Gopal Krishna Gokhale

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    The Prime Minister of India has paid tribute to great freedom fighter Gopal Krishna Gokhale on his Jayanti.

    About Gopal Krishna Gokhale 

    • Born on May 9, 1866, in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra (then Bombay Presidency) in a Brahmin family.
    • He  was one of the founding leaders of the Indian national movement.
    • He was an immensely wise liberal nationalist, made outstanding contributions towards social empowerment. 
    • He represented the category of highly-educated Indians.

     

    Image courtesy:News 18

    Contributions 

    As a political and social reformer

    • Gokhale founded the Servants of India Society(SIS) in Maharashtra’s Pune on June 12, 1905.
    •  The SIS launched campaigns for the promotion of education, health care and sanitation.
    •  It also made efforts to eradicate social evils such as untouchability and oppression of women.
    •  It is noteworthy that Gokhle was one of the first big political leaders who raised the demand for free primary public education.
    • He actively participating in budget debates when he was a member of the Imperial Legislative Council.
    • His name is associated with an internationally-renowned economics institute –  Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune. 
      • The institute was founded by Gokhale’s Servants of India Society in 1930, and it works with the mission to “provide education in all fields of economics with the singular purpose of contributing its might to enhance economic betterment and social welfare”.
    • He started english weekly newspaper, The Hitavada (The people’s paper).

    Positions in colonial legislatures

    • He  is best remembered for his extensive work in colonial legislatures. Between 1899 and 1902, he was a member of the Bombay Legislative Council followed by a stint at the Imperial Legislative Council from 1902 till his death.
    • At Bombay, he  opposed the British government’s onerous land revenue policies and  asked for the creation of equal opportunities to fight against untouchability.
    • At the Imperial legislature, Gokhale played a key role in framing the Morley-Minto reforms of 1909 and advocated for the expansion of legislative councils at both the Centre and the provinces.
    • A critic of British imperial bureaucracy, Gokhale favoured decentralisation and the promotion of panchayat and taluka bodies.
    • He also spoke for the Indian diaspora living in other parts of the British Empire and opposed tooth and nail the indentured labour system, raising their problems in the Imperial legislature as well as at Congress sessions.

    Work in the Congress

    • He was associated with the Moderate Group of Indian National Congress (joined in 1889).
    • He  became Congress president at its Banaras session in 1905.
    • This was also the time when bitter differences had arisen between his group of ‘Moderates’ and the ‘Extremists’ led by Lala Lajpat Rai and Bal Gangadhar Tilak among others. 
      • Matters came to a head when the two factions split at the Surat session of 1907.
    • Historians note that despite ideological differences, Gokhale maintained cordial relations with his opponents.
      •  In 1907, he fervently campaigned for the release of Lala Lajpat Rai, who was imprisoned that year by the British at Mandalay in present-day Myanmar.

    As a mentor 

    • He was a mentor to both Mahatma Gandhi and Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
    • Gandhi Ji, in his autobiography, described Gokhale as “pure as crystal, gentle as a lamb, brave as a lion and chivalrous to a fault and the most perfect man in the political field.” 
    • Similarly, Jinnah was so inspired by Gokhle that his aspiration, during the early years of his political life, was to become a “Muslim Gokhle”.

    Source :TH