Dadabhai Naoroji

Dadabhai Naoroji
by London Stereoscopic & Photographic Company,
published by Messrs R.M. Richardson & Co, 1892
© National Portrait Gallery, London

Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917) was the first Indian MP to be elected to the House of Commons. Born near Mumbai, the son of a Parsi priest, he was educated at Elphinstone College where he became the first Indian professor of mathematics and natural philosophy.

He travelled to London in 1855, becoming professor of Gujurati at University College London and founding the London Zoroastrian Association (1861). He campaigned to open the Indian Civil Service to Indians and formulated the ‘drain theory’, outlining how British rule drained the financial resources of India.

He was elected Liberal MP for Finsbury in 1892 and financially supported the Pan-African Conference in 1900.