Dadabhai Naoroji

Dadabhai Naoroji was also regarded as the ‘Great Old Man of India’ and ‘Oficial Ambassador of India’ as an Indian Parsi scholar, merchants and politicians and was the first Asian to be an Indian MP, despite the British MP David Ochterlony Dyce Sombre who was disenfranchised on the grounds of corruption in the United Kingdom House of Commons between 1892 and 1895. Naoroji was one of the Indian National Congress’ founding members.

The Indian drain of wealth in Britain was brought to light in his Book Poverty and the United Kingdom rule in India. He clarified in it his principle of draining of capital. He and Kautsky and Plekhanov were also participants of the Second International. The congress works of Dadabhai Naoroji are deserving of praise. He was elected president of INC three times in 1886, 1893 and 1906. The Dadabhai Naoroji Awards for services to United Kingdom and India were opened in 2014 by Vice-Premier Nick Clegg. In 1963, 1997 and 2017 Naoroji was seen in the Indian Post on stamps.

In a Gujarati-speaking family, Naoroji was born in Navsari and taught at the Elphinstone Institute School. He was patronised by Sayajirao Gaekwad III, the Baroda Maharaja, and began his career as a dewan in 1874. On 1 August 1851, Naoroji established the Rahnumae Mazdayasne Sabha in order to restore its original purity and simplicity to the Zoroastrian faith. In 1854 he founded a quintessential gujarati journal, the Rast Goftar, in order to explain Zoroastrian concepts and to encourage social reforms in Parsi. He was named Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at the Bombay University of Elphinstone in December 1855 and was the first Indian to hold this position in the academia. He also published an additional newspaper called The Voice of India. In 1855, he visited London to become a Cama & Co partner, opening an office in Liverpool in order to create the first Indian company in England. He resigned for legal reasons within three years. In 1859, he set up his own Dadabhai Naoroji & Co. cotton trade firm. Later, at University College , London, he became Professor of Gujarati.

Naoroji led the London Indian Society in 1865 and launched it with a view to addressing Indian political , social and literary problems. In 1861, together with Muncherjee Hormusji Cama, Naoroji founded The Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe. He also helped set up in 1867 the East India Association, one of the Indian National Congress’ predecessors with the intention of providing the British public with an Indian perspective. The Association played a part in combating the propaganda of the London Ethnological Society, which tried to demonstrate the Asians were inferior to the European in 1866.

In the colonial rule of India, Dadabhai Naoroji concentrated on the drain of riches from India to England. One of the reasons for Naoroji’s drain theory is its choice to estimate India’s net national benefit and, by extension, its impact on the economy. By interacting with the economy, Naoroji tried to show that Great Britain drained money from India. Six factors led to external drain have been identified by Naorojis. First of all, India’s foreign government is controlled. Secondly, India does not attract immigration that contributes to economic growth through labour and capital. Third, India pays for the civil and occupational army of Britain. Fourthly, India carries in and outside its borders the burden of building an empire. Fifth, the country’s opening to free trade was in fact a way to manipulate India by supplying international workers with high paying jobs. Finally, the key income-makers would buy or leave the revenue, as most foreign workers, outside India. In Naoroji’s ‘Poverty’ book, he estimated that the income of India in Great Britain was losing about 200-300 million pounds. Naoroji described it as vampirism with money as a blood metaphor that made India human and tried to display the conduct of Britain as monstrous as a way to sympathise with the nationalist movement.

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