Thoughts on economics and liberty

Liberal thought in Maharashtra, 1974 dissertation by Rajendra M Vora

Came across this. Have combined into a PDF, here.

Also OCRd the sixth chapter here, and am sharing it below.



The Liberal thinkers like Lokhitwadi, Phoolay, Ranade, Agarkar and Gokhale were interested in transformation of society according to Liberal values. Therefore they took active part in the Liberal movement. In fact they were the leaders of the movement. They started periodicals and news papers and established associations and organisations, for social, religious, economic and political reform.

But after 1920 both the Liberal thought and movement declined due to the factors such as rise of Extremism, failure in mobilization of masses, liberals’ refusal to change and adopt to new situation, the unfavourable response of the British Government and the death of Liberal leaders. Though Liberalism did not remain as the most important trend, it made great impact on Maharashtra.

In the first section of the chapter the contribution of the prominent liberals to the movement has been reviewed. In the second section the phenomenon of decline of Liberalism is analysed and in the last section the impact of Liberal thought on social life of Maharashtra has been discussed.

Liberal Movement

The Liberal thinkers took active part in Liberal movement. Some of them played a leading role in it. They did not stop at exposing authoritarianism and backwardness of the society and politics or suggesting the appropriate reforms but made purposeful and determined efforts to mobilize the people and press the government to take suitable action.


For social and political mobilization they used various media and instruments. Almost all Liberal thinkers considered news papers and periodicals as a very effective medium of communication. Therefore they wrote popular articles and scholarly essays in the available periodicals or started new periodicals to propagate liberal point of view. Lokhitwadi, who established ‘Induprakash’ (1862) and ‘Lokhitwadi’ (1882) worked as the editor of Hitechu, (Ahmedabad) and ‘Dyanprakash’, (Poona) is in fact famous for his 100 articles in ‘Prabhakar’.1 Mahatma Phoolay started ‘Satsar’ in 1885 as a periodical for Satya Shodhak Samaj views. Ranade was the editor of English columns of ‘Induprakash’. The Journal of Poona Sarvajanik Sabha was the responsibility of Ranade. All his scholarly essays appeared in his journal Gokhale was also connected with the journal. At the beginning of his career he worked as editor of English columns of ‘Sudharak’ with which the name of Agarkar is associated. Agarkar was with ‘Kesari’ in the beginning but afterwards strong difference of opinion and his liberal conviction made him to start ‘Sudharak’ (1888).


Education they valued as a vehicle of new ideas. So liberal thinkers established different educational institutions which they thought would work as recruitment media. They hoped that the graduates coming out of these schools and colleges nurtured in western and liberal philosophy would join the liberal movement. With women and lower classes also education would act as emancipator from customs, and traditions. Agarkar with Tilak and Chiplunkar started the New English School in 1880. The Deccan Education Society was established in 1884 out of the need of an educational society with a band of devoted workers. The society opened its college in the next year. Agarkar was the Principal of the Fergusson College, while Gokhale was Professor of Mathematics. Ranade was also associated with the society from its inception. With his efforts the Female High School was started in Poona. Ranade, Gokhale and Lokhitwadi were associated with Bombay University as its fellows. Mahatma Phoclay who insisted on education for masses established a school for lower castes children (1848), a high school for boys (1855), two schools for girls in Poona (1851) and an orphanage (1863).

Religious Reform

The transformation of the society from traditional to modern was to be started from its very foundation that is religion. Therefore the religious reform as it is already seen occupied important place in the thought as well as the movement. Accordingly the Prarthana Samaj was founded on 31st March 1867 in Bombay. The Samaj attacked idolatry, castism, ascetism, priesthood, incarnation

principle. It was a Hindu protestant movement which believed in one supreme God, fatherhood of God and brotherhood of men and that no book is God ordained. Samaj opened branches

at Thana, Poona, Indoor, Ahmednagar, Satara, Pandharpur. Lokhitwadi founded its branches at Nasik and Ahmedabad. Ranade joined the Samaj in 1870 and soon became its distinguished member. Lokhitwadi was associated with

Arya Samaj and Theosophical Society, also. Mahatma Phoolay criticised these Brahmin dominated Samajs and established Satya Shodhak Samaj on 24th September 1873. He was elected a first President of the Samaj. The objects of the Samaj were to redeem the shudras and atishudras from Brahminical dominance, to teach them the human rights and to liberate them from mental and religious slavery. The membership was extended to all castes including Brahmins, Mahars and Muslims.

