What is Dadabhai Naoroji's contribution as a social reformer in Indian history?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one of Naroji's primary contribution to the cause of social reform rested in the idea that continuation of its relationship with England will drain India of all of its wealth.  Given the time period and the voices that argued for accommodation with England and negotiation, Naroji's writings on the topic were fairly radical.  The social reform movement was expanded with the idea that from an economic point of view, India will become dried up with the current Status Quo so greatly benefiting England.  Naroji was careful to not pursue this idea into a radical notion of complete separation from England, but his writing seemed to advocate that Indian reform needed to be forceful in order to address the implications of wealth drying up.  Approaching the issue from an economic point of view, Naroji was able to make the case that excessive taxation will not benefit India in the long term while it cripples it in the short term.  This helped to bring to light the economic reality that colonization of India presented.  In this, I think that Naroji made a great contribution to the case of social reform in India.

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jameadows | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Dadabhai Naoroji (1825-1917) was an Indian-born member of the British Parliament. While still in India, he helped to start an institute to support the Zoroastrian religion. When he went to England, he worked at the first Indian company in Britain. He later founded a cotton trading company in England.

He was the first Indian member of the British Parliament. Elected as a member of the Liberal party, he used his platform in Parliament to criticize English economic policy in India. He believed that English policy placed too many taxes on India and drained the country of its wealth. This is referred to as the "Drain Theory." He also became an Indian nationalist and was President of the Indian National Congress, a nationalist party. In his speeches and writings, he helped articulate the economic argument against the British that became part of the nationalist platform. 

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thetall | (Level 3) Educator

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Dadabhai Naoroji played a significant role in the formation of the East India Association, the predecessor of the Indian National Congress, which was aimed at communicating India’s grievances to the British public. The group disparaged the assertion that Europeans were superior to the Asians, a theory that was being fronted by the Ethnological Society of London. He was predominantly involved in addressing the issue brought about by British colonization and the effects of their rule on the people of India. He focused on the drain of India’s wealth by the British. He asserted that Britain’s policies supported the negative economical impacts felt throughout India’s society. Although he agreed that some of the payments made by India to Britain were necessary, he also stated that some of these funds were simply being drained by the British through unfavorable trade practices.

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