DU SOL BA 3rd Year History of Social Thought Notes Chapter 24 Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866—1915)
Discuss the social, ideas of Gopal Krishna Gokhale. What type of political and economic organisation did he contemplate for Indian society ?
Gopal Krishna Gokhale was born of the Indian soil at Kolhapur in the now Maharashtra State on 9th May, 1866. This family belonged to the Brahmin community of Chittpavan to which also belonged Lokmanya Tilak.
Liberal ideas. Gopal Krishna Gokhale belonged to the liberal school of thought in India and proved to be a brave son of India daring the English regime. He bore a prominent personality. He was one of the nationalist leader of the period and proved himself to be a respected Indian statesman throughout India and abroad. He possessed great remarkable qualities of head and heart and so he rose to the highest in life. While at Fergusson College, Poona, he met Lokmanya Tilak and Agarkar.
They held discussions over the political subjects about India and on the allied subjects. During those discussions, he avoided Lokmanya Tilak as he was an extremist in political affairs and regarded everything of the past heritage as good and noble in ancient Hindu culture. While on the other hand, Gokhale was a moderate and liberal person for his views and attitudes towards modernity.
Scientific temperament: striking a balance. Gokhale had a mind which was always full of the scientific tendencies and gave a balanced view of Indian and Western cultui es and civilizations. He neither discarded the Western culture and civilization thinking it to be bad nor he praised greatly the Indian culture and heritage to the utmost. About things and matter he held rationalized views after long thinking. Because of these views and opinions held by him. he was at cross-purposes tvith Lokmanya Tilak. Hence he found Agarkar to be a nicer person for company than Lokmanya Tilak. Besides Agarkar was of liberal views.
While at Fergusson College Gokhale had his familiarity with Mahadeo Govind Ranade who- had fame for the philosophy.
Gopal Krishna Gokhale was elected Secretary of the Sarvajanik Sabha at Poona. During those days this Sabha was the only political association of the Maharashtrians. The Sabha took the functions in hand of any kind and even every issue of public importance was taken where it was found to convey some injustice to the people. As a secretary, he had to draft out petitions and requests for all such ail airs under the leadership of Ranade. Gokhale learnt from his preceptor Ranade, the art of keeping cool and expressing his ideas in a persuasive and moderate way. For many years, he performed the work of editor of the journal of the Sarvajanik Sabha.
Editor of Sudharak Magazine. Agarkar started a weekly magazine called ‘Sudharak’ and Gopal Krishna Gokhale contributed articles to it. These articles had their groundings on the necessity of certain urgent social reforms and opposed the opinions imparted by Tilak rendered through the mediums of Kesri and the Maratha papeis in which Tilak opposed the social reforms through law? passed by the English rulers.
At the age of twenty two, he became the member of the Bombay Legislative Council. His speeches in the Legislative Assembly were highly constructive, appealing and convincing. As far as Budget is concerned in the Legislative Council his speech fully depicted remarkable and original ideas.
Difference of opinion with Tilak. Difference of opinion betweer Gokhale and Tilak brought the existence of rival groups of politicians – one headed by Tilak and the other had their leaders as Agarkar and Gokhale. During the Congress Session of Poona in the year of 1895, the difference became quite vital. This caused heated debates among them and both resulted attacks and counterattacks. During the forthcoming year in 1896, the Sarvajanik Sabha was captured by Tilak and his group. Thereby resulted the resignation of Gokhale from the post of secretary of Sarvajanik Sabha.
Writing petition for social reforms. After this Gokhale started the Deccan Sabha as another political association which forwarded and prepared petitions and representations for the redresss of various public grievances. British Government accorded recognition to the Deccan Sabha while Sarvajanik Sabha was ignored for all purposes. With the great personality of Pheroze Shah Mehta he was also influenced greatly. At the age of thirty years, he became the President of the Indian National Congress. In the year of 1904, he was adorned with the title of C.T.E. For several times he visited England during the years 1897, 1905, 1906, 1908, 1912, 1913 and 1914.
At that time the British leaders were greatly influenced by his impressive and pleasing personality. He demonstrated his superior wisdom and scholarship in England daring his every visit. Among the patriots he was counted in the first grade personality. During his first visit to England in the year 1897, he was called to give evidence before Welby Commission which was constituted to look into the sharing of the. financial burdens before India and England and Indian finances. The evidence given by Gokhale proved his statesmanship without a doubt and he proved his profound knowledge of Indian Economics.
