What is the contribution of Gopal Krishna Gokhale?

Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915) was one of the foremost leaders and social reformers during the Indian National Movement. His contributions to India’s struggle for freedom, social reform, and the upliftment of the masses were immense. Here are some of his significant contributions:

1. Moderate Leadership: Gokhale was a prominent leader of the ‘Moderate’ faction of the Indian National Congress (INC). The Moderates believed in constitutional and gradual reforms and emphasized dialogue, petitions, and reforms within the existing British framework.

2. Servants of India Society: In 1905, Gokhale founded the Servants of India Society, an organization dedicated to promoting the welfare of India’s masses. Members vowed to serve society and work for the betterment of India.

3. Educational Reforms: He was a strong advocate for primary education and believed that education was a means to empower the masses. He emphasized female education and the eradication of illiteracy.

4. Social Reforms: Gokhale advocated for the removal of untouchability and the upliftment of the backward classes. He also emphasized the importance of promoting unity among Hindus and Muslims.

5. Economic Reforms: Gokhale criticized the economic policies of the British, highlighting how they were detrimental to the Indian economy. He demanded reduction of land revenue, reduction in military expenditure, and more Indian involvement in the financial administration of the country.

6. Mentorship: Gokhale played a significant role as a mentor to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Gandhi regarded him as his political guru and was deeply influenced by Gokhale’s ideas and principles.

7. Legislative Work: As a member of the Imperial Legislative Council, Gokhale presented the Elementary Education Bill in 1911, aiming to make primary education compulsory. Though the bill did not pass, it brought attention to the importance of education in India.

8. Diplomacy: Gokhale also travelled to England multiple times, meeting with British leaders and lawmakers, and putting forth the Indian perspective. He was instrumental in building a bridge of understanding between the British authorities and the Indian leadership.

Gokhale’s style was based on dialogue and reconciliation, which differed from the more aggressive stance of leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak. However, his dedication to India’s cause, emphasis on social reform, and belief in non-radical methods made him an essential figure in the early stages of India’s struggle for independence.

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