Dedicates the Award to 140 crore citizens
Donates cash prize to Namami Gange Project
“Lokmanya Tilak is the ‘tilak’ of India’s freedom struggle”
“Lokmanya Tilak was a great institution builder and a nurturer of traditions”
“Tilak broke the myth of inferiority complex among Indians and instilled confidence in them for their capabilities”
“India has moved from Trust Deficit to Trust Surplus”
“Increasing public trust is becoming the medium of progress for the people of India”

Today, we are observing 103rd death Anniversary of Lokamanya Tilak Ji. I bow down to the land of Maharashtra, that has given several great personalities to the nation.

Heartiest greetings to you all!

Respected Shri Sharad Pawar ji, Governor Shri Ramesh Bais ji, Chief Minister of Maharashtra Shri Eknath Shinde ji, Deputy Chief Minister Shri Devendra Fadnavis ji, Deputy Chief Minister Shri Ajit Pawar ji, President of the Trust Shri Deepak Tilak, former Chief Minister and my friend Mr. Sushilkumar Shinde ji, all respected members of the Tilak family and brothers and sisters present here!

This day is very crucial for me. I am both excited as well as emotional to be here. Today is the death anniversary of Bal Gangadhar Tilak ji, our role model and the pride of India. Besides, today is also the birth anniversary of Anna Bhau Sathe ji. Lokmanya Tilak ji is like the Tilak on the forehead of our history of freedom struggle. While, the contribution that Anna Bhau made towards social reforms is unparalleled and extraordinary. I respectfully bow down at the feet of both these great personalities.

I am extremely fortunate that on this significant day, I got the opportunity to visit this sacred land, the land of Maharashtra. This sacred land is the land of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. This is the sacred land of the Chapekar brothers. The inspirations and ideals of Jyotiba Phule and Savitri Bai Phule are associated with this land. Just a short while back, I also sought the blessings of Ganpati ji at Dagdusheth temple. This is also a very interesting aspect of the history of Pune district. Dagdu Seth was the first person who participated in the public installation of Ganesha statue on the call of Tilak ji. While saluting this land, I respectfully bow down to all these great personalities.

Friends,

The honour that I have received amidst all of you in Pune today is an unforgettable experience of my life. I consider myself to be really fortunate to receive the Lokmanya Tilak National Award from a place and an organization directly associated with Tilak ji. I express my heartfelt gratitude to the Hind Swaraj Sangh, and to all of you with all humility, for this honour. And I would also like to say that, both Kashi and Pune have a special identity in our country. Both the places are identified with eternal knowledge. And to be honoured on this land of scholars i.e. Pune, gives a feeling of immense pride and satisfaction. But friends, when we get an award, our responsibility also increases. Today, since Tilak ji's name is associated with that award, the sense of responsibility increases manifold. I dedicate the Lokmanya Tilak National Award to the 140 crore countrymen. I also assure the countrymen that I will leave no stone unturned to serve them and fulfil their hopes and aspirations. Since this award is associated with the great personality whose name is 'Gangadhar', I am dedicating the award money given to me to the cause of Ganga ji . I have decided to donate the prize money to the Namami Gange project.

Friends,

The role of Lokmanya Tilak in India's independence, his contribution cannot be summed up in a few incidents and words. During Tilak ji's era and even after that, every event and movement related to the freedom struggle, and every revolutionary and leader during that period was influenced by Tilak ji. That is why, even the British had to name Tilak ji 'The father of the Indian unrest'. Tilak ji had changed the whole direction of India's freedom movement. When the British claimed that Indians were not capable of running the country, then Lokmanya Tilak had said- 'Swaraj is our birthright'. The Britishers had made an assumption that India's faith, culture, beliefs were symbols of backwardness. But Tilak ji proved everything wrong. That's why, the people of India not only came forward and supported Tilak ji, but also gave him the title of 'Lokmanya'. And as Deepak ji just said, Mahatma Gandhi himself used to call him the 'the maker of modern India'. We can imagine how broad Tilak ji's thinking must have been, how visionary he must have been.

