Naoroji’s imprint on the news media mirrored his career. When he first left Bombay for London in 1855, it made the city’s headlines (and caused a traffic jam at Apollo Bunder, where his steamer departed). Over the years, Naoroji became a familiar name to any reader of English and vernacular newspapers in India, as well as an increasingly broad segment of the British public. But his name also spread elsewhere: to Ireland, continental Europe, South Africa, and the United States. By the end of his career, even a few African-American newspapers in the United States were discussing the Indian politician.
Listed below is a small section of a voluminous newspaper collection. These articles come from relatively well-known papers, such as the Mahratta and Kesari in India, and also from small local papers. I have excerpted a number of summaries from Native Newspaper Reports from India, since the originals of many Indian newspapers so longer survive.
Articles are organized by the following themes:
As Diwan (Prime Minister) of Baroda
In Parliament: The Civil Service
December 1893: Return to Bombay
AS DIWAN (PRIME MINISTER) OF BARODA
Shamsher Bahadur (Gujarati weekly, published in Ahmedabad), 17 December 1873, in “Report on Native Papers for the week ending 27th December 1873.”
[Malharrao Gaikwad, the ruler of Baroda, appointed Naoroji as his diwan during troubled times: he had been accused of gross misrule, which led British authorities to set up a special commission to evaluate affairs in the princely state.]
The Shamsher Bahadur of the 17th Decemeber, but received on the 22nd, referring to the proceedings of the commission of inquiry now sitting at Baroda, observes that the commission, instead of spending its time in investigating into the complaints of the dismissed servants, &c., of the Gaikwad, ought to have given precedence to the inquiry into those grave and atrocious charges which were so publicly preferred [sic] against the Baroda Darbar, and to ascertain how much truth there is in those awful accusations. Fitful and sudden rises and falls of servants and favourites, their capricious elevations to high ranks and great emoluments today, and their degradation, reduction to penury and casting them into prisons tomorrow, are every day occurrences in native states, and do not deserve any serious inquiry. The complainants are interested parties, and their statements ought to carry very little weight.
The same contains a communication the writer of which appears to be an apologist of the rotten state of the Baroda Darbar. He has been pretty frequently publishing his communications in the Shamsher Bahadur. He does not openly approve of the administration of Baroda; but neither does he see any very great evil in it. He is a warm advocate of the easy and conniving policy of Colonels Wallace and Barr, and dislikes that of the present Resident Colonel Phayre, which he regards as a great blunder. Referring to the rumoured nomination of Mr. Dadabhai Nawroji as Diwan of Baroda, the writer cannot openly disapprove of the appointment, but implies that this appointment will not prove such a great success as the out-side public fancies. He admits the great abilities of Mr. Dadabhai, but states that he has no experience whatever with the mysteries of a native Darbar. In this writer’s opinion there is no lack of talents or wisdom in the present Darbaris of Baroda: but opportunity is not given to them to display these brilliant gifts hidden in them.
Subodha Patrika (Marathi weekly, published in Bombay), 23 August 1874, in “Report on Native Papers for the week ending 29 August 1874.”
[Once Naoroji arrived in Baroda, he was caught in the crossfire between Mulharrao and the British resident, Robert Phayre. Before he took up the duties of diwan, Phayre tried to block Naoroji from entering Baroda; afterward, he refused to recognize Naoroji’s appointment, crippling his administrative abilities.]
The Subodha Patriká of the 23rd August is exceedingly sorry to hear that Colonel Phayre tried his utmost to dissuade the Gáikwád from appointing Mr. Dádábhái Nowroji as his Diwán, and to persuade him to nominate the Assistant Resident to that post. After failing in accomplishing these objects by conciliatory means, Colonel Phayre threatened Malhárráw that he (the Resident) would never recognize Mr. Dádábhái as Diwán and would shup up his office and go away. The Resident also told the Gáikwád that he would not communicate to him the recommendations made by the Viceroy besides those communicated in the Kharitá, unless the Gáikwád told him whom he would appoint as his Diwán. Thus Colonel Phayre wants to annul the despatch of the Viceroy. The Gáikwád, however, displayed true spirit, discrimination and sagacity. Not minding the threats of the Resident, he exercised his own choice which the Viceroy has given him in his despatch, to appoint his own Diwán. He nominated Mr. Dádábhái to the post and reported the fact to the Resident. Though it is upwards of a week the Resident has not sent an answer to this intimation acknowledging Mr. Dádábhái’s appointment. He, moreover, left Baroda for Poona to persuade His Excellency the Governor of Bombay to back him in his opposition to Mr. Dádábhái’s appointment. Such is the report, and if it be true, it is the result of the Government not transferring Colonel Phayre to some other place and retaining him at Baroda. The Patriká highly praises Malhárráw for exhibiting courage and discrimination on this occasion, and advises him how to act in future for the improvement of his administration.
Gujarat Mitra (Anglo-Gujarati weekly, published in Surat), 4 October 1874, in “Report on Native Papers for the week ending 10 October 1874.”
[By the end of 1874, it was becoming increasingly difficult for Naoroji and his ministers to manage affairs in Baroda: they repeatedly tendered their resignations in order to coax Mulharrao to agree to necessary administrative, judicial, and financial reforms. Aside from the “old guard” of darbaris that he tried to push out of power, Naoroji had his share of critics in Baroda, who claimed that he lacked strong administrative skills.]
The Gujarat Mitra of the 4th October observes that it is matter of no small regret that there are indications that the great hopes cherished of Mr. Dádábhái Nawroji’s ultimate success in bringing about a reform in the administration of the Barodá State will after all prove delusive. The Pársi writers from want of true information or from natural partiality to their casteman, sing his praises; but from what the Gujarát Mitra hears from a reliable authority, there are fears about the success of the new Diwán. The salaries of the servants of the State have fallen into arrears for three months. The Chief has taken the State treasury under his personal control, and tells the new Diwán to pay the salaries of the State servants from the proceeds of the State revenues. The Diwán cannot get a sufficient amount form this source for the above purpose. From this and another similar fact the writer infers that Mr. Dádabhái [sic], though a good scholar, is not an able and practical administrator. He has lost his popularity among the people of Barodá. Khanwelkar still exercises supreme influence over the Gáikwád, and there is no sign whatever of that foolish prince awakening to his duties and responsibilities. The Resident from the beginning opposed the nomination of Mr. Dadabhai as Diwán, and the Gajarát [sic] Mitra thought he (the Resident) was in error; but now he appears to have judged the abilities of the new Diwán correctly. The writer relates a story which shows that Mr. Dádábhái and his colleagues have no influence with the Gáikwád, who, at the instigation of his old favorites, who have been only nominally dismissed but who still enjoy his favour as fully as ever, acts foolishly, and requests them (Mr. Dádábhái and his colleagues) to give up their hopeless task and to save their reputation for independence and wisdom by resigning their posts, where they are not able to achieve any good.
INDIAN SOCIAL REFORM
“A Political Rishi” (most likely Narayan Chandavarkar), “Religious & Social Reform,” Indu Prakash, 23 March 1885.
[A tireless proponent of female education, Naoroji helped pioneer a network of Indian girls’ schools in Bombay in the early 1850s. Chandavarkar recalls an incident from this time when Naoroji convinced a skeptical Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy to fund girls’ schools.]
