Page 48 - Swatantrata to Atmanirbharta : Lokmanya Tilak’s legacy
P. 48

Lokmanya was  a towering  political  leader and  founder  of
            Indian Independence Movement, which is known to all. But he
            was an active supporter of the goal of Swadeshi by encouraging
            and helping young budding entrepreneurs  who wanted to
            launch their industrial projects. He not only preached Swadeshi
            but brought it into practice by raising funds and resources for
            ‘Young Starters’ of industries in Maharashtra and the country. I
            desire to bring this fact into limelight in this article.
               In December 1907, Tilak addressed the Open Assembly of
            Indian National Congress and talked about the urgent need of
            opening industrial units all over the country and manufacture
            all the goods which are imported in India and the need to make
            Bharat  self-reliant  and  achieve  goal of  Swadeshi.  After  his
            speech one young man Ishwardas Varshneya approached Tilak
            and took him in confidence by telling him that he went to Japan
            in 1901 to study Sugar Technology but switched to study Glass
            Technology. After finishing the course, he joined one leading
            Japanese company which used to manufacture all varieties of
            glass products and got practical experience. Then he went to
            Boston in the US in 1904 and completed his advanced training
            in MIT, after which he visited European countries and returned
            to  India in  1905.  For two years viz  1905  to  1907,  he  made
            every possible effort to raise finances, but he failed. Therefore,
            he requested Tilak to help him by granting financial support.
            Tilak gave a serious thought to his proposal and a very brilliant
            idea came to his creative mind. He assured that within 3 to 4
            months he would fulfill the desire of Varshneya. Tilak’s idea
            was crowd funding - collecting ‘Pygmy’ contributions of one
            paisa (equivalent to half anna or 3 naya paise) from common
            masses. The idea clicked amazingly with  a windfall of mass
            contributions and the fund exceeded the collection target. Tilak
            sent  him  to  Shri  Vijapurkar,  who  used  to  run  a ‘Rashtriya
            Shala’ (As per Tilak’s Sutra of Sikshan) at Talegaon Dhabade.
            Vijapurkar arranged to make adequate land available for factory
            premises at a cheap rate. A plant became ready within 6 months,
            in the meantime, Varshneya gave training to foremen and glass
            blowers and absorbed them in the staff of the first glass factory
            of India by the  name ‘Paisa Fund  Kaach Karkhana’, which
            was inaugurated by Lokmanya. In November 1914, Varshneya
            Swatantrata  to  Atmanirbharata  46
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