Note: The name of the newspaper has been commonly transliterated from Malayalam into English as Swadeshabhimani. However, the newspaper itself used the English spelling Svadesabhimani – as shown by the photo – and we have preferred to use its original name.
Beginning with the editorials, the available editions of the Svadesabhimani will be digitized in stages by the Vakkom Moulavi Foundation Trust. These editions of the newspaper were gifted to the Vakkom Moulavi Foundation Trust
by the Jawaharlal Nehru University
. The digitization work is supported by many volunteers. The collection is believed to be of interest to researchers of history and media, as well as the public. The newspaper editorials and articles will be eventually translated into English to reach a broader public.
About the Newspaper
Svadesabhimani was a Malayalam language newspaper founded by the social reformer, intellectual, writer and journalist, Vakkom Muhammad Abdul Khader Moulavi (1873-1932) in the princely state of Travancore in 1905, January 19. The newspaper is hailed as a trailblazer which upheld the rights of common citizens against the autocratic royal government and occupies an important place in the political and social development of the people of Kerala. Due to its trenchant criticism of the misdoings of the administration. Svadesabhimani was banned on September 26, 1910 by a royal proclamation. The press was confiscated and its then editor, K. Ramakrishna Pillai, was arrested and deported from Travancore. The newspaper became both a model and an inspiration for journalists committed to the cause of democracy and social justice. It also offers a window into a crucial period of history, characterized by momentous changes in Indian society, the Muslim world and world politics.
The newspaper served to inform the population of Travancore about local, national and international issues. It focused in particular on politics and governance in Travancore, reporting on and critically analyzing discussions in the Legislative Council, the political and social reforms of the government and the corruption and nepotism of the administration. It highlighted the problems relating to the Muslim community in relation to education and social affairs and reported on social issues facing other communities as well. It also brought to its readership news about important political developments in the rest of India (under British rule as well as in the other princely states) and significant events in the Islamic world.
The newspaper bore the imprint of the ideas, ideals and vision of Vakkom Moulavi, who at the age of 31 was its owner, publisher and managing editor. He believed that no upliftment of society was possible without enlightening the people and the means he adopted to realize his vision was journalism. The first issue of Svadesabhimani appeared with the following announcement:
“Our main objective is to ensure the welfare of the people through the work of 'Svadesabhimani'. We will strive our best to achieve this goal. We will not conceal public grievances for fear of any calamity that may befall us. For certain. " (translated from Malayalam)
The newspaper adopted this credo in its reporting and editorials, Chirayinkeezhu C. P. Govinda Pillai became the first editor of the paper and served only for an year. In 1906, K. Ramakrishna Pillai succeeded as the second editor of Svadesabhimani. Through its pages, Ramakrishna Pillai relentlessly exposed the mistakes and misrule of the king, Diwan and the royal servants. Both the editor nor Vakkom Moulavi, the owner and publisher of the paper, refused to submit to the threats and warnings of the government to desist from criticizing the government, preferring to bear the personal consequences of confiscation of the press and exile of the editor.