"Swaraj is my birthright, and I shall have it!"

No Indian, I believe, has not heard these words uttered by one of the stalwarts of the Indian freedom struggle, Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Deep Dive with Abhinav Khare tracks the journey of this freedom fighter, who was also a social activist. He was also a brilliant politician and scholar who believed that for India to prosper, freedom was the only answer.

 

He was born to a Marathi Brahmin Family in Ratnagiri, Maharashtra, as Keshav Gangadhar Tilak on July 23, 1856. He was also one of the prime architects of Swaraj or the self-rule movement in India. He said, "Religion and practical life are not different. To take Sanyas (renunciation) is not to abandon life. The real spirit is to make the country your family work together instead of working only on your own. The step beyond is to serve humanity and the next step is to serve God.”

The British labelled him as “the father of Indian unrest” but the people of India, who revered him, called him "Lokmanya”.

On April 30, 1908 when Khudiram Bose was hanged, he in his newspaper Kesari, immediately called for Swaraj. The British government wasted no time and charged him with sedition. He was sent to 6 years of prison in Burma and was made to pay a fine of Rs 1000. When the judge asked if he had anything to say, he said, “All that I wish to say is that, in spite of the verdict of the jury, I still maintain that I am innocent. There are higher powers that rule the destinies of men and nations, and I think, it may be the will of Providence that the cause I represent may be benefited more by my suffering than by my pen and tongue.”

He was the founder of the home rule movement and in 1906 he also signed the Lucknow Pact with Muhammad Ali Jinnah to ensure that Hindus and Muslims are together in this fight for freedom. He also set up the Deccan Education Society to improve the quality of education for Indians.

He passed away at the age of 64 on August 1, 1920. Over two lakh people had gathered in his funeral to pay their last respects. Gandhi called him 'The Maker of Modern India' and Nehru 'The father of the Indian Revolution'. Such was his charisma!

About Abhinav Khare:

Abhinav Khare is the CEO of Asianet News and hosts a daily show Deep Dive with Abhinav Khare.

He is the proud father of two beautiful daughters. He lives in Bengaluru with his loving family and a lifetime collection of books and gadgets. He is a hands-on Tech Startup professional with an entrepreneurial DNA. He is passionate about policy, technology, economy and the synergy of them all. An avid traveller himself, he has already ticked over a 42 countries and hundred cities around the globe!