Public Relations Department, Assam was established in June 1940 at Shillong, the then Capital of the State. It was named Publicity & Rural Development Department at the time of inception. The main objective behind setting up of the Department was to disseminate war propaganda in the wake of the Second World War and to bolster public morale in support of the Allied Power. Sir Syed Abdullah was then the Prime Minister of Assam (At that time Chief Minister of Assam was called Prime Minister).
The head of Publicity Department was also called Publicity Officer.He had two Asstt. Publicity Officers one for Assam Valley and the other for Surama Valley.The annual budget of the department at that time was Rs 36,000.00 (Rupees thirty six thousand) only.The District of Sreehatta (Sylhet) was also a part of Assam. Surama Valley is now known as Barak Valley excluding Sylhet District. The first Publicity Officer of the department was an officer from Assam Civil Service – Yahia Khan Choudhury. The prime task of the department at that time was to focus on the war related news and informations by way of Press Note, Articles, and Booklets.
The department also brought out a fortnightly Journal in Assamese and Bengali under the tittle ‘Bhavisyat Asom ‘ (The future Assam). The Journal was edited by Krishna Bhuyan (Assamese edition) and Ramesh Chandra Das (Bengali edition). The department had two vehicles – one was a Singer and the other was a Morris. Apart from press release, booklets etc. the department used to give war related news through hand made megaphone made with thin galvanised iron sheet by publicity personal at various important points of Shilong town. The announcements were made in English, Assamese, Khasi, Hindi & Nepali languages.
After Yahia Khan, A.S. Chakrabarty Iyengar became the Publicity Officer of the department. He was also Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, Assam, Sir Syed Mohammod Sadullah. After him, T.T.S Hayley, I.C.S. became the Publicity Officer of the department. During his tenure, the Publicity Department bought two 16 mm Movie Camera ( Kodak and Bell & Howell ). The department also bought still cameras like Rollicard, Rolliflex, Leanhoff and also film projectors, microphone, loud speaker, battery and other equipments. A dark room for developing and printing of photograph was also set up at Head Quarter office.
During war period, a separate wing named as Song & Publicity Organization was created in the department with Kriti Nath Sarma Bordoloi, renowned lyricist and musician as head of the wing. The wing composed songs in Assamese, Bengali and Khasi languages and also produced Gramophone Records of the same. These records were played through loudspeaker of the department.
After India attained independence, the responsibility, stature and importance of the Directorate increased manifold. The department used to send regularly two fortnightly reports regarding 1) Indo-Pak Relations and 2) Public opinion to the Chief Minister. For these purpose the department had also to procure and scan two daily newspaper of Pakistan namely – The Dawn and The Pakistan Times regularly. For compiling public opinion reports / comments from the editorials of different newspapers were gathered. The informations compiled and submitted by the Publicity Department acted as the basis for the Assam Chief Minister for preparing his reports to be sent to the Prime Minister of India.
During the tenure of T.T.S. Hayley, the department was reorganised and concrete shape was given to it. He installed intercom telephone system in the department which was not available to any other government department at that time.
After Hayley, Captain Dowse, Major Rigby, M. H. Hussian, I.C.S, S. C. Bhattacharjee, B.C. Kapur I.A.S, A.N. Kidwai I.C.S. took over as Director of the Department in succession.
Later on during the tenure of Directorship of I.P. Choudhury, separate wings such as Exhibition, Cultural and Film Division were created in the department. These divisions were headed by Kula Das and Rudra Baruah. The onus of putting up Tableau and presentation of folk Dances in the Republic Day parade in New Delhi from Assam was borne by this department every year at that time and the Directorate was able to bag prizes and carry honour and prestige to Assam several times.
The Directorate is honoured to have the distinguished services of eminent writers like Medini Mohan Choudhury, Jyoti Prasad Saikia, Dhirendra Nath Chakravartty, Rama Bezbarua and Prominent artists like Jugal Das, Nip Barua, Benu Mishra and Nipan Goswami in various capacities.
In November 1997, the Government of Assam vide Notification No.AR31/ 97/2 Dated 1.11.97 created a new Department namely "Information &Public Relations Department" by bifurcating the existing Home Department and the new I&PR Department was made the Administrative Department for Directorate of Information & Public Relations . Consequent upon creation of the new Department, the Government of Assam vide Notification No., AR31/97/6 Dtd. 28.4.1998 also upgraded the Directorate of Information & Public Relations from a Level-II Directorate to a Level- I Directorate.