Story Title: Independence Movement

By Akshay Sharma
Word Count: 535

Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade

In many ways Maharashtra was a leading state in the Indian Freedom Struggle and Pune being its cultural capital, was right out in the front. Not only did Pune produce some of the most important leaders of this movement but also played host to many important events. There were many prominent leaders of national movement that hailed from Pune.

Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade:
He was a great scholar, social reformer and one of the founding members of the Indian National Congress. Born in 1842, Ranade did his B.A. and LL.B. from the Bombay University. He became a judge and was posted in Pune. Justice Ranade founded the Poona Sarvajanik Samaj which sought to act as a bridge between the British government and the people. Many important leaders including Bal Gangadhar Tilak, SH Chiplunkar and Ganesh Vasudev Joshi were also a part of the Samaj.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak:
Keshav Gangadhar Tilak, famously known as Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Lokmanya Tilak was one of the most prominent leaders of the Indian Freedom Movement. He was born in 1856 and graduated from the Deccan College, Pune in 1877. He joined the Indian National Congress and came to be known as a radical. He famously said, "Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it".

Tilak published two nationalist newspapers (newspapers that favored Indian independence) which had strong articles criticizing the British rule. Tilak had to go to jail for these activities. He was part of the famous "Lal-Bal-Pal" triumvirate along with Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai. One of Tilak's biggest contribution was the turning of Ganesh Utsav from a private family festival to a social event in order to create solidarity for the freedom movement.

Apart from these two famous leaders there were many others who made a mark during the freedom movement. Vasudev Balwant Phadke, Keshavrao Jedhe, Narasimha Chintaman Kelkar and Lahuji Raghoji Salve were prominent leaders and freedom fighters belonging to Pune. The Chapekar brothers were famous freedom fighters who were responsible for the killing of the British officer W.C. Rand and his military escort, a British Lieutenant. The three brothers were tried and convicted for the murders and eventually hanged.

There were many important events that took place in Pune in the course of the struggle against the British. Pune was struck by plague in 1896. The way the British handled this event outraged the people and this episode became a rallying point for the national movement.

Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned in Pune at the Yerwada Central Jail in 1932. It was there that the famous Poona pact was signed between Ambedkar and Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned again in Pune in 1942 at the Aga Khan Palace during the Quit India Movement. It was here that his wife Kasturba and secretary Mahadev Desai passed away.

The famous Yerwada jail in Pune played host to many famous leaders when they were imprisoned during the freedom struggle. People like Veer Savarkar, Jawaharlal Nehru, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Bal Gangadhar Tilak had been imprisoned here during the freedom struggle.

The contribution of Pune to the freedom movement was at various levels and Pune's place in our struggle for independence is a special one.


Story Title: Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

By Alisha D'souza
Word Count: 462

Dr. Ambedkar

The document that describes the goals of a country as well as lists out the rules and regulations that govern the citizens of that country is known as its constitution. It is by far the most important document that a country can have. India has its own constitution and the person considered to be the Father of our Constitution was Dr. Ambedkar.

Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was one of India's tallest leaders. Born on 14 April, 1891; he was popularly known as Babasaheb. He was a jurist (a person who is involved with justice), a politician (he was closely involved in the fight for independence) and a social reformer who fought against the caste system in India. He strived for equal social rights for Dalits (traditionally, the lower castes), as well as for women and labourers. To top it all, he was also independent India's first law minister. Though he died in 1956, Ambedkar was awarded India's highest civilian honor The Bharat Ratna, in 1990.

Babasaheb was the fourteenth child of his parents. His father was a Subedar in the Indian Army and after his retirement, the family moved to Satara. From there, they moved again to Bombay (now Mumbai). Ambedkar was a bright student, and he earned a scholarship which he used to study in America. He earned a law degree and a Ph. D (the highest qualification one can study for) from Columbia University in America and the London School of Economics in England.

Ambedkar Jayanti is celebrated on 14 April to observe the birthday of Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Ambedkar himself was a victim of caste discrimination. His parents hailed from the 'untouchable' caste and because of this, Babasaheb faced severe discrimination at school. The untouchable students were often asked by the teacher to sit outside the class. And so, Ambedkar suggested that there should be separate system for the Untouchables and lower caste people. He introduced the concept of providing reservations for Dalits and religious minorities.

Dr. Ambedkar launched a newspaper called "Mooknayaka" (Leader of the Silent). There is a University that is named after him. Efforts are being made by the government of Maharashtra to buy his home in London where he lived in the 1920s and convert it into a museum. In 1950, Ambedkar traveled to Sri Lanka to attend a meeting of Buddhist scholars and monks. After his return to India he decided to write a book on Buddhism and soon, converted himself to Buddhism. When Dr. Ambedkar died a few years later, he died a Buddhist.

Though Dr. Ambedkar never really spent too much time in Pune, we treat him fondly as if he were a true son of the city. There is a statue in his memory at the head of M.G. Road (Main Street)


Story Title: Bal Gangadhar Tilak

By Alsiha D'souza
Word Count: 470

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

The man who is known as 'The Father of Indian Unrest' is "Lokmanya" Bal Gangadhar Tilak. He was born Keshav Gangadhar Tilak, but was always called 'Bal'. One of the key persons in the early Indian independence movement, Tilak was also a social reformer.

Tilak was a journalist, a teacher and a lawyer. He was born in 1856 at Ratanagiri, a small town on the coast of Maharashtra, into a middle class family. He passed his B.A. with flying colours. Tilak graduated from Deccan College, Pune in 1877. He then completed an LL.B degree (law degree) from Bombay University. He was among the first generation of Indians to receive a college education.

Tilak's father, Gangadhar Tilak was a school teacher and a Sanskrit scholar who died when he was sixteen. Tilak was married to Tapibai a few months before his father's death. After marriage, Tapibai's name was changed to Satyabhamabai.

After graduating, Tilak started teaching mathematics at a private school in Pune. Later, due to differences with his colleagues, he withdrew and became a journalist. Tilak actively participated in public affairs. He once famously declared, 'Swaraj (self rule) is my birth right and I shall have it!' (Independence is my birthright). Indian's adopted his slogan enthusiastically. In turn, the British rulers called him 'the father of Indian unrest.'

Fondly known as 'Lokmanya', (leader of the people), Tilak was also fond of writing books. He wrote two books 'Geeta Rahasya' and 'Arctic Home of Aryas'. He started two newspapers 'Kesari' in Marathi and 'Maratha' in English. Both papers spoke of India's glorious past and encouraged Indians to be self-reliant (Swadeshi).

Along with some friends, Tilak founded the Deccan Education Society, which today runs the Fergusson College in Pune. Tilak also brought two major Maharashtrian festivals into the mainstream. These were Ganesh Chaturthi and Shivaji Jayanti. He encouraged the people of Maharashtra to come out of their houses and celebrate these festivals on the streets of the city. Through these celebrations, he tried to mobilise people against the British.

Along with Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak completed the Lal-Bal-Pal triumvirate (three-leader group) who were considered to be the action leaders of the independence movement. Once, when he was accused by the British government for sedition (breaking away from England), he was sent to prison in Burma (now Myanmar) for six years.

He led a simple life, and offered himself, body and soul, to the service of the nation. Tilak had no property. His clothes were very simple. A dhoti, a shirt, a shawl on the shoulder and a red 'Pagadi' (a marathi cap) on his head. In many ways he was the architect of India's Freedom Struggle. His ideas and efforts were carried on by equally worthy next generation of leaders like Gandhiji, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru and others.