History Lesson

by tybmmjourno

I was never a science or mathematics person. All near and dear ones would unanimously agree to this.
I was more on the history and politics side of education. I could somehow always understand and make sense of various things which happened in history and what were the results of those repercussions. It is very pulsating like every new thing you get to know about is a part of the larger puzzle. The new pieces of information to me look like the first time as kid I saw candy floss, pink, sweet, bubble like and very inviting.
Truth being told we live in a society which has completes belief in science and accounts. It really doesn’t care about the candy floss; what we are taught is about how the mechanics of the candy floss machine works and how much will it cost. You have uncle and aunts and family friends who ask you, “Why would you take arts in your high school board examination? You can do a BA in college, it is the same thing right?” At that very moment you’re counting backwards in your head from one to ten and in some cases from hundred to one. In the larger picture personally I am not very fond of the education system but then well that’s how our society believes we will remain sane.
We have brilliant examples of how history is created which we in general seem to forget. It is in those moments, which get together to define or create the moment of the era, which defines a new beginning and an end to the previous one. It is a circle which goes around. This is what should be explained to the critics of history. One of the examples would be of the trio famously known as Lal, Bal and Pal i.e Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bipin Chandra Pal, they were the propagators of the radical approach towards India’s freedom. In 1905 they led the Swadeshi movement and during the Bengal partition mobilized Indians and carried demonstration strikes to oppose the British government’s decision.
In the year 1881 the history of Mumbai changed the moment the Marathi weekly ‘Kesari’ came into print. Mumbai for the first time saw what a single man could do. Mumbai started celebrating ‘samuhik ganapati visarjan’ a tradition followed till date.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak was the editor of ‘Maratha’ while Agarkar, his very close friend was the editor of The Kesari. With due course of time the difference in their ideologies grew and Agarkar quit the editor’s job from Kesari. Tilak’s main motive behind starting Kesari and Maratha was to provide information to readers as well as them educate them. He wanted to use his paper make the Indians self reliant and to be aware about their rights. Tilak firmly believed in the institution of education and thought of it as a tool to drive off the British government. Later on one of the most important contributions made by these papers was create a unity among the Indian readers during the Swadeshi Movement. In Tikal’s words he explained about the nature of ‘Kesari’ as – “‘Kesari will fearlessly and impartially discuss all problems. The increasing mentality of appeasing the British is not in the interest of this country. The articles published in ‘Kesari’ will be apt for its name ‘Kesari (lion)’ ”.
The paper had a Sanskrit verse printed near the editorial, the translation of the verse meant a warning to an intoxicated elephant to not enter the forest as the lion in the forest was used to destroying huge rocks thinking of them as elephants. The meaning of the Marathi word Kesari is ‘a lion’ and the addressed and warned the intoxicated elephant not to go in the forest, for there was a lion used to tearing the huge rocks mistaking them for elephants.
This would not have been possible if Tilak through his newspaper had not created a belief in his readers. His personality and ideology came across in his papers. As an editor he believed that his paper was meant for the greater good of the society and there would be no compromise on this ideal. . He used it as a platform to discuss various issues like government policies, politics, education and social issues Time and time again he had to go through various difficulties for pursuing ‘fearless journalism’.
Tilak and Agarkar were one of the first journalists against whom and deformation case was filed by Shri Barwe. This case is known as the ‘Kolhapur Kesari Episode’. Shri Barwe was the manager of the Diwaan of Kolhapur. An article published in the Kesari alleged that the Maharaja was being conspired against and his being stated as ‘mad’ was a conspiracy on the British government behalf. Tilak and Agarkar lost the case and were given a sentence of 4 months. It was only after the sentence that Tilak felt that he should become active in politics.
He put forth rational thoughts in his editorials. In the 1897 famine, he wrote in his articles about the ‘Famine Relief Code’ which forced the British government to take action and help the people. Tilak also appealed the masses to stand up for their rights. He also criticised intellectuals like Namdhar Gokhale who believed in following the British charter as ground rule for the anti government movements. Tilak objected by saying that since the government was foreign there was no need to follow their charter; India would need its own charter.
After the assassination of Mr. Rand in 1897, the government in order to bring the culprits into light became atrocious. The police authorities used ruthless repression in order to strike terror in the hearts of the people. Young men were rounded up and put in prison without notice. There were no trials and rights were suspended. Tilak agreed that the culprits should be brought to the court in his articles but he also mentioned on how the government had been insensitive to the people during the trying times of the plague. In his articles, he wrote fearlessly that the government had itself called for this sort of unrest. He further mentioned that though he did not support the violence but these young men are not left with any choice, he was quoted ‘men would be forced to pick up arms’. Rationality was the core frame of Tilak’s ideas and belief.
Tilak in his defense argued in the Court for 21 hours against the charges of treason filed against him. He clarified that the newspapers have a right to form public opinion and it is the duty of a newspaper to bring to the notice of the Government the nature of powers created in the political life of a country. The speech given by Tilak in the High Court was not an intellectual exercise to protect self but it showed his extra-ordinary qualities like his rationality in thinking, deep study of law, his love for the nation and his readiness to go through any punishment for his principles. All those who heard him pleading his case, experienced his nobility. As the judges declared him ‘guilty’, Judge Davar asked Tilak whether he wanted to say something. Tilak was quoted , “I am not an offender or guilty let the jury decide anything. There is a supreme power than this Court which controls worldly matters. It could be God’s wish that I get punishment so as to boost the mission that I have undertaken.”
Tilak as an editor was an inspiring figure to all those who worked under him and even to those who got influenced by his work. He became a public figure and took pride in the Indian culture. He wanted people to have aspirations and make the government aware of its short comings. He was a strong supporter of the freedom of press and in its power to influence and motivate people to believe for their own betterment. His editorials revolved around social awakening.
His was the generation which demanded to be heard in their country by their people. The moment ‘kesari’ came to print to every moment of his struggle, he kept creating history and this is the reason why the news media/print media is still strong in India because people did connect to the papers they read. Tilak believed in giving candy floss and not in how much money or how it was going to be made.