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Dadabhai Naoroji

Topics Covered:

Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues


Dadabhai Naoroji


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Key contributions and their significance.


Context: September 4, 2019 was the 194th birth anniversary of Dadabhai Naoroji, the “Grand Old Man of India”, who was among the first leaders who stirred national consciousness in the country.

Born in 1825 at Navsari, in present-day Gujarat.


Key contributions:

  1. He was closely involved with the Indian National Congress in its early phase.
  2. He served as the first Indian member of the British parliament.
  3. His first agitation, in 1859, concerned recruitment to the Indian Civil Service.
  4. In 1865 and 1866, Naoroji helped found the London Indian Society and the East India Association The two organisations sought to bring nationalist Indians and sympathetic Britons on one platform.
  5. As the secretary of the East India Association, Naoroji travelled in India to gather funds and raise national awareness.
  6. In 1885, Naoroji became a vice-president of the Bombay Presidency Association, was nominated to the Bombay legislative council by Governor Lord Reay, and helped form the Indian National Congress.
  7. He was Congress president thrice, in 1886, 1893, and 1906.
  8. In 1893, he helped form an Indian parliamentary committee to attend to Indian interests.
  9. In 1895, he became a member of the royal commission on Indian expenditure.
  10. Dadabhai Naoroji was among the key proponents of the ‘Drain Theory’, disseminating it in his 1901 book ‘Poverty and Un-British Rule in India’.


What is Drain Theory?

Imperial Britain was draining away India’s wealth to itself through exploitative economic policies, including India’s rule by foreigners; the heavy financial burden of the British civil and military apparatus in India; the exploitation of the country due to free trade; non-Indians taking away the money that they earned in India; and the interest that India paid on its public debt held in Britain.


Sources: the Hindu.