[…] But here I should not omit to say that it was Mr. Cursetjee Cama, who enabled the young champions of female education to supply a want most sorely felt by them by establishing regular schools for girls. There is another incident relating to the instructive history of female education among the Parsis which ought to be recorded here for it has also served to further its cause. On one occasion—which, I daresay, Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji now recollects as a memorable one in the history of female education among the Parsis—he put his thoughts on the subject on paper and wrote to Sir Jamsetji Jijibhoy, requesting the favour of an interview. Mr. Dadabhai received a prompt answer from the generous Baronet. The young champion of female education was desired to meet at the office of the Parsi Punchayet. The Baronet arranged that Mr. Dossabhoy Sorabjee Munshi, a leading but strongly conservative Parsi of the day, should be present at the interview. The interview took place. Sir Jamsetji asked Mr. Dadabhai to state his thoughts; and when they were stated, he turned to Mr. Dossabhoy saying:— “Well, Moonsee Sahib, what do you say to that?” The Moonsee sahib of course could not quite relish the novel idea of educating females. He said in words such as these:—“The young man wants to educate females. But what do females want education for? It will only spoil them. You see, you should not supply more oil to a lamp than it can bear, for, otherwise the light is sure to extinguish itself.” The comparison, however, was turned to advantage by the Baronet most ingeniously. Turning to the Moonshee he said:—“Well, Moonshee Sahib, I quite agree with you there—the lamp should have no more oil than it can bear. But you see this young man does not wish that females should receive more knowledge than they want. He wants to give them a moderate education. So your illustration supports what he wishes.” The Moonshee opposite thus disarmed and Sir Jamsetji promised Mr. Dadabhai to […] matter. Shortly after, Sir Jamsetji opened four schools for Parsi girls in connection with his Benevolent Institution.
“Editiorial Notes,” Indian Spectator, 2 January 1887, pp. 5-6.
[This editorial was most likely written by Behramji Malabari, the editor of the Indian Spectator and one of Naoroji’s closest friends. The two men, however, fundamentally disagreed on the relationship between political reform and social reform in the Indian National Congress: Naoroji, like many of his fellow nationalists, worried that bringing up social reform issues would fracture the young organization. Malabari disagreed and ultimately distanced himself from the Congress. This piece ran after the 1886 Calcutta Congress, where Naoroji served as president. ]
Mr. Joykissen Mookerji, who proposed Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji as chairman, must henceforth be called the blind seer of Bengal. A patriot of his age addressing the Congress in the way he did was doubtless a pathetic sight.
In Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji the Congress secured the best qualified man to reside over its deliberations. His opening address was wise and just, as the effort of a ripe politician. As we have repeatedly explained, it is because of the British supremacy over India that the educated classes have gained a voice in the administration of the empire, and to the same liberalizing presence may be traced their desire for further advancement. What higher compliment could be paid to foreign rulers? And they know that it is a genuine intelligent homage.
But what do Mr. Dadabhai’s remarks on the social question imply? Is it wise to draw a sharp line between social and political progress? It is certainly not consistent; for certain political leaders were telling us only last year that the two questions were only branches of one large question. If the telegram represents Mr. Dadabhai correctly, we understand him to say that the Congress is a political body. But why should it be political any more than social or economical? We are further told that social questions are not fit for discussion before a Congress consisting of different races. But the bulk of the attendance is Hindu—with a sprinkling of Musulmans and Parsis. The worthy chairman does not, of course, underrate the importance of social questions. No, only it must be discussed at the proper time and place. Is the proper time 360 years hence, when the contending parties, the wise public and the virtuous Government, up to seven generations, will have gone to their grave? If a Congress like this doe not afford time and place for the consideration on certain public aspects of the social problem (for even this wretched little social question has its national bearings considered both by the community and by the State), when and wherefrom are the child wives and girl widows of India to obtain redress? It is a thousand pities that attempts should be even apparently made to divorce moral from material progress. Mr. Dadabhai is not one of those who shift their position as soon as an inconvenient question is broached to them, and who talk of it with bated breath lest their reputation be compromised. That reputation must be very fragile which dreads contact with truth or accepts error because it comes with the impress of popularity. Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji is so accustomed to look straight at things, even though he many not always see into them, that we can scarcely believe he has blinked at an obvious duty in this instance. No one suggested that the Congress should mix up social with administrative questions. But surely the large body of Hindu representatives might have talked over the former quietly and have come to some general conclusions to be worked out at the centre represented by each, conformably to local conditions.
CENTRAL FINSBURY CAMPAIGN
“What We Think”, The Star, 18 August 1888, p. 1.
[In August 1888, Dadabhai Naoroji became the official Liberal candidate for Parliament for the constituency of Central Finsbury. However, his nomination was immediately challenged. The Star, a Liberal paper, was one of Naoroji’s most vocal critics. It dismissed the idea that an Indian could be a viable candidate for Parliament. The paper also broadcasted the view that Naoroji’s selection was invalid because only about a hundred of the 300 members of the Central Finsbury Liberal and Radical Association attended. What the Star neglected to mention, however, is that the association was in complete disarray and many of the 300 listed members were dead or no longer lived in the area. The Star‘s opposition to Naoroji might have had something to do with the fact that a rival Liberal candidate for Central Finsbury was, apparently, a major shareholder.]
We publish in another column an account of the proceedings which led up the so-called selection of Mr. Naoroji as the Liberal candidate for Central Finsbury. Nobody can read this account without being confirmed in the opinions we expressed yesterday. It is evident that the other competitors for the favor of the Association were greatly handicapped by the active canvass made on Mr. Naoroji’s behalf by his indiscreet friends, and to some extent by himself. If any candidate should take the trouble to go about canvassing for weeks through an association, he would be pretty certain of success. Members, even of associations, are careless, or good-natured, or unimpressed with the gravity of their duties, and in many cases they thus are ready to promise their support to the first man that asks it. It should be understood in these affairs that either all or none of the candidates should canvass. Without some such understanding, honorably carried out, the selection of a candidate by a caucus may degenerate into mechanical wire-pulling and sharp and skilful intrigue.
The account of the proceedings at the meeting at which Mr. Naoroji is said to have been selected, which was given by its chairman to our representative, clearly shows that they were irregular. In the first place but a small proportion of the Association appeared at all. The Association consists of 300 members, and the voting does not show that a third of this entire number were present. Then after the voting between Mr. Naoroji and Mr. Eve, there was not the acceptance of Mr. Naoroji by the meeting which is absolutely necessary to make the candidate regular.
Under such circumstances we are not surprised to find that there is a movement on foot to have the whole question properly reconsidered. We sincerely trust that the next meeting may come to a wiser selection. We have, as we said yesterday, great personal respect for Mr. Naoroji, and we have the most profound sympathy for the dumb millions to whose cries of distress he wants to give voice. The great argument used in his favor is that it would do India so much good to have him elected to Parliament. So it would, but what good would it do to India to have him defeated, and defeated beyond question he will be. Instead of India being benefited by one of her own people being thrust upon a constituency which he could not win, India would be deeply prejudiced. The swashbucklers who shout aloud against the concession of even the smallest bit of self-government to the natives of India, would shout the louder when they were able to point to the rejection of a native Indian by a London constituency. Furthermore, the chances of such a selection in the future would be almost entirely destroyed. If Mr. Naoroji were badly beaten—and badly beaten he would be—then no Indian native would have the smallest chance of nomination by any other Liberal Association.
The experiment of running an Indian native for a London constituency has been already tried, and with disastrous results. Mr. Lalmohun Ghose stood for Deptford, and Mr. Ghose had qualities which Mr. Naoroji has not. He is an orator of extraordinary power. On one occasion, at Manchester, Mr. Ghose fairly took the whole audience of their feet; and Lord Rosebery, who had to follow him, confessed that he felt almost unable to follow a speech and a speaker so remarkable. But Mr. Ghose tried Deptford twice and failed, and failed more completely on the second than on the first occasion.
We have not said these things against Mr. Naoroji because we are writing in the interests of any other candidate. We take up the contrary position. We believe that neither Mr. Naoroji nor any one of his competitors should now be chosen. There were many friends of Mr. Eve in the Association, and Mr. Eve would have been in our opinion just the man to win Central Finsbury. But we would strongly counsel Mr. Eve to withdraw his candidature. The same advice we would give to Mr. Dodd and Mr. Ford. If any of the gentlemen already before the constituency were selected, then there might be dissatisfaction among the friends and adherents of the other candidates who were rejected; and such dissatisfaction might lead to a want of that absolutely harmonious action without which the seat cannot be won. It will be too bad if we lose the seat through sheer mismanagement and ferocious egotisms. We are winning all over the country; in London our progress is more marked than in almost anywhere else—except perhaps, in Scotland. There is nothing to stand between us and a great Liberal majority in the London representation, but the selection of candidates who whatever their merits, have not the crowing and supreme quality for a candidate—the quality of being able to win.
