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Issue No.: 572 | February 2015
 

The Symposium held on 15th November 2014 – Report

Chauhan, Devanshu, Khan, Jarupati and Sunilkumar
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This is a summary of the proceedings of the Symposium based on individual reports by four undergraduate students of the Guru Nanak Khalsa College of Arts, Science and Commerce in Mumbai, who participated in the programme. 


They are: Akshay S. Chauhan, Hari Krishna Devanshu, Khan Mohammed Irfan, Pooja S. Jarupati and Rahul Sunilkumar.

 


The symposium was very useful not only from the educational point of view but also helped in changing the mindsets after knowing about the life and beliefs of such a renowned leader like Gopal Krishna Gokhale and how important his contributions were for modern India.


There were eight sessions including a session for Questions and Answers. The morning sessions saw inspiring speeches by Dr. Aroon Tikekar (Gokhale’s Maharashtra); Mr. Sunil Gokhale (Gokhale and Communalism) and Mr. Godrej Dotivala on Sir Pherozeshah Mehta’s tribute to Gokhale. The session concluded with a very good summing up by the Chairperson, Dr. Usha Thakkar.




The afternoon sessions were no less interesting. Dr. Vibhuti Patel dealt with Women’s Participation in the evolving economy with a very informative power point presentation emphasising that there was not enough stress being laid on women empowerment and greater participation in the country’s governance. Mr. R. N. Bhaskar, a journalist and an analyst described how India’s economic and growth strategy could be vastly improved. The evening session was well utilised ending with a very good analysis by the eminent economists Mr. Sunil Bhandare, and Dr. C. S. Deshpande. 


Gopal Krishna Gokhale was born on May 9, 1866 to a poor family in Katluk village, Chiplun Taluk, in the Ratnagiri District of 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 he moved on to Bombay and graduated from Elphinstone College, in 1884 at the age of 18. After graduation, he chose the teaching profession and took a position as an Assistant Master in the New English School in Pune. In 1885, Gokhale was among the founding members of Fergusson College, along with his colleagues in the Deccan Education Society. Gokhale gave nearly two decades of his life to this College teaching mathematics. During this time, Gokhale came in contact with Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade. scholar, and social reformer, whom Gokhale called his guru. Gokhale worked with Ranade in Poona Sarvajanik Sabha of which Gokhale became the Secretary. In 1904 he was made a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire. His rift with Bal Gangadhar Tilak resulted in the division of the Indian National Congress into Moderates and Extremists.


In 1902, Gokhale left teaching and became a Member of the Imperial Legislative Council in Delhi. There he spoke for the people of the country in a manner that drew the respect of the British rulers. Gokhale had an excellent grasp of the economic problems of our country which he ably presented during the debates in the Council. In 1905, Gokhale founded the "Servants of India Society” with the objective of training Indians to devote their life in the service of the country. Gokhale’s prime concern was social reform and he believed such reform could be best achieved by working within existing British government institutions. In 1903 he was elected as non-officiating member of the Viceroy’s Council. He was so respected by the Britishers that he was invited to London to meet Secretary of State John Morley, with whom he established a great rapport. Gokhale continued to be politically active throughout his career inspiring millions of Indians towards making India self-dependent, but all these stresses took their toll and on 19 February 1915, he died at the early age of forty-nine. 


He and Bal Gangadhar Tilak had fundamental differences on the conduct of the freedom struggle. It led to two irreconcilable differences within the Indian National Congress into Moderates (led by Gokhale) and Extremists (led by Tilak). Despite their differences, when Gokhale’s died, Bal Gangadhar Tilak said at his funeral: "This Diamond of India, this jewel of Maharashtra, this prince of workers is taking eternal rest. Look at him and try to emulate him.” 


Everybody was happy with the quality of the presentations made at the symposium as one learnt so much not only about G. K. Gokhale but also on matters relating to economics, women’s empowerment etc. Mr. Sunil Gokhale’s talk on Gokhale and communalism was found particularly inspiring by the students. We also got to know the views of Sir Pherozeshah Mehta on Gokhale. There was so much that the students got to know about Gopal Krishna Gokhale and his tremendous contribution to prepare the country for freedom – that he was one of the pioneers of the Indian national movement and a senior leader of the Indian National Congress.


In the post-lunch period, Dr. Vibhuti Patel made a presentation on Women’s Participation in the Political Economy. She shared her views in a very interesting way with many different slides showing statistics of women’s participation in various fields. She also described the various problems faced by women even today. This was followed by a very scholarly and convincing presentation by economist Dr. C. S. Deshpande who spoke on Federalism, Growth and Governance and Role of Institutions in the Reforms Process.


Mr. R. N. Bhaskar’s talk on 'Indian Strategy Blindness' greatly appealed to the participants with his original and unorthodox presentation. His way of speaking greatly appealed to us students particularly when he pointed out ways through which India can prosper and develop more. For instance, he pointed out how developing sea transport would give India’s long coastline the cheapest means of transport not only for travel but also for the movement of freight which today moves by road and rail. His views on how we can change the Nation’s Economy was much appreciated. From him we came to know how we can use the natural resources from nature without harming nature. We found this session very inspiring.


The last session, the Open Session, which was actually a Question and Answer session was very interesting, with a number of questions by those present which produced convincing answers.


The Symposium has sparked our interest in wanting to know more about the lives and works of great personalities like Gokhale and many others who worked for the development of Indian society and culture.


We thank the Head of the Department of History of Khalsa College, Dr. Rita Bhambi, and Dr. Rashmi Bhure, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, S.I.E.S College of Arts and Science for their interest in getting their students to participate in this symposium. 


We also take this opportunity to thank Dr. Jyoti Marwah, a member of the Board of Studies (history), Faculty of Arts and Head of the Department of History, ICLES’ Motilal Jhunjhunwala College of Arts, Science and Commerce for her continuing support of the Educating Adults Programme.

 
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Other Articles in this Issue

Between Ourselves

GOPAL KRISHNA GOKHALE (1866 – 1915)

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The Legacy of Gopal Krishna Gokhale

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Laying the Foundation for a Modern India

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His Relevance Today

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His Achievements

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Sir Pherozeshah Mehta’s Tribute

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