Source: The Indian Nation Builders: Part I, 7th ed (Madras: Ganesh & Co.)

Mahadev Govind Ranade

Mahadev Govind Ranade was born in 1842 to a middle-class Maratha family. He was educated in a vernacular school until he was eleven and from a young age, bore great pride for the history of his people.

He took up various appointments in the field of education but it was the sphere of law that really captured his interest. He eventually rose to take a position in the Indian High Court, and was also actively involved with the work of the Indian National Congress. His political ideal of India was that of a federation of states, bonded together by the Imperial power of the Queen.

Ranade’s most notable work, however, took place as part of the Social Reform Movement. He believed that there was a symbiotic relationship between all social activities and paid great attention to the historic continuity of the reforms he worked on. This emphasis on continuity invigorated much of his work. He was, however, not in favour of an undiscerning revival of old customs. In his call for the deconstruction of caste restrictions, he drew references from the sages of old to illustrate the erstwhile fluidity of caste restrictions. He served as the secretary of the Indian Social Conference to the end of his days and repeatedly emphasised in his addresses that the social evils in India were recently sprouted, describing the movement as but a component of a wider one aimed at the “purification of national life.”

His literary endeavours were chiefly in the fields of Political Economy and History. The topic of India’s industrial progress was one that was dear to him for he felt that India’s progress could not proceed without attention to her economic needs. In his works on the Indian economic condition, he argued strongly against the presumption that some countries had to be content with not taking up manufacturing activities and remain producers of raw materials for the usage of others.

Ranade believed that a true reform movement could only be started if a religious revival, and not utility, were its driver. As a theist, he was actively connected with the Prarthana Samaj. He advocated that God ought to be viewed as an enduring presence pervading one’s actions. He died in 1901.

Sources: The Indian Nation Builders: Part I, 7th ed (Madras: Ganesh & Co.), 1-12; “Mahadev Govind Ranade: His Life and Career”, Indian Biography: Volume 4 (Madras: G.A. Natesan & Co.), 1-58


 A Note on the Decentralization of Provincial Finance (Poona: [Printed at] The ‘Dnyan Prakash’ Press, 1894)

Rise of the Maratha Power (Bombay: Punalekar & Co., 1900)

Introduction to the Peishwa’s Diaries: a Paper Read Before the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (Poona: Printed at the Civil Military Orphanage Press, 1900)

Religious & Social Reform: A Collection of Essays and Speeches, col. and comp. by M.B. Kolasker (Bombay: Gopal Narayan and Co., 1902)

Essays on Indian Economics: A Collection of Essays and Speeches, 2nd ed (Madras: G.A. Natesan & Co., 1906)


Ideas of IndiaIdeas of India