W. Martin Wood. “Central Finsbury.” The Star, 23 August 1888, p. 4.
[W. Martin Wood, a friend of Naoroji and a proponent of the rights of Indian princely states, penned this letter following the Star‘s attacks on Naoroji.]
SIR—On your front page to-day the opinion is set forth, with much emphasis, that Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji’s “selection as a candidate for a London constituency is a most unwise one.” Having fully stated your own opinion you will, perhaps, allow me, as an independent looker-on, to express a different view of the matter, albeit the men of Clerkenwell ought to know better than either of us. There are two questions in this candidature—first, as to the chances of success; second, as to the fitness of the candidate in question. It is only the first that you deal with; but in asserting that in choosing Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji the Finsbury executive committee are “making a present of the seat to the Tories,” you ought to have better grounds than are set out in the paragraph. The facts of the case point the other way. So far from the local association having “gone out of its way to select” the candidate chosen by the executive, allow me to state that may of its members and some of its patrons have gone out of their way to select others, but who are now put out of the way by the decision which the majority have deliberately adopted.
You will find on inquiry that some half score of candidates have tried their paces before the committee, and after the protracted testing that has been patiently conducted the one at last selected ought to be regarded as the best and safest.
As to the prospect of success, the electors directly concerned ought to be supposed to be the best judges. They have taken great pains to arrive at a fir and sensible choice. There has been no hasty laying hold of the one chosen, as your paragraph would seem to imply’ and if there has been any “skilful manoeuvring” it has been on behalf of two or three protégés of one of the ground landlords, or other conventionally “influential” persons, who are now eliminated from the list. It remains for the General Council of the borough to finally decide; and while The Star or any other son of the morning may have a right to express an opinion on the matter, it seems scarcely fair to the electors to try to override their judgment whilst that final decision is still pending.
Now, as to the other question, that of suitability, I venture to submit that the there is much to be said in favor of the Clerkenwell electors’ choice. This emphatically applies to the one great topic of the day, “the reconciliation of England and Ireland.” There is scarcely anyone, Irish leaders excepted, who more thoroughly understand his subject, or who is more competent to vindicate the Home Rule cause than is Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji. There is also additional weight in his support of the cause, seeing that he gives to it the convictions arrived at through the investigations of an impartial politician coming to it with a fresh mind. Thus the executive committee being satisfied as to the great question of home politics, were free to offer to the constituency a candidate who could also do Finsbury credit as an Imperial representative, and who, as such, can do more than any 10 English members to influence the Parliament on behalf of the unrepresented millions of India. Is not this quite the reverse of a “complimentary candidature”?—
W. MARTIN WOOD.
National Liberal Club, 17 Aug.
One word as to the personal question. It is much to be regretted that The Star has followed the strange mistake of the Manchester paper in instituting a comparison between Mr. Lalmohun Ghose and Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji. Quite true that the Bengali orator has a gift of eloquence, which, as you put it, can on occasion take an “audience off their feet”; but that is certainly not a mode of treatment that the House of Commons desires. Mr. Naoroji’s moderate manner and clear argumentative style, together with his extensive and exact political knowledge, are qualities that the House will appreciate highly, while the exercise of these by its chosen representative will do Finsbury great honor, and go far to restore its ancient political fame. Yours &c.,
“The Honorable D. Naoroji on Poverty”, Weekly News and Chronicle, 20 October 1888, p. 4.
[As a parliamentary candidate, Naoroji had to delve deep into British and local affairs. In the article below, he formulated his views on poverty—not in India but in England. Naoroji laid out a progressive platform, endorsing “free education, a greater fairness of contract, a better distribution of wealth” and some form of land reform.]
At the lecture hall, Exmouth-street, Clerkenwell, on Wednesday evening, the Honorable D. Naoroji held one of a series of ward meetings, with reference to the representation of Central Finsbury, and for which he is the accepted Libaral [sic] and Radical candidate. Mr. J. Shilton presided, and there was a very large attendance. The chairman, in opening the proceedings, said they were there to hear an address from Mr. Naoroji, on the subject of poverty in England and India, a subject which he need not remind them was one of vast importance, and one that demanded the gravest consideration; this, he was sure, Mr. Naoroji had given to it, and he would, therefore, leave it in his more able hands. The Honorable D. Naoroji, who was received with much enthusiasm, then gave an address, which, though over an hour was occupied in its delivery, was listened to with rapt attention, and repeatedly applauded as the different points were made, and the statistics quoted, these alone showing the earnest researches that had been made into this vast and but too little understood question of poverty, its causes, effects and remedies. In the course of his lucid and eloquent address, the honorable gentleman said the question of poverty was one which, in the interest of them all, the deepest sympathy must be felt. To him it seemed anomalous that in England, which had the no empty boast of being the richest among nations in wealth and social position, there should be found, side by side with luxury and wealth, a large class of people steeped in destitution, and even dying from starvation in our midst. He, for one, could not but lament it, but would do his best to put the practical remedies into operation. (Hear, hear.) It had been truly said that in every city could be found its East-end, with all its poverty, as well as the West-end, with its vast wealth.
The lowest stratum of the poor is the towns, and there most of the suffering and degradation which this grinding poverty produces [sic]. If, however, it be meant that this is exclusively a poor man’s question, I must demur to such a statement. Not only does the spread of destitution create and intensify a discontent which threatens the very existence of civilised society, but its effect darken for every sensitive man the whole leaven of social life. Let them look for a moment at the state of things which must exist; a statement of the unemployed in London showed in the four districts, namely Eastern, St. George’s in the Eat, Western, selected portions of East and West Battersea, the Northern, Hackney and South Hackney, Southern, St. Paul’s and St. Nicholas, Deptford [sic]. By this it would be seen that out of the returns made of 29,451 men there were in work 21,443, out of work 8,008, or a fearful proportion of 27 per cent. By the public announcement he was to speak of poverty in India, and he would assure them that however deep the poverty was here they could form no conception of what it was in India. Would they realise for a moment the fact that out of the 250 millions of people in India, no less than 40 millions lived through the whole term of existence upon insufficient food? (Shame.) But this he would return to presently. They might, perhaps, ask to be shown the way they were affected by the question. If so, just turn to the judicial statistics for costs of the Criminal Classes alone, and they would find paid by Her Majesty’s Government, on account of criminal prosecution, and for proceedings under the Summary Jurisdiction Act of 1879, by indictment, £119,251, summary, £22,078, the commitments for the year ending March 31, 1888, £172,467, occupations of those committed, labourers, &c, 89,069, mechanics, 23,310, total cost for the year 1887-8, £340,483; these were certainly stupendous figures, and led them to consider in which way poverty was a loss to the community. Directly it was 1, Poor’s Rates; 2, expenditure against crime indirectly; 3, loss of production; 4, the mass of misery, degradation, crime and intemperance; 5, loss of consumption for the shopkeepers, manufacturers, house owners, if so much wealth had been utilised in society. (Hear, hear.) Intemperance alone, a fruitful source of poverty cost £13,600,000 or nearly £4 per head. Following on with a vivid description of destitution in its lowest forms, he pointed out what Professor Thorold Rogers, M.P., had said in 1884, “It might well be the case, and there was every reason to fear it was the case that there is collected a population in ouu great towns which equals in extend the whole of those who lived in England and Wales six centuries ago; but whose condition is more destitute, whose homes are more squalid, whose means are more uncertain, whose prosepects are more hopeless than those of the poorest serfs of the middle ages, and the meanest drudges of the mediaeval cities […]”
Dealing, then, at length with some of the causes and effect, he then proceeded to what he and others suggested as remedies; one of these recommendations was the limitation of the hours of labour, so that the benefits of trade would be more widely spread. (Hear, hear.) Another was what was called nationalisation of the land. Now, with reference to this: the land of India was nationalized, while in England it was not; but the result was curiously the same; in both instances the rich became richer, and the poor poorer, every day. (Hear, hear.) In England the land paid a very small percentage to revenue, and was, therefore, the exclusive privilege of the few; while in India the land was everything, and was taxed to the uttermost, and in both cases the landlords got the whole, or nearly the whole slice, while those who wrought the cultivation were put off with a pittance—a state of things which should be reversed. (Cheers.) The remedies he proposed were, he thought, simple and fair: they were free education, a greater fairness of contract, a better distribution of wealth, and the land to contribute its fair share towards supplying the revenue of the country. (Applause.) With reference to India, the contrasts were well pointed out, when, in confirmation of a speech made by Mr. Grant Duff, Lord Mayo said:–
“I admit the comparative poverty of this country, as compared with many other countries of the same magnitude and importance, and I am convinced of the impolicy and injustice of iposing budens upon this people which may be called either crushing or oppressive. Mr. Grant Duff, in an able speech which he delivered the other day in the House of Commons, the report of which arrived by the last mail, stated with truth that the position of our finance was wholly different from that of England. ‘In England,’ he stated, ‘you have comparatively a wealthy population. The income of the United Kingdom has, I believe, been guessed at £800,000,000 per annum; the income of British India has been guessed at £300,000,000 per annum; that goes well on to £30 per annum as the income of every person in the United Kingdom, and only £2 per annum as the income of every person in British India.’ I believe that Mr. Grant Duff has good grounds for the statement he made, and I wish to say, with reference to it, that we are perfectly cognisant of the relative poverty of this country as compared with the European States.” And the fact remained and had been proved by the Finance Minister who in his speech on the Income Tax described the mass of the people as “men whose income at the best is barely sufficient to afford them the sustenance necessary to support life, living, as they do, upon the barest necessaries of life.” After going into voluminous details dealing with the shipping, proportionate commerce and other matters in illustration of his arguments, the honorable gentleman concluded an exhaustive and brilliant address with the statement of his opinion, that all power came from the people, and must revert to the people; it was for them to claim and maintain their own, until that was done, no country would be regarded as truly prosperous and free. (Loud cheering.) A vote of thanks to the lecturer, embodying the wish that he should be returned as member for Central Finsbury, was passed nem. con., amid applause, and the customary vote of thanks to the chairman closed the second meeting of the promised series.
