Gopal Krishna Gokhale was a prominent figure of the Indian independence movement. He was an open-minded person and not only wanted to free India from the clutches of the British rule but also from the inland social evils. He belonged to the group of moderates, who believed in bringing social reforms under the auspices of the British rule rather than rebelling against it. That is why he supported Acts like the Consent Bill, which aimed at discouraging child marriage.
Birth, education, and marriage
He was born in a village named Kothluk, in Ratnagiri district of Bombay Presidency. His father’s name was Krishna Rao and his mother’s name was Valubai. His family was poor. However, they provided enough for their son and never let their economic condition hamper his education. He completed his early education from Rajaram High School. As his parents wanted him to earn well under the British Raj, they sent him to Bombay for receiving higher education.
In 1884, he became the first Indian to become a graduate. He married twice during his lifespan. His first wife was Savitribai whom he married in 1880. They had no children. Gokhlale married again in 1887. His second wife passed away in 1899 during childbirth. They had two daughters.
Impact of education
Gopal Krishna Gokhale’s higher education played a major role in shaping his views about the British government and its policies. As he studied English and western political views, he became aware of the need of political representation of Indians in the government. He thoroughly studied the political works of Edmund Burke and J.S Mill and was impressed by their views on politics. Education also enlightened him and showed him the flaws that the Indian society had. Consequently, he started making attempts to persuade the British government to pass Acts that would improve India’s social condition.
As the president of the Indian National Congress and the founding father of the Servants of India Society
Gopal Krishna Gokhale’s progressive views and the desire to bring positive changes to the Indian society endeared him to many people. As a result, he became the President of the Indian National Congress in 1905. During his tenure, he also founded a society and named it as the “Servants of India.”
The aim of the society was to spread education and enlighten the people of India. Although at the time there were educational institutes in India, he wanted to take education to the common man through this society. In its endeavor, “Servants of India” established libraries, schools, and conducted night classes for adults and it received good response from the people too.
Gopal Krishna Gokhale’s contribution to India’s freedom struggle is magnificent. His endeavors created a new kind of Indians, who would play an important role in making India independent.
He remained active during his lifetime and spent years in ensuring that Indians were not overlooked by the British. He visited foreign lands many times. He also visited South Africa in 1912 where young Mahatma Gandhi was fighting for the rights of Indians living there. Gopal Krishna Gokhale died at the age of 49 in 1915.