Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

In news: Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Dadabhai Naoroji

Mains level: Not Much


Central Idea

  • Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Indian member of the British Parliament, played a significant role in India’s anti-colonial struggle.
  • His scholarly work exposed the economic exploitation of India under British rule, emphasizing the drain theory.

Who was Dadabhai Naoroji?

  • Early Life: Naoroji was born in Navsari, Gujarat, into a Parsi Zoroastrian family. He received his education at the Elphinstone Institute School.
  • Social Reforms: He founded the Rahnumai Mazdayasan Sabha and the Rast Goftar newspaper to promote Parsi social reforms and clarify Zoroastrian concepts.
  • Political Activism: Naoroji co-founded the London Indian Society and the East India Association, advocating for Indian political rights and countering negative stereotypes.
  • Indian National Congress: He played a crucial role in the Indian National Congress and served as its President on three occasions.
  • British Parliament: Naoroji became the first Indian MP in the British House of Commons, representing Finsbury Central from 1892 to 1895.
  • Economic Critique: His book “Poverty and Un-British Rule in India” exposed the drain of wealth from India to Britain and its impact on India’s development.

His proposition of Drain Theory and Poverty

  • Naoroji’s Drain Theory: He identified six factors contributing to the wealth drain, including foreign governance, lack of immigration, and unequal employment opportunities.
  • Impact of Drain: Naoroji estimated a drain of 200-300 million pounds from India to Britain, which hindered India’s economic progress.
  • Railways and Tribute: Naoroji argued that India paid for services like railways, but the profits were drained out of the country, leading to economic imbalances.
  • Exploitative Trade: British workers in India were encouraged to repatriate their earnings, and Indian goods were undervalued, allowing for economic exploitation.

Major works

  • Started the Rast Goftar Anglo-Gujarati Newspaper in 1854.
  • The manners and customs of the Parsees (Bombay, 1864)
  • The European and Asiatic races (London, 1866)
  • Admission of educated natives into the Indian Civil Service (London, 1868)
  • The wants and means of India (London, 1876)
  • Condition of India (Madras, 1882)

Legacy and Views

  • Naoroji’s Significance: He is considered a crucial figure in India’s independence movement, advocating for responsible government and Indian autonomy.
  • Influence on Gandhi: Mahatma Gandhi was influenced by Naoroji’s writings and recognized him as a father figure for the Indian people.
  • Admirations: Bal Gangadhar Tilak praised Naoroji’s leadership and stated that Indians would unanimously elect him if given the chance.
  • Recognition: Naoroji’s contributions are honoured through various roads, streets, and awards named after him.

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