Bal Gangadhar Tilak was an Indian social reformer and freedom activist. He was one of the prime architects of modern India and probably the strongest advocates of Swaraj or Self Rule for India. His famous declaration “Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it” served as an inspiration for future revolutionaries during India’s struggle for freedom. The British Government termed him as the “Father of Indian Unrest” and his followers bequeathed upon him the title of ‘Lokmanya’ meaning he who is revered by the people. Tilak was a brilliant politician as well as a profound scholar who believed that independence is the foremost necessity for the well being of a nation.
I bow to Lokmanya Tilak on his Jayanti. He ignited the spark of patriotism among countless Indians. He successfully mobilised people from all sections of society and deepened the connect between our citizens and India’s glorious past. Lokmanya Tilak also emphasised on education.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 23, 2018
Tilak and All India Home Rule League
Tilak returned to India in 1915 when the political situation was fast changing under the shadow of the World War I. There was an unprecedented celebration after Tilak was released. He then returned to politics with a mellowed down outlook. Deciding to reunite with his fellow nationalists, Tilak founded the All India Home Rule League in 1916 with Joseph Baptista, Annie Besant and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. By April 1916, the league had 1400 members that increased to 32,000 by 1917.
He rejoined the Indian National Congress but could not bring about reconciliation between the two opposite-minded factions.
Towards his nationalistic goals, Bal Gangadhar Tilak published two newspapers -‘Mahratta’ (English) and ‘Kesari’ (Marathi). Both the newspapers stressed making the Indians aware of the glorious past and encouraged the masses to be self-reliant. In other words, the newspaper actively propagated the cause of national freedom.
In 1896, when the entire nation was gripped by the famine and plague, the British government declared that there was no cause for anxiety. The government also rejected the need to start a ‘Famine Relief Fund’. The attitude of the government was severely criticized by both the newspapers. Tilak fearlessly published reports about the havoc caused by famine and plague and the government’s utter irresponsibility and indifference.
Homage to Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak on his birth anniversary. pic.twitter.com/dbHbZKlTCs
— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) July 23, 2018
After completing his education, Tilak spurned the lucrative offers of government service and decided to devote himself to the larger cause of national awakening. He was a great reformer and throughout his life, he advocated the cause of women education and women empowerment. Tilak educated all of his daughters and did not marry them till they were over 16. Tilak proposed Grand celebrations on ‘Ganesh Chaturthi’ and ‘Shivaji Jayanti’. He envisioned these celebrations inciting a sense of unity and inspiring nationalist sentiment among Indians. It is a sheer tragedy that for his allegiance towards extremism, Tilak and his contribution were not given the recognition, he actually deserved.
We remember Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He was part of the Lal-Bal-Pal triumvirate who represented conservative thought in the Congress Party. He is also famous for the slogan:
Swarajya is my birthright and I shall have it! pic.twitter.com/3eG6VhedR4
— Congress (@INCIndia) July 23, 2018
Although Tilak nurtured strong Nationalist sentiments, he was a social conservative. He was a devout Hindu and spent a lot of his time writing religious and philosophical pieces based on Hindu Scriptures. He was one of the most popular influencers of his time, a great orator and strong leader who inspired millions to his cause. Today, Ganesh Chaturthi, started by Tilak, is considered as the prime festival in Maharastra and adjacent states. Tilak has featured in a number of biographies for being an iconic figure of Indian Freedom Struggle. The Marathi newspaper started by Tilak is still in circulation although now it is a daily instead of a weekly during Tilak’s time.
Remembering Shri Bal Gangadhar Tilak fondly known as 'Lokmanya Tilak' who was one of the strongest advocates of Swaraj for India, on his birth anniversary. His words "Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it!" continue to inspire us. pic.twitter.com/jIVw0bykaX
— Suresh Prabhu (@sureshpprabhu) July 23, 2018