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Dadabhai Naoroji

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Preface On 11 March 2016, the National Archives of India completed 125 years of its sterling service in preserving and maintaining the documentary heritage of India. Establish~d in Calcutta (now Kolkata) as the Imperial Records Department on 11 March 1891, it was transferred to Delhi following the shift of the capital in 1911. From 1947 onwards it came to be known as the National Archives of India. It houses a rich trove of documentary wealth of our country that forms an invaluable s...

On 11 March 2016, the National Archives of India completed 125 years of its sterling service in preserving and maintaining the documentary heritage of India. Establish~d in Calcutta (now Kolkata) as the Imperial Records Department on 11 March 1891, it was transferred to Delhi following the shift of the capital in 1911. From 1947 onwards it came to be known as the National Archives of India. It houses a rich trove of documentary wealth of our country that forms an invaluable source of information for administrators, scholars, and other users. Today, it has one regional office in Bhopal and three records centres in Bhubaneswar, Jaipur, and Puducherry.

Primarily a repository of public records of the Government of India, the collection of the National Archives of India also includes a valuable corpus of other archival heritage such as Oriental records, cartographic records, manuscripts, and private papers of eminent personalities.

Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917) was an iconic figure of the Indian nationalist movement. His private papers in our collection have attracted the attention of scholars for a long time. I am pleased to place this volume in the hands of readers which fulfils a long-standing demand of researchers as well as the general users of records to access this extensive collection in a book form. For undertaking the laborious task of sifting, selecting, annotating the papers, and painstaking editing of the present volume, I am grateful to the editors, Professor S.R. Mehrotra and Dr Dinyar Patel. I am also grateful to our co-publisher, the Oxford University Press, for coming forward and joining hands in our endeavour to make this volume widely available across the academic world.

My colleagues, Shri S.K. Mishra, Archivist; Shri Rajmani Srivastava, As istant Director of Archives; and Dr Sanjay Garg, Deputy Director of Archives, helped in more ways than one to coordinate the publication of this volume. I am thankful to each one of them.

I am confident that not only will this volume be welcomed by the students and researchers of modern Indian history, but that it will also stimulate publication of many such volumes from this as well as other series of private papers in the collection of the National Archives of India.


Popularly known as the 'Grand Old Man of India', Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917) was, during his extremely long lifetime, many things to many people. For a small but growing band of educated young men in western India during the middle of the nineteenth century, he represented a wave of social and religious reform that contributed to a new urban political discourse in cities like Bombay (now Mumbai). To acquaintances in Liverpool and London in the late 1850s and 1860s, he was a business contact in the lucrative Indian cotton trade who also became an increasingly vocal participant in debates in Britain over Indian policy. By the next decade, Naoroji had become a veritable thorn in the side of India Office bureaucrats after authoring a damning set of papers on the extent of Indian poverty, charging the British Indian administration with presiding over a fantastic drain of wealth from the subcontinent (Naoroji's most famous work, Poverty and Un-British Rule in India, first published in 1901, is a compendium of writings, essays, and speeches from this period through the year 1900). Anglo-Indians! started warily referring to him as a political agitator and propagandist, and railed against claims they found potentially treasonous. For the subjects of the gaekwar of Baroda, he was-albeit briefly-their prime minister, frantically attempting to reform the corrupt state administration that lay astride an incompetent maharaja and a paranoid British resident. By the mid-1880s, Naoroji was recognized across India as one of the country's leading nationalists, a major force behind the newly established Indian National Congress. And by 1886, he was recognized in Britain as an authority on Indian affairs who, in the constituencies of Holborn and Central Finsbury, sought election to the British Parliament. To Prime Minister Lord Salisbury, and a persistent band of xenophobes, Naoroji was a 'black man' who did not deserve an Englishman's vote or the right to speak on behalf of India in the debates on imperial policy in Britain. Defying this first pronouncement, at least, Naoroji became, in 1892, the first Indian to sit in the House of Commons, an object of curiosity and fascination in Great Britain and a hero in India. G.P. Pillai, editor of the Madras Standard, remarked that, 'If India were a Republic and the Republic had the right to elect its own President, the man who by the unanimous voice of his countrymen would be elected its uncrowned king is Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji. No Indian is more loved, more honored, more esteemed throughout the length and breadth of India than he.2 Naoroji continued to be held in great esteem but, by the first years of the twentieth century, when he was out of Parliament and gravitating to the political left, moderate Indian nationalists were finding him too radical, while radical nationalists judged him far too moderate. Finally, in his last years of political activity, Naoroji became to his Indian countrymen-as well as to an increasingly suspicious British political establishment and a growing band of anti-imperialists worldwide-the primary advocate of Swaraj or Indian self-government.

Today, Indians remember Naoroji for his pioneering economic critiques of colonialism, while Britons recognize him as the first Asian in Parliament, a symbol of that community's evolving political empowerment. But little else is remembered about a man whose pub- lic life spanned five decades; someone who, early in his career, butted heads with a bigoted self-styled orientalist named John Crawfurd, one of the participants in Lord Lake's 1803 capture of Delhi, and, by the end of his career, was mentoring Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and others who led India to independence. Numerous volumes of collected speeches and writings, brief biographies, and hagiographies of Naoroji were published during his lifetime.3 In 1939, Rustom P. Ma ani authored a comprehensive but uncritical biography, Dadabhai Naoroji: The Grand Old Man of India. Little has been produced since. Naoroji has featured in academic work on Indian nationalism, political economy, imperialism, and South Asians in Britain, but, with some clear exceptions, thi scholarship has made use of only a tiny fraction of Naoroji's voluminous writings. It is with this situation in mind that the editors have laboured to produce the current volume. The Dadabhai Naoroji Papers, housed in the National Archives of India, represent a large and relatively untapped source of information on India's preeminent political leader during the second half of the nineteenth century, early Indian nationalism, and the world that Naoroji and his colleagues inhabited. Due to its sheer size and the fragile state of mo t of its papers, cholars have found it very difficult to work with this collection. It took R.P. Patwardhan, a retired educational official residing in Poona (now Pune) in the 1950 and 1960s, around 15 years to comb through the papers in order to produce what were hitherto the only two published volumes of selected Naoroji correspondence.I Patwardhan died before he could publish two additional manuscripts. The editors have relied on one of these manuscripts and have made significant modifications, additions, and revisions-while scrupulously tracking down and consulting original letters-in order to craft the current work. It is for this reason that the editors have dedicated this volume to Patwardhan's memory.

This introduction includes a biography of Naoroji as well as a history of the Naoroji Papers, explaining why and how the collection has shrunk in size over the past century. In the following chapters, readers will find correspondence with some individuals who are well recognized and others who have been largely forgotten by history, such as Aziz Ahmad (Chapter One), a Muslim convert to Christianity who ran two newspapers in Glasgow, and Shankar Abaji Bhisey (Chapter Three), a brilliant Maharashtrian inventor shuttling between Bombay, London, and Connecticut in the early twentieth century. One observation will immediately strike the reader: a general paucity of letters written by Naoroji himself. The editors have tried to locate, decipher, and include in this volume as many of Naoroji's own letters as possible. However, as is explained fully in the section ahead on the Naoroji Papers, the vast majority of such letters have been lost and the remaining few are difficult, and occasionally impossible, to read due to their present condition.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

Item Code: NAQ387 Author: S.R. Mehrotra & Dinyar Patel Cover: HARDCOVER Edition: 2016 Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi ISBN: 9780198076667 Language: English Size: 8.50 X 5.50 inch Pages: 646 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.9 Kg
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