Its main attack was on caste system priesthood and idol-worship. The Samaj believed in the principle of Fatherhood of God and Brotherhood of Men. It demanded social justice and upliftment of downtrodden classes.2

Social Reform

To reform the social institutions in accordance with liberal principles was the next aspect of the movement. In fact the Samajs besides being religion societies were very much interested in social reform, such as abolition

of caste system. The liberals founded different associations for the reform they were propogating. The widow-remarriage association was one of such association. Lokhitwadi worked in different associations in Nasik, Ahmedabad, Poona, Bombay. Mahatma Phoolay’s Satyashodhak Samaj’s efforts were mainly concentrated on upliftment of lower classes. Ranade who

believed in all sided reform formed National Social Conference in 1887. Upto 1901 Ranade was the principal force behind

the Conference. The meetings of the Conference were held after the sessions of the Congress. They were attended by many congress delegates. The Conference discussed and passed resolutions regarding various social reforms like widow-remarriage, higher age of marriage, female education, education of lower classes etc. It coordinated the reform movement all over India and provided a meeting place for various regional social reform organisations.3

Gokhale founded the Servants of India Society in 1905. The members of the Society, according to preamble written by Gokha1e himself, should direct their efforts principally towards 1) creating among people a love of the motherland 2) organising the work of political education and agitation 3) promoting goodwill among different communities 4) education of women and backward classes 5) helping industrial development of the country the elevation of the depressed classes.4

Political Reform

Along with religious and social reforms the liberals tried to mobilize the people, at least educated men, for the political reforms. For the realization of ultimate ideal of representative and responsible government and acquiring political liberty for people the backward country needed

in their opinion the political education, training in western political institutions, and healthy growth of consciousness of rights. This broad aim required the formation of like minded educated men into an organisation which would chiefly devote to political matters. Hence the liberal thinkers took the initiative and formed Bombay Association on 25th August 1852. It was the first political organisation of western India. The second organisation was established in Poona in April 1870. Ranade soon became its principal leader and under his guidance Poona Sarvajanik Sabha worked for political education of people as well as political, economic and administrative reforms. It played an important part in political awakening of Maharashtra. Sabha’s quarterly journal published scholarly articles on different political and economic issues and reforms.5

After Tilak and his party acquired the leadership of Sarvajanik Sabha Ranade and his disciples separated from the Sabha and started in Poona, the Deccan Sabha (1896) ‘to give adequate expression to the spirit of moderate liberalism’ 6

The most important political organisation formed by the liberals was obviously Indian National Congress. It was in 1885 that the liberals in Maharashtra, Bengal and other parts of the country could materialise their idea of starting a political organisation in which like—minded men of all the parts of the country would collaborate. Maharashtrian liberals always took active and leading part in the Congress Movement. Ranade was one of the founders and guided, advised and encouraged the Congress leaders.7 Agarkar attended early sessions of the Congress and always advocated the cause of the Congress in his ‘Sudharak’. Gokhale devoted his major part of public career to the Congress and was elected as President of the Congress (1905).8

In the political sphere the Liberals in Maharashtra worked on two fronts of which one was that of organising people behind common political aims and demanding different reforms from alien government. The second was ‘cooperation with the government in implementing the reforms. They worked in legislatures, local government bodies and committees appointed by government as representatives of people. In this connection Gokhale’s example is ideal and representative. When in 1896 a Royal Commission presided by Lord Welby was appointed to enquire into financial relationship between India and England, Gokhale was sent by Deccan Sabha to give evidence before the Commission. In 1899 he was elected as member of Bombay Legislative Council. In two years of his career as member of the Council he criticised famine administration of government, opposed Land Alientation Bill and took keen interest in the District Municipal Act. After the death of Phirojshah Mehta in 1902 Gokhale was elected to Imperial Legislative Council. He became famous for his impressive Budget speeches in the Council. He opposed and criticised University Bill and Official Secrets Bill of Curzon era. The main interests of Gokhale in the Council were education, especially elementary education, reforms in the councils, indianisation of civil services and budgetary matters. Gokhale was President of Poona Municipality for number of years.9

The Decline of Liberal Thought and Movement

Thus the liberal thought and movement developed in Maharashtra from 1850 to 1920. But the decline was set in long back before 1920. The last decade of the 19th century can be considered as a period when the forces leading towards decline started working. The Liberal Party of India as such faded out of existence in 1948-49 .1° The period from 1895 to 1948 is the period of decline of Liberalism in Maharashtra as well as in India. But in the 1919 when the Liberals all over India organised themselves into a separate political party the Liberalism became politically unimportant. Thus one can divide the story of decline in two periods. First from 1895 to 1919 and second from 1919 to 1948 of which the first period is historically important because after 1919 Liberalism was away from main political stream of Maharashtra and India. How Liberalism declined in Maharashtra will be clear in details after the analysis of factors which were responsible for the decline.

