HomePOPULARDadabhai Naoroji played an important role in India’s freedom struggle

Dadabhai Naoroji played an important role in India’s freedom struggle

Dadabhai Naoroji, arguably the most important Indian nationalist leader in the pre-Gandhi era. Naoroji (1825-1917) gave the Indian National Congress a concrete political goal in 1906 when he declared that its goal was self-government or swaraj.

Dadabhai Naoroji was the father of Indian politics and is called the ‘Pitamah’ of Indian politics. Dadabhai was also a senior nationalist, politician, industrialist, educationist and thinker. An English professor called him the ‘hope of India’. Many organizations were formed by Dadabhai. In 1851, a weekly ‘Rast Gaftar’ in Gujarati was started. In 1867 he founded the ‘East India Association’. Elsewhere, he became a professor of Gujarati at the University of London.

• He played a key role in the formation of the Indian National Congress. He was a member of the Second International.

• Naoroji also served as a Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom as a member of the Liberal Party. He was the first Indian to become a British MP.

• Naoroji was a prominent Indian nationalist and critic of the economic policies of the British Raj in India.

• Through his book ‘Poverty and Non-British Rule in India’ he put forward the ‘Wealth Drain Theory’ which emphasized the use of Indian resources for the benefit of Britain.

• He showed the economic adversities facing India to the English audience and made it possible by portraying himself as an imperial citizen.

• He said that Indians were either subjects or slaves of the British depending on the extent of Britain’s desire to provide India with institutions run by them.

• He was involved in the formation of the “Indian Society of London” in 1865. The aim of this society was to discuss Indian social, political and scientific topics.

• He also helped found the “East India Association” in 1867 to convey the Indian perspective to the British public, etc.

Public awareness of Indian plight

• Formed alliances with intellectuals and political figures in London and in the process created a large network of support among progressive legislative representatives who could champion the interests of Indian reforms.

• He became the first Asian to be elected to the British Parliament in 1892, where he succeeded in drawing attention to the problems and plight of Indians. He was particularly concerned with the political influence of the British Indian community and instilled a nationalist consciousness among them. He introduced many young Indians to the National Liberal Club, where he was able to meet Indian political reformers such as William Wedderburn, William Digby and Alan Octavian Hume.

• To pave the way for the era of economic nationalism: He was one of the foremost nationalist leaders who awakened and widely propagated the spirit of economic nationalism. In his book Poverty and Non-British Rule in India, he proposed the principle of outflow of wealth. This theory provided new insight into understanding the various forms of exploitation perpetrated by colonial British rule (which gave impetus to India’s continuing economic plight).

He gradually emphasized India’s poverty and wealth outflow theory to justify political reform towards Swaraj. Naoroji used India’s grim economic reality for clear political ends. He thereby justified the Indianness of the bureaucracy and eventually took more concrete steps to achieve Swaraj. Naoroji established close relations with the Adalats (Adalats) of several princely states, especially Gujarat and Kathiawar.

Written by: Vaishali Verma

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