Updated June 2, 2023
About Dadabhai Naoroji
As we breathe into this free air of our democratic country, we often tend to forget the fights and struggles our freedom fighters held to give us the freedom we enjoy. History has witnessed the events that took place. But in the arc of time, some names have been forgotten that fought for our country. They and their families silently yet in a very stoic and persistent manner put up with all the slavery tactics of the British government went through personal losses, snatched their homes, and went through beatings all to live in a free country as we are living in the present. All the freedom fighters, big or small, violent or non-violent, remembered or forgotten, present in any part of the world took part directly or indirectly to criticize the British government and had only one motive, “Freedom for India, An Independent and Free India.”One of them was Dadabhai Naoroji.
It will come as a surprise to you that he spent most of his life in London. He was the first Asian to become a British MP in 1892-1895. He was unafraid to speak his mind and criticize the economic policies of the British government in India. He laid the foundation of the freedom struggle in an unconventional and, often, less talked about way.
Dadabhai Naoroji was born in a Parsi family in Bombay in 1825 when the British ruled India. Professionally he became a professor of Mathematics and Philosophy at Mumbai’s Elphinstone College and a professor of Gujarati at University College, London. The professor became interested in business and politics at a young age. He owned his own cotton trading company and was also a partner in the firm Cama & Co. Apart from his business acumen, his political journey started in 1874 at Dewan of the Maharaja of Baroda. He was influenced and fascinated by Indian political, social, and literary subjects. After that, destiny took a turn and brought him to England. His career took forward steps from there on.
Work Life of Dadabhai Naoroji.
Dadabhai Naoroji founded the famous “East India Association” and became a member of the Legislative council of Mumbai. The purpose of it was to put forth views of India in front of British people. Most importantly, he included Indians from different provinces in the association. He gained wide popularity through this among the people and also among some prominent English men. It paved the way for him to become a British MP in the House of Commons in 1892. He became a representative of the Liberal party after getting elected from Finsbury Central.
During his tenure in the British Parliament, he was vocal about giving equal employment opportunities to Indians, industrialization, and development of the country. He wrote many books and papers, and among them, “Poverty and Un-British rule in India” became the most famous one. It was significant to note that, being part of the British parliament, he was so brave to criticize it and its economic policies that were draining India’s wealth into Britain. He opposed the wealth drain of India by British authorities.
Dadabhai Naoroji gained wide recognition due to his notable works. It laid the foundation for the freedom struggle he contributed to indirectly. Due to this, the Royal Commission is responsible for reviewing India’s financial burdens. He got statistics into politics so authentically that helped him prove his point about how Britain is draining India’s wealth. To take forward his motive, he founded Indian National Congress (INC) in 1885 along with Dinshaw Wacha and Allan Octavian Hume. He remained president of Congress till 1906.
He got inclined towards Zoroastrian religion and philosophy. Hence, he also helped revive it. He also mentored Mahatma Gandhi, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and Gopal Krishna Gokhale.
Naoroji took his last breath in Mumbai in 1917. He was ninety-one years old then. Though he couldn’t witness the “Free India,” his unconventional ways of putting India’s interests first proved to be a notable contribution to India’s freedom struggle. Along with being a sound academician, politician, and businessman, he will always be in our memories as the “Grand old man of India.”