Birthday: September 4, 1825
Died At Age: 91
Sun Sign: Virgo
Born in: Bombay, British India
father: Naoroji Palanji Dordi
Died on: June 30, 1917
place of death: Bombay (Mumbai)
City: Mumbai, India
Founder/Co-Founder: Rahnumae Mazdayasne Sabha (Guides on the Mazdayasne Path), Rast Goftar, Naoroji & Co,
The first ever Asian to be a British Member of Parliament, Dadabhai Naoroji was a pioneer in many fields. He was an intellectual and an educator; he was the first Indian to become a professor at the Elphinstone Institute, Bombay, where he taught mathematics and natural philosophy. He had a deep love for mathematics and along with his love for the subject he also harbored several other interests. He was born into a poor Parsi family and struggled a lot during his childhood as his widowed mother single-handed raised him. As a young man he traveled to London to become a partner in Cama & Co, the first Indian company to be established in Britain. However, he was fed up with the unethical practices adopted in the company and resigned. Later on he went on to establish his own cotton trading company and became actively involved in politics. 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.
Childhood & Early Life
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. She played a very important role in making Dadabhai the person he grew up to be.
His marriage was arranged to Gulbaai when he was 11 years old as per the custom in India during those times.
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.
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When he was just 25, he became an Assistant Professor at the Elphinstone Institute.
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 Bombay (now 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 thus becoming 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.
He left for London in June 1855 to become a partner in Cama & Co., which was the first Indian company to be established in Britain. Though he worked diligently there, he was disillusioned by the company’s unethical practices and resigned.
In 1859 he established his own company, Naoroji & Co., a cotton trading firm.
Starting from the 1860s, he actively began working for the upliftment of Indians. He was very vocal against the colonial rule of the British in India.
He presented the “Drain Theory” to the British in which he stated how the British had exploited India, systematically depleting her wealth and resources while making the country poorer.
He became involved with politics and helped to establish the East India Association in 1867. This association would serve as one of the predecessor organizations of the Indian National Congress.
He was patronised by Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III of Baroda and started his public life as the Dewan (Minister) to the Maharaja in 1874. He also served as a member of the Legislative Council of Mumbai from 1885 to 1888.
He was elected the president of the Indian National Congress in 1886.
He moved to London in the late 1880s and was elected for the Liberal Party in Finsbury Central at the 1892 general election - becoming the first British Indian MP.
He spent his later years writing articles and giving speeches on the exploitation of India by the British, thus setting the foundation for the Indian Nationalist Movement.
Known as the Grand Old Man of India, Dadabhai Naoroji was an intellectual, educator and political figure who 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.
Personal Life & Legacy
When he was 11 years old, his mother arranged his marriage with Gulbaai, a seven year old girl. The couple went on to have three children—one son and two daughters.
This freedom fighter, social reformer and educator had a long and productive life, spanning nine long decades. He died in 1917 at the age of 91.
The Dadabhai Naoroji Road is named in his honour.