Bal Gangadhar Tilak (October 2007)

Tilak was born in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, into a middle class family. He was one of the first and strongest proponents for Swaraj (complete independence) in Indian consciousness, and is considered the father of “Hindu Nationalism”. He was a multifaceted personality He was a national leader, social reformer, freedom fighter and a scholar of Indian history, Sanskrit, Hinduism, Mathematics, Law & Astronomy.

His famous quote, “Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it!” is well remembered in India even today. He was addressed as Lokmanya (beloved of the people).

Contributions:

  1. Tilak proposed various social reforms, such as a minimum age for marriage, and was especially keen to see a prohibition placed on the sale of alcohol. His thoughts on education and Indian political life have remained highly influential – he was the first Congress leader to suggest that Hindi, written in the devanagari script, should be accepted as the sole national language of India, a policy that was later strongly endorsed by Mahatma Gandhi.
  2. Tilak founded the Marathi daily Kesari in 1880. In just two years ‘Kesari’ attracted more readers than any language newspapers in India. The editorials gave a vivid picture of the people’s sufferings and of actual happenings. They called upon every Indian to fight for his right.
  3. In 1893, Lokmanya Tilak reshaped the annual Ganesh festival from private family celebrations into a grand public event.  He did so “to bridge the gap” between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins.
  4. His call for boycott of foreign goods served to inspire patriotism among Indian masses

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