“The Central Finsbury Liberals”, Finsbury and Holborn Guardian, 10 January 1891.
[Well after the Star ceased its attacks on Naoroji, the Indian candidate’s race and foreign origin continued to be rallying points for his opponents, who endorsed a rival Liberal candidate.]
We are glad to see that the Liberals and Radicals of Central Finsbury, who are represented by what is known as the Old Association, have taken advantage of their annual meeting to thoroughly vindicate the position they have taken up. It was entirely a mistake to suppose that the representative Liberals of the division had withdrawn from active work, and left the field to the irresponsible and self-elected section which is speaking to boom the candidature of Mr. NAOROJI. The old association has preserved silence in the hope that differences might be patched up, and that a slip of the party might be avoided. Strenuous efforts in this direction have been made but without avail, and the official Liberals can no longer remain in their tents. If necessary they must enter on the campaign without one section of the army, but in the hope that when the note of battle is sounded the whole of the party will rally round the old banner. What is the position of Mr. NAOROJI? He is a carpet-bagger of the first water. He has no claims on the constituency, and to do him justice we believe he would just as soon fight another. When he first appeared on the electoral horizon he showed a preference for the South of the Thames. Would that, he were there now! Then he was attracted to Holborn, and now he has moved to Clerkenwell. We have no objection to the presence in the English House of Commons, of Indian subjects, but if they come before the constituencies as Liberal Candidates, they must abide by the same rules as other Liberal Candidates. Mr. NAOROJI having once retired, ought to keep out of the field, and not split the party to which he professes to belong. This is a case of “England for the English,” and we hope that he will see his way to stand out of the way and permit a fair fight. The Liberals are we hear prepared with a good candidate who would have a splendid chance of winning back the seat, and perhaps when his name is announced, Mr. NAOROJI may be induced to retire from the contest, in which he has not the faintest chance of success, and where the very least harm he can do is to lessen the Liberal majority. We say this because we think it just possible that even with Mr. NAOROJI in the field, the official Liberal candidate may be successful, but we sincerely trust that the battle will not be a three-cornered one.
Advertisement for Naoroji, Finsbury and Holborn Guardian, 2 July 1892, p. 4.
The Liberal and Radical Candidate,
ADVOCATES THE FOLLOWING
Home Rule for Ireland.
Home Rule for London in the endowment of the London County Council with Full Municipal powers, including control of Police, of Water and Gas Supplies, Public Markets, Trams, and ALL other Municipal necessities.
Free Education, and under Popular control (it is not quite Free now)—Triennial Parliaments—Abolition of the Hereditary System of Legislature.
A Simple System of Registration, and by responsible Public Registration Officers only—Residential Adult Suffrage—One Man One Vote only—One and the Same Day for Parliamentary and Municipal Elections—One Register for all Electors.
All London to be one Registration Area for Successive Occupations.
Legal Eight Hours—Industrial Courts for Industrial Disputes—Reformation of the Land Laws so as to include Taxation of Ground Rents and Land Values—Division of Rates between owner and Occupier—Taxation of Mining Royalties—Direct Popular Veto of the Liquor Traffic—Extension of the Factory Acts.
Reforms for India.
And, generally, all the Newcastle Program of the Liberal Party.
Complete Radical Unity.
J. EDGELL SEARLE,
21, Spencer-street, Goswell-road, E.C.
IN PARLIAMENT: THE CIVIL SERVICE
Mahratta (English daily, published in Poona), 5 March 1893, in “Report on Native Papers Published in the Bombay Presidency for the week ending 11th March 1893.”
[Naoroji introduced a bill into the House of Commons to allow civil service examinations to be simultaneously held in India and Great Britain. These exams were only held in Great Britain, a stipulation that barred most Indian candidates from qualifying: few Indians had the money to sail to Britain and undertake months of necessary tutorials. Naoroji believed that, if the exams were also held in India, Indians would quickly make up an influential portion of the civil service and would therefore be able to institute reforms from within. It was a step towards self-government. Needless to say, Naoroji’s bill was immediately shot down by the secretary of state for India, Lord Kimberley, who did not want to open a Pandora’s box within the “steel frame” of the Raj.]
The Mahrátta, in its issue of the 5th March, writes:–Mr. Dádábhái Navroji is not a man to allow the grass to grow under his feet. True to his promise, he introduced into Parliament on Wednesday night a Bill for holding simultaneous examinations in England and India of candidates for the Indian Civil Service. We are glad that the matter has at last been formally brought to the notice of Parliament, and we have no doubt that if Mr. Dádábhái is fortunate enough to get a day for the second reading of his Bill, no efforts will be spared by him as well as other friends of India in Parliament to do full justice to the claims of Indian people. It is a most scandalous anomaly that examinations for appointments in India should be held in England. The proper and natural course would be to hold them on the spot, that is, in India itself; but, as considerations of policy will never permit the British Government to adopt this course, the people of India have wisely limited their demand and only ask for a simultaneous examination, so that they might be at least partially relieved of the dangers and inconveniences of sending boys to England for the mere chance of passing. Though all appointments under the Government are ostensibly thrown open to all of Her Majesty’s subjects, Indian as well as British, the former are practically shut out from them by this unnecessary and unjust rule of holding the examination in England alone. People have been agitating this subject for many years past, but their demands have been systematically ignored by the Indian Government. At one time the appointment of the Public Service Commission raised considerable hopes that some concession would be made; but the result of that Commission was wholly disappointing, and the new Provincial Service, which was ostensibly inaugurated on its recommendations, has made our position worse than before. The frogs that wanted a king were given a log of wood. No other remedy was therefore left but to bring the matter before Parliament. Mr. Dádábhái has rather been late in the field, but now that his Bill is introduced, he will not have, we think, much difficulty in getting a hearing on some Wednesday when the House is said to go home, that is, considers private Bills only. That we await the result with great eagerness need not be told.
