उत्तरकर्ता Quizzer JivtaraParticipant
The Moderate Era in Indian politics covered the last two decades of the nineteenth and the first two decades of the twentieth century, but it hardly figures in popular imagination today. When the Government of India declared a public holiday on the birth centenary of Gokhale in 1966, some people were heard asking: ‘Who was Gokhale?’ And this about a man on whose death in 1915 the Statesman of Calcutta, then and for many years afterwards no admirer of Indian nationalists, wrote: ‘Mr. Gokhale was the greatest leader that India has ever produced, perhaps her greatest man.’! The Moderate leaders are now often forgotten, or remembered as softheaded and weak-kneed men, who were naïve enough to practice the politics of protest, petition and prayer, and to beg for petty concessions from the British instead of claiming swaraj as their birthright.
This blurred and distorted image of the Moderate Era is partly due to the conscious superiority and almost contempt with which each generation tends to judge its predecessor. But it suffered further damage from the Extremist thunderstorm in 1905-8 in the wake of the Partition of Bengal, and the Gandhian avalanche of 1919-20, which was to permanently alter the political landscape in India. Sixty years later, it should be possible for us to see the Moderate Era in historical perspective. We have enormous source materials, published and unpublished, official and non-official, to help us do so. The Moderate Era witnessed continual political and social change; we must resist the temptation of forming a static image of it. It was a multiple situation for ever on the move’, more like a movie-film than a series of still photographs in a picture gallery.
To understand the aims, methods, achievements and limitations of the leaders of the Moderate Era in India we have to set them in the changing political and social context of the times in which their lot was cast.
There has been an important contribution of Gokhale in his development as such a great person and a top leader of the Indian national movement, which we can study as follows:
1. A great liberal – Gokhale was the promoter of liberalism in India and the essence of his liberalism was expressed in his insistence that India should not only accept liberal values and ideals but must use constitutional means to achieve them. You should show your faith. From this point of view, he believed that the expression of dissatisfaction and anger towards the government policies should be done only through constitutional means and the rulers should also run the government not in self interest but keeping in mind the public interest. In this way, liberalism was not only an ideal for Gokhale but also a symbol of a style of work to give it a practical form. Due to his liberal beliefs, he was not a blind devotee of British rule even after declaring it as a divine gift for India. While he believed in achieving self-government for India as an integral part of the British Empire, he never shied away from openly condemning the unjust and oppressive acts done by the British rulers. Therefore, being a liberal, despite being a supporter of the British rule, Gokhale was not only a patriot but also a patriot and in this sense, where he was a supporter of every public welfare work of the British rule, at the same time he was a supporter of his anti-people works. He was also a bitter critic.
2. Belief in gradual reforms – Gokhale was not a mere liberal idealist but a practical idealist. They were well acquainted with the reality of the conditions of their time and by recognizing their reality, they could achieve the goal of necessary governmental-administrative reforms only through cordial relations with the British rule, so that ultimately India could achieve its goal of reforms. can be successful in achieving the goal of self-government. Therefore, essentially with the cooperation of the British rulers, this process of reforms can only be gradual. Like the extremists, they did not consider it possible from a practical point of view to achieve the goal of self-government suddenly. They were more likely to produce negative than positive consequences from this tendency, which could lead to more suffering in an already troubled life. Therefore, he proposed with emphasis that the path of achieving the goal of administrative reforms gradually and systematically is the right path and following it is in the interest of India.
3. Belief in Constitutionalism – Gokhale, due to his liberal beliefs, considered the use of peaceful, non-violent and constitutional means only for achieving self-government for India. It was practically not possible in his time to challenge him successfully by adopting aggressive methods and terrorizing him through them and compel India to achieve the goal of self-government. Therefore, like the militants, their dictionary did not mention the use of violent, violent and mass-movement means. According to the liberal beliefs, the methods used by him for redressing the sufferings of the people were essentially non-violent, peaceful and legal means, including passing resolutions, taking delegations, addressing public problems through speeches from various forums. Attracting the attention of rulers, giving reminders, etc. were included. Gokhale used these tools throughout his life and urged his followers to use them as well. His belief in constitutional means was conveyed by his life writer T.R. Devgirikar has expressed in these words, “Gokhale followed the legal path to wage war against the monarchy. His effort was to change the views of those people who have some importance by persuading them on the basis of facts and arguments.
