At a recent lecture in Toronto, MJ Akbar said when Jawaharlal Nehru was asked by a western journalist what was his biggest achievement, he had noted the passing of the Hindu Code Bill. That India’s first prime minister should consider the empowerment of Hindu women a bigger achievement than India’s independence is indicative of the man’s true character. It also underscores the struggle within the Hindu society for social reforms.
That the mere passage of laws didn't (and doesn't) lead to any significant improvement in women’s status in the society is an altogether different matter.
His response to his gradual eclipse from public sphere in the late 1880s and the passage of the Age of Consent Bill in 1891 (which raised the marriageable age for girls from 10 to 12) was to launch the public celebration of the 10-day Ganapati festival in 1893 – the same year that Swami Vivekananda delivered the rousing speech at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago.
Today, more than a century later, both Tilak and Vivekananda divide Indians, with both the secular and the communal elements claiming them as their ideals. History is reinterpreted by both the groups to justify these claims. It isn't such a bad thing because it is only through revisionism that we uncover new and concealed facts about the past.
Here is a passage: “Two or three years thereafter Swami Vivekananda returned to India with world-wide fame owing to his grand success at the Parliament of Religions and also after that both in England and America. He received an address wherever he went and on every one of such occasions he made a thrilling reply. I happened to see his likeness in some of the newspapers, and from the similarity of features I thought that the Swami who had resided at my house must have been the same. I wrote to him accordingly inquiring if my inference was correct and requesting him to kindly pay a visit to Poona on his way to Calcutta. I received a fervent reply in which the Swami frankly admitted that he was the same Sannyasin and expressed his regret at not being able to visit Poona then. This letter is not available. It must have been destroyed along with many others, public and private, after the close of the Kesari Prosecution of 1897.” (Read the passage here: Tilak-Vivekananda meeting)