Causes of Decline

Rise of Extremism s The rise and speedy progress of Extremist politics in Maharashtra was the most important factor which caused the decline of Liberalism. The undisputed leader of the party was Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak.11 Tilak had very keen political acumen and understanding of the Maharashtra.

The political strategies and tactics of Tilak gave him expected results. He is regarded as the father of Extremist party therefore his progress as a leader and growth of Extremism almost goes together. The rise of his party as politically powerful block with large following from people of different social and economic strata, undermined the foundations of Liberal movement. Tilak emerged as a leader in the agitation against the Age of Consent of Bill of 1891 which was the main reform over which the Liberals like Agarkar and Ranade concentrated in the period. It was the first challenge given by Tilak to the so far undisputed leadership of Ranade. In the next year he protested against the Sharadasadan an institution for the education of women and especially widows, which was supported by Liberals. The greatest success Tilak got in 1895 when he defeated Ranade party and acquired the hold of Sarvajanik Sabha a political association, which was moulded by Ranade according to his idea of political, economic and administrative reform and political education of the people. Ranade and his group had to start the new association devoted to Liberal and moderate reforms. The next blow to Liberal camp led by Ranade came from Tilak in the form of opposition to the session of Social Conference in the pendal of Congress Ranade had to concede the demand.12

In the official and governmental bodies Tilak acquired seats after 1893. He became the member of Poona Municipality. In 1894 he was selected as fellow of Bombay University. In the elections to expanded Legislative Councils under the India Councils Act of 1892 Tilak defeated a candidate supported by Ranade Party in 1893.

A weekly named ‘Kesari’ which he had started in 1881 with the cooperation of Agarkar immediately achieved popularity and became the mouth piece of extremists party led by Tilak. Due to differences of opinion on crucial matters such as social reform Agarkar had to leave the ‘Kesari’ within a few years and start his own paper ‘Sudharak’. Tilak used the columns of ‘Kesari’ to attack the Liberal camp on different occasions. Agarkar, Ranade and Gokhale the three stalwarts of Liberalism in Maharashtra were relentlessly criticised, in his characteristic pungent Marathi, by Tilak. Ranade and Gokhale had to take always a defensive posture while Agarkar with all his aggresive language could not win the war of words.

Tilak gained tremendous popularity due to his bitter criticism on repressive policies of the British Government. He wrote many articles supporting the cause of farmers and attacked the government for its policy towards farmers.13 He took active part in farmers’ agitation in Thana District. In the Plague epidemic of 1897 he condemned the police and military on account of their cruel actions in the anti—plague operations. Similarly the drought relief measures of the government came under vehement attack from Tilak. The July issue gave him another opportunity to expose the imperialistic character of the British rule. He showed to the people the government is not ‘honestly’ willing to offer various political reforms the Congress was demanding. Liberals had deep faith in the British rulers like Morley while Tilak made it very clear that whatever might be their convictions so far as the attitude towards India was concerned it was imperialistic.14

Tilak’s Extremism had different facets. One of them was Hindu revivalism. When Liberals were criticising Hindu religion and social customs and suggesting various reforms Tilak was arguing the case for traditional Hinduism. He started Ganapati festival to integrate the Hindus and utilised the opportunity of Hindu—Muslim riots to create separate identity of Hindus. The Shivaji festival was began by him in order to inspire patriotism through worship of great hero. In fact these two festivals were the recruiting agents for extremists party. The essentially traditional mind of Maharashtra’s middle and lower middle class found in Tilak their true representative. Whatever might be Tilak’s attitude towards social reforms what mattered was his opposition to all reforms propagated by Liberals. On this point, his main objection was that the alien rulers should not be allowed to interfere in the sacred religion of Indians. The cause of degeneration in his opinion was not the traditions and customs of Hindus and their social structure but the British rule. Thus he strengthened the patriotic feelings, aroused a hatred and contempt for alien rule through exposing its repressive nature and focussed the attention of people on only one aim that is establishment of self—rule or ‘Swarajya’ as he liked to put it.

The Swadeshi movement was the expression of the same ideology. It composed of economic boycott of foreign and especially British articles and promoting Indian industries. The Liberals were for the latter element but opposed Boycott. The Extremist party in fact made use of economic theories developed by Liberals. But they used them to show economic imperialism and exploitation.

In place of Western education supported by Liberals Tilak and his party put National Education which contained religious education, industrial education, education in politics and lightening the load of the study of the foreign language.