4. Supporter of National Integration – Gokhale was a patriotic person and used to think on every problem of the nation from the national point of view, so that the solution of every national problem could be possible from the national point of view and through that national unity could be strengthened. From this point of view, he wanted to develop a sense of unity between the two major and major castes residing in India – Hindus and Muslims on the basis of mutual trust and cordial cooperation, because in his opinion it was only if there was unity among them that the only way of self-government for India. The goal was possible. Therefore, on this basis, he firmly believed that “the vision of politicians should not be limited to any one sect or community, but their vision should be on the whole nation and its development.” In this way, Gokhale considered Hindu-Muslim unity not only necessary but necessary for the upliftment of the nation. As much as this idea was relevant in his time, it is still relevant today.
Hindu-Muslim unity is still the cornerstone of national upliftment, ignoring which neither that goal can be achieved nor can it be imagined to achieve.
5. Support of decentralization of power- Gokhale did not believe in centralization of power but in decentralization. It is not only necessary but necessary for the establishment of a liberal democratic system. Therefore, by decentralizing the centralized British rule to the maximum extent, he wanted to take the power to the village, district and provincial level, so that there could be maximum participation of the people in the governance and establishment of a decentralized self-government in the real sense of India. can be done. A decentralized governance system free from central control was an ideal system in his eyes, so he kept on trying his life for its establishment.
6. Emphasis on public welfare works- Gokhale considered it necessary to achieve the goal of Indian self-government not only from political point of view, but also from economic point of view, because only then most of the public finance should be spent for the fulfillment of administrative and military needs. Arrangements were made to be done on welfare works. Therefore, he attacked the British rule’s exploitative tax policy, the expenditure policy of public revenue on heavy administrative and military system and criticized it strongly and demanded reduction in it, so that a large part of it was used to alleviate public misery. Arrangements can be made to spend on organizing public welfare works. In fact, the form of Indian self-government in Gokhale’s mind was essentially a form of a public welfare state. Therefore, he not only wanted to achieve that form of self-governing government by means of administrative reforms, but also wanted to establish it and through it, he wanted to give a shape to the concept of his public welfare state.
Gopalkrishna Gokhale’s contribution to the development of the Indian national movement is not only great but also unforgettable. Although his critics and opponents mainly from the extremist class did not agree with his political commitments and working style and considered him as ‘a weak hearted liberal’ and promoter of ‘political begging’, but if we consider his thinking and contribution in absolute form. Evaluating from this, we can easily come to the conclusion that his policy of support of British rule was not based on his weakness but on the political realism of his time and the sense of national interest. Therefore, it has been rightly said in relation to him that he was a friend of both the ruler and the ruled. Although he was a supporter of pacifist and compromise policy, yet he was never a supporter of such a compromise which was done at the cost of principles. Despite his liberal loyalties and his admiring attitude towards the British rulers as their supporters, he never shied away from criticizing the harshest of exploitative and oppressive acts committed by them against the public interest. They were neither terrified nor frightened by this sight.
He was actually a true humanist and a well-wisher of mankind. Therefore, there was no feeling of animosity or hatred towards anyone in his mind. His approach was broad and syncretic and this was the uniqueness of his character. His patriotism was beyond all doubt and that is why not only his followers but also his opponents looked up to him with respect and reverence. He was the epitome of wisdom, knowledge and sacrifice. He had a wonderful confluence of intellectual brilliance, the spirit of country and social service. For this reason, he will always be remembered in the history of the Indian national movement as a man of unquestionable faith in constitutionalism, moralistic insistence and democratic values.