As part of our Cultural Programme we will secondly pay tribute to the life and legacy of Dadabhai Naoroji.
Known as the Grand Old Man of India, Dadabhai was not just a Parsi intellectual but an educator, a cotton trader, and an early Indian political and social leader. Dadabhai laid the foundations of the Indian National Congress and was elected its President in 1886. His book Poverty and Un-British Rule in India brought attention to the draining of India’s wealth into Britain. If that was not enough, he then made political history by becoming the first British Asian Member of Parliament at the grand old age of 67, serving until 1895 in Finsbury, today you will find Naoroji Street in the Finsbury area of London.
As an academic, Dadabhai was Professor of Mathematics and Natural philosophy in Mumbai and in the UK, he became professor of Gujarati at University College London. Arriving in London 1855 to become a partner in Cama & Co, he then opened a Liverpool location for this was the first Indian company to be established in Britain. After resigning in 1859 on ethical grounds, he established his own cotton trading company, Naoroji & Co.
Dadabhai was a mentor to both Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Mahatma Gandhi. It is written in the biography of Dadabhai that there was a period of time when Gandhiji would write to Dadabhai on a weekly basis. Gandhiji was a great admirer of this great Parsi.