Gopal Krishna Gokhale BioGraphy, FreedomFighters

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Date of Birth : May 9, 1866
Date of Death : 1915
Place of Birth : Maharashtra

Gopal Krishna Gokhale was born on May 9, 1866, in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, and he became one of the most learned men in India, a leader of social and political reformists and one of the earliest, founding leaders of the Indian Independence Movement. Gokhale was a senior leader of the Indian National Congress and the Servants of India Society. The latter was committed to only social reform, but the Congress Party in Gokhale's time was the main vehicle for Indian political representation. Gokhale was a great, early Indian champion for public education. Being one of the first generations of Indians to receive college education, Gokhale was respected widely in the nascent Indian intellecutal community and acoss India, whose people looked up to him as the least elitist of educated Indians. Coming from a background of poverty, Gokhale was a real man of the people, a hero to young Indians discovering the new age and the prospects of the coming 20th century; he worked amongst common Indians to encourage education, sanitation and public development. He actively spoke against ignorance, casteism and untouchability in Indian society. Gokhale was also reputed for working for trust and friendship between Hindu and Muslim communities. It should be remembered that Gokhale was a pioneer in this work, never done before in Indian history by Indians. Along with distinguished colleagues like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Dadabhai Naoroji, Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai and Annie Besant, Gokhale fought for decades to obtain greater political representation and power over public affairs for common Indians. He was moderate in his views and attitudes, and sought to petition the British authorities, cultivate a process of dialogue and discussion which would yield greater British respect for Indian rights. In 1906, he and Tilak were the respective leaders of the moderates and extremists (now known by the more politically correct term,'aggressive nationalists') in the Congress. Tilak advocated civil agitation and direct revolution to overthrow the British Empire, and the Congress Party split into two wings. The two sides would patch up in 1916. Gokhale did not support explicit Indian independence, for such an idea was not even understood or expressed until after the World War I.

Gopal Krishna Gokhale's biggest contribution to India was as a teacher, nurturer of a whole new generation of leaders conscious to their responsibilities to a wider nation. Gokhale was famously a mentor to a young barrister who had been blooded in the work of revolution in South Africa a few years earlier. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi received great warmth and hospitality from Gokhale, including personal guidance, knowledge and understanding of India, the issues of common Indians and Indian politics. By 1920, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi would become known as Mahatma Gandhi, and ad the leader of nationalist Indians and the largest non-violent revolution in the history of the world. However, Gokhale himself died in 1915. In his autobiography, Gandhi calls Gokhale his mentor and guide, while Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the future founder of Pakistan, in 1912 wanted to become the "Muslim Gokhale," "Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity."

n 1905 Gokhale founded the Servants of India Society with the object of training men to devote themselves to the service of India as national missionaries and to promote by all constitutional means the national interests of the Indian people. In 1908 he founded the Ranade Institute of Economics.

He was a front rank Reformer; he deprecated the caste-system and untouchability, pleaded for the emancipation of women and championed the cause of female education. In Gokhale's opinion, the introduction of Western education in India, with its liberalising influence, was a great blessing to the people. He was a firm believer in the theory that mass education was a prerequisite to national political consciousness. He advocated that primary education should be free in all schools throughout India at once.

As for Gokhale's ideas on nationalism and the conduct of the nationalist movement. he sought greater autonomy for Indians who would cooperate with the Government in reforms and obtain through constitutional means and by persuasion and advance over the reforms granted until, finally, India became a self-governing Dominion within the British Commonwealth of Nations. While appreciating the benefits of British rule in general, he never failed to criticize unjust policies and high-handed actions of the Government.

In his opinion, the economic results of British rule in India were absolutely disastrous, resulting in frightful poverty. According to him, the greatest need of the hour in India was industrial education. In agriculture, he pleaded that old methods should be changed as much as possible. There was a crying need to introduce agricultural science and improved agricultural implements. Regarding the textile industry, Gokhale acknowledged that the handloom was doing good work and had some future before it, yet the main work would have to be done by machinery. He made extensive use of the public platform for communicating his ideas on social, economic and political reform. Some of his memorable speeches were made in the Imperial Legislative Council, specially on the Annual Budgets from 1902 to 1908.

Gokhale paid frequent visit to England His first visit (1897) was in connection with the Welby Commission. His evidence was noted for his analysis of the leading facts in the history of Indian Finance, his examination of the constitution and expenditure of the Indian Army and his emphasis on the subordination of the interests of the taxpayers to those of the European services and the exclusion of Indians from the higher branches of public service.

Among the early figures in the Indian National Congress Gokhale's position was very high. He was feared by the Government and respected by the people. In politics he belonged to the moderate group opposed to the extremist school led by Tilak. He, however, placed equal emphasis on social reform as on political progress. For nearly three decades Gokhale dedicated his rare qualities to the exclusive service of his country and his people in a way which few could lay claim to.

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