Dadabhai Naoroji and His Drain of Wealth Theory

Dada Bhai Naoroji
Dada Bhai Naoroji

Dada Bhai Naoroji

He was the first Asian to be a British MP and the first Indian to become a Professor at Elphinstone Institution in 1850. The ‘Grand Old Man of India’ and the ‘Father of Indian Nationalism’ are the epithets to explain the personality of this great man who was an educator, cotton trader and social leader. He is none other than Dadabhai Naoroji, who was born on 4th September 1825 at Khadak in Mumbai.

He was a Member of Parliament (MP) in the United Kingdom House of Commons between 1892 and 1895. Dadabhai Naoroji played a crucial role in founding the Indian National Congress along with two other famous politicians of that time i.e. A.O. Hume and Dinshaw Edulji Wacha. Dadabhai Naoroji’s concept of wealth drain from India during British rule got huge attention. He mentioned the same concept in his book Poverty and Un-British Rule in India.

After completing his schooling, Dadabhai Naoroji finished his Masters degree in Mathematics and worked as a professor in the same subject. He achieved many honors during his academic career and after completing his education from the Elphinstone Institution, he became a partner of the first Indian commercial company founded in Britain. So, he went to England for managing Cama and Co. While staying in England, he was very keen in exposing the wretchedness in India and what Indians were going through during British rule.  In 1866, he established the East India Association in England. This was a platform to put forward the grievances of Indians in Britain. To promote this further, branches of the association were also established in different parts of India.

 Dadabhai Naoroji’s theory of the Drain of Wealth

Dadabhai Naoroji was the first man to say that internal factors were not the reasons of poverty in India but poverty was caused by the colonial rule that was draining the wealth and prosperity of India. In 1867, Dadabhai Naoroji put forward the ‘drain of wealth’ theory in which he stated that the Britain was completely draining India. He mentioned this theory in his book Poverty and Un-British Rule in India. Further in his book , he stated the loss of 200-300 million pounds of revenue to Britain. Dadabhai Naoroji considered it as a major evil of British in India. On the footsteps of Dadabhai Naoroji, R. C. Dutt also promoted the same theory by keeping it as a major theme of his book Economic History in India. The drain of wealth was the portion of India’s wealth and economy that was not available to Indians for consumption.

Dadabhai Naoroji gave six factors that caused external drain. These are:

  • External rule and administration in India.
  • Funds and labour needed for economic development was brought in by immigrants but India did not draw immigrants.
  • All the civil administration and army expenses of Britain were paid by India.
  • India was bearing the burden of territory building both inside and outside India.
  • India was further exploited by opening the country to free trade.
  • Major earners in India during British rule were foreigners. The money they earned was never invested in India to buy anything. Moreover they left India with that money.

Not only this, but through different services such as railways, India was giving a huge amount to Britain. On the other hand, trade as well as Indian labour was deeply undervalued. Along with this, the East India Company was buying products from India with Indian money and exporting it to Britain.

Dadabhai Naoroji was respected both in Britain as well as India for his loyalty towards British and services for Indians. For this reason, he was elected as the President of the Indian National Congress, not once or twice but for three times i.e. in 1886, 1893 and 1906.

Dadabhai Naoroji was a greater supporter of free education especially to women and children in India as his mother had to struggle a lot to provide the same to him. He was very keen in providing education and making it free. He also wanted to uplift the condition of women in India. For this, he laid the foundation of Jyan Prasarak Mandal, the only girls’ high school in Bombay (present day Mumbai).

His contribution to politics were also immense. He was the founder of Bombay Association and established it in 1852. Further, the London Indian Society was established by him along with N.C. Banarjee for the betterment of relationships between Indian and Englishmen. His entire life was dedicated to the cause and betterment of India. Dadabhai Naoroji died in 1917 at the age of 92.
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