Context: The Prime Minister recently paid tributes to Gopal Krishna Gokhale on his birth anniversary.

About Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915)

  • Early Life:
    • Gokhale hailed from the Ratnagiri district in present-day Maharashtra and studied at the Elphinstone College in Mumbai.
    • He joined later as a professor at the Fergusson College in Pune, where he taught political economy and history.
  • Arrival on the national scene:
    • He first arrived on the national scene after cross-examining British colonial expenditure at the Welby Commission of 1897 in England. 
      • Welby Commission, was set up to look into Indian expenditures.
    • Gokhale’s work had earned him praise in India as he laid bare British military financing policies that heavily burdened Indian taxpayers much to the chagrin of then Viceroy Lord Curzon.
    • Gokhale joined the Indian National Congress In 1899.
    • He emerged as one of the main leaders of its ‘moderate’ wing, and gave up teaching three years later to work as a lawmaker for the remainder of his life.
  • A liberal politician:
    • Following the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny, there arose a brand of liberal political leaders in India who sought a greater role for Indians in running the country’s affairs while pledging allegiance to British rule. 
    • In the Bombay Presidency, the prominent leaders who adopted constitutional methods as a means of achieving political reform included Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, Dadabhai Naoroji, and Justice MG Ranade.
    • Gokhale had worked towards the very same line of thought realizing constitutional ideals in India for three decades and abjured the use of reactionary or revolutionary ways.
  • Extensive work in colonial legislatures:
    •  Bombay Legislative Council (1899 and 1902)
      • Here he opposed the British government’s onerous land revenue policies, advocated free and compulsory primary education, and asked for the creation of equal opportunities to fight against untouchability.
    • Imperial legislature( from 1902 till his death)
      • Gokhale played a key role in framing the Morley-Minto reforms of 1909.
      • He advocated for the expansion of legislative councils at both the Centre and the provinces. 
      • A critic of British imperial bureaucracy, Gokhale favored decentralization and the promotion of panchayat and taluk bodies.
      • Gokhale also spoke for the Indian diaspora living in other parts of the British Empire and opposed tooth and nail the indentured labor system
  • Work in the Indian National Congress:
    • Gokhale became Congress president at its Banaras session in 1905.
    • This was also the time when big differences had arisen between his group of ‘Moderates’ and the ‘Extremists’ led by Lala Lajpat Rai and Bal Gangadhar Tilak among others. 
    • Matters came to a head when the two factions split at the Surat session of 1907.
    • Despite his ideological differences, Gokhale maintained cordial relations with his opponents. 
    • In 1907, he fervently campaigned for the release of Lala Lajpat Rai, who was imprisoned that year by the British at Mandalay in present-day Myanmar.
  • Role as Mahatma Gandhi’s political mentor:
    • After Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India, he had joined Gokhale’s group before going on to lead the independence movement. 
    • Gandhi regarded Gokhale as his political mentor, and wrote a book in Gujarati dedicated to the leader titled ‘Dharmatma Gokhale’.
  • Publications:
    • The Hitavada was started in the central Indian city of Nagpur by freedom fighter Gopal Krishna Gokhale.
    • Gokhale also published a daily newspaper entitled Jnanaprakash, which allowed him to voice his reformist views on politics and society.

Servants of India Society,1905


G.K.Gokhale with the help of M.G. Ranade


  • To train national missionaries for the service of India.
  • To promote by all constitutional means the true interest of the Indian people.
  • To prepare a cadre of selfless workers. 

Publications associated

Hitavada: It began in 1911 to project the views of the society.

Other details

The society chose to remain aloof from political activities and organizations like INC.