The Extremists were growing in strength not only in Maharashtra but all over India. But Tilak was the most important and distinguished leader of the Extremist party in Maharashtra. Gopal Krishna Gokhale was the leader of Liberal party. Tilak captured Maharashtra through his ceaseless activities described in preceding paras but at the same time he did not lose the sight of all India politics of which the Congress was the main theatre. Thus he created with his supporters an Extremist block. The Extremist leaders of other provinces joined him in his efforts. In 1906 session of the Congress at Calcutta the rift between Liberal members and Extremists was felt. The session was dominated by Extremists became they had created sufficient opposition

to Curzon’s repression and imperialism. The partition of Bengal was utilised by them to organise mass movement. The boycott, Swadeshi, passive resistance were the weapons of their movement which gained immediate following all over India including Maharashtra. At Surat (1907) the differences between Tilak’s party and Gokhale’s party went to such an extent that Congress split and the Extremists left the organisation. The next session held at Madras (1908) under Liberal leadership was attended by only 626 delegates. Maharashtra, Bengal, and Punjab the strongholds of Extremists sent very few delegates to this session. The Lahore session of 1909 was attended by only 243 delegates.15 From 1908 to 1910 the number of delegates to Congress of Moderates dropped and it could arouse little interest in the national movement or in the country. Upto 1915 Congress remained under the control of Liberals but in 1916 its Lucknow session the Extremists led by Tilak, Gandhi, Annie Besant and Bipin Chandra Pal captured the Congress almost completely. The Montagu—Chelmsford Report declaring reforms was published on 8th July 1918.16 The Liberals boycotted a meeting of Congress which passed a resolution expressing disappointment of the Reforms. In 1918 they held a Conference of like—minded men. The conference welcomed the reforms. In 1919 the Liberals who were called as moderates formed the Indian National Liberal Foundation of India.17 This marked their complete separation from the Congress as well the beginning of the last phase of liberalism which had already lost the main battle.

The Failure in mobilization of masses

The Liberal movement from its inception was mainly a movement of the urban western educated class. The liberals never bothered about the recruitment of other classes to their movement. They talked in western political idiom, wrote articles and essays in English and their appeals were based on reason, because they were meant for men nurtured in Western education. Liberals had taken this approach consciously and with a definite purpose in mind. They considered educated class as the leaders of the society. This class they felt was to play a special role in the modernisation of Indian society. The organisations and associations formed by these Liberals were composed of western educated men. Thus their approach was elitist and remained elitist even in 20th century.18

In effect masses remained unaffected by Liberal movement even though it had developed for more than fifty years. Their method of constitutional agitation, appealing to government for more and more concessions and explaining to people the good intensions of the government did not involve the masses who had no place and interest in it.

When the British rulers expanded the Legislative Councils and reformed its structure the Liberals thought that it was an opportunity to cooperate with the government and implement the reforms by entering the councils. But when their leaders were busy with job of communicating with the British rulers and getting more and more concessions the Liberal movement lost the contact with masses. When the Extremists were mobilising masses by addressing them in their language, using appealing symbols, emotional words and exploiting their love for tradition and religion the elitist Liberals were engaged in different governmental committees university senates, local self government bodies and legislative councils. Because of such kind of cooperation with the foreign government when the Extremists were attacking its repression the Liberals could not get the legitimacy in the eyes of the masses.

It is the failure of Liberals to mobilise lower classes that deprived them of any following. They found it very difficult to mobilise masses. One of the Gokhale’s observation makes their position very clear.

“As regards the vast mass which we have on the other side it is an exceedingly difficult work to energise this vast mass, to put life into it, to mane it more along with us; and the work is bound to be slow, and it is being very slowly done”.19

But when Liberal leaders held this view the Extremist leaders like Tilak could achieve considerable success in mass mobilisation. Tilak got popularity among farmers, through his articles in which he criticised government, measures, among workers whom he had addressed on more than one occassions as well as among lower middle salaried and professional classes. In fact he could attract the educated classes which was the main hope of Liberals to his movement by arousing patriotic feelings and religious revivalism.

Liberal’s Refusal to change and adopt to new situation

At the beginning of the 20th century the situation in Maharashtra had radically changed. The British rule had completed its 75 years. Its true character and nature was revealed. How far the enlightened rule was beneficial to the country was realised. Along with its benefits, the experience of so many years had exposed the dark side of the rule. The economic exploitation of Indian economy by British was exposed by many scholars and economists. The books like ‘Poverty and Un—British Rule in India’, by Dadabhai Naoroji and “Prosperous’ British India”, by William Digby explained to the people the economic imperialism of Britain and its adverse effects on the economic conditions of India.

The British Government did not respond to the honest demands of Indian politicians as they had hoped. The government was always hesitant to offer any reform desired by the Congress. And in Curzon’s regime came the repression of worst kind. This conservative and imperialistic attitude

of the British government created frustration in the minds of later generations. All hopes of collaborations and cooperation with the government became increasingly useless and unrealistic.

