Remembering Dadabhai Naoroji on the Hundredth Anniversary of his Death
On 30 June 2017, many Indians will observe the hundredth death anniversary of Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917), an important figure in India’s struggle for independence from British colonialism and the first Indian to be elected to the British Parliament. Naoroji was a Parsi, a member of the tiny Zoroastrian community of India that today numbers only 60,000 in that country. Nevertheless, in the course of his five decades of political work, Naoroji played a vital role in uniting members of India’s diverse religious and ethnic communities into a movement for political reform and colonial emancipation.
Article by Dr. Dinyar Patel, Assistant Professor of History, University of South Carolina, and Chair, Research and Preservation Committee, FEZANA.
In 1825, when Naoroji was born in Bombay (today’s Mumbai), the British had been a colonial power in India for over eighty years, causing famine and economic disruption in many parts of the country. Naoroji was, himself, born in relative poverty: his parents migrated from southern Gujarat as its local textile economy collapsed. Through his academic performance, however, Naoroji managed to secure scholarships for attending Bombay’s best educational institutions. At the age of 28, he became the first Indian appointed as a full professor in a British-administered college, teaching mathematics and physics. He also began adopting extremely progressive positions on various social issues. At a time when most women in India lacked any form of education, he established some of the first schools in Bombay for girls. Naoroji also criticized the British government for not doing more to educate its Indian subjects.