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PM Modi conferred Lokmanya Tilak award, donates it to Ganga project

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conferred the prestigious 41st ‘Lokmanya Tilak National Award’ of the Tilak Smarak Mandir Trust, instituted in the memory of the legendary freedom fighter and journalist, Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, here, on Tuesday.

After receiving the award, instituted in 1983, PM Modi dedicated it to the 140-crore people of India and donated the prize money of Rs1 Lakh to the ‘Namami Gange Project’.

Earlier, PM Modi paid floral tributes to the Lokmanya Tilak (1856-1920) on his 103rd birth anniversary and recalled his glorious services to the Indian Independence movement.

“The contributions of Lokmanya Tilak cannot be limited to a few words or events as he influenced all the leaders and incidents during the Freedom struggle. Even the Britishers had to call him ‘Father of the Indian Unrest’. Tilak changed the direction of the Independence movement with his call for ‘Swarajya is my Birthright’,” said Modi.

Paying tributes to the institution-building to nation-building capabilities of Lokmanya Tilak, the PM said that Mahatma Gandhi had called him as the architect of modern India, and how he had collaborated with Lala Lajpat Rai and Bipin Chandra Pal to form the formidable triumvirate of ‘Lal, Bal and Pal’, his journalism through the newspaper ‘Kesari’ which is still read in Maharashtra.

PM Modi highlighted Lokmanya’s traditions while launching the community celebrations of the 10-day long annual Ganeshotsav and Shivaji Jayanti, “which were both a campaign of stitching India into a cultural thread and a complete conception of ‘Poorna Swaraj’ with the big goals of social reforms and Independence”.

Referring to Lokmanya Tilak’s faith in the youth, the PM recalled how he inspired Vinayak D. Savarkar – later Swatantryaveer Savarkar, setting up the prestigious New English School the Fergusson College and the Deccan Education Society.

Recalling Lokmanya Tilak’s Gujarat-connect, Modi said he had spent around 6 weeks in Sabarmati Jail in Ahmedabad and he was welcomed by over 40,000 people in 1916 who came to listen to him and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

Later, when Sardar Patel headed the Ahmedabad Municipality, he installed a statue of Lokmanya Tilak in a resting, contemplative posture, in Ahmedabad in which “one can find the iron fist identity of Lokmanya Tilak in Sardar Patel”, and the statue was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1929 despite British resistance.

During his jail sojourn in Mandalay, Lokmanya Tilak read and studied the Bhagavad Gita, and later penned the ‘Gita Rahasya’ — how during the Independence movement, he broke the myth of inferiority complex among Indians and showed them their responsibilities.

Present on the occasion were Chief Guest Sharad Pawar, Governor Ramesh Bais, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy CMs Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar, the Trust President Deepak Tilak, Vice-President Rohit Tilak, Trustee Sushilkumar Shinde, and other dignitaries.

The past recipients of the award were — former Presidents,  Shankar Dayal Sharma and Pranab Mukherjee; former Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Indira Gandhi.

The other eminent personalities who bagged the award were Sharad Pawar, S.M. Joshi, N.R. Narayana Murthy, G. Madhavan, K. Harinarayan, Rahul Bajaj, Cyrus Poonawala, E. Sreedharan, and more from different fields.

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