Native Opinion (Anglo-Marathi bi-weekly, published in Bombay), 30 March 1893, in “Report on Native Papers Published in the Bombay Presidency for the week ending 1st April 1893.”
The Native Opinion, in its issue of the 30th March, writes:–There is not the least doubt that Mr. Dádábhái Navroji’s little Bill anent the question of simultaneous Civil Service Examinations will provoke a strong protest, nay a powerful opposition, from the Anglo-Indian world, who, at any rate most of whom, are habituated to look upon the Indian Civil Service as their special preserve. Undoubtedly it is too much to expect the Bill to pass into law in one session, nay even in two sessions, seeing that the hands of the Ministry are fully occupied with Irish affairs; but at any rate a debate on it will give the Indian public some idea as to how the question is viewed by the British public. If passed, the Bill must throw open the doors of the Civil Service still further, and do full justice to the claims of those who, as the sons of the soil, have preferential claims to the great prizes of the Civil Service. Indeed, the service does contain a number of Natives, but, compared to the population of the country as also to the number of the posts constituting the said service, their number is ridiculously small, and no independent person, influenced by a strong sense of justice, will ever look upon the present move as untimely. To us the still further widening of the door seems to admit of the possibility of securing material still better fitted to answer the present financial needs of the country. We want no favour, but fair field. For we believe that if Indian candidates be relieved of the present disturbing restrictions put upon them, they will carry the great prizes just with as much ease as an English or Scotch candidate. No doubt, the apprehension of the Civil and Military Gazette that the Civil Service lists will be full of Indian names will be fully realised, but those who may make capital out of these apprehensions must know that selfishness is not the right basis of any system of true government. The public does appreciate the presence of Europeans in the service and the tone their presence gives to it, but the powers to effect all this is not the exclusive heritage of Englishmen. The very success of the Natives actually in the service must tell every unprejudiced mind that a further admixture of Natives in the service will be an undoubted advantage to Government as also to the country. Anglo-Indian journals may crack jests at the expense of our people, but in a matter where the strength of a great service is concerned raillery can have no place. Indian intellectual aptitudes are by many Englishmen held at discount on the ground that mere intellectual ability without the qualities of presence of mind, unflinching courage and devotion to duty on an emergency is of no value. Admitted that mere intellectual ability without the qualities above mentioned will be no right standard of an individual’s capacity, but, so far as we are aware, none of the Natives in the service, some of whom hold distinguished posts, have shown any want of them on any occasion. One fact is of greater value than a hundred fictions, and those who indulge in drawing imaginary pictures in this direction ought to arm themselves with facts and figures in support of the thesis they often advance. From an Englishman’s point of view all this sort of caricaturing may seem justifiable, but it is for those on whom the real responsibility of government rests to see that full justice is done to the claims of Natives.
Shri Shivaji (Marathi weekly, published in Poona), 28 April 1893, in “Report on Native Papers Published in the Bombay Presidency for the week ending 6th May 1893.”
[Naoroji’s agitation for Indian civil service reform coincided with debate over Irish home rule, leading to Prime Minister William Gladstone’s failed Irish home rule bill of 1893. Indians keenly observed the public and parliamentary debates surrounding Irish home rule, knowing that it was a harbinger for British reactions to Indian political demands.]
While writing on the same subject, the Shri Shiváji, in its issue of 28th April, says:–From the debate on the Home Rule Bill, the people of India can take many lessons. One of these is that the very officers of the Government who evince a desire that the Irish people should not be dealt with unjustly by Parliament become deaf and blind when a question about doing justice to India is raised, as witnessed by the result of the Bill for simultaneous examinations in India and England for the Indian Civil Service recently brought forward by the Honourable Mr. Dádábhái Navroji. It is very strange that even with respect to such an insignificant question as the one concerning the Civil Service Examination the most liberal members of the British Cabinet could not deal honestly with the people of India. Their love for truth cannot, therefore, be said to be quite disinterested. It was only after the Irish people had raised an agitation, given Government immense trouble and disturbed Parliament in its deliberations that one of the political parties in England was roused to action and began to consider the grievances of the Irish, and when the impatience of the Irish people grew more and more intense the consideration of Irish affairs became more serious and drew the attention of the English people. The people of India are, however, meek and do not complain against Government, though they know that it is dealing dishonestly with them. Some of them are even so foolish and selfish as to be ready to sing the praises of Government. Such being the case with India, members of the party of the Right Honourable Mr. Gladstone, who himself is a just and truthful statesman, have no hesitation in trampling down poor and meek Indian people just as they like. Any display of love of truth and justice by British statesman, therefore, requires some other causes, and this fact ought to be well borne in mind by our people. They must learn from the Irish Home Rule Bill that unless they are incensed by the acts of injustice done to them and unless their complaints resound in all directions so as to terrify the English officers, the latter would, without fail, crush them like so many insects, and must regulate their conduct accordingly.
Kaiser-e-Hind (Anglo-Gujarati weekly, published in Bombay), 11 June 1893, in “Report on Native Papers Published in the Bombay Presidency for the week ending 17th June 1893.”
[Since Parliament failed to take up his Indian civil service reform bill, Naoroji attempted the next best option: getting the House of Commons to pass a non-binding resolution endorsing civil service reform. He did this by basically catching his opponents asleep: late in the night of 2 June 1893, after key members of the opposition and the Liberal ministry had retired, a Scottish MP, Herbert Paul, brought this resolution before the Commons. Naoroji had worked behind the scenes to cobble together support, and the resolution was narrowly carried in spite of opposition from Gladstone’s ministry. This left Gladstone red-faced: it was the first defeat of his government since the 1892 election, and it had been orchestrated by a fellow Liberal.]
The Kaiser-e-Hind, in its issue of the 11th June, writes:–It must have been an agreeable surprise to the Indian party in the House of Commons to find themselves in a majority of eight on the subject of the simultaneous examinations for the Indian Civil Service. We are not told by Reuter what was the actual strength of the House at the time of division. It is quite possible to conceive that many on both sides may have remained neutral. Be that as it may, we take the number who voted in favour of rendering India that justice which has been denied to her for the last 33 years—not a short period of weary waiting—to be a most satisfactory one, albeit that the resolution may, perhaps, prove to be sterile for a time. However Anglo-Indians may wish, and the wish is father to the thought, it will be vain for them to battle against what is destined to be inevitable in the near future. They may create as much noise as they can. They may entire their protests as loud as they please. They may overwhelm the ignorant and the unthinking with any number of plausible pleas against the examination. The march of ideas, the growing feeling among right-minded Englishmen at home that India’s sons have been baulked of their just right for years past, owing to sheer selfishness of the governing caste, and the advancing tide of the Indian agitation itself—all these will be contributory in the long run to wresting form the unwilling bureaucracy of the land and its counterpart at Westminster that concession which is their birthright. It is from this point of view that we consider the number of men who voted in support of Mr. Paul’s proposition to be highly satisfactory. To find that at least one-tenth of the House of Commons was willing to render Indians justice is the most hopeful and encouraging sign of the prospects of this reform. Even if Mr. Gladstone, after consulting his Cabinet, decline [sic] to take any action on the present resolution, it would make no difference as to the ultimate success of the cause. We are bound to succeed, because righteousness and justice are on our side. All the stock please pleaded before against the examination, and which are once more paraded, will have not the slightest influence on matured English opinion. The Englishman at home may be difficult to move at first. His inertia on all matters, whether it be English, Indian, or Colonial, is well-known. But the moment the huge glacier of conviction begins to take its place all opposition thaws and resolves itself. As the glacier moves with rapidity and tears down all obstacles in its way, so does educated English opinion. We have deep and abiding faith in it. Indians may therefore be of good cheer and bide their time, contenting for the present with the absolute fact of the advance of public opinion in the matter. The eighty-four are certain to swell their ranks by double that number next year or the year after, until the majority is a compact majority and a formidable phalanx to the feeble force of those who would perforce keep India in servitude and tutelage for all times to come. Had John Bright and Bradlaugh been living to-day the victory of the Indian party in the House would have been complete and decisive. The earnest eloquence of the former, burning in its zeal for the good of the Indians and overpowering in its righteousness of thought, to render justice where justice is due; and the trenchant and vigorous criticism of the other, given with all the force and strength of the Teutonic Thor—these would have secured India a victory as pure and spotless as their own spotless reputation.