He proved before the commission that the expenses done for the upkeep of military in India was highest as compared to any other country. He put forward the question by Indianization of civil services to reduce the overall expenses. In the year of 1905, he was deputed as a delegate to the Commission sent to Britain by the Indian National Congress to represent the case against the separation of Bihar from Bengal.
Besides he was a scholar of History and Economics. He had studied deeply the British Classical Economists. In the year of 1900. he became a member of the Indian Legislative Council and continued as its member till his death.
During his first visit to England, Gokliale received news from India that while Plague spread in Bombay and Poona, Police and Military deputed to separate the patients did act atrociously and tourtured many and even tried to molest women for their chastity. So he informed the British Government of this act. While this was going on two European Officers were killed by the Indians at Poona on account of the resentment. British papers gave this in coloured pictures to punish the murderers.
After receiving the news from India by responsible newsmen, Gokhale told the correspondence of Manchester Guardian that it was due to the resentment caused by the suicide of the two women for molestation by the soldiers. Gokhale’s statement caused great controversy in the British papers. Questions were raised in the Parliament. Bombay Government informed the Home Government about- the concoction of the news as mischievous and malevolent. While Gokhale returned India, he came to know that the news had no ground. Gokhale apologized , the Government of Bombay for his wrong statement. This apology became the question of controversy. Some critics condemned Gokhale for this action. While other responsible and respectable persons of the political field in India praised him for his bold action i and moral courage in admitting his mistake.
What social reforms Gokhale wanted to achieve through servants of India society ? Explain.
During the year of 1905, Gokhale presented as gift to the Indian Nation “The Servants of India Society” which continues for ever. This institution was founded for the training of the public workers pledged to work for the Motherland on a pittance and subject to rules of rigid discipline as well as loyalty to the British ) Empire. In its preamble while constituting the society, Gokhale wrote as follows : “A sufficient number of oar countrymen must now come forward to devote themselves to the cause in the spirit in which religions work is undertaken. Public life must be spiritualized. Love of the country must so fill the heart that all else shall appear as of little moment by its side”.
Originally, this society had four members—Gokhale, Devadhar, Patvardhan and Dravid. As time passed by its membership was enhanced.
The society was established with a wise step and right direction. He was of the opinion that public service or politics required wholetimers. Those people who devoted fully to the public cause, would prove a good politicians. Others devoted to other occupations could not be proving a right type of public men. Anything more, public service required a special acuteness of mind, knowledge and education. Hence those who could not devote full time to the cause of public service, could never be successful politicians. So this society was established to train public who were ready to dedicate their lives for the service of the country with missionary zeal and use constitutional means for Indian interest.
Objects of the Servants of India Society
- To prepare a team of workers with missionary zeal of self-sacrifice and selfless service, who would create among the people by example and precept, a passionate and profound love for the Mother Country.
- To train and educate political workers in the att of careful study of public questions.
- To promote harmony and cordial relations between the different communities living in India.
- To promote industrial development of the country.
- To promote education in general and particularly for the depressed classes. Every member was to take pledge in this way that –
- The interest of the nation shall be paramount in his actions and thoughts.
- No self interest will be involved in the service of the nation.
- All Indians will be regarded as brothers with no differentiation of case, creed, community, race or religion.
- He will be satisfied with the living wages paid by the society to him.
- He will lead a pure and simple life.
In the year of 1905 during his second visit to England, he represented for the Self Government for India with perfect ability so that the Indians be increased in the administrative services. To turn the British Public opinion towards India he was accompanied by Lala Lajpat Rai. During this time he spent seven weeks time in England and devoted full day. This time he held 45 meetings and wrote many articles. He visited British parliamentarians, statesmen, presss correspondents and made them know about India.
During the following year of 1906, he again visited England for four months period. In this visit he met Morley, the then Secretary of State for India, and had several meetings with him and by this he stressed for the introduction of definite reforms in Indian Administration as regards representation. Gokbale’s practical commonsense and political sagacity influenced Morley to the large extent. It was due to Gokhale’s efforts in England that Morley-Minto reforms of 1909 came into action.
