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  • 02 Jul 2019 GS Paper 1 History

    Highlight the differences and similarities in the approach of Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak in the struggle for freedom. (250 words)



    • Give brief introduction of Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak .
    • Enumerate the differences and similarities in their approach towards freedom struggle.
    • Conclude by describing their significance in the Indian national movement.


    Both Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak contributed and changed the intensity of India’s struggle for freedom through their approaches toward the movement. These approaches, which were based on their respective ideologies and beliefs, had several similarities as well as differences.


    • Swadeshi and boycott of foreign cloth: Both of them considered boycott of foreign cloth and strengthening of indegenous industries as very important step towards the struggle against the colonial rule.
    • Both Tilak and Gandhiji contributed to the integration of lower middle class, peasants, artisans and workers to the mainstream movement lead by the Congress.
    • With the help of Poona Sarvajanik Sabha, Tilak initiated a no-tax campaign in Maharashtra during 1896-97. On similar lines, Gandhiji launched a pan-India civil disobedience movement, withholding the payment of various taxes, most importantly the salt tax.
    • Both the leaders emphasised upon a demand for swaraj or demand for self government in their respective struggles.
    • Both Tilak and Gandhiji used Press to propagate and spread their ideas on the colonial rule. They used the press to educate the common masses about the atrocities under the British rule.


    • Regard and approach towards the colonial law: While Tilak’s approach towards freedom struggle remained within the legal framework for the colonial law, Gandhiji did not hesitate to step out of this framework.
      • Eg- While both of them were arrested on the charges of sedition, Tilak denied the charges, Gandhiji pleaded guilty.
    • Violence as a means to achieve independence: Gandhiji’s approach was completely based on the belief of non-violent means (satyagrah) to achieve independence’. Although, Bal Gangadhar Tilak ruled out the use of violence in attaining self rule, he was not a preacher of Ahimsa or non-violence. He said, ‘passive resistance was the means to an end but was not the goal in itself.’
    • Legislative Councils: Bal Gangadhar Tilak was a member of the Legislative Council and used it to build the national movement. However, Gandhiji never became a member of the Legislative Council and relied more on non-cooperation with the British government.
    • Political ideology: While Tilak, an extremist, believed in the militant opposition to colonial rule, Gandhiji, a moderate, believed in more gradual and persuasive approach towards the struggle for freedom.
    • Previous experience of popular struggles: Tilak’s political ideology lacked the groundwork of previous struggles which Gandhiji had from his South African experience.


    The difference in the outlook of both the leaders was due to different eras of political struggle they were working in. Similarly, the similarities underline their fundamental objective to challenge foreign British rule and establish self rule for Indians.

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