Indu Prakash (Anglo-Marathi bi-weekly, published in Poona), 26 June 1893, in “Report on Native Papers Published in the Bombay Presidency for the week ending 1st July 1893.”
The vote [on Herbert Paul’s resolution] is nothing but a tactical advantage, and yet on this flimsy basis we have chosen to build the most imposing castles in the air. Yet if this were an isolated instance of blindness it might be allowed to pass without comment, but it is only one more example of a grave illusion that possesses the Indian mind. We constantly find it asserted that the English are a just people and only require our case to be clearly stated in order to redress our grievances. It is more than time that some voice should be raised—even though it may be the voice of one crying in the wilderness—to tell the press and the public that this is a grave and injurious delusion, which must be expunged from our minds if we would see things as they really are. The English are not, as they are fond of representing themselves, a people panting to do justice to all whom they have to govern. They are not an incarnation of justice, neither are they an embodiment of morality, but of all nations they are the most sentimental; hence it is that they like to think themselves, and to be thought by others, a just and moral people. It is true that in the dull comedy which we call English politics Truth and Justice—written in large letters—cover the whole of the poster, but in the actual enactment of the play these characters have very little, indeed, to do. It was certainly not by appealing to the English sense of justice that the Irish people have come within reach of obtaining some measure of redress of their grievances. Mr. Parnell was enabled to force Mr. Gladstone’s hand solely because he had built up a strong party with a purely Irish policy. We have Mr. Dádábhái Navroji and Sir W. Wedderburn both staunch friends of India; we have Mr. Swift McNeill, true son of a high-souled and chivalrous race; we have Mr. McLaren, Mr. Paul and many others pledged to champion the Indian National Congress movement: but well nigh all these are Liberal members who must give their support to Mr. Gladstone, whether he is inclined to do justice to India or not. It is evident that if we wish to obtain any real justice from Parliament we must secure the pledges, not of individual Liberals, but of the responsible heads of the party, and that is just what we are least likely to obtain. For we must remember that within the last twenty years the immense personal influence of Mr. Gladstone has been leavening and remoulding English political life, and the tendency of that influence has been to convert politics into a huge market where statesmen chaffer for votes. In this political bazaar we have no current coin to buy justice from the great salesman, and if he is inclined to give the commodity gratis he will jeopardise many of the voters he has already in his hand. What lever have we then by which we can alter the entire fuse of English opinion on Indian matters? It is clear that we have none. […]
DECEMBER 1893: RETURN TO BOMBAY
“The Arrival of Mr. Dadabhai Naoroiji” [sic], The Englishman, 4 December 1893, p. 4.
[On 3 December 1893, Naoroji returned to Bombay for the first time since his election to Parliament. He was welcomed with a massive demonstration; one estimate puts the crowd that day at 500,000 people. Many of Naoroji’s supporters hoped that this demonstration would be a fitting reply to George Chesney, a Conservative MP who charged that Naoroji could never be a truly Indian representative since he was a Parsi.]
FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.
BOMBAY, DEC. 3.
The large crowds of Native inhabitants of Bombay, who turned out this morning to welcome Dadabhai Naoroji, were much disappointed. It was expected that the mail steamer Siam with the Parsi member for Finsbury on board, would reach this port about midnight, and it had been arranged that he should be accorded a grand reception on landing this morning. The reception committee and Native papers had been busy during the past week in impressing upon the Native communities the importance of turning out in great force in order to show the English people that Mr. Dadabhai was not, as was observed recently by Sir George Chesney, an alien, but one who had the sympathy and confidence of the Indian public. The appeal had the desired effect. Thousands of people turned out early in the morning and wended their way to the Apollo Bunder which was fairly decorated. The passengers’ pavilion at the head of the Bunder was decorated with flags and bunting and wreaths of flowers and evergreens. In front of the structure facing the harbor was the motto in letters “Glad to welcome, Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji, M.P.,” its companion matto [sic] on the other side being “God save our Queen-Empress, and the British Empire.” The pier was decorated with venetian masts, from which banners and bannerets were floating, and attached to these venetian masts were festoons of evergreens and flowers and multi-coloured bunting. To the north of the pier was put up a motto “Welcome member for Finsbury,” while to the south side appeared the words, “Thanks to the Finsbury Electors.” Mr. Vincent, Acting Commissioner of Police came to the Bunder at an early hour in the morning and gave orders for the regulation of the vehicular and passenger traffic, which went on increasing as time wore on, and at 7-30 A.M., which was the hour fixed according to the programme for the starting of the procession the whole pier was full to overflowing with all classes and sections of the different Native communities. The people became rather impatient at 7-30, when they found that the steamer had not been signaled, and that even if she was they would have to wait in the sun for a couple of hours before landing could take place, and the committee agreed to postpone the landing until four in the afternoon, when a large concourse again assembled on the Bunder. A deputation went to the Princes Dock and brought Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji in a steam launch, when he was accorded an enthusiastic welcome. He was received by Mr. Mehta, but before he had time to greet even the members of his family and other friends the crowds rushed forward to embrace him and shake hands with him. Mr. Mehta with the assistance of some of his friends succeeded in getting Mr. Dadabhai into a carriage-and-four belonging to Gordhandas Goculdas Tejpal, which was waiting for him, and gave orders to drive away. It was intended that the committee should follow in procession, but the rush was so great that the police could not prevent the public in their carriages following Mr. Dadabhai’s equipage. As he left the bunder a number of Hindu and Parsi girls who were stationed in Mr. Green’s refreshment rooms sang songs composed in honour of the occasion. Near Dady Sett’s fire temple in Hornby Row, a halt was made, and a number of Parsi priests blessed him in their own peculiar fashion. A short distance further on another stoppage was made outside Messrs. Whiteway’s and Laidlaw’s new premises, where the contractor, a Madrasi, and his men presented Mr. Dadabhai with flowers, and for a considerable distance from here deputations of mill hands bearing flags and banners lined the street. From this point Mr. Dadabhai had to stand in his carriage and bow to the crowds that thronged the thoroughfares. The balconies of the public buildings on Cruickshank Road were packed with spectators, who gave him an enthusiastic welcome. It was probably in Kalbadevi Road that the ovation reached its climax. The street was profusely decorated with bunting and festoons of flowers and evergreens, and the crowds were most demonstrative. Several halts had to be made. The Parsi girls sang songs in his honor and greeted him in a manner peculiar to the community. Numerous garlands were presented to him until the carriage was filled to overflowing, while flowers were showered upon him from all directions. On turning into Bhuleshwar Road Brahamis [sic] came out from their temple, and blessed him. By this time darkness had come on and from Cowasjee Patel Street to his destination in Khetwady fifth lane the route was brightly illuminated. On arriving at his residence, a modest one-storied house, he was received by the members, and the outer gates had to be closed to prevent the crowds in their desire to do him honour entering the premises, only a few personal friends being admitted. There were dense crowds along the whole route.
Kaiser-e-Hind (Anglo-Gujarati weekly, published in Bombay), 10 December 1893, in “Report on Native Papers Published in the Bombay Presidency for the week ending 16th December 1893.”
