The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi was conferred the Lokmanya Tilak National Award in Pune, Maharashtra today. The Award was constituted by Tilak Smarak Mandir Trust in 1983 to honor the legacy of Lokmanya Tilak. The Prime Minister donated the cash prize to the Namami Gange Project.
The Prime Minister paid floral tributes at the statue of Lokmanya Tilak after arriving at the venue. Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister paid tributes to Lokmanya Tilak on his punya tithi and said that it is a special day for him. Highlighting his feelings for the occasion, the Prime Minister said that today marks the punya tithi of Lokmanya Tilak and the birth anniversary of Anna Bhau Sathe. “Lokmanya Tilak ji is the ‘tilak’ of India’s freedom struggle”, the Prime Minister said. He also underlined the extraordinary and unparalleled contributions of Anna Bhau Sathe towards the betterment of society. The Prime Minister paid tribute to the land of Chhatrapati Shivaji, Chapekar Brother, Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule. Earlier the Prime Minister sought blessings at the Dagdusheth Temple.
The Prime Minister described the honor bestowed on him today by the place and institution directly linked with the Lokmanya as ‘unforgettable’. The Prime Minister mentioned the commonalities between Kashi and Pune as both are centers of scholarship. The Prime Minister said that when one receives an award, then the responsibilities come especially when the name of Lokmanya Tilak is attached to the award. The Prime Minister dedicated the Lokmanya Tilak Award to the 140 crore citizens of India. He assured them that the government will leave no stone unturned to help them achieve their dreams and aspirations. The Prime Minister also informed about his decision to donate the cash prize to Namami Gange Project.
The Prime Minister said that the contribution of Lokmanya Tilak to the Independence of India can not be confined to a few words or events as his influence was evident on all the leaders and events of the freedom struggle. “Even Britishers had to call him ‘Father of the Indian unrest” the Prime Minister pointed out. Shri Modi pointed out that Lokmanya Tilak changed the direction of the freedom struggle with his ‘Swarajya is my birthright’ claim. Tilak also proved British labeling of Indian traditions as backwards wrong. Mahatma Gandhi himself called him the architect of modern India, the Prime Minister recalled.
The Prime Minister paid tribute to the institution-building capabilities of Lokmanya Tilak. His collaboration with Lala Lajpat Rai and Bipin Chandra Pal is a golden chapter of India’s freedom struggle. The Prime Minister also remembered Tilak’s use of newspapers and Journalism. Kesari is still published and read in Maharashtra. “All this bears testimony to strong institution building by Lokmanya Tilak”, the prime Minister added.
Shifting from Institution building, the Prime Minister also highlighted Tilak’s nurturing of traditions and mentioned the start of Ganpati Mahotsava and Shiv Jayanti to celebrate the ideals of Chhatrapati Shivaji. “These events were both a campaign of stitching India into a cultural thread as well as a complete conception of Poorna Swaraj. This has been the speciality of India where leaders fought for big goals like Independence and carried the campaign of social reforms also”, he said.
Referring to Lokmany Tilak’s faith in the youth of the country, the Prime Minister recalled his mentoring of Veer Savarkar and his recommendation to Shyamji Krishna Varma who was running two scholarships in London – Chatrapati Shivaji Scholarship and Maharana Pratap Scholarship. The establishment of New English School, Fergusson College and Deccan Education Society in Pune is part of that vision. “Vision of system building to institution building, institution building to individual building, and individual building to nation building is like a roadmap for a nation’s future and the country is following this roadmap in an effective manner”, the Prime Minister said.
