Date: Sep 4, 2007 3:48 AM
Subject: Dadabhai Naoroji's birthday on 4th Sept : The Grand Old Man Of India
To: TZML <TraditionalZarathushtris@yahoogroups.com>
Dadabhai Naoroji : The Grand Old Man Of India
Dadabhai Naoroji : The Grand Old Man Of India
Born: On 4th September 1825, at Bombay.
Died: On 30th June 1917, at Bombay
Dadabhai Naoroji, affectionately called the "Grand Old Man of India", was born to a priest's family in Bombay. He studied in the Elphinstone College and became a professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy there at the age of 27. He was the first Indian to become a professor of the college.
At age thirty, he left for England, where he was to spend most of his life writing about the condition of people in India and trying to influence public opinion for Indian self-rule. He lost an election to the British Parliament as a member of the Liberal party in 1886, but was elected from Central Finsbury, London, in 1892 as a Liberal member.
In 1895 he was appointed to the royal commission on Indian expenditure. He was instrumental in propagating the view that India was too heavily taxed, and its wealth was flowing to England. These views were summarised in his book 'Poverty and Un-British Rule in India', published in 1901.
He returned to India on several occasions; once in 1895, at the request of the Gaekwad of Baroda to serve as his chief minister. He resigned two years later over a difference in opinion about political reforms in the princely state.
He was present at the first meeting of the Indian National Congress in 1885 and was thrice elected to the post of the president, in 1886, 1893 and again in 1906. During his third term, he prevented a split between moderates and extremists in the party. The Congress' demand for swaraj (independence) was first expressed publicly by him in his presidential address in 1906. He died in Bombay on June 30, 1917.
We have glowing testimonies about Dadabhai's sterling qualities. It is said that he was extremely hard working, thoroughly researched his work to support the data he presented and that he had a phenomenal memory. He worked without a secretary or a typewriter. Instead, he had to use what that period offered him — a pen which had to be dipped in ink. He wrote in long hand and was composing about 20 letters each day. He wrote to various people — governors, politicians, both Indian and British leaders, to his colleagues, private men, newspapers — all the time encouraging and inspiring and guiding them to fight for the betterment of India.
[ He refused to be suggested for a knighthood, explaining, "My work has been for duty and not for titular honour." ]
Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, has reverently described that Dadabhai was like a 'dada' (elder person) to him. He recalls that when he was a young student in London, he and other Indians would frequently go to Dadabhoy's house there for advice and consultation.
Dadabhai harboured no malice for anyone - even those he opposed in economic and political circles. This was a rare quality in a man engaged in a political life. He took on the British Government — which he saw was impoverishing India and filling Britain's coffers — not by threats and abuses, but by facts and figures. But towering all these qualities was Dadabhai's moral integrity.
One is told that so highly respected was he that even radical youths who moved towards extremism in the fight for India's independence, listened to his advice with respect, as they did to no other leader of that era.
There is another account of an incident in Calcutta, where people took the dust off the ground on which Dadabhai walked and sprinkled it on their heads, because they looked up to him as a man who had given a new meaning to their lives.
In spite of all his achievements, Dadabhai was an extremely modest man and when he found out that his name had been suggested for knighthood, he wrote to the then Governor Of Bombay, "My work has been for duty and not for titular honour. I would regret it if the suggestion is considered."
[ Even radical youths, who moved towards extremism, listened to his advice with respect, as they did to no other leader of that era. ]
In an obituary appearing in the Times Of India of 3rd July 1917, it read, "Dadabhai was the first Indian who devoted himself entirely to furthering the secular interests of his motherland, to the total exclusion of all thoughts of a personal career. The people of India have always held in high honour the idea of renunciation. Because Dadabhai Naoroji lived a life of complete renunciation in order to carry on the work of securing political justice for his countrymen, the millions who had never seen him felt for the Grand Old Man a passionate enthusiasm bordering almost on hero worship."