The Kaiser-e-Hind of the 10th December, in its English columns, writes:–In the annals of India, the third day of December will indeed be a red-letter day. For, never in her history before was there to be witnessed the indescribable spectacle that presented itself to view on that historical occasion. The spontaneity of the demonstrations and the unbounded enthusiasm of the population were in themselves an indisputable index of the genuine love and esteem in which India held her “Grand Old Man,” as Mr. Dádábhái is most appropriately called. Demonstrations by the scores there have been in the past, more or less in honour of Viceroys and other more exalted personages. These have, again, been accompanied by all the pomp and pageantry which the State has been able to display at the expense of the millions of tax-payers. But it would be historically incorrect to say that those demonstrations, save in two or three instances, were anything but official. Stiff and haughty as they have been, the tax-payers have always eyed them askance. The bureaucracy of the land knows that the people have never shown their sympathy with such. The essence of demonstration lies in its spontaneity and sincerity. And so far it may be observed with absolute truth that the only demonstrations in which those essential elements were fairly discernible were those that were witnessed on the occasion of the arrival of the popular and much beloved Prince of Wales and on the departure of the ever-to-be remembered and equally beloved Marquis of Ripon. But the singularity of the unprecedented and unparalleled demonstrations with which Mr. Dádábhái Navroji was greeted on his landing on Sunday last lies not only in its spontaneity, but in the character of the person. India to a man, as it were, was fired with enthusiasm. There was a glow in every heart that the man who was returning from England was deserving of a warm welcome, aye, more than a warm welcome. He was deserving of a right royal reception—a reception which only a sceptered monarch enjoying the widest esteem and affections of his people can ever hope to obtain. It was in every sense of the word a unique popular demonstration, and as such it severely contrasted with the official demonstrations to which India has been familiar on the arrival of royal personages, foreign princes, Viceroys, and Governors et hoc genus. In the eyes of the people demonstrations of the official character are unmeaning and valueless. For instance, who attaches the least significance to the tamáshas got up in honour of the retiring Viceroy? And who believes in got-up addresses which are generally in evidence on the occasion of almost all departing Viceroys? Is a ghost required to tell the people that they are worthless and meaningless? But a genuine popular demonstration in which the people themselves join and take a warm and active part is another thing. It has a significance of its own, of which the temporarily exalted personages cannot fail to take note. Popular recognition and popular enthusiasm are always a sure and certain index of demonstrations in honour of a private citizen like Mr. Dádábhái. The honour they are meant to confer is a real honour and differs as much from the artificial honour rendered to ruling authorities by official and unofficial cliques. The difference is as wide as between gold and pinchbeck. In this respect it is indeed most singular to notice that the eyes of the Indian people are at this moment almost wholly attracted towards the receptions of the peoples of Madras and Bombay accorded to Messrs. Hume and Dádábhái than to those given lately at certain localities to the departing Viceroy. Is it necessary to say whom the people hold more in estimation? But to return to the reception given in honour of Mr. Dádábhái. It is superfluous to say it was unique and unparalleled. All classes of the people joined in it—men, women and children, Hindus, Muhammadans, Pársis, Jews, Portuguese—in fact, all nationalities save the Anglo-Indians, be it said to their discredit. For, in such a national rejoicing, if any community should have been foremost, it was the Anglo-Indian. It was not only, in our opinion, a proud day for India, but a proud day for England also. But for free England and her free institutions where would Mr. Dádábhái have been to-day? Is he not really one of the best and brightest products of the British? Is it not to the credit and glory of the English nation that her statesman-like policy of the past towards unenlightened India has brought to the surface a gem of the purest ray serene as Mr. Dádábhái, and has enabled him to gain entrance into Parliament? Is it not a national event of which both the nations should be feel proud and rejoice at it? In this instance, Lord Harris has been truer to this genuine British instinct than all the Anglo-Indians put together in Bombay. He truly gauged the spirit and significance of the popular demonstrations, and at once sympathizing with them wrote a letter congratulating the honourable gentleman and cordially inviting him to Government House. This action of Lord Harris is sufficient to put to shame those, especially those belonging to the official classes, who have been indiscreet enough to display their heart-burning, and that, too, in a spirit which excites Native contempt and ridicule. Meanwhile, let us one more tell them that Mr. Dádábhái’s is a name to be conjured with. As the poet says, “Whatever record leap to light, he never shall be shamed.”
Indian Spectator (English weekly, published in Bombay), 17 December 1893, in “Report on Native Papers Published in the Bombay Presidency for the week ending 23rd December 1893.”
The Indian Spectator, in its issue of the 17th December, writes:–In the ovation which was given to Mr. Dádábhái Navroji on his arrival in Bombay, it was a marked peculiarity that Hindus were anything but behind-hand in manifesting their love and good will towards him. This exhibition of esteem and respect was quite spontaneous. It explains to all, except to those who will not see, in what sense Mr. Dádábhái is the representative of India This, however, is going over trodden ground. But if his opponents are not tired of misjudging and belittling him and his actions, it may be no sin to repeat what has been in one shape or another mentioned before in his favour. In the different presidencies there may be men locally better known that Mr. Dádábhái. Some Bengáli, for example, may have a wider fame in Bengal than Mr. Dádábhái. On the Madras side, similarly, there may be a local celebrity whose name and fame are more familiar to the inhabitants of that presidency than those of the Pársi member of Parliament. Yet, speaking of India as a whole, there is none that occupies such a space in the thoughts of the inhabitants as the person whom all turned out recently to honour. Divided as the country, or rather the continent, is, little accustomed, too, as it is to stand shoulder to shoulder, as some European countries do, for political or party purposes, the mere fact of Hindus of the different presidencies loving to call him, an alien by race and religion, as their own man, their fittest representative, should excite wonder. There must be something in the man—a rare combination of virtues to attract to one who is a non-Hindu the entire confidence and esteem of all Indian races, and notably of all Hindus. And it is to the credit of Englishmen that they have given their confidence to the best man among Indians. As regards the qualities which endear him to his countrymen, any man may be proud to have them.
“The Indian National Congress and its President: A Professional Politician once more to the Front”, Indian Sociologist, November 1906, p. 41.
[By 1906, Indian nationalism had undergone a fundamental transformation. Within the widening division between moderates and extremists, Naoroji occupied a curious place: some moderates found Naoroji too extremist, while some extremists found Naoroji too moderate. Unlike Pherozeshah Mehta or Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Naoroji was never the primary target of extremist opposition, but his politics did nevertheless elicit criticism. It was at this moment that Shyamji Krishnavarma emerged as Naoroji’s most vocal critic, going so far as to claim that his career had been a “sad failure.”]
It is announced that Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji is going to be the President of the forthcoming Indian National Congress at Calcutta. Let us calmly consider his claims to that position and see whether he fulfills all the conditions that are necessary for being a leader of the Indain people. We have taken some pains to ascertain the value of his work during his long and active career in England spread over a period of about fifty years and we find that his political work has been a sad failure.
To give only one instance of his incapacity and want of forethought, we may cite the case of the East India Association of which he was the principal promoter having secured much pecuniary help from India for its maintenance and which, as he himself knows, is now altogether inimical to Indian interests, governed as it is chiefly by retired Anglo-Indians who now use the funds of the Association for objects entirely different from those originally intended by their donors.
As to the political propaganda of Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji the only measures with which his name is identified are the Resolution of the House of Commons in favour of Simultaneous Examinations and the Royal Commission on the Administration of Expenditure in India.
It is bad enough to tempt such Indians as can proceed to England and pass the requisite tests for joining “the Imperial Service of India” to become unjust agents of an oppressive foreign government; but what are we to say of a proposal which, if carried out, would inevitably and permanently reduce the people of India to a state of complete political and moral degradation and which would thus prove the truth of Professor Seeley’s memorable dictum:–“Subjection for a long time to a foreign yoke is one of the most potent causes of national deterioration.” That is the view of a former Regius Professor of Modern History in the University of Cambridge. Now let us turn to a former Regius Professor of Modern History in the University of Oxford—Professor Goldwin Smith—whose knowledge of the subject is unique, and who says:–“The dominion of the foreigner almost inevitably excludes from public employments the real worth of a country, because the real worth of a country almost always dwells in the same breasts with its pride.” Under these circumstances it is an unpardonable sin to tempt the flower of the Indian youth to “furnish a new supply of unjust agents” to an unjust government by the old trick of “simultaneous examinations,” repeated so late as last December by Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji in his message to the Indian National Congress.
As to the Royal Commission on Indian Expenditure, all who are aware of the facts know that, as its result, England has taken more from India than she ever gave back. At the banquet given by “The Sukha Samiti” on March 23rd, 1905, when many Indian and English gentlemen were present, Sir William Wedderburn praised the doings of this Commission, known as Lord Welby’s Commission. On that occasion Mr. H.M. Hyndman retorted in the presence of Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji himself that that Commission had been a failure and that it had done absolutely nothing towards relieving India of its enormous burdens.
