Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] Tilak-the Father of Indian Renaissance

The 100th death anniversary of Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak was observed on 1 August 2020.
By IASToppers
August 05, 2020

Contents:

  • Introduction
  • Flagbearer of Atma-Nirbharta
  • Nationalist Activism
  • Assimilating all sects
  • Promoter of Vernacular Education
  • Promoter of Entrepreneurship
  • Conclusion

Tilak-the Father of Indian Renaissance

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Introduction:

Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak played a key role in the making of the Indian Independence movement complete in letter and spirit. Tilak made an unparalleled contribution to the freedom movement, dedicated every moment of his life to the nation and created an ideological generation of revolutionaries.

Flagbearer of Atma-Nirbharta:

  • Tilak gave the clarion call for swaraj and swadeshi which motivated to join the struggle for independence.
  • Swa or self is common in both concepts.
  • Striving for self-dependence was the stepping-stone for Independence in Tilak’s strategy.
  • For him, swa-raj also meant swa-bhasha and swa-bhusha, i.e. mother tongue and indigenous attire.

Nationalist Activism:

  • Tilak belonged to the rare category of philosopher-politician.
  • His ideas of swaraj and swadeshi were anchored in making every Indian conscious of the insults and injustice meted out by the British.
  • He prepared a fertile ground for swaraj through his home-rule movement (1916).
  • The tone and tenor of his demand were straight forward.
  • He is known for his quote: Swarajya is my birthright and I shall have it!
  • Tilak wanted to inculcate both collective thinkings as well as action.
  • For the cultivation of an enlightened mind, he used the media in the form of two newspapers, Kesari and Maratha.
  • He aimed to prepare the ground for political activism through culture, education and media.

Assimilating all sects:

  • He was a strong opponent of untouchability and launched a movement to unite society divided into caste and sects.
  • To connect the people with the freedom movement, Lokmanya Tilak started Shivaji Jayanti and Ganesh Utsav as folk festivals which changed the direction of Independence Movement.
  • The public celebrations were aimed at cultural assimilation of all caste and community groups.
  • He quoted that the foundation of true nationhood is laid on the foundations of our culture and traditions.
  • Any reform which undermines or disrespects our past cannot help in realizing true nationhood.
  • Tilak wanted to inculcate the love for the nation based on pride for Indian culture.
  • In this context, he set up gymnasiums, arenas, anti-cow slaughter institutions.

Promoter of Vernacular Education:

  • Tilak was the first national leader who envisioned the formation of linguistic states.
  • He spoke of how we should form one separate state each for Marathi, Telugu and Kanarese provinces.
  • The guiding principle was that education should be given through the vernacular language.
  • He envisaged national education through the establishment of the Deccan Education Society.

Promoter of Entrepreneurship:

  • The concept of swadeshi for Tilak was not just about boycotting British goods.
  • His larger objective through popular participation was promoting indigenous entrepreneurship and promoting manufacturing in India.
  • Tilak started collecting funds for a corpus, known as Paisa Fund.
  • Through this, he supported Ishwar Das Varshney, an entrepreneur who started Paisa Fund Glass Works at Talegaon near Pune.
  • Tilak and Ratanji Jamshedji Tata came together to open Bombay Swadeshi Co-operative Stores Co. to promote products that were made in India.
  • He inspired Chidambaram Pillai to start the Indian-owned shipping company – Swadeshi Shipping Company in October 1906, at Tuticorin,
  • In publishing his seminal work Geetarahasya, he ensured that the paper used was indigenously manufactured by D Padamji and Sons, a swadeshi paper mill.

Conclusion:

Tilak’s idea of Swaraj was not confined to political freedom but also for cultural and economic independence. Today, when we talk about Atmanirbhar Bharat, the legacy of Tilak is carried forward. Reviving the spirit of economic nationalism for indigenously manufactured goods and striving for social integration through culture are the features of Tilak’s strategy which continues to be relevant even today.

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