Friends,

A great leader is one who not only dedicates himself to a great goal, but also creates institutions and systems to achieve that goal. For this, we have to move forward taking everyone along and we must carry everyone's trust forward. We find all these qualities in the life of Lokmanya Tilak. When the British put him in jail, he was tortured. He sacrificed for freedom. But at the same time, he also set forth examples of team spirit, participation and cooperation. His trust, his affinity with Lala Lajpat Rai and Bipin Chandra Pal is the golden chapter of the Indian freedom struggle. Even today these three names are recalled as a trinity, Lal-Bal-Pal. Tilak ji also understood the importance of journalism and newspapers to raise his voice for freedom at that time. In English Tilak ji had started 'The Maratha' weekly, as Sharad Rao said. Together with Gopal Ganesh Agarkar and Vishnushastri Chiplunkar ji, he had started the newspaper 'Kesari' in Marathi. For more than 140 years, Kesari has been published in Maharashtra, and is still being read by the people. This is a proof of the fact that Tilak ji had built institutions on such a strong foundation.

Friends,

Lokmanya Tilak used to nurture traditions as well as institutions. He laid the foundation of Sarvajanik Ganapati Mahotsav to unite the society. He started organizing Shiv Jayanti to fill the society with the energy of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's courage and ideals. These events were a campaign to integrate India into a cultural thread, and also included the concept of Purna Swaraj. This has been the specialty of India's social system. India has always given birth to such leadership, who not only fought for bigger goals like independence, but also showed new direction against social evils. This is a great lesson for today's young generation.

Brothers and sisters,

Lokmanya Tilak was also aware of the fact that whether it is the freedom movement or the mission of nation building, the responsibility of the future always rested on the shoulders of the youth. He wanted to create educated and capable youth for the future of India. We find an example of the divine vision that Lokmanya had to identify the talent of the youth, in the incident related to Veer Savarkar. Savarkar ji was young at that time. Tilak ji had recognized his potential. He wanted Savarkar to go abroad, study well, and come back and work for freedom. In Britain, Shyamji Krishna Varma used to run two scholarships to give opportunities to such youth - one scholarship was named Chhatrapati Shivaji Scholarship and the other scholarship was named - Maharana Pratap Scholarship! Tilak ji had recommended Veer Savarkar’s name to Shyamji Krishna Varma. Taking advantage of this, he could become a barrister in London. Tilak ji had prepared many such youngsters. His establishment of institutions like New English School, Deccan Education Society and Fergusson College in Pune is part of his vision. Many such youngsters had emerged from these institutions, who carried forward the mission of Tilak ji and played their role in nation building. From system building to institution building, from institution building to personality building, and from personality building to nation building, this vision is like a roadmap for the future of the nation. The country is effectively following this roadmap today.

Friends,

Although Tilak ji is a popular leader of the whole of India, he holds a different place for the people of Pune and Maharashtra as well as for the people of Gujarat. Today, on this special occasion, I am recalling those events. During the freedom struggle, he had to stay in Ahmedabad Sabarmati Jail for about one and a half months. After this, Tilak ji came to Ahmedabad in 1916, and you will be glad to know that at that time defying British repression, more than 40 thousand people came to Ahmedabad to welcome Tilak ji and to listen to him. And it is a matter of great joy that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was also present amongst the audience at that time to listen to him. His speech had left a different impression on Sardar Saheb's mind.

Later, Sardar Patel became the President of Ahmedabad Municipality. And just look at the kind of mindset of the personalities at that time; he decided to install the statue of Tilak ji in Ahmedabad. And he did not just decide to install the statue! The identity of the Iron Man is also reflected in Sardar Saheb's decision to place the statue in Victoria Gardens! The British built the Victoria Gardens in Ahmedabad in 1897 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Sardar Patel decided to install a statue of such a great revolutionary Lokmanya Tilak in the park named after the British Queen. And at that time no matter how much pressure was put on Sardar Saheb against it and efforts were made to stop him but Sardar was Sardar! Sardar said that he would be ready to give up his post, but the statue would be installed there. And that statue was made and it was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1929. While living in Ahmedabad, I have had the opportunity to visit that sacred place many times and to bow my head before Tilak Ji's statue. It is a magnificent statue where Tilak ji is sitting in a resting posture. It seems as if he is looking forward to the bright future of independent India. Just imagine, even during the period of slavery, Sardar Saheb had challenged the entire British rule in the honour of the son of his country. But look at today's scenario. Today, if we change the name of even a single road and name it after an Indian personality instead of a foreign invader, some people raise hue and cry over it!

