Dadabhai Naoroji contribution to the Indian National Movement

Question – How did Dadabhai Naoroji make a significant contribution to the Indian National Movement? Explain. – 16 November 2021


Dadabhai Naoroji was the father of Indian politics and is called the ‘Pitamah’ of Indian politics. Dadabhai was also a high nationalist, politician, industrialist, educationist and thinker. An English professor called him ‘the hope of India’. Many organizations were created by Dadabhai. In 1851, the weekly ‘Rast Gaftar’ was started in Gujarati language. He formed ‘East India Association’ in 1867. Elsewhere he became a professor of Gujarati at the University of London.

Dadabhai Naoroji, known as the “Grand Old Man of India”, was an Indian nationalist and critic of British economic policy in India. He was instrumental in laying the foundation of the national movement in India.

Establishment of major organizations:

  • He took an active part in the political mobilization against the British rule. He was instrumental in the formation of the ‘London Indian Society’ in 1865. The aim of the Society was to deliberate on Indian social, political and other scholarly subjects. He helped establish the ‘East India Association’ in 1867, which aimed to expose the British people to the Indian perspective.
  • Dadabhai Naoroji also formed the Bombay Presidency Association, which became the predecessor of the Indian National Congress as well as the Indian National Congress.
  • She also founded the Gyan Prasar Mandali for Women’s Education.

Leadership role in Congress

  • Through his publications such as ‘Rasta Goftar’, he shaped the various reforms (such as simultaneous examinations, reorganization of legislative councils, and the election of Indian parliamentarians to the British Parliament) proposed by the Congress towards a broader sound political goal of self-government.

Public consciousness about the plight of Indians

  • He formed alliances with intellectuals and political figures in London and in the process established an extensive network of support among progressive legislative representatives who could advocate for the interests of Indian reforms.
  • He became the first Asian to be elected to the British Parliament in the year 1892, where he was successful in highlighting the issues and plight of Indians. He took special care of politically influencing the British Indian community and inculcating nationalist consciousness among them. He inducted many young Indians into the National Liberal Club, where he could meet Indian political reformers such as William Wedderburn, William Digby and Alan Octavian Hume.
  • Paving the way for the era of economic nationalism: He was one of the prominent nationalist leaders who aroused and widely propagated the spirit of economic nationalism. He propounded the Drain of wealth principle in his book Poverty and Un-British Rule in India. This theory provided a new insight to understand the various forms of exploitation perpetrated by the colonial British rule (which gave rise to India’s ongoing economic plight).

He progressively emphasized the Indian poverty and drain of wealth theory to justify political reform towards Swaraj. Naoroji used the grim economic realities of India for clear political goals. For this he justified the Indianisation of bureaucracy and eventually took more concrete steps towards the attainment of Swaraj. Naoroji established close relations with the Adalats (Adalats) of several princely states, especially Gujarat and Kathiawar. He theorized that the princely states were less affected by the drain of wealth and, as a result, were more economically sound than British India. Therefore, they could serve as laboratories for experiments in Indian political and economic reform. Therefore, Dadabhai was instrumental in training the new generations of Indians and inculcating in them a nationalist consciousness supported by economic and political logic.

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