Information and the Public Sphere

Persian Newsletters from Mughal Delhi
Pernau, Margrit
Jaffrey, Yunus
Date published: 
September 2008

Through a study of three nineteenth century akhbarat (handwritten Persian newsletters) this volume seeks to analyse the creation of knowledge and of the public sphere during the years of interface between the British and the Mughal culture. Since the time of the Mughal emperor Akbar a system had evolved to guarantee the flow of information from the centre to the peripheries and vice versa and between different centres. These newsletters written on bi-weekly basis by newswriters appointed by the rulers are well-known for the period between 16th and 18th centuries. This same system for collection and reporting of news in manuscript form continued to exist and even flourish in North India right until the uprising of 1857. Rich in details of the social and cultural life of the subcontinent, these reports provide significant material for historical research but have been largely inaccessible to the non-Persian speaking audience. An incisive introduction provides a useful summary of the changing values in the context of the tension between tradition and modernity.