There are evidences to prove that in ancient India, the public relations techniques of communication were instinctively used. There were ancient rulers who used to inform people with an objective to motivate them or to propagate their policies and principles. Emperor Ashoka’s edicts inscribed on rocks which have survived till date are the best examples of the public relations. The edicts informed the people of the policies of the government, and exhorted them to carry out certain tasks. Rulers in ancient India also had their officials to spread their message to their subjects.
The Philanthropic Stage: In India, community relations and good employee relations have been practiced by some businesses much before professional public relations arrived on the scene.
Jamshedji Tata, founder of the Tata Iron and Steel Company, adopted a number of measures with great foresight that reflected his spirit of service to the community. He is one of the pioneers of Indian industrialization. When he planned to set up a plant, his idea was not limited to the construction of a factory. He had a vision of a township that would be full of shady avenues where the workmen employed in the factory could live in a serene and healthy atmosphere. He died before his vision could be translated into reality, but his successors saw to it that this dream was realized. A beautiful township built for the employees with the necessary civic amenities. A number of welfare schemes for the employees were also adopted. A hospital was built, schools were set up and cordial relations with the employees and their families were also established.
This shows that the community relations and good employee relations, key aspects of public relations, were spontaneously practiced by the Tatas much before professional public relations practices arrived on the scene in the country.
Spontaneous Public Relations: The Railways: May be it was due to commercial needs there were public relations efforts in the India Railways in the pre-World War II period. The British companies built the Railways at a considerable cost mainly for the purpose of carrying raw materials from the hinterland to the ports, but later on they realized that without promoting passenger traffic the railways would not be commercially viable. According to records, the GIP Railway in India thus carried on a Public Relations campaign in England in early 1920s to attract tourists to India.
They published pamphlets and carried out an advertising campaign for this purpose. The Publicity Bureau of the railway company also introduced a traveling cinema. Later on publicity officers, with similar functions, were deputed to other railways. The Railway Board established publicity bureaus in London and New York also. Both the bureaus used to advertise extensively in newspapers and journals. These offices also participated in exhibitions held abroad to popularize the Indian Railways, and attract the tourists.
World War I: Government of India’s Publicity and Information: During the World War I, the Government of India set up an organization to feed the press and supply news about the war to the people. The organization was named as Central Publicity Board. Sir Stanley Reed, Editor of The Times of India, Bombay, was appointed as its Director. The. Board had on it representatives from the army and the foreign and political departments of the Government of India.
The Board was dissolved after the war and its functions were taken over by the Central Bureau of Information set up in 1921. Professor Rushbrook Williams from Allahabad was appointed its first Director. In 1923, the Central Bureau was redesignated as the Directorate of Public Instruction. Later, the organization was renamed “The Directorate of Information and Broadcasting”.