Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the one who made India’s freedom struggle truly Indian, Home Minister Amit Shah said on Saturday. He said progress into the future cannot be made without pride in the past and that Tilak always advocated this.
The Home Minister was addressing the inaugural session of a webinar organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) on Tilak’s 100th death anniversary.
“Those who have studied the history of the Congress will know it. If any one made India’s Independence struggle Indian, it was Tilak,” Shah said.
Elaborating, 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,” Shah said.
The Home Minister said that if on one hand, Tilak was leading the freedom struggle, on the other, he was agitating 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,” Shah said.
He added that if anyone read the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi, Veer Savarkar and Madan Mohan Malviya, they would realise Tilak had a massive influence on them.
The Home Minister 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 that study Tilak and a lot of your problems will be solved. It will teach you how to take your glorious legacy to the future,” Shah said.
Drawing a parallel, 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 Narendra Modi has brought Sanskrit and local languages into government’s education policy.”
Shah also hailed Tilak as a crusader against untouchability and said that in 1918, he showed 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 is 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.”
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