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When it began publication almost 120 years ago, the Madras Christian College Magazine was the only monthly publication of high scholarship and broad interest in South India. Founded by Rev. Dr. William Miller, its aim was to be a voice of free thinking, and to provide stimulation, enlightenment, and direction to the "awakening mind of India." This aim was stated two years before the founding of the Indian National Congress. The mood of the time was one of Indian intellectual ferment, awakening new ideas of nationalism, socio-religious reform movements, and cultural renaissance. The magazine provided a forum for the open expression of all aspects of this intellectual upheaval, maintaining a standard high above sectarian interests.
The magazine aimed to counteract the widely prevalent accusation that Christianity denationalizes Indian Christians. Every issue featured articles about Christianity without the narrow condemning attitude towards Indian religions and culture present in other evangelical literature of the 19th century.
Even more significant was the magazine's emphasis on the development of a "national impulse and aspiration" that could guide the spirit of the social and moral revolution from within, as stated by T.E. Slater in the inaugural issue. The founders believed that such a transformation of Indian life could not be borrowed from the West, and therefore the magazine held as its purpose the exploration and promotion of knowledge about all that was Indian.
The magazine was officially described by the College as a monthly periodical of literature, philosophy, science, and religion. In addition to these subjects, there are regular columns on the College, correspondence, book reviews, science notes, and recent periodical literature containing abstracts of articles in British publications.