The education did not remain the monopoly of a few of highest class but it had how percolated to lower classes. To this class of newly educated young men the Liberals could not attract. There was now a division between the educated class. Tilak and his party recruited this class to their movement. The class with a frustration regarding Britishers, contempt for its exploitation created by Extremists leadership turned their back to Liberals. The middle and lower middle class was very much susceptible to the emotional appeals of patriotism and love for whatever was Indian. They became more and more anti—western instead of advocates of western culture. To this class Tilak provided the platform, representation and the movement.

To such changed situation the Liberals refused to adopt. They could not face the challenge of new conditions. The old method and style soon became out of date. Instead of changing, revitalising and giving new shape to the method, and strategy Liberals continued with same old tactics and beliefs. In fact what Ranade had given in 1870’s was a new shape to social life of Maharashtra. It was a great break through. At that time useful, timely, appropriate and adequate but in changed circumstances of the 20th century Liberals sticked to the same programme and prepared the way for their decline. Liberals found it very difficult to change deviate from old Ranade model. Their faith and beliefs became hurdles in the progress of the movement and spread of thought. Liberals led by Gokhale instead of adapting to the atmosphere of the day remained in the old shell of constitutional methods Gokhale tried to allow some concessions to mass movement but could not leave the most cherished and loved ties with

British men and peaceful agitation. After his death the leadership went to younger politicians of Liberal Federation But they too sticked to Gokhale’s line of action. They worked in legislative councils, collaborated with the alien government in implementing reforms, and always tried to act as best as communicating agents between Tilakit Congress or Gandhian Congress and the British government. They had a kind of aversion to the revivalistic over tones of Tilak and spiritual and religious colour of Gandhian methods. They continued to appeal to the liberal consciousness of rulers, and believed in peaceful and constitutional method of achieving political aims. The mass movements which was the main instrument first used by Tilak and later developed by Gandhi could not attract the dogmatic Liberals. In 1919 in which year the Jallianwalla bagh incidence had taken place R.P.Paranjpe a Maharashtrian leader of Liberal Party said “the fundamental basis on which the Liberal Party takes its stand is a belief, on the whole, in the righteousness of the British Empire. In spite of occasional mishaps, one might say, that if this belief was not ingrained amongst us, we should not be Liberals but might have joined some other party in this country”.20

In his Presidential Address to National Liberal Federation (1925) Sir Moropant Joshi remarked that his party had consistently acted on the principle of cooperation, whenever possible and opposition whenever necessary.21 These statements of two important leaders of Liberal Party show that the disciples of Gokhale working in twenties when politics of the country had reached the next stage refused to deviate from the model given in 1870’s. Thus the moderation which was a characteristic feature of liberal thought became impediment to its own way.

The unfavourable response of the British Government

Liberals as it is seen earlier always believed in the sense of justice and liberal convictions of their alien rulers. They thought that the British government would concede their demands put forward through constitutional agitation. Fortunately many British viceroys were sympathetic towards their demands. For instance the Indian policy was dominated by liberalism from 1880 to 1888 when Ripon and Dufferin introduced various reforms. But the British policy was not always liberal. On the contrary it turned into a reactionary and imperialistic one at the end of the 19th century. On the whole there was a ‘deep rooted incompatibility. Between the demands of liberals and what British government was ready to concede. After 1888 the attitude of the government towards the Indian National Congress became more and more unsympathetic. Due to the constitutional agitation of Congress, government conceded some reforms regarding the representation to Indians in the Civil Service in 1889 and structure of Legislative Councils in 1892. But the concessions given were much less than what Congress had desired. The failure in this connection was a damaging blow to the prestige of the liberal congressmen.22 In fact, the difference between what government agreed to offer and what liberal politicians were demanding was the characteristic feature of all reforms. Gokhale aptly said “too little and too late” is the epitaph written on all steps of Anglo—Indian reforms 23

But the height of reactionary policy was achieved in Curzon’s viceroyalty from 1899 to 1905. Curzon’s imperialistic attitude was reflected in all the 12 measures he took. The Calcutta Corporation was reformed by Act of 1899. It reduced by half the number of elected members on the Corporation and gave its British members a decisive voice. The Corporation’s powers were reduced and it got a nominated chairman. The Official Secrets Act which was passed in 1904 brought restrictions on the Press: The reforms introduced in Universities in 1904 went contrary to Liberal’s ideas regarding university administration and higher education. The Partition of Bengal (1905) came as the greatest shock and disappointment to the Liberal leaders. Even Gokhale a believer in moderation and cooperation with Government remarked: “The all I can say is good—bye to all hope of cooperating, in any way with the bureaucracy, in the interests of the people”.24

After Curzon’s era the British attitude towards the demands of Indians remained more or less the same as it was earlier. The later instalments of reforms such as Morley—Pinto Reforms (1909) and Montegue—Chelsmford Reforms (1919) were also disappointing. The Extremist party rejected them totally while Liberals led by Gokhale and Banjerjee of Bengal welcomed them with some criticism as steps towards self—government.

