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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- His call for boycott of foreign goods served to inspire patriotism among Indian masses