Mahatma Gandhi said, Gopal Krishna Gokhale was his political Guru and a true servant of India. Gokhale’s motto was to spiritualize the public life. His noble dream was the Servants of India Society, which he founded.
Gokhale was a professor and then principal of the Ferguson College, pune. He was a great liberal, parliamentarian and president of the Indian National Congress.
His mentor, Justice M.G. Ranade started the Sarvajanik sabha Journal. Gokhale assisted him. Gokhale’s deposition before the Welby Commission the financial condition of India won him accolades. His speeches on the budget in the Central Legislative Council were unique, with thorough statistical analysis. He appealed to the reason. He played a leading role in bringing about Morley-Minto Reform, the beginning of constitutional reforms.
It is noteworthy that this book is being published in the centenary year of return to India form South Africa. Gokhale’s death centenary was on 19 February 2015, while his 150th birth anniversary is next year.
The author has extensively utilized previously unused sources to throw a new light on Gokhale’s personality and achievements, in the context of predominant ideologies and social, economic and political situation that time, Particularly in reference to the famines, revenue policies, wars, partition of Bengal, Muslim League and the split in the Congress at Surat. It would help in dispelling some of the assumptions about various Leaders and Partis, bot British and Indian.
Govind Talwalkar was born in 1925. After graduation he Joined Navabharat, an intellectual magazine, and then Loksatta, a Marathi daily of the Indian express group. In 1962 he was invited by the Times of India group to join the newly the newly launched Marathi daily, Maharashtra Times, of which in 1968 he became the chief editor. He retired in 1996.
His distinguished career has made an indelible mark on Maharashtra. Though impressed by the writing of M.N. Roy, he remained a non-conformist. He is best known for his incisive, analytical and scholarly editorials. He made Maharashtra Time a public and intellectual forum. Political, social and economic problems were discussed. He exposed corruption in many places. Being progressive, he was averse to parochial views and cultural nationalism. He championed the cause of sociale justice, famine stricken people and landless Labourers. He has also contributed to other Marathi and English newspapers and periodicals and continues to do so.
Talwalkar has authored several Marathi books including books on the Transfer of power from Britain to India (3 vol); Rise and fall of Soviet Union (4 vol); World and India; Changes in Eastern Europe; M.G. Ranade; Lokmanya Tilak.
Talwalkar’s awards include the Goenka award, Durga Ratan award etc.
I read Srinivas Sastri’s book My Master Gokhale more than fifty years ago. After a few weeks I came across a copy of the speeches of Gopal Krishna Gokhale, published by Natesan and Co, In the following years I read My Master Gokhale and other books by Sastri as well as speeches of Gokhale several times. I made use of them in my Journalistic writings and for my books.
I decided to write a biography of Gokhale. However, it got postponed for one reason or the other. Meanwhile, several biographical books on Gokhale in Marathi and English had been published. So why this addition?
I thought one more book on Gokhale would be justified, if the story of Gokhale’s life and his career as a moderate leader, whose motto was to spiritualize politics, were written in the context of those Times. Therefore, in addition to books, I made use of the contemporary newspapers and periodicals in Marathi as well as English and also some unpublished material. Some of the sources had not been used before. Moreover, I have also used many of Gokhale’s original articles and nots. There are some biographies of Gokhale. However, in those books very few Marathi sources were used.
I felt that it was necessary to give details about the economic problems and how Gokhale dealt with them in the Central Assembly and in his deposition before the Welby Commission. Gokhale was a great parliamentarian. I have elaborated this in my book.
I have described how the life was in those times and the social, economic and political problems of the than India. I have dealt with in detail the drought and famines; and along with them, revenue policies and tariffs. I have analysed why the East India Company succeeded in defeating the Maratha rulers.
Articles and newsletters in the old newspapers and periodicals had reflected the mood of the period, and had discussed the problems of the day in all their aspects. They would, I hope, I help in dispelling some of the assumptions about various leaders and parties, both British and Indian. It is interesting to see a newspaper like ‘The Times’ holding the view that Indian was conquered by the sword and had to be governed by the sword, while at the same time vehemently opposing the Tory government for giving concession to the Manchester mill owners at expense of India.
