Untold Stories

The untold tale of a remarkable life

According to Kumar Chellappan, Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism is the first accurate biography of India’s Grand Old Man to hit the market 112 years after his death.

It is stated that victorious people write history. This is a refrain attributed to Winston Churchill by some. Many historians, archaeologists, and philosophers have stated that the powerful and great decide and fabricate history to fit their convenience, despite conflicts over who the source of this statement is. As a result, thieves and dacoits are elevated to noble warriors and liberation fighters.

India is a product of fabricated history. Our political rulers decided what history our compatriots should and should not learn. S L Bhyrappa has written extensively about the created history based on his personal experience.

The Karnataka scholar has given a factual description of how late G Parthasarathi, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s advisor, played a key part in rewriting Indian history to suit his master’s political convenience.

Sir Henri Miers Elliot, an English civil servant and historian who wrote The History of India, As Told by Its Own Historians, stated openly that his goal in writing history was to “make the native subjects of British India more aware of the immense benefits accruing to them under the mildness and equity of the present rule.”

As a result, he quoted just those passages from Persian and Arabic writings that make Indians believe their colonial masters are better serving them.

In his prologue to The History And Culture of the Indian People, published by the renowned R C Majumdar, former federal minister and founder of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Dr. K M Munshi, former cabinet minister and founder of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, has quoted this.

Brown sahibs blindly followed the pattern, manipulating and misinterpreting facts and historical evidence to construct history according to their whims and fancies.

What’s the end result? Many frontline soldiers who resisted invaders, colonial overlords, and thugs who stole India of its spiritual and material treasures ended up as unsung heroes and non-entities.

When questioned about Shivji Maharaj, Tatia Toppe, and the Chapekar Brothers of Pune, history students pretended ignorance. Their names aroused respect, affection, and admiration throughout the subcontinent.

When all pleadings from locals to spare them from the pandemic fell on deaf ears, Damodarpant Chapekar of Poona did not hesitate to kill Walter Charles Rand, the special plague commissioner in Poona on June 22, 1897.

Thousands of people died as a result of this pandemic, which could have been avoided if the British administration had shown any regard for the lives of Indians.

This was the time before Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subash Chandra Bose, and other independence fighters entered the fray. The East India Company and the British colonial masters ruled during this time.

Dadabhai Naoroji, the shining star who led India’s fight for independence from British exploitation and coined the term “self-rule,” died unnoticed (1825-1917).

Apart from giving him the unofficial title of ‘The Grand Old Man of India,’ the motherland has yet to recognize this great son of the subcontinent who resembled a commander-in-chief of the Indian freedom movement while strategizing and devising ways and means to free India without shedding a drop of blood or sacrificing the lives of innocent agitators.

The subcontinent was endowed with a galaxy of stars such as Dadabhai Naoroji, Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915), Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856-1920), and Chettur Sankaran Nair (1857-1934), all of whom stood for using intellectual strength and knowledge to liberate the country from colonial oppressors.

There is a common thread which unified these persons who worked for their aim before Gandhi and Nehru entered the picture. Their mission was to educate the masses, particularly women, and to confront the British from a position of bargaining strength, rather than offering them the option of ruling over the Indians.

While there is plenty of literature on Gokhale and Tilak, there isn’t much on Dadabhai Naoroji, who was born into a poor Parsi family in Gujarat and rose to become the unifying force of the Indian National Congress in its Calcutta session in 1906.

The Congress would have split vertically in that session if it hadn’t been for Naoroji, and the party would have crumbled into factions and fractions after that.

Naoroji was the one who kicked off the Indian Independence Movement by telling the world about the British masters’ brazen robbery.

Before the Mughals and Britishers annexed the country, Angus Maddison, a British economist who specialized in quantitative macroeconomic history, discovered that India and China were the world leaders, contributing more than 40% of global GDP. Maddison discovered it in 2006 while working on a project for the OECD and the European Union.

However, Naoroji had established through his research between 1867 and 1880 that Indian poverty and pestilence were the results of the “European leeches'” drain of wealth from India. He took the fight to the lion’s den, which was Britain.

The white males had no response to the Bombay Parsi gentleman’s assertions. Dinyar Patel, an Indian-born historian who works as an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina, has recreated the story of Naoroji’s life and times in a masterful manner.

The book Naoroji: Pioneer of Indian Nationalism, written by Patel, is the first true biography of India’s Grand Old Man, and it was published 112 years after the protagonist’s death. Dinyar Patel has done a fantastic job of explaining the period in which Naoroji lived and the obstacles he faced to a new generation of Indians.

Between the late 1860s and the early 1880s, he produced a prodigious amount of literature — containing extensive calculations, international comparisons, compilations of historical evidence and refutations of government pronouncements and statistics — highlighting the stark impoverishment of Britain’s Indian subjects. He established a direct link between poverty and British rule, which was significant.

“As far as my current investigations go, the conclusion I reach is that wherever the East India Company acquired land, poverty followed them,” Naoroji claimed.

Naoroji famously claimed that a quarter of India’s annual tax revenue went into British coffers rather than being reinvested in the country, and that this was a drain of wealth.

This conclusion was not drawn using government data. It was decided by the young students of Bombay’s Elphinstone College, the most prominent of whom is Dadabhai Naoroji, who ranks first among the College’s Distinguished Alumni.

Elphinstone College provided him with the education that enabled him to comprehend the truth that provinces that employed Indian officials were protected from wealth drain and were economically more robust than British India.

National education meant widespread public education to Naoroji. He fantasized of an India that was as developed, modern, and affluent as France, which he visited in 1855 while on a tour to the United Kingdom.



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