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Monday, December 5, 2011

Lokmanya Tilak: The Icon of Fearless and Ideal Journalism

Lokmanya Tilak: The Icon of Fearless and Ideal Journalism
Education of Lokmanya Tilak
The Characteristics of Lokmanya Tilak's Journalism
1. Torture he had to go through for his principle of fearless

2. To ably point out the shortcomings in administration
3. Journalism putting forth rational thoughts
4. Journalism exposing suppression by the Government
5. Tilak believed in journalism as a right to form public opinion
6. Tilak's journalism based in his belief in God
Views of Lokmanya Tilak published in the weekly periodical 'Kesari'
advocating that the strength of people's opinion is in their resolve!

When India was under the control of the British, few jewels were born
in this country, who always worried for the upliftment of this
country and sacrificed their body, mind, wealth and soul for the
welfare of this country. One of these magnificent, shining jewels is
Lokmanya Tilak. Tilak is famous for his multi-faceted personality as
a philosopher, a mathematician, promoter of Dharma and a legal
expert. It is the death anniversary of this principled and
unrelenting personality today who was conferred the title of
'Lokmanya'. The tough and fiery journalism of Lokmanya Tilak was
instrumental in initiating the movement during pre-independence
period for bringing about change in the mental setup of the people.
After the independence, even now, there is a need to take up similar
movement to bring about change among the people at psychological
level and the very purpose of this article to create such awareness
among the journalists and citizens of this country.

Education of Lokmanya Tilak
Lokmanya Tilak was born at Ratnagiri. He passed Matric examination in
the year 1873 and took admission in Deccan College at Pune. In the
year 1876, he passed the graduation (B.A.) examination securing first
class. He was known as a sharp-witted student. After BA, he studied
law and passed LL.B. examination in the year 1879.

Purpose of Tilak's journalism: Tilak and Agarkar, the two friends
completed their education and felt that they should do something in
education field for upliftment of their motherland. Their efforts
started under the leadership of Vishnu shastri Chiplunkar and on the
1st January 1880, 'New English School' was set up. The many things
that Tilak had planned to take up as service unto the nation,
starting a school was just one of them. His idea of service in
education field was very expansive and noble. The idea of creating
awareness among the people, take them to a new era creating new hopes
among them and their implementation started taking root in his mind.
As a part of this mission, he decided to start two newspapers,
'Kesari' in Marathi and 'Maratha' in English.

The characteristics of Lokmanya Tilak's journalism
The rare picture of Lokmanya Tilak
Tilak had 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)'.

Torture he had to go through for his principle of fearless journalism
Tilak came to know that the British Government was repressing the
'Maharaj' of Kolhapur through his manager Shri. Barwe. An article was
then published in 'Kesari' alleging that Barwe was plotting
conspiracy against Maharaj. Shri. Barwe filed a case against 'Kesari'
for such accusation. Tilak and Agarkar were sentenced to 4 months
imprisonment. After this first sentence, Tilak started feeling the
need to take part in political activities and he left the prison with
certain resolve. He opted for politics and started working as the
Editor of 'Kesari' and 'Maratha'.

To ably point out the shortcomings in administration
In the year 1896-97, there was a severe famine in Maharashtra and
people had no food to eat. Tilak wrote an article in 'Kesari' and
brought it to the notice of the British Government what were its
duties under the 'Famine Relief Code'. He also warned the officers
who were trying to throttle the rights of the citizens and made an
appeal to the people to fight for justice. Tilak showed how
effectively one can serve the people, remaining within the frame of

Journalism putting forth rational thoughts
By then, Namdar Gokhale had started to present his views that the
movement started by the Congress should be as per the charter.
Lokmanya, however, did not agree with his views. In an article
"Sanadshir or Kayadeshir (As per the charter or legal)", he refuted
Gokhale's views as follows - "Britain has not set any charter of
rights to Hindustan, therefore, it would be ridiculous to say that
the movement should be conducted as per the Charter. Hindustan is
governed as per the laws made by the British. The question,
therefore, remains is whether the movement is legal or not. When
there is alienation of law and morals, if need be, one should break
the laws to follow the morals and quietly accept whatever punishment
is given for the same."

Journalism exposing suppression by the Government
The Government was waiting for an opportunity to quash the 'Jahal
(fierce)' movement and it got such opportunity due to an incident
which took place at Muzaffarpur. Khudiram Bose, a young revolutionary
threw a bomb on an English officer but it missed the target and fell
on the car in which two English women were travelling; killing them
in the blast. The Government was enraged. In his editorial published
in 'Kesari', Tilak expressed his dislike towards such terrorist
activities but argued that Government's suppression policy was
responsible for building up such radical attitude. Five very strong
articles against the Government were published in 'Kesari' in
connection with the bomb blast and Lokmanya was arrested on 24th June
1908 for sedition.

Tilak believed in journalism as a right to form public opinion
Lokmanya argued in the Court for 21 hours and 10 minutes against the
charges of treason leveled 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 and warn against
such powers and he argued that he had not committed treason.

Tilak's journalism based in his belief in God
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. Tilak was extremely calm at that time. He was looking
at his future with the stance of an observer. As the jury declared
him 'guilty', Judge Davar asked Tilak whether he wanted to say
something. Tilak got up and said, "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."

His philosophy towards life was like his philosophy towards politics.
He believed in unarmed movement along with armed revolution. We offer
our humble regards to this principled leader who had firm belief in
his ideals and who fought for his country throughout his life till
his last breath!

Views of Lokmanya Tilak published in the weekly periodical 'Kesari'
advocating that the strength of people's opinion is in their resolve!

It is the duty of the leaders to create awareness among people and
help to form their opinion. If, however, the Government tramples such
awakened opinion of the citizens, what is the use of such awareness?
How the sea-waves hit a mountain near its coast and return with same
force, so is the condition of opinion of our people. One has to hold
one's nose to open mouth and if we are not going to do anything that
would be disliked by the Government, the suppression will never end.
The Government is humiliating people's opinion like blades of grass.
These blades of grass should be united to form a strong rope.
Hundreds and thousands of people should connect with the same resolve
as the strength of people's opinion is not just in collection but in
their resolve.

Ref: 'Kesari', 15th August 1905)

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