In the year of 1907, during his budget speech in the Indian Legislative Council, he advocated in favour of the introduction of free primary education. In the year of 1908, he again went to England. This time he put forward himself as an evidence before the Hobhouse Decentralization Commission. During this visit he again stressed Morley the Secretary of State for India to make reforms in the Administrative set up of India.
Against Minto Morley Reforms. But the Indian aspirations were not satisfied by the Minto Morley Reforms Public opinion throughout India condemned the Reforms. During the year of 1909 while these reforms came in force Gokhale was depressed too much by its nature and shape. Hence every Indian politician protested to it. English authorities in India spread the terror throughout India.
Lala Laj pat Rai was deported from India. Tilak was given the sentence of imprisonment for six years. While other leaders were also jailed. Thus the Minto-Morley Reforms, 1909 became more retro-gressive practically beyond expectation. After these Reforms, Press Act was passed to suppress the Presses. Gokhale had sponsored the Elementary Education Bill that was also rejected by the Reforms Committee. This shocked Gokhale to much.
A Bill for Compulsory Education. During the year of 1911, he introduced a bill in the Legislative Council for compulsory education but due to the reason of strong opposition of the English people, the bill could not get success and it remained without being passed.
The main object of that Bill was seeing the public interest that the Municipal Committee should introduce compulsory elementary education throughout the country. Gopal Krishna Gokhale again visited England in 1912. He persuaded the English authorities to pass the Elementary Education Bill but his effort could not bear any fruit. During September 1912, he was appointed as a member of the Royal Commission on Public Services in India formed under the Chairmanship of Islington into the problems of working of the public services in India.
In Gokhale, Gandhiji found and regarded him as his political preceptor. During the years of 1910 and 1912, Gokhale took the cause of Indian indentured labour in Natal in Indian Legislative Council.
During the year of 1912 while returning to India from England he visited South Africa on the request of Gandhiji and so he became s a great helper to Gandhiji for solving the problems of Indians staying in that country. He tried to bring about reconciliation between the Indian resisters and the South African Government. By his efforts, the Black Act was repealed.
In the year of 1913, he collected the funds also so that the Satyagrah Movement in Africa got enough footing and so helped Gandhiji in assisting his cause.
Again he visited England in the years of 1914 and 1915 due to the work of Public Service Commission.
Explain the contribution of Gopal Krishna Gokhale to Indian social thought.
Gokliale believed in constructive programmes as a states-man. By the side of politics he gave consideration to economics. His political philosophy contained both idealism and realism. He can be called idealist because of his consideration given to the lofty ideals of nationalism and purity of life. He was realist because he never wandered about for abstract idealism. He used to be firm on every ground he gave to his approach and kept sentiments and wild emotions at a great distance.
Those practical things that can be achieved he tried to get possibly, while the impossibles were never insisted by him. He believed that attainment of self-government was only possible under the framework of the British Kingdom and so he believed in the policy of gradual development of self-government. This depicted his practical wisdom and political realism. His political philosophy based on these principles :
Gokhale as Moderate. He advocated for the British rule in India. He marked British as guardians of India and hence his policy was of loyal co-operation, To British rule he gave full support for the sake of patriotism and loyalty. He liked the British Liberalism, British conscience and hoped to get always justice and fair play from them. He trusted and advocated that we the people of India should accept the British rule frankly and loyally by which we hope to get countrywide peace and order by which necessarily a nation will be born out of the hetrogeneous elements prevailing in India to advance the country.
Gokhale retied on Constitutional methods for Reforms. -In political tactis he was moderate par excellence. For acquiring the Indian demands he advocated constitutional methods. Gokhale had faith in caution slow evolution and rational progress like Burke. He advocated Constitutional agitation and discarded extreme measures and theatrical outbursts of popular frenzy. As he said “Constitutional agitation is agitation by methods which we are entitled to adopt to bring about the changes we desired through the action of constituted authorities”. He discarded the indirect way. The only way to attain what we desire is to bring moral pressure on the ruler. He said again, “Redress must be obtained through the constituted authorities, the idea we should leave the authorities, severely alone and
seek to attain our goal independently of them is inadmissible and absurd”.