Thus the unfavourable response to the earnest demands of Liberals made their position precarious and awkward in Indian politics. It projected bad image of Liberals before the people and proved the invalidity of their approach. The unsympathetic attitude of government on the other hand made the position of the Extremists stronger. Extremists were attacking government every now and then. Their leaders on account of agitation against government went to jails and were harassed by government. Tilak could create a contempt in the minds of the people for the oppressive and cruel rule. When the government was suppressing the Extremist leadership the people at large were accepting it more and more. As a result the popularity and following of Extremist leaders increased tremendously within few years. Thus the unfavourable response of British Government caused a decline of liberal movement and added the strength of rival movement of Extremists.

Liberalism loses important leaders

The death of Liberal leaders deprived the movement of able leadership. When the extremist party was taking roots in Maharashtra, Liberals lost Ranade (1901) their greatest leader. After Ranade, no liberal leader worked in all the branches of social life with equal ability and interest. The social reform movement got competent men. The politics was taken up as full time engagement by Gokhale. But no body came forward to take the place of Ranade. Agarkar died in 1895, when he was only 41 years old. After 1901 the Liberal movement was led by Gokhale so far as politics was concerned. Gokhale who was regarded in the first decade of the 20th century as the most important leader of Liberal party in India died in February 1915. His death “delivered a crushing blow to the cause of Liberal nationalism”.25

The Liberal party not only in Maharashtra but in India could not get the leader of Gokhale’s ability and idealism after 1915.26

The Social Reform Movement

The liberal thought influenced the educated class of Maharashtra. Many young men belonging to this class devoted their lives to the liberal movement. There were some who confined their attention to the social reforms only and did not bother much about the politics. The institutions and associations formed by these men were modelled on the format given by the great liberal leaders like Ranade.

Dhondo Keshav Karve

Dhondo Keshav Karve was one of them. He became graduate in 1884 and started his career as a teacher. Gopal Krishna Gokhale called him to join Fergusson College in 1891. He taught there upto 1914. In 1893 he married a widow. Agarkar had signed on the invitation cards of the marriage. With others he founded Widow Remarriage Association at Wardha in 1893 . Thus the mission of his life was determined very early. He devoted his long life to the cause of education of widows and women. He formed in 1896 Anatha Balikashram Association and after four years Anatha Balikashram at Hingane. In 1907, Karve founded Mahila Vidyalaya. The Women’s University was opened in 1916. For the spread of education in rural area he formed Village Primary Education Society. The equality between man and man he valued much hence started Samata Sangh (1944) and Caste Abolition Society (1948). In recognition of his work for the cause of women’s education, Bararas, Poona and Bombay Universities conferred on him doctorates. In 1958 Government of India awarded him Bharat Ratna.

Karve was influenced by Agarkar’s ideas. Agarkar’s rationalism, his sincerity regarding social reform appealed him very much.27 The views of Lokhitwadi and Agarkar on equality between man and woman had made deep impact on Karve who spent his life for upliftment of women.28

Gopal Krishna Deodhar (1871-1935

Gopal Krishna Deodhar is another important personality in the social reform movement. He joined Fergusson College where Agarkar was teacher in 1892. After his graduation he joined Aryan Education Society at Bombay and became Principal of its High School in 1900. He did his M.A. in 1903. In 1905 he came in contact with Gokhale and with him founded Servants of India Society in the same year. 29An institution with which Deodhar’s name is associated is ‘Sevasadan’ which he established in October 1909. It is the institution which is devoted to women’s education. Deodhar took keen interest in the elevation of depressed classes. His work then included education of untouchable girls, cooperative societies in Bombay for scavengers and sweepers. He was President of Maharashtra Branch of Harijan Sevak Sangh. Deodhar took part in deliberative and administrative side of Social Conference both Provincial and National. He was elected as General Secretary of National Social Conference of 1919 session and President of Bombay Provincial Social Conference of 1920. Deodhar and some other persons of ‘Liberal School of Thought, arranged the sessions of National Social Conference (1922 and 1923) along with the sessions of National Liberal Federation. For two sessions of Conference he was President. In 1925 Deodhar arranged a session of Bombay Provincial Social Conference at Poona along with Bombay Provincial Liberal Conference. Thus he tried to maintain close relation between political and social liberalism.30

Deodhar was influenced by Agarkar when he was in Fergusson College and through his writings in ‘Sudharak’. He came in close contact with Gokhale who influenced him by his example and teachings.31 M.G.Ranade also made impact on his mind through his writings, his disciple Gokhale and wife-disciple Ramabai Ranade.32