While Gladstone, a liberal, had no compunction in making India pay for the military expeditions Egypt and elsewhere, which was totally unjustified, the Viceroy, Lord Ripon opposed such imposition. Lord Morley, a liberal disciple of Gladstone, contrary to his image, acted no better than a Tory.
I was able to throw light on all this, perusing the contemporary writings in the newspapers and also the correspondence of the persons concerned.
Though Gokhale played a role in all-India politics, he had to function in Maharashtra and in the Bombay presidency. I have described how Gokhale faced the local problems and his political rivals. The Congress then was divided into the radical and the liberal group. Their differences came to a boiling point at the Surat session and the Congress split. There is more material about this struggle and about the partition of Bengal in my book.
Gokhale’s contribution to Ferguson College as professor and the principal was unique. The Servants of Society was a noble dream of Gokhale; and this organization made its mark and received praise from Indians as well as foreigners. I could use the previously unused sources to discuss this.
Gokhale played a leading role in bringing about the Morley-Minto reforms. But at the same time, Muslim League tried hard to get separate electorates for Muslims. I have analyzed this role of the Muslim League more.
Because of the Servants of India Society and its Gokhale Library in pune, I could get Gokhale Digest and also a file of Gokhale’s articles in Sudharak, the English section of which he was the editor. Gokhale’s correspondence shows how the Indian National Congress was never a disciplined organization. In the first decade it became dormant, and in the second, it split. Inflated egos of some leaders also hampered the growth of the organization.
I must thank Dadabhai Naoroji Trust for giving me the Dadabhai papers.
While preparing to write this book, my wife and I were living in Houston, Texas with our daughters. I could make use of the generously endowed library of the Rice University and also the public library and the inter-library loan services. Thus, I got the old files of the British newspapers and periodicals. The library staff was very helpful.
I think the extracts from these newspapers and periodicals are a distinct feature of my book on Gokhale and they provide the contemporary background.
My book first appeared in Marathi in 2003 under the title, Nek Namdar Gokhale. Mouj prakashan, Mumbai will be bringing out the second edition of the book in Marathi this year to commemorate Gokhale’s death centenary. The English edition was published in the centenary year of the Servants of India Society in 2005 under the title, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, His Life and Times. Some of the material from that is taken in this new book.
Gokhale was the first to call for the spiritualization of politics, which attracted Gandhiji, who used to call Gokhale a “Mahatma”.
This year and the next year are important landmarks to commemorate and pay tribute to Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Mahtma Gandhi regarded Gokhale as his political guru. 9 January 2015 marked the centenary of Gandghi’s return to India from South Africa for good. Gokhale’s death centenary was on 19 February 2015 His 15th birth anniversary is on 9 May 2016. I revised my earlier book on Gokhale in English and made some changes. I thought it would be a timely homage to celebrate and honour his contributions. I am glad that the new edition of my book, under the title Gopal Krishna Gokhale: Gandhi’s political Guru, is being published in this landmark year.
I would like to thank Mr. Rajan Arya, CEO of the pentagon press for publishing this new edition. Ialso thank Mr. Virender Negi and the other staff members of the pentagon press, who helped with the publication of my book.
My publisher friend Mr. Ashok Kothawale of the Majestic Prakashan, Mumbai has provided some of the photographs, for which I am grateful to him. I am also thankful to Gokhale Institute, Pune and Mr. Gopalkrishnan of dutchkerala.con for some photographs.
My daughters Sushama and Dr. Nirupama helped me getting the reference material, compiling bibliography, going through the manuscript and making necessary correction, as well as looking after all the technicalities.
My wife shakuntala gave me constant encouragement for this book, as with my other books over the years. She deserves my heartfelt thanks. She was keen to see the new edition of my book on Gokhale. Sadly, she passed away on 2 August 2014. So she is not here to participate in the happy occasion. We miss her.
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