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February 27, 2014
Gopal Krishna Gokhale & his contribution to Indian Freedom Struggle
Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915) Best known as "the Political Guru of Gandhi", Gokhale was born in 1866 at Kolhapur in Maharashtra. He graduated from Elphinstone College, Mumbai in 1884. At the young age of 20, he became Professor of History and Economics at the Fergusson College, Poona. For four years he edited the 'Sudharak', a quarterly journal of the Poona Sarvajanik Sabha. In 1904 he was awarded the title of CIE (Companion of the Indian Empire). During his visit to England in 1905, he tried to persuade the British statesmen not to give effect to the Partition of Bengal. He, however, failed in his efforts.
Gokhale's Contribution to the Freedom Struggle:
1. Foremost among the Congress Leaders: Gokhale was one of India's most respected leaders. He presided over the Varanasi Session of the Congress in 1905. He was a man with moderate views and had immense faith in British liberalism. Gokhale urged that "the goal of the Congress should be the attainment of a form of government similar to that which existed in the self-governing colonies of the British empire."
"The field of constitutional agitation was a very wide one... Three things were excluded—rebellion, aiding or abetting a foreign invasion, and resort to crime. ; Roughly speaking, barring these three things, all else was constitutional." —Gokhale
2. His Faith in Constitutional Means to achieve the Goal: Gokhale believed in constitutional agitation, i.e., petitions, appeals to justice and passive resistance. At the same time, he supported the Swadeshi Movement. In his Presidential Address at the Varanasi session, he said, the true Swadeshi Movement is both a patriotic and an economic movement." He made a strong plea for the reform of the Legislative Councils and separation of fudiciary from the executive.
3. Established the Servants of India Society: In 1905 Gokhale established the Servants of India Society. The Society trained men to devote their lives to the cause of the country. Its members were required to create among the people a deep and passionate love of the motherland. The Society assisted educational movements, especially those for the education of women. It worked for the elevation of the depressed classes.
4. Arousal of National Awakening: In 1902 Gokhale had become the Member of the Imperial Legislative Council. In his speeches in the Council, he pleaded for reduction in salt duty and the abolition of excise duty on cotton goods. In 1910 and 1912 he moved resolutions in the
Imperial Legislative Council for relief to Indian bonded labour in Natal. In one of his Budget speeches he pleaded for free primary education for all children. Gokhale would like Indians to be given a large share in Indian Civil Service.
5. His Work Abroad: In a paper which he read at the New Reform Club, London, he said, "India's destiny is to obtain an honoured place among the family of nations."
6. His Economic Ideas: Gokhale was deeply pained to see the increasing misery of the peasantry. He pleaded for the reduction of land revenue. Gokhale was in favour of State protection to infant Indian industries. He called for the employment of members of educated middle class. Gokhale had great reverence for Pherozeshah Mehta. He said, "I would rather be wrong with Pherozeshah than right without him".Gokhale died in 1915 at a premature age of forty-nine.