Ramabai Ranade

Ramabai Ranade widow of great liberal thinker and activist M.G.Ranade devoted her life to the cause of women’s education after the death of her husband in 1901. ‘Sevasadan’ made its beginning in her house. She became the President of this institution. Due to efforts of Ramabai Ranade and Deodhar ‘Sevasadan’ made impressive progress, opened many branches and started imparting training to women in nursing, medical services, midwifery, teaching as well as regular subjects. The aim of the institution is to enable women to stand on their own and make them economically independent. Ramabai Ranade had taken inspiration from her husband.33

V.R.Shinde (1873-1944

The second trend in liberal thought represented by Mahatma Phoolay made deep impact on many educated men of non-brahmin castes. V.R.Shinde was one of them. He was influenced by Prarthana Samaj, Ranade, Agarkar and Phoolay. Shinde did his graduation in 1898 and went to England for higher education in 1901. After returning from England in 1903 he started working for Prarthana Samaj. On 18th November 1906 Shinde established Depressed Class Mission with which

his name is associated. After four years he left Prarthana Samaj and devoted all his time to Mission. In 1917 he became President of Maratha iashtriya Sangha. In the next year he organised a session of Aspurshyata Nivarak Parishad at Bombay. To its Nagpur session of i920 Mahatma Gandhi occupied presidential chair. In 1923 Shinde started ‘Ahilyashram

In 1930 he participated in Civil Disobedience Movement. Three books are to his credit (Bharatiya Asprushyatecha Prashna, Shinde Lekha Sangraha, Majya Aathawani va Anubhav). The review of his career shows that V.R.Shinde devoted his life for rights of lower classes and especially untouchables.

Dr.B.R.Ambedkar (1891-1956

Ambedkar the greatest leader of untouchable class was influenced by Mahatma Phoolay. He spent his life for untouchables’ movement. Born in 1891 Ambedkar did B.A. from Elphinstone College and went to U.S.A. where he studied from 1913 to 1916 and acquired his M.A. and doctarate. Upto 1922 he was busy with further studies at London University. In 1923 he got D.Sc. from the University. After returning back to India he started taking active part in social and political movement. In 1920 he organised Conference of Untouchables, and at Nagpur an All India Untouchables Conference. He established Bahishkrit Hitkarini Sabha in 1924. In 1927 he organised at Mahad an agitation against untouchability which gave new turn to the movement. At Nasik (1950) Ambedkar organised a demonstration for entrance to temple. In 1936 he started ‘Independent Labour Party’ and in 1942 All India Schedule Caste Federation. For propagating his views he started a weekly Mooknayak (1920) and a fortnightly ‘Bahishkrit Bharat’ (1927). He became member of Legislative Council in 1926 and 1937. He was appointed as Labour Minister in Governor-General’s Executive Council (1942) and Law Minister in Congress Government (1947 At Round Table Conference Ambedkar represented untouchables of India and demanded separate constituencies for them. In the field of education Ambedkar took keen interest.

He established Peoples Education Society, (1946), Sidhartha College (1946) and Sidhartha College of Commerce and Economics (1953) at Bombay. In 1950 he started Milind Mahavidyalaya at Aurangabad. Buddhism occupies very important place in Ambedkar’s life. He started leaning towards Buddhism in 1951 and attended many Buddhist Conferences. Ultimately in 1956 he embraced Buddhism with his millions of followers. His conversion gave a new turn to untouchables movement.

Shahu Chhatrapati (1884-1922

Shahu came to the throne in Kolhapur State on 2nd April 1894. From that date to his early death in 1922 Shahu influenced by Phoolay took initiative in starting schools and hostels for lower classes at different places in Maharashtra, and led the untouchables and Satya Shodhak Movement. In his State he took numerous steps to give adequate representation to backward castes in administration from local to Darbar level. He implemented progressive measures regarding Mahar Vatans and Jahagiri and Inams (1913, 1918). Shahu used his authority for upliftment of lower castes and reforming the social structure through various legislative and administrative measures. With his

encouragement Satya Shodhak Samaj was established in Kolhapur on 11th January 1911. After 1911 the Samaj made rapid progress all over Maharashtra. Shahu advised workers in Bombay to organise trade unions and start agitating for their rights. He presided over the sessions of Untouchables Conferences organised by Ambedkar whom Shahu supported from the very beginning.34

Satyashodhak Movement

The Satyashodhak Samaj was established by Mahatma Phoolay in 1873. Upto his death in November of 1889 the Samaj made spectacular progress. But after his death the movement could not get the able leadership upto 1923.

