Gopal Krishna Gokhale

Gopal Krishna Gokhale
The Gem of Maharashtra

He has been aptly called by Lokmanya Tilak, his lifelong rival, "The diamond of India, the gem of Maharashtra. " Gokhale was born on 9 May 1886 at Kotluk in Ratnagiri district in the Kolhapur State of Bombay Presedency. He came from a poor Brahmin family.
In 1884, he graduated from Elphinstone College, Bombay. Gokhale’s brother wanted him to go to England and compete for the ICS, but he chose the humbler profession of teaching. Later he came under the influence of Justice Ranade, and under his expert guidance studied Indian Economics.

In 1900, he was elected a member of the Bombay Legislative Council, where he worked along with Sir Pherozeshah Mehta. In 1902, he was nominated to the Viceroy’s Council, where his budget speeches were well known for financial criticism.

He was elected the president of the National Congress at Benares in 1905. His presidential speech is considered one of the best ever delivered on the Congress platform. Gokhale was a champion of the interests of Indians abroad. He supported their agitation in South Africa against the humiliating restraints imposed upon them. This interest in the South African problem brought him into close contact with Gandhi. He supported Gandhi’s passive resistance campaign.

He played a significant role in India’s freedom movement For years he stood forth, in the eyes of both the Indian Government and the British, as the most representative Indian. He never merely criticised the government when he dealt with its shortcomings, as some of his contemporaries did. He was, in a larger sense, a reconciler between Western and Eastern culture. Gandhi affirmed Gokhale as his political guru.

(Famous Indians of the 20th Century, Vishwamitra Sharma, Pg. 47)

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