Justice Mahadeo Govind Ranade
A judge and one of the greatest social reformers who helped mould the Indian society through forming organisations for religion reform, social reform, judicial politics, economics and cultural reform
Mahadeo Govind Ranade was born at Niphad in Nashik district. He completed his Masters in History. He also passed the Law exam in 1866. He was the first Indian to be selected a Fellow of the Bombay University. He worked for a while as a teacher, secretary of organizations, district judge, in various places. He was appointed as a judge in the Bombay High Court in 1893.
He was instrumental in establishing and increasing the scope of such social organizations like Prarthana Samaj (Prayer Community), Sarwajanik Sabha (Community meeting) and Bharatiya Samajik Parishad (Indian Social Council). It was aptly said about him the he was a major force in developing the institutional environment in India by forming organizations in various sectors. Ranade always advocated the use of constitutional and legal ways of attaining freedom and making social reforms. He brought an economic perspective to the Indian political scenario. He gave the ideal of Swadeshi a scientific and practical base. He had made a detailed analysis of the root cause of poverty in India and had also suggested some well-researched means for uprooting it.
He felt that some of the flaws that were detrimental to the progress of society were the parochial attitude of the Indian society, its caste system, and the prevalent misconceptions about physical comforts, professionalism and business sense. He felt the need to concentrate all efforts on bringing about social reforms in these areas, only then the society could begin to achieve economic and political progress. He was also of the firm opinion that one cannot separate politics from social reforms just like one cannot separate the beauty of a rose from its scent.
On 31st March 1876, Justice Ranade, along with Dr. Atmaram Pandurang, Dr. Bhandarkar, and Vaman Abaji Modak took the initiative in establishing the Prarthana Samaj in Mumbai. In 1871, Justice Ranade was involved in organizing the activities of the Sarwajanik Sabha. Realizing the gravity of existing social problems, he established the Bharatiya Samajik Parishad to bring about social reforms. He was the General Secretary of this organization for fourteen years. This Council challenged the society to put an end to the caste system, grant social permission for inter-caste marriages, increase the marriageable age limit, put an end to the tradition of permitting men to have more than one wives, allow remarriage of widows, promote education for women, promote the rehabilitation of social outcasts, and resolve the religious differences between Hindus and Muslims. Justice Ranade had an important role in establishing the National Congress Party in 1885, which essayed a major role in the independence movement of India.
Justice Ranade has been the founder of many organizations like Native General Library, Female Highschool, Huzoorpaga High School for girls, Western India Industrial Association and the Vaktrutwa-uttejak Sabha (Platform for encouraging Public Elocution on debatable issues). The well-known Vasant Vyakhyan Mala, a series of lectures by experts in various fields in Pune, is organized by this organization. The first Marathi Writers convention became a success through his efforts. Eventually, from this, the Literary Convention became a tradition. His book The Rise of the Maratha Power displays his excellent talent for research and analysis. Later, his series of lectures was also published.
It is said that during his time, the society became institutionalized. His contributions to Indian economics, his liberal yet legal, deep-rooted work in Indian politics and most prominent role as the founder of various organizations are certainly instrumental in nurturing India as well as Maharashtra. The Justice Ranade - Namdar Gokhale - Mahatma Gandhi trio set an example of the Indian Guru-Shishya (Teacher-Disciple) tradition and whole of India is well aware of the contributions made by them in the socio-political arena.