In fact Gokhale was the middleman between the government and the people. He interpreted popular aspirations to the Viceroy and the governments’ difficulties to the Congress. Hence at times he was not liked by both the wings and so led to unpopularity. His fellow-workers complained of him being mild. At times government held him to be a too radical. It still can be said that he was more outspoken and severe criticiser of Bureaucracy than Pheroze- shah Mehta or Dadabhai Naorozi. Dr. Pattabhi Sitaramayya spoke of him, “Gokhale had a knack of saying the harder things in the gentlest language”.
Gokhale used soft words for criticism with clear meaning. Being disappointed, he changed the words as seen for the repressive policies adopted by Lord Curzon. This shook him for British sincerity. In his unusual words he used to utter “Then, all I can say is, good bye to all hopes of co-operating in any way with the bureaucracy in the inteiest of the people”.
He spoke of the British rule for the benefit of India. It was a blessing to India. English rule has brought about law and order in India and all disturbances of the past have vanished. According to him, it was easy to disorder a thing but very difficult to have peace, order and progress. Britishers were quite reasonable persons. India would obtain a place of honour among nations and England will be glorified by the act done by them to India. He tried to get self-government through the framework of British Empire. Here he followed his political preceptors Ranade, Naorozi and Pherozeshah Mehta.
Emphasis on Local Self-government. Gokhale was admirer of British rule and found faith for the benefit of India through them, though disappointed at the end of his life he said “The bureaucracy was becoming frankly selfish and openly hostile to national aspirations”. Hence daring Congress Session of 1905 he avoided self-government goal and as a last resort, boycott was to be used. In the words of Pandit Moti Lai Nehru he was the great apostle of self-government. About the position of Bengal he said it to be bureaucracy’s gross irresponsibility and extreme indifference to the public will. Harshness and oppression of the bureaucracy was criticized by him. Bureaucracy should not satisfy itself with efficiency but to govern India in such a way so that Indians might govern themselves to the high western standards.
On the other hand Gokhale had faith in mutual cooperation of the both India and England. Hence he planned for the moral and material advance of the country. Hence it wanted to implement the policy of equal treatment in services as said in the Act of 1833. Indians should be given more places in the government. Though he criticized the bureaucratic way of power concentration still he had a faith in English statesmen ship. While Dadabhai Naorozi lost his faith, he was trusted by the British and so he supported the Indian Reforms Act, 1909.
Faith in Western Education. To free Indians of the old ideas based on blind faith, superstitions and dogmas, he considered and give importance to western education which gave rise to generate a greater responsiveness to the appreciation of freedom and value of free institutions.
Emphasis on Social Efficiency for National Growth. Gokhale had two impoitant propositions in his mind. Firstly, he gave importance to Ranade’s views that “British Empire in India was in the scheme of diviner dispensation and was meant to be of immense benefit to India”. Secondly, strong nationalism could be created through hard work and sacrifice. According to Gokhale nationalism.: was a kind of self-devotion to a higher cause. Nationalism could not become a living force without suffering and friendship and simplicity of life. For national growth, social efficiency and moral character should be increased.
Nationalism required devotion and dedication. Bespoke, ‘The real moral interest of a struggle, such as we are engaged in lies not so much in the particular readjustments of present institutions which we may succeed in securing as in the strength that the conflict brings to be a permanent part of ourselves. The whole life of a person, which is broader and deeper than what is touched by purely political institutions is enriched by failures, provided the effort has been all that it should be”.
Against Confrontationist approach. Through peaceful and constitutional means, self-government could be achieved. He had immense faith in the English statesmen for their wisdom and reasoning. Through solid arguments he liked to persuade them. He believed in honourable compromise with the government and tried all means to win to his side the authorities both in India and England. He had faith in caution, slow evolution and rational-progress. As far as extreme measures are concerned, he kept aloof. He was a peacemaker and hence clashes were avoided by him. Confrontation with government will bring chaos, and peace and order situation will be disturbed. Slow and gradual transfer of power to Indians was possible only through the preparation and so Dominion status will be achieved.
While Tilak criticised his idea of peaceful transfer of power through history, he said “It may be that the history of the world does not furnish an instance where a subject race had become free without violent agitation. If so, we shall supply that example for the first time. The history of the world had not yet come to an end, there are more chapters yet to be added”.
Gokhale held that self-government could not be achieved at once.