Highlighting the special bond between the people of Maharashtra with Lokmanya Tilak, the Prime Minister said that the people of Gujarat also share a similar bond with him. He recalled the time when Lokmanya Tilak spent roughly one and a half months in Sabarmati Jail in Ahmedabad and informed that more than 40,000 people had turned up to welcome him and listen to his views in 1916 including Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. He further added that the impact of the speech led to Sardar Patel installing a statue of Lokmanya Tilak in Ahmedabad when he was heading the Ahmedabad Municipality. “One can find the iron fist identity of Lokmanya Tilak in Sardar Patel”, the Prime Minister remarked. Speaking about the location of the statue in Victoria Garden, the Prime Minister informed that the ground was developed by the British to commemorate the diamond jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria in 1897 and emphasized the revolutionary act of Sardar Patel to install a statue of Lokmanya Tilak. Even after facing resistance from the British, the Prime Minister said that the statue was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1929. Speaking about the statue, the Prime Minister said that it is a magnificent statue where Tilak Ji can be seen sitting in a resting posture as if contemplating the bright future of independent India. “Even during the period of slavery, Sardar Saheb challenged the entire British rule to honor the son of India”, the Prime Minister remarked as he lamented the situation of today when some people make hue and cry when the government tries to change the name of even a single road to an Indian personality instead of a foreign invader.
The Prime Minister touched upon Lokmanya’s faith in Gita. Even in the face of incarceration in distant Mandalay, Lokmanya continued his study of Gita and gave an invaluable gift in the form of Gita Rahasya.
The Prime Minister talked about Lokmany’s capacity to instill self-confidence in everybody. Tilak restored people’s confidence in their fight for Independence, history, and culture. He had faith in people, workers and entrepreneurs. “Tilak broke the myth of inferiority complex among Indians and showed them their capabilities”, he said.
The Prime Minister emphasized that the development of the country is not possible in an environment of mistrust. He recalled reading a tweet by a gentleman from Pune, Shri Manoj Pochat ji who mentioned the PM and reminded him of the visit to Pune 10 years ago. The Prime Minister recalled speaking about the trust deficit in India at that time at Fergusson College which was founded by Tilak ji. The Prime Minister expressed gratitude for raising the issue of trust deficit and said that the country has moved from Trust Deficit to Trust Surplus.
The Prime Minister gave examples of this trust surplus in the major changes effected in the last 9 years. He mentioned India becoming the 5th largest economy as a result of this trust. He also talked about countries’ trust in itself and mentioned successes like Made in India Corona Vaccine, a feat in which Pune played a big role. He also talked of collateral-free loans under Mudra Yojana as a token of trust in the hard work and integrity of Indians. Similarly, most of the services are available on mobile now and people can self-attest their documents. He also emphasized that due to this trade surplus, the Swachta campaign and Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao became a people’s movement. All this is creating a positive atmosphere in the country, he added.
Recalling that lakhs of people had given up the gas subsidy when the Prime Minister had made a call to those who can give it up during his address from the Red Fort, he informed that a survey was conducted of many countries which revealed India has the most faith in their government. Shri Modi emphasized that increasing public trust is becoming the medium of progress for the people of India.
Concluding the address, the Prime Minister underlined that after 75 years of independence, the country is looking at Amrit Kaal as the Kartvaya Kaal where every citizen is working from their own level keeping in mind the dreams and resolutions of the country. That’s why, the Prime Minister said, today the world is also witnessing the future in India as our efforts of today are becoming an assurance for the entire humanity. The Prime Minister said that the citizens will definitely turn the dream of a strong and prosperous India into a reality with the power of Lokmanya Tilak’s thoughts and blessings. The Prime Minister expressed confidence that Hind Swarajya Sangh will continue to play an important role in connecting people with the ideals of Lokmanya Tilak.
Governor of Maharashtra, Shri Ramesh Bais, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri Eknath Shinde, Deputy Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, Shri Devendra Fadnavis and Shri Ajit Pawar, Member of Parliament, Shri Sharadchandra Pawar, President of Tilak Smarak Trust, Dr Deepak Tilak, Vice President of Tilak Smarak Trust, Dr Rohit Tilak, and Trustee of Tilak Smarak Trust, Shri Sushilkumar Shinde among others were present on the occasion among others
The Award was constituted by Tilak Smarak Mandir Trust in 1983 to honor the legacy of Lokmanya Tilak. It is awarded to people who have worked for the progress and development of the nation and whose contribution can only be seen as remarkable and extraordinary. It is presented every year on the 1st of August – Lokmanya Tilak’s death anniversary.
The Prime Minister became the 41st recipient of the award. It has previously been presented to luminaries such as Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mrs Indira Gandhi, Dr Manmohan Singh, Shri N. R. Narayana Murthy, Dr E. Sreedharan among others.