Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the one who made India’s freedom struggle truly Indian, Home Minister Amit Shah said on Saturday. He added that the progress into the future cannot be made without pride in the past and that Tilak always advocated this.
While addressing the inaugural session of a webinar organised by Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) on Tilak’s 100th death anniversary, Shah said: “Those who have studied history of the Congress will know it. If any one made India’s Independence struggle Indian, it was Tilak.”
Elaborating further, Shah said Tilak suffused India’s freedom struggle with Indian thought, Indian history, Indian pride and its varied languages.
“He gave the clarion call that Swaraj is my birthright and I will take it. This was no ordinary sentence. This brought a paradigm shift to the freedom struggle. It turned the movement launched by the Congress into a people’s movement,” he said.
The Home Minister also said that on one hand, Tilak led the freedom struggle and on the other, he agitated against cow slaughter. He fought for women’s rights, published the Kesari newspaper and even turned Shiv Jayanti and Ganpati festivals into a public movement, Shah said.
“If anyone took the values of Shivaji Maharaj to the people, it was Tilak,” he said.
The minister added that if anyone read the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi, Veer Savarkar and Madan Mohan Malviya, they would realise the massive influence Tilak had on them.
shah repeatedly urged the youth to read about Tilak and his work. “Tilak is as relevant today as he was 100 years ago. I want to tell the youth to study Tilak and a lot of your problems will be solved. It will teach you how to take your glorious legacy to the future,” he said, adding that webinar had associated Tilak’s thoughts with the government’s Atmanirbhar Bharat program.
Drawing a parallel between Tilak’s thoughts and those of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shah said, “It was Tilak’s advocacy for local languages in the Congress that made everyone speak in their mother tongue during its meetings. Today, PM Modi has brought in Sanskrit and local languages into government’s education policy.”
Shah also hailed Tilak as a crusader against untouchability and said in 1918, he had shown great courage in saying that he would not accept a God who endorsed untouchability.
ICCR President Vinay Sahasrabudhe, who made the introductory remarks, said, “Today, when we talk about Atmanirbhar Bharat, the legacy of Tilak has been carried forward. Reviving the spirit of economic nationalism for indigenously manufactured goods and striving for social integration through culture are the features of Tilak’s strategy and they continue to be relevant even today as we observe his 100th death anniversary on August 1.”