Diamonds do a lot more than sparkle when light shines on them. They also happen to be the strongest materials in the world. They are the hardest substances ever to be known on this planet Earth and they also happen to be relatively rare (as they can only be found in certain places within 35 countries in the world). Diamonds are seen as the chief – and perhaps, even the king – gemstone but they also have practical industrial applications in drilling, cutting and polishing. Therefore, it is no small thing when one person is known as the “Diamond of India”.
WHERE IS INDIA?
The Republic of India – which is popularly known as India – is a country located in the southern part of Asia. It is the second most populous country in the world, as well as the seventh largest, by measure of land mass and area. The capital of the country is New Delhi, which also serves as the seat of its government’s administration.
The Republic of India is known globally for their rich culture, unique languages, food and beautiful women with long flowing hair; they have been known to produce a remarkable number of international beauty queens like Aishwarya Rai Bachahan (Miss World, 1994) and Priyanka Chopra Jonas (Miss World, 2000).
Not only is the country beautiful, they also have a long history of producing remarkable individuals. One of these remarkable people is Gopal Krishna Gokhale, who is popularly known as the Diamond of India.
WHO IS GOPAL KRISHNA GOKHALE?
Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866 – 1915) was a liberal political leader in India, as well as a social reformer during the Indian Independence Movement. He was the founder of the Servants of India Society as well as a senior leader of the Indian National Congress. Gokhale was also a notable member of the Poona Srvajainik Sabha (or the Poona Association) and the leader of the moderate subdivision of the Congress party that advocated social development and reforms through methods; chief of which was dialogue and hand-in-hand cooperation with government institutions which were in existence at that time. Using his capacity as the founder of the Servants of India Society and his senior membership in the Indian National Congress – along with several other organizations and political bodies he served in – Gokhale campaigned for social development and self-rule.
THE EARLY LIFE OF GOPAL KRISHNA GOKHALE
Gopal Krishna Gokhale was born on the 9th of May, 1866 in Kotluk, District Ratnagiri, Bombay Presidency, British India. He was also known by another name, which is Govind Kishan Gokhale. He was born to a Chitpavan Brahmin family (The Chitpavan Brahmin or Konkanastha Brahmin is a community of Hindu Maharashtrian Brahmin that reside in Konkan; which is the coastal part of Maharashtra, a state in India. In the 17th century, this community earned a well-known reputation for being made up of spies and messengers. However, they became particularly important in the 18th century, when the Bhat family of Balaji Vishwanath – the heirs of Peshwa, specifically – began to rule the Maratha Empire. It was in this same 18th century that the Chitpavan Brahmin family, who used to be accorded a lower social rank by the older established Brahmin community in Maharashtra (the Deshastha), began to be honored. It was about a century into this new era of esteem that Gopal Krishna Gokhale was born).
Gokhale’s family was not well to do – in fact, they were relatively poor – yet, they ensured that he got an English education (this hard earned education would later make it possible for him to be employed as a minor official or clerk in the British Raj).
Gokhale studied in Rajaram college, which was situated in Kolhapur, and he was one of the first generations of Indians to obtain a university education, under the tutelage of a renown Indian philosopher of that time, who was called Chakrappan. In 1884, Gokhale graduated from Elphnstone College and later, he became a professor in mathematics.
He cited the social works of Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade as great influences over his life, and he was popularly dubbed his Manas Putra (or Protégé Son). Gokhale’s education is another thing that will go on to have a great influence over his life.
THE POLITICAL LIFE OF GOPAL KRISHNA GOKHALE
Gokhale joined the Indian National Congress as a member in 1889 (a move which was quite possible for him because he was a protégé of Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade). Other individuals he would serve beside in the congress include contemporary leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Dadabhai Naoroji, Annie Besant and Lala Lajpat. Alongside many of them, Gokhale fought for several years to receive increased political power and representation over public affairs for the native citizenry (that is, common Indians). He and Bal Gangadhar Tilak became joint secretaries of the congress in 1895 and went on to become some of the most highly notable political leaders in India of their time. As a matter of fact, it was Tilak that would go on to dub Gokhale the “Diamond of India”, even though they were already political opponents at the time which the statement was uttered.
The reason for this opposition in politics, which came later on in the political careers of these two men (long after their tenure as joint secretaries of the congress), is the fact that they both ended up developing different views on politics and economic matters. Gohkale was a firm advocate for constitutional methods of agitation, while Tilak believed in active struggle and approaches which were termed extremist by the then ruling British colonial rulers (in 1906, he was jailed for six years as a result of these methods).
However, despite the wide margin of difference in both Gokhale and Tilak’s political methods and approaches to attain total independence and self-rule for their people, Tilak was still able to recognize all Gokale’s efforts, hard work and strength of character; which is why he described him as the “Diamond of India.”