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Dadabhai Naoroji 195th Birth Anniversary: Remembering ‘The Grand Old Man of India’ & The First Asian to Become a British MP

Popularly known as ‘Grand Old Man of India’, Dadabhai Naoroji was the first Asian to be a British parliamentarian. The Parsi scholar was one of the founding members of the Indian National Congress. On Friday, all the Indians in the country and abroad will celebrate 195th birth anniversary of Dadabhai Naoroji, who is also referred to as ‘official Ambassador of India’.

Born on September 4, 1825, in Navsari into a Gujarati-speaking Parsi family, Naoroji completed his initial education at the Elphinstone Institute School. He started his initial career as Dewan (minister) to Maharaja of Baroda, Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1874. Before this, Naoroji was appointed Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy in Elphinstone College in Bombay. Vikram Sarabhai 101st Birth Anniversary: Here Are Interesting Facts About Founder of Indian Space Research Organisation

In 1855, he travelled to London to become a partner in Cama & Co but resigned on ethical grounds within three years. In 1859, Naoroji established his own cotton trading company and named it as Dadabhai Naoroji & Co. Apart from this, Naoroji also became Professor of Gujarati in University College London. Naoroji founded The Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe in 1861 alongside Muncherjee Hormusji Cama and helped in the establishment of the East India Association.

Dadabhai Naoroji became the Prime Minister of Baroda in 1874 and was a member of the Legislative Council of Bombay from 1885 to 1888. Naoroji was among the founding members of Indian National Congress and was elected President of the Congress in 1886.

Later in 1892 general election, Naoroji was elected for the Liberal Party in Finsbury Central and became the British Indian MP. He took the oath of office in the name of God on his copy of Khordeh Avesta, the first one to do so at that time. During his tenure as MP, Naoroji spoke on the condition the Indian people. He was assisted by Muhammed Ali Jinnah — the future Muslim nationalist and founder of Pakistan — for his political campaign and duties as an MP.

Naoroji played an instrumental role proving that Britain was draining money out of India. His work on the drain of wealth from India to England during the colonial rule of British in India was widely read and in his book ‘Poverty’, Naoroji estimated a 200–300 million pounds loss of India’s revenue to Britain that is not returned. ‘The Grand Old Man of India’ described this as vampirism.

Dadabhai Naoroji died on June 30, 1917. Today on his name, there are three roads in three different places — Mumbai (India), Karachi (Pakistan) and London (England). During his lifetime, Naoroji wrote ‘Poverty of India’, ‘Condition of India’, ‘The wants and means of India’, ‘The European and Asiatic races’, among others.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Sep 04, 2020 08:15 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).

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