Gopal Krishna Gokhale: Life, Contribution & More

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Gopal Krishna Gokhale biography

Gopal Krishna Gokhale was a great politician, educationist, social reformer and an influential moderate leader of the Indian National Congress. He set exemplary leadership in the Indian Independence movement, and even Mahatma Gandhi in his book My Experiments With Truth mentions, Gopal Krishna Gokhale as his “Political Guru and Guide”. Along with being a friend, philosopher and guide to great leaders, he also had a deep understanding of financial matters and was skilled in debates, thus he was called the ‘Gladstone” of India. In this blog, we will get to know more about Gopal Krishna Gokhale’s biography along with his life, education, achievements and more.

Gopal Krishna Gokhale
Born9th May, 1866
Place of BirthKothluk, Ratnagiri, Bombay Presidency (Now Maharashtra)
Father’s NameKrishna Rao Gokhale
Mother’s NameValubai Gokhale
OccupationJournalist, Social Reformer, Professor and Politician
Political PartyModerate Leader of Indian National Congress
Death19th February, 1915
IdeologyLiberal, Socialist and Moderate

Who was Gopal Krishna Gokhale?

Gopal Krishna Gokhale was born on 9th May 1866 in Ratnagiri, Bombay Presidency, Currently Maharashtra. His father’s name was Krishnarao Shridhar Gokhale, who was working as a clerk in the princely state of Kolhapur and his mother’s name was Valubai Gokhale. But his father died when he was just 13 years old, leaving the responsibility on Gokhale’s shoulders.

  • He received his early education in Ratnagiri and later moved to Pune for further studies.
  • He became the first in the family to have received a university education from Elphistone College in 1884. 
  • Gokhale was a brilliant student and dedicated himself to acquiring knowledge in various fields like economics, history, and political science
  • Gopal Krishna Gokhale obtained his graduation degree from Fergusson College of Poona. 
  • Meanwhile, he was married first in 1881, but due to his wife’s death, he again married in 1887, from which he had three children. 
  • Although his son died shortly after birth, his daughters Kashibai and Godubai also received higher education.
  • Later, he joined the Deccan Education Society and Sarvajanik Sabha Patrika started by Mahadev Govind Ranade, the Indian Jurist, writer and social reformer during the British era who was also called the “Socrates of Maharashtra”.
Gopal Krishna Gokhale biography
Credits –

After receiving his formal education, he started his professional career by teaching at ‘ New English High School’ Poona. Thereafter, he became a professor of history and economics at Fergusson College. In the meanwhile, he was introduced to Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Mathematics teacher N.J Bapat. He along with Bapat published a mathematics book, which was included in the curriculum of many institutions.

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Political Career

Gopal Krishna Gokhale started his political career in the year 1889 at the Congress Session which was held in Allahabad. 

  • Gokhale became an active member of the Indian National Congress, where he advocated for social and political reforms.
  • He also became a member of the “South Education Committee”. He even extensively travelled to England for various public and government works.
  • Slowly, he became a prominent figure as one of the “Moderate leaders” inside the INC. 
  • In the year 1893, Gokhale assumed the post of the Secretary of the “Reception Committee” of the Poona session of 1895.
  • He also was a member of the Imperial Legislative Council in 1902, where he mastered all the relevant details about the legislation process. 
  • During this time, he raised issues like primary education, nominal tax, participation of youth in government jobs and medical reforms.
  • In the year 1905, he was even elected as the president of the Indian National Congress.
Gopal Krishna Gokhale biography
Credits – Pinterest

Contribution of Gopal Krishna Gokhale

Gokhale also understood the importance of scientific and technological education needed for Independence and its progress. 

  • Thus in the year 1905, he established the “Bharat Sevak Samaj” (Servants of India Society), intending to provide training to the people who wanted to devote themselves to the services of India.  Other members of the society included several social reformers like G.K Deodhar, V. Srinivas Shastri and Pandit Hriday Narayan Kanzru.
  • Again in 1908, he also founded the “Ranade Institute of Economics”. He also propagated against the caste system and untouchability. He worked for the cause of female education and pleaded for the emancipation of women. 

Later, the ideology and functioning of the leaders of “The Indian National Congress” were divided into two separate groups “Moderate Leaders” and “Extreme Leaders” at the Surat Split. Those who were in favour of non-violence were considered Moderate leaders, while the people moving forward with the torch of the revolution were considered to be Extreme leaders. The Moderate Leaders included Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Dadabhai Naoroji, and A O Hume, while the Extreme leaders included Bipin Chandra Pal, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai, etc.

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Again, when Minto was made the Viceroy of India after Lord Curzon, the Swadeshi movement was at its peak due to the partition of Bengal. After this many reforms were made in the British Government’s Act called the India Council Act 1909, the credit for which goes to Gopal Krishna Gokhale and other big leaders. Under this Act, Indians were included and their numbers increased in the Central and Provincial Legislative Councils, the Viceroy’s Executive Council and the ‘ Imperial Legislative Council’. Along with this, the members of the Legislative Councils in the Center and the provinces were divided into four parts. Thus, Gokhale played an important role in the Morley Minto reform. Gopal Krishna Gokhale’s biography is full of his dedication to bringing sefl rule in India. He died on 19th February, 1915 due to ill health.

Widow Remarriage ActIshwar Chandra Vidyasagar
Indira GandhiSwaraj Party
Peasant MovementsKiran Bedi
Prarthana SamajArya Samaj
Bengal PartitionBirsa Munda

That’s all about Gopal Krishna Gokhale biography. If you want to read more articles like this, you can get Study notes on the Modern History of India here. Also, you can visit our general knowledge page on Indian History!

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