Primacy of Means Over Ends. In order to bring ends good, the means should also be good, He never believed that ends justify the means. This was also held by Mahatmaji. He believed that politics and morality should go together. Hence he spoke of self-government as end for all nationalists in India but means to achieve it must be noble. If unfair means were adopted for that end, the aim was to be no-where. If India was to become free by foul means, such freedom will not be a freedom at all. For Swarajya, we must deserve it.
Gokhale’s ideas about Swadeshi Movement. Gokhale was an advocate of Swadeshi Movement from patriotic angles. It was not an economic weapon to beat the foreign government. It was only a satisfaction to patriotic urge 10 the public. This use of Swadeshi would regularly remind us of our being Indian first. For boycott, howsoever, it should not be used. In Banaras Congress Session 1905, as President he said, “The true Swadeshi Movement is both a patriotic and an economic movement.
The idea of Swadeshi or one’s own country is one of the noblest conceptions that have ever stirred the heart of humanity The devotion to motherland, which is enshrined in the highest Swadeshi, is an influence so profound and so passionate that its very thought thrills and its actual touch lifts one out of itself. The Swadeshi Movement, as is ordinarily understood, presents one part of this gospel to the mass of our people, in a form which brings it within their comprehension.
It turns their thoughts to their country, accustoms them to the idea of voluntarily making some sacrifice for her sake, enables them to take an intelligent interest in her economic development and teaches them the important lesson of co-operating with one another for a national end… But the movement on its material side is an economic one, and though self-denying ordinance, extensively entered into, must serve a valuable economic purpose namely, to ensure a ready consumption of such articles as are produced in the country and to furnish a perpetual stimulus to production by keeping the demand for indigenous things largely in excess of the supply, the difficulties that surround the question economically are so great that they require the co-opeiation of every available agency to surmount them”.
At the same Benaras Congress Session Gokhale put nine demands –
- Reforms in Legislative Councils by raising the -number of elected members to one half and budgets be passed by the councils.
- Three indians be appointed to the Lidia Council.
- Countrywide creation of District Advisory Boards and District Magistrate should compulsorily consult them in matters of administration.
- Judicial branch should consist of legal professionists for Indian Civil Service.
- Judicial executive administration should be separated.
- Military expenses should be reduced.
- Primary education should be expanded.
- Industrial and Technical education should be extended, and
- Rural indebtedness should be avoided.
Communal Harmony. He was a champion of Hindu-Muslim unity. About the controversy between the two communities, he avoided such occasions so that the relations may not become embittered. He told Hindus to protect Moslem minority and remove an inferiority complex in them. He tried to avoid the festivals held by Tilak during Ganeshotsava and Shivaji anniversary and thus avoided caste consciousness.
All problems were tackled by him on constructive basis. In Bombay Legislative Council, he was the leader of the opposition. But his opposition was so constructive operated that over his arguments official majority bowed down. While he opposed the bills, he also suggested the could be improvements therein. So at times he proved to be the leader of the House and not as only leader of the opposition.
Against Centralisation. He championed the cause from Decentralization of Poweis. By decentralization autocracy comes to power. He advocated checks on the bureaucracy. He advocated that legislatures in provinces should be given more powers to discuss the budget. Recommendation of Advisory Boards of district councils was his gift. While giving evidences before Habhouse Decentralisation Commission he advocated the necessity of—
- Village Panchayats at the village level.
- District Councils at the intermediate level, and
- Reformed Legislative Council at the top level.
Gokhake’s Efficient Government. With the spread of the Western education new problems sprang up. Thsi spread the response for liberty and free institutions. He aimed at forwarding some tests for judging the ability and the progressive policies of the Government. During the year of 1911 he said “I suggest four tests to judge whether the Government is progressive and further whether it is continuously progressive.
First test, I would apply is what measures it adopts for the moral and material improvement of the mass of the people and under these measures I do not include those applied in this country because they were appliances necessary for its very existence, though they have benefitted the people such as the construction of the Railways, the introduction of Posts and Telegraphs and the things of that kind. By measures for the moral and material improvement of the people, I mean what the Government does for education, what the Government does for sanitation, what the Government does for agricultural development and so forth. That is my first test.
The second test that I would apply is what steps the Government takes to give us large shares in the administration of local affairs that is in municipalities and local bodies. My third test is what voice the Government gives us in its councils in those deliberative assemblies where policies are considered. And lastly, we must consider how far Indians are admitted into the ranks of Public Services.”