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Gopal Krishna Gokhale

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Birth and Education

Gopal Krishna Gokhale was born on May 9, 1866 in Kothapur, Maharashtra. His father Krishna Rao was a farmer who was forced to work as clerk, as the soil of the region was not conducive for agriculture. His mother Valubai was a simple woman. Gokhale received his early education at the Rajaram High School in Kothapur with the help of financial assistance from his elder brother. Later on he moved on to Bombay and graduated from Elphinstone College, Bombay in 1884 at the age of 18. Gopal Krishna Gokhale was one of the first generations of Indians to receive college education.

 

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Career and  Freedom Fighting

Gopal Krishna Gokhale entered public life in 1886 at the age of 20. He delivered a public address on "India under the British Rule", which was highly appreciated. Gokhale regularly contributed articles to Bal Gangadhar Tilak's weekly "Mahratta". Through his articles he tried to awaken the latent patriotism of Indian people. Soon, Gokhale was promoted as Secretary of the Deccan Education Society. When the Indian National Congress held its session in Poona in 1895, he was the secretary of the Reception Committee. From this session, Gokhale became a prominent member of the Indian National Congress. Gokhale was twice elected as president of Pune Municipality. For a while Gokhale was also a member of the Bombay Legislative Council where he spoke strongly against the then Government.

In 1902, Gokhale left the Fergusson College. He became a Member of the Imperial Legislative Council in Delhi. There he spoke for the people of the country in an able manner. Gokhale had an excellent grasp of the economic problems of our country which he ably presented during the debates. In 1905, Gokhale started a new society called "Servants of India Society". This society trained workers for the service of the country. In the same year, Gokhale went to England to voice his concerns relating to the unfair treatment of the Indian people by the British government. In a span of 49 days, he spoke in front of 47 different audiences, captivating every one of them. Gokhale pleaded for gradual reforms to ultimately attain Swaraj, or self-government, in India. He was instrumental in the introduction of the Morley- Minto Reforms of 1909, which eventually became law. Though the reforms sowed the seeds of communal division in India, nevertheless, they gave Indian access to the seats of the highest authority within the government, and their voices were more audible in matters of public interest.

 

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Personal Life

Gokhale married twice. His first marriage took place in 1880 when he was in his teens to Savitribai, who suffered from an incurable ailment. He married a second time in 1887 while Savitribai was still alive. His second wife died after giving birth to two daughters in 1899. Gokhale did not marry again and his children were looked after by his relations.

 

Death

Through years of hard work and devotion, Gopal Krishna Gokhale did immense service to the cause of India. But, unfortunately, excessive exertion and the resulting exhaustion only aggravated his diabetes and cardiac asthma. The end came peacefully, and the great leader passed away on February 19, 1915.

 

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