Mahadev Govind Ranade was renowned for his zeal for social reform. He was one of the pioneering social activists of the nation.
Born a Hindu, Govind Ranade also studied various other religions. He wanted to comprehensively reform the Hindu religion. Ranade advocated various social reforms like inter-dining, inter-marriage, widow re-marriage, upliftment of women and the oppressed classes. He set up an organization called ‘Vidhava-vivaha Uttejaka Mandali’ (Society for the Encouragement of Widow-remarriage). He helped establish the social wing of the Indian National Congress (called the Indian National Social Conference), whose aims were the education of women and prevention of child marriage among others. Ranade stressed the education of women and established a school for them, in spite of strong opposition from the orthodox Hindu community, which considered educating women a social evil.
Ranade stressed the development of small indigenous industries. He conceived the idea of agricultural banks that would provide loans to the peasants. His various literary works included ‘Rise and Fall of the Maratha Power’, ‘Introduction to the Satara Rajas’ and ‘The Peshwa Diaries’. Ranade died on January 16, 1901.