Dr. Ghole was for some years a leader of the Samaj after Phoolay but on the whole the movement of Samaj for the upliftment of lower classes and challenging the monopoly of higher caste in religious, social and politibal spheres was almost ineffective upto 1912. Narayan Rao Lokhande a collegue of Phule died in 1897. Afterwards the movement was led by Vishram Ramaji Ghole, Dr. Santooji Ramaji Lad, Krishnarao Bhalekar and Ramayya Ayyavaru. On 11th January 1911 the Samaj was established at Kolhapur with Bhaskarrao Jadhav as President and Anna Saheb Latthe as Vice President. After Samaj was started at Kolhapur Dr. Lad and Ayyavaru began the work for Samaj with new enthusiasum and hope. On 17th April 1911 the Conference of Samaj was held under the Presidentship of Ayyavaru. It was the first of its kind after the death of Phoolay. The second Conference was held at Nasik in April 1912. Dr. Lad presided over the Conference. In the next year the Conference took place at Thana.

Due to Samaj’s initiative 5163 religious ceremonies and marriages were performed by non—Brahmin Purohits. In 1915 Samaj started co—meals (Sahabhojan). Next year the Conference was organised by Samaj at Nijani.

Thus upto 1920 the work of Samaj remained mainly social and religious. In 1919 Montegue Chelmsford Report recommended Dyarchy System for Presidencies. The recommendation was going to result in granting share in power to the representatives of people. The leaders of Samaj feared that if they sat idle the power would again go to Brahmins. This realisation gave a new turn to the Satyashodhak Movement. The non—brahmin party faught elections in 1920 for reformed councils, but it met with defeat. In 1923 the thirteen candidates of the Party were elected to Council and they formed cabinet with others in Province. In the elections of 1926 they could win twelve seats. Thus from 1921 to 1929 the leaders of the Samaj worked in Bombay Legislative Council. After 1929 the political movement of the Samaj almost merged itself into National Movement. Leaders like Jedhe joined Congress.35

The Political System

Liberal thinkers in Maharashtra had envisaged a Representative and Responsible government for India. Their school criticised the British rule on the ground that it was irresponsible and authoritarian. They always insisted on larger representation to Indians and the change in the structure of Legislative Councils and relationship among different organs of government. Liberals suggested different reforms in the political system keeping in the mind the ultimate aim of Representative and Responsible government. The activists of them got seats in the Legislative Councils at Provincial and Central level. In the councils they represented the people at large and acted like opposition members. The progress of representative institutions in India upto 1905 was due to the efforts of Liberal Congressmen. The British Government responded to demands of the Congress though there was always a difference in what Liberals wanted and government offered.

The later development of these institutions followed the same pattern. The representative institutions of independent India have much to inherit from them. Edward Shils observes that by trying to work these institutions the liberals provided the platform on which present day representative institutions were built.36

The constitution of India is based on the tenets of liberalism. The political system given by it to the country resembles the ideals envisaged by the Liberal thinkers of Maharashtra and of other provinces. The Chapter on Fundamental Rights reflects the Liberal character of the Constitution. Its origin goes back to the thought and efforts of 19th century Liberals and their disciples, who worked for social and political reforms. Bhaskaran says that Indian constitution in the making of which Liberals had no direct hand, is in many respects a Liberal document.

Impact of Liberal Economics

Independent thinking on economic problems of India was started by Liberal thinkers in the 19th century. It was Ranade who developed a model of Indian Economics which was for many years a base to all thinking on economics in the country. Gokhale, Agarkar and others followed Ranade. Dadabhai Naoroji another Liberal who was deeply interested in Economics is welknown for his Drain theory.38

Liberal economists held that the backward economy like India needed state help for its development. The Industry and Agriculture should get sufficient encouragement from the government. The British government should leave its non-interventionist policy. The policies of the government were responsible for the impoverishment of Indian economy. Dadabhai Naoroji and Agarkar insisted on the economic exploitation of India by Britain. While Ranade and Gokhale were hopeful and believed that India could utilise the opportunity of British rule for her rapid industrialisation But on the whole all Liberals had,though in moderate tone, exposed the exploitative character of British rule.

These economic ideas became the foundations of Extremist thinking on the problem. The views of the Congress even after the separation of Liberals and Extremists were shaped mainly by Liberal Economic thought, the origin of which goes to Ranade and Dadabhai. The Extremists based their criticism of economic policies of government on the ideas of Liberal thinkers. Their criticism was more direct and severe than Liberals.39

This review of Liberal thought brings out its important contribution to the intellectual and socio—political life of Maharashtra in particular and India in general. At the same time it points out the limitations of the Liberal school, of the individual Liberal thinkers and the movement. However, Liberalism has persisted as a significant intellectual force in Indian political life.

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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