Friends,

There is so much that we can learn from the life of Lokmanya Tilak. Lokmanya Tilak was a person who had faith in Gita. He was the person who lived the Karma Yoga of Gita. To stop him, the British had put him in jail in Mandalay in the far east of India. But, even there Tilak had continued his study of the Gita. Through 'Gita Rahasya', he provided an easy understanding of Karmayog to the country to overcome every challenge, and acquainted them with the power of Karma.

Friends,

Today I want to draw the attention of the young generation of the country towards another aspect of the personality of Bal Gangadhar Tilak ji. Tilak ji had a great specialty that he was very insistent on making people believe in themselves, and used to teach them to do so. He used to instil confidence in them. In the previous century, when the people were convinced that India would not be able to break the shackles of colonial rule, Tilak ji had given the people the confidence to attain freedom. He believed in our history. He believed in our culture. He believed in his people. He had confidence in our workers, entrepreneurs, and in India's potential. About India, it was said that nothing could change the people here. But Tilak ji tried to break that myth of inferiority complex and made the country believe in its capabilities.

Friends,

The development of the country is not possible in an environment of mistrust. Yesterday a gentleman from Pune, Mr. Manoj Pochat, tweeted and reminded me of my visit to Pune 10 years ago. At that time, in Fergusson College which was founded by Tilak ji, I talked about the trust deficit in India at that time. Now Manoj ji has urged me to talk about the journey of the country from Trust Deficit to Trust Surplus! I would like to express my gratitude to Manoj ji that he has raised this important issue.

Brothers and sisters,

Today, the trust surplus in India is visible in the policy as well, and it is also reflected in the hard work of the countrymen! In the last 9 years, the people of India have laid the foundation for major changes and they have brought these major changes. After all, how did India become the 5th largest economy in the world? It is the people of India who did it. Today the country is becoming self-reliant and also relying on its citizens in every field. During the Corona crisis, India trusted its scientists and they developed a 'Made in India' vaccine. And Pune also played a major role in that. We are talking about a self-reliant India, because we believe that India can do this.

We are providing Mudra loans without any bank guarantee to the common man of the country, because we have trust in his honesty and his dutifulness. Earlier, common people had to worry about every little task. Today most of the work is being done with a single click on mobile. Today the government is trusting your own signature to attest the papers. As a result, a different atmosphere is being created in the country, and a positive environment is being created. And we can see how the people of the country, who are full of confidence, are working towards the development of the country. It was this public belief that transformed the Swachh Bharat movement into a mass movement. It was this public belief that transformed the Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao campaign into a mass movement. On my single appeal from the ramparts of the Red Fort towards those who are capable should give up the gas subsidy, lakhs of people had given up the gas subsidy. Some time back, a survey was conducted in many countries. It was revealed in this survey that the country whose citizens trust their government the most is India. This changing public mindset, this increasing public trust is becoming the medium of progress for the people of India.

Friends,

Today, after 75 years of independence, the country is looking at its 'Amritkaal' as a period of following one's duties. We the countrymen are working at our individual level keeping in mind the dreams and resolutions of the country. That's why, today the world is also seeing its future in India. Our efforts today are becoming an assurance for the entire humanity. I believe that Lokmanya's soul today is watching over us and showering his blessings upon us. With his blessings, with the power of his thoughts, we will definitely make our dream of a strong and prosperous India come true. I am confident that the Hind Swaraj Sangh will continue to come forward and play an important role in connecting people with the ideals of Tilak. I once again express my gratitude to all of you for this honour. Saluting this land, saluting everyone involved in taking this idea forward, I end my speech. Thank you all so very much!

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