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Remembering Dadabhai Naoroji, the Grand Old Man of India, on his 104th Death Anniversary

Dadabhai Naoroji statue at Fort in Mumbai. (Image: Shutterstock)

Dadabhai Naoroji statue at Fort in Mumbai. (Image: Shutterstock)

At the age of 28, Dadabhai Naoroji became the first Indian appointed as a full professor in a British-administered college, Elphinstone College in Bombay, teaching mathematics and physics

Popularly known as the ‘Grand Old Man of India’, Dadabhai Naoroji was born on 4 September 1825 in a poor Parsi family in Bombay (now Mumbai). One of the earlier leaders who laid the foundation of the Indian freedom struggle, he was one of the founding members of the Indian National Congress. He died on June 30, 1917.

On his 104th death anniversary, here are some interesting facts about him:

Born in 1825, Naoroji was a Parsi, a member of the tiny Zoroastrian community of India, and was educated at the Elphinstone Institute School.

At the age of 28, he became the first Indian appointed as a full professor in a British-administered college, Elphinstone College in Bombay, teaching mathematics and physics.

At the age of eleven, he got married to Gulbai.

At a time when most women in India lacked any form of education, he founded some of the first schools for girls in Bombay.

In 1855, he became a partner in Cama & Co and opened its branch in Liverpool. It became the first Indian company to be established in Britain.

By the late 1860s, Naoroji became deeply concerned about India’s worsening impoverishment under British rule and highlighted “drain of wealth” in his book Poverty and Un-British Rule in India.

After laying out his critique of British colonialism, Naoroji ventured into politics. With help of Allan Octavian Hume and Dinshaw Edulji Wacha, he established the Indian National Congress in 1885.

He became the first British Indian to be the elected Liberal Party Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom House of Commons between 1892 and 1895. He was also the first Asian British MP.

During the oath-taking ceremony in the British parliament, Naoroji refused to take the oath on the Bible as he was Zoroastrian. He was allowed to take the oath on his copy of the Khordeh Avesta.

On June 30, 1917, Naoroji passed away in his home at Versova in Mumbai at the age of 92.

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