Dadabhai Naoroji

Dadabhai Naoroji known as the Grand Old Man of India, was a Parsi intellectual, educator, cotton trader, and an early Indian political and social leader.

Updated: June 16, 2022

Dadabhai Naoroji known as the Grand Old Man of India, was a Parsi intellectual, educator, cotton trader, and an early Indian political and social leader. He was a Liberal Party member of Parliament (MP) in the United Kingdom House of Commons between 1892 and 1895, and the first Indian to be a British MP.
He was the founder of  Indian National Congress, along with A.O. Hume and Dinshaw Edulji Wacha. His book Poverty and Un-British Rule in India brought attention to the draining of India's wealth into Britain.


In 2014, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg inaugurated the Dadabhai Naoroji Awards for services to UK-India relations. India Post dedicated stamps to Naoroji in 1963, 1997 and 2017. He was born on September 4th, 1825 and died on June 30th, 1917.


Childhood of Dadabhai Naoroji:

He was born in Bombay in 1825 into a poor Parsi family. The family fell upon really difficult times when his father died when Dadabhai was just four years old. His mother Maneckbai single-handedly raised her family and did a very admirable job at it. She herself was illiterate but wanted to give her son a quality education. 


Education of Dadabhai Naoroji:

He received his primary education from the Native Education Society School after which he went to the Elphinstone Institute where he studied literature of the world.


He was chosen for Clare's scholarship when he was 15 years old and was considered a scholar at this young age. He became an Assistant Professor at the Elphinstone Institute when he was just 25.


Family of Dadabhai Naoroji:

His marriage was arranged to Gulbaai, a seven year old girl when he was 11 years old as per the custom in India during those times. The couple went on to have three children, one son and two daughters.


Some facts about Dadabhai Naoroji:

  • He hailed from an Athornan (priestly family) and founded the Rahnumae Mazdayasne Sabha on 1st August 1851 in an attempt to restore the Zoroastrian religion to its past glory. This society still operates in Mumbai.
  • He founded a fortnightly publication, the 'Rast Goftar', meaning the 'truth teller' in 1853 to clarify the Zoroastrian concepts to the common man.
  • In 1855 he was appointed the professor of Mathematics and Philosophy at the Elphinstone Institute. He was the first Indian professor at the college which only had English professors so far. He also served as the Treasurer of the Student Literary and Scientific society.
  • Dadabhai left for London in June 1855 to become a partner in Cama & Co., which was the first Indian company to be established in Britain.
  • In 1859 he established his own company, Naoroji & Co., a cotton trading firm.
  • He worked to promote the Zoroastrian religion and the Indian culture. He spearheaded India's freedom struggle by giving speeches and writing articles on the exploitation of India by the British.
  • He felt that the British were exploiting India and set up the Gyan Prasarak Mandali to educate the adult men folk.
  • He wrote many articles and gave speeches on the plight of India and played an important role in the formation of the Indian National Congress.
  • He died in 1917 at the age of 91.
  • The Dadabhai Naoroji Road is named in his honour.
  • A plaque referring to Dadabhai Naoroji is located outside the Finsbury Town Hall on Rosebery Avenue, London.



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