Dadabhai Naoroji: Why this nationalist served as a British MP

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Recently, Dinyars Patel’s biography ‘Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism‘ won the Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize 2021.

Facts about Dadabhai Naoroji

He was an Indian nationalist, educationist, first Indian MP in British Parliament, an Economist, a mentor and belonged to the Parsi community.

As an educationist: He began his career as a professor and work towards equality and state-supported universal education.

As a British MP: He used the British institution to fulfil Indian interests. He passed a resolution in British Parliament to bring reforms in the Indian Civil Service.

As an Economist: Dadabhai Naoroji put forward the ‘drain of wealth‘ theory in which he stated that the Britain were draining Indian Economy. He calculated that the British drain one-fourth of India’s revenue every year.

His theory facilitated alliance with other anti-imperialists and socialists. Karl Marx briefly dabbled with the idea of the drain of wealth. Socialists like Henry Hyndman applied it in their critiques of capitalists.

As a mentor: He mentored Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Pheozesha Mehta, Romesh Chunder Dutt and other leaders.

For his contribution, he is described as the “Grand Old Man of India”.

Naoroji stuck only to constitutionalist politics, while things changed after World War I. Before the 1920s, advocating self-government for India was a radical idea while this is not the same case after the 1920s. In the 1920s, nationalism changed fundamentally, after the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi.

Source: This post is based on the article “Why this nationalist served as a British MP” published in the Livemint on 4th December 2021.

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