  advocating freedom of expression.
  • In 1781, six newspapers from Bengal, including Madras Courier and Bombay Herald.
  • In 1799, the Govt issued press regulations, making it necessary to publish the editor's names, printers and publishers.
  • In 1800, Serampore Missionaries published Samachar Darpan and Miratool Akhbar to propagate social reforms. In 1822, Bombay Samachar, a Gujrati newspaper for business and politics established.
  • In 1830, Mombai Vartaman, a vernacular paper and in 1831-- another vernacular Jan-e-Jamshed, came up.
  • In 1839, the Bengali press published nine newspapers and the  British 26 papers, out of them six dailies.
  • In 1850, Bombay Darpan began publication.
  • In 1857, the British crown took over from East India Company and issued the Gagging Act, curbing press freedom. In 1876, the Vernacular Press Act was passed.
  • In 1885, the inaugural meeting of INC was held in Mumbai, which was ignored by the British Press. Tilak's Kesari gave comprehensive coverage.
  • In 1892, the TOI, the Pioneer, the Madras Mail and Amrit Bazar  Patrika started publication.
  • In 1900, Indian Review, by G A Natesan, came up. In 1909, Fauji Akhbar, a weekly journal, was started by the  Indian Army to insulate army personnel from political movements in Urdu from Allahabad.
  • In 1910, the Indian Press Act was passed. Champions of freedom of the press like Sri Aurobindo Ghosh of Bande Mataram, B B  Upadhyay of Sandhya and B N Dutt of Jugantar were prosecuted. In 1911-14, the Govt banned 50 works in English, 114 in  Marathi, 52 in Urdu and 51 in Bengali.
  • In 1911, the Delhi Durbar was held. India's capital shifted from  Calcutta to Delhi, and public information was floated about the new capital.
  • In 1913, the Bombay Chronicle, the mouthpiece of the freedom struggle established.
  • From 1914-18, during the 1st World War, Publicity Boards for war-related publicity and to maintain press relations were set up. In 1915, Mahatma Gandhi returned from South Africa. In 1918, the Central Publicity Bureau was set up in Simla.
  • In 1919, the Central Bureau of Information, now PIB, was set up.
  • The Swaraj Party by C R Das, Vallabh Bhai Patel and Motilal  Nehru launched its own publications, Banglar Katha, Swadesh  Mithram in the South and Hindustan Times and Pratap in the  North came into existence.
  • In 1923, the English edition of Fauji Akhbar came into existence.
  • In 1930, the Railways Commercial Publicity Bureau started to attract tourists.
  • In 1935, the GOI Act passed and marked the beginning of Mahatma Gandhi's civil disobedience movement. Indian Press ordinance was also promulgated.
  • In 1936, the Bureau of Public Information, with PIO as its head, was set up.
  • In 1939-45, the 2nd World War began.
  • In 1939, the Directorate of Information and Broadcasting was created. The Bureau of Public Information and AIR came under it.
  • In 1940, the Public Relations Directorate, India Command, was set up to build bridges between armed forces, Indian media and the public.
  • In 1941, a full-fledged Dept of Information and Broadcasting came into being with a Secretary as its head. An Information member has been added to the Viceroy's Executive Council. It also marked the creation of Inter-Services Publicity for  Defence Publicity.
  • The appointment of a PRO in Washington to promote trade marked the beginning of recognition of the concept of PR for the first time.
  • House of Tata's PR Division in Bombay was the first such initiative in the Private Sector.

Post- Independence period:

  1. The year 1947 marks the start of the age of PR. It saw the creation of the Ministry of I&B.
  2. In 1948, Lok Sampark, the first book in Hindi on PR by Mr  Rajindra, was published.
  3. In 1950, the Constitution came into force with fundamental rights.
  4. In 1951-55, the 1st Five-year Plan and Plan publicity was launched, later becoming the Directorate of Field  Publicity.
  5. In 1953, Fauji Akhbar was re-christened as Sainik Samachar. In1956, the nationalisation of General Insurance Companies took place, and the Public Sector PR came into existence. In 1958, the PRSI was established.
  6. The 1960s witnessed the growth of PR in business Houses. In 1962 during the Chinese attack, defence publicity was launched to gather public support.
  7. In 1965, during the 1st Indo-Pak War, the PM coined the Jai Jawan Jai Kisan slogan.

Public Relations Society Of India:

  1. In 1966, the PRSI was registered under the Indian Societies Act with Bombay as its headquarters and Mr Kali H Mody as the founder President. The Public Relations Society of India was established in 1958 by a team of professionals with a  vision to promote the recognition of public relations as a  profession.
  2. In 1968 the 1st PR conference was held in Delhi with the theme  ' Professional Approach. The Code of  Ethics was adopted at this conference, and the 21st of April was considered PR  Day.
  3. In 1969, the Bank nationalisation move gave momentum to PR. During the 1970s, PR initiatives became active in Pvt. Sector and in the Public sector.
  4. During the 1980s, a proliferation of economic media and financial PR  came into existence.
  5. In 1982, the World PR conference was held in Mumbai with the theme 'The inter-dependent World".
  6. In 1987 on the 21st of April, 1st PR Day was observed. In 1989, the 1st UGC professor in PR was appointed.
  7. The 90s saw the emergence of PR agencies with the pronouncement of the New Industrial Policy in 1992. Introduction of Bachelor of PR in B R Ambedkar Univ., H'bad. In 1993, the 1st UGC seminar on PR Education and Training was held.
  8. In 1997, PR Voice, the 1st professional journal, was published in  H'bad.
  9. In 1998, the 1st Asia-Pacific PR Meet & the 20th PR  Conference was held in Kolkata with the theme.'
  10. In 2007, the DPR Defence's PR effort to World Military Games. The transition of Photo Div from Analogue to Digital format. The opening up of the Indian economy, and consequent economic liberalisation, opened myriad choices for the consumer, with an increase in the forces of competition within the Indian industry. The Corporate Sector began to realise that they have to interact not only with the media but also with an extended public in the form of customers, shareholders, suppliers, banks, financial institutions, overseas buyers, employees, local authorities, and the members of the community. The need for professional PR  Practitioners was felt.

The change in the media scene: With the rise in mass media and Internet, territorial boundaries have disappeared, and a  communication explosion with all kinds of information, social,  cultural, political, economic, etc., has become accessible to people. In India, reaching out to the vast population in India is a big challenge. The former PM, Indira Gandhi, had very aptly described the role of PR in the present-day world. She said that economic operations are increasingly specialised, and contemporary living is compelling people to be lonely crowds, with the declining hold of religion, family ties and civic obligations. But on the other hand, mass media create mass societies, creating stereotyped images, urges and aspirations. PR can mediate between the individual and the group in such a situation. At one level, they deal with stereotypes, but at the more imaginative level, they humanise institutions.

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