As part of our Black History Month celebration, we will be featuring a trailblazer from Black history each week. This week we focus on Dadabhai Naoroji (1825 –1917), the first Asian member of Parliament elected in 1892.
Dadabhai was born in India in 1825, an intellectual, who at the early age of 25 became India’s first professor of mathematics.
He went on to founder one of India’s biggest political parties, the Indian National Congress with connection to Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (1st prime minster of India), Dr Rajendra Rpasad (1st President of India) and many more prominent Indian political figures.
He moved to Britain when he was 30 and went on to begin his own cotton business ‘Naoroji and Company’. Despite Dadabhai having a successful, time consuming business, he decided to enter British politics and fight for the rights of Indian workers in Britain. He came up against great racial hostility from those not wanting him to enter politics which made his even more determined.
Elected for the Liberal Party in Finsbury Central at the 1892 general election, he was the first British Indian MP. He refused to take the oath on the Bible as he was not a Christian, but was allowed to take the oath of office in the name of God on his copy of Khordeh Avesta.
Dadabhai went on to become one of the leading figures for India’s Independence, especially with his influence of key figures like Gandhi.
Dadabhai as an MP also took a keen interest in the Irish Home Rule debates.
Still today, his legacy as the first Asian MP in parliament is celebrated with a plaque located outside the Finsbury Town Hall on Roseberry Avenue, London.