We have ample evidence to show that Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji is ever ready to oblige his Anglo-Indian friends at the cost of his country. He belongs to a clique composed of a few Anglo-Indians, two or three Parsis and a handful of Hindus, who engineer the Indian National Congress which has no Constitution at all as recently pointed out by “The Times of India” and as referred to by us in another column. He knows the value of judicious self-advertisement regardless of the claims of his countrymen. Remember the recent jobbery perpetrated by him in connection with the Editorship of “India”—the accommodating journal which is always ready to proclaim his sayings and doings to the world. Remember also how in his last message to the Indian National Congress he vociferously praised above all other Englishmen his Anglo-Indian friends connected with the British Committee of the Congress, which is in a fair way to become an ally of the East India Association. In that communication he altogether ignored the services of such a true friend of India as Mr. H.M. Hyndman whose name he seems to be afraid to mention on any public occasion, lest he should offend his Anglo-Indian patrons. At a recent meeting of the London Indian Society, when Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji presided, a lecture was delivered severely criticising his connection with the British Committee of the Indian National Congress and exposing the inconsistency of some of his public utterances.
One may now well ask—What is it that makes this man with the burden of eighty-one years on his shoulders jump at an informal offer of the Presidentship of the Indian National Congress, particularly as he has already occupied that position twice and as the name of a most deserving patriot has been before the Indian public for some time? We may lay down as a general principle that the public weal of a country demands that the highest position in its National Assembly should not be filled by an individual, however eminent, beyond a certain limit or period. Every student of American politics knows that according to a settled rule no President of the United States of America has ever served more than two terms. “When Washington had served his second term,” says the Rt. Hon. James Bryce in his “American Commonwealth,” “he absolutely refused to serve a third, urging the risk to republican institutions of suffering the same man to continue constantly in office.” We still hope that Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji will pause and reconsider his position, particularly as the ugly facts revealed by the high-handed conduct of his principal supporters in the Reception Committee at Calcutta impose on him the necessity of avoiding a breach in the Congress Camp. He is placed, so to say, on his honour to prevent a deadly struggle between the contending parties, and it remains to be seen if he will rise to the occasion.
We have known Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji for nearly thirty years and it causes us no pleasure to say unpalatable truths about a man who for very many years had the reputation of labouring disinterestedly in his country’s cause. We have approached him both privately and publicly in order to give him an opportunity for reconsidering his position, but so far he has not shown any inclination to save the situation by withdrawing from the present deplorable contest. On the contrary before his election by the Reception Committee at Calcutta he showed such indecent haste in booking his passage to Bombay “as a precautionary measure,” to quote his own organ “India,” that we have no hesitation in re-regarding him as a mischievous partisan in this unfortunate struggle. It is not against the old friend but against the new enemy of our country that we are constrained to make these strictures; and we trust that Indians will take these remarks in good part and show their wisdom by selecting a man worthy in every respect to be a leader of their country.
In conclusion we may repeat what we said last year in the November number of The Indian Sociologist, while recommending Mr. Bal Gangadhar Tilak for the office of President of the Indian National Congress, that Indians will yet learn to show “reverence for a worth demonstrated by conduct and achievement.”
Indian Sociologist, via Hind Swarajya (Anglo-Gujarati weekly, published in Bombay), 29 December 1906 & 6 January 1907, in “Report on Native Papers for the week ending 5th January 1907”.
The Hind Swarajya reproduces the following from the Indian Spectator published in London:–“Professor Goldwin Smith has said: ‘In a conquered country governed by the stranger, liberty has no place, and to utter the name is a mockery and a profanation’…. We find that the present leaders of the Indian National Congress, while professing to champion the cause of their country, do not infrequently recommend a hypocritical course of conduct to their followers. They often betray unpardonable inconsistencies in their public utterances, which deserve to be thoroughly exposed. For this purpose we take the case of their chief Mr. Dadabhai Navroji….Mr. Dadabhai Navroji, in the course of his Presidential address at the Lahore Congress of 1893, said:–‘Our faith in the instinctive love of justice and fair-play of the people of the United Kingdom is not misplaced. I for one have not the shadow of a doubt that in dealing with such justice-loving, fair-minded people as the British. We may rest fully assured that we shall not work in vain. It is this conviction which has supported me against all difficulties. I have never faltered in my faith in the British character and have always believed that the time will come when the sentiments of the British nation and our Gracious Sovereign proclaimed to use in our Great Charter of the Proclamation of 1858 will be realised.’ Contrast this with what he said in December 1902, while delivering an address at the Newington Reform Club, Walworth:–‘One of the arguments put forward in defence of the system was that the British prevented the different people of India from plundering each other. That was only a half-truth: the whole truth was that they prevented the different peoples from plundering each other in order that they themselves might plunder all. Then they were told that the British had introduced security of property and security of life, for which Indians ought to be very grateful. Yes, they had introduced security of property, but only in order that they might carry it away with perfect security. As to security of life it was said that the old oriental despots used to kill thousands and thousands and harass the people. If that was so, the British Government with great ingenuity and scientific precision was killing millions by famines and plagues and starving scores of millions….The Anglo-Indians, or the British, were like clever surgeons who, with the sharpest scalpels, cut to the very heart and drew every drop of blood without leaving a scar. Law and order were vitally important and necessary to the existence of Englishmen in India. That was the reason why they were so anxious for law and order, for without it Englishmen could not stay there one week.’ Readers of The Indian Sociologist know that, according to Mr. Dadabhai Navroji, ‘Patriotism means making an end of foreign rule.’ In a letter dated April 21st, 1905, to the Daily News, he pertinently asked an English correspondent: ‘Supposed by some mischance England came under French or German or some alien despotic Government in the same condition and under the same circumstances as India is at present, will he not, as an Englishman, do his utmost to throw off “the heaviest of all yokes, the yoke of the stranger” even though all Englishmen were full of all the faults which the Anglo-Indians, rightly or wrongly, ascribe to Indians? Will he not as an Englishman at once tell me, “Corrupt or not corrupt, faults or no faults, a Briton shall never be slave”? And yet he cooly [sic] justifies and assumes the right divine of making other people slaves! Not only make them slaves, but in addition to eating up their substance in the country itself, carry it away out of the country, leaving the people of the country to perish, to say nothing of the deplorable consequences of the evil, bastard system, begotten of the unholy union of hypocrisy and greedy despotism.’ The quotation we have just given ought to satisfy all unbiased men that Mr. Dadabhai’s views regarding an independent form of national government for India are not different from those put forward by us, but unfortunately he reverts to his old ideas of ‘the love of liberty and justice’ among the English people and to the Resolution of 1893 in favour of Simultaneous Examinations in his message to the Benares Congress of December 1905.”
Mahratta (English weekly, published in Poona), 30 December 1906, in “Report on Native Papers for the week ending 5th January 1907”. [paper edited by Narsinh Chintaman (N.C) Kelkar, with circulation of 950]
[In spite of some extremists expressing disappointment with Naoroji’s address at the 1906 Calcutta Congress, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and his associates regarded it as a victory for the extremists and a defeat for the moderates. Tilak and N.C. Kelkar were particularly pleased with Naoroji’s wholesale advocacy of swaraj.]
Mr. Dadabhai in his inaugural address struck a new key as compared with previous presidential orations. The burden of his song was Swaraj. Self-government occupies the whole address. To Mr. Dadabhai, Swaraj is everything; without it all reforms are nothing. In favour of this view the address quotes the opinions of no less than four prominent members of the present ministry and proves beyond dispute the necessity of giving self-government to India if her millions are to be saved from plague, famine and chronic starvation. Bitter is the experience of Mr. Dadabhai as a political worker, driving him to complete despair bordering on the spirit of rebellion. However, the revival of liberalism in England induced him to advise the Calcutta Congress to repose implicit confidence in the sense of justice and fair-play of the great Liberal party. We have no doubt as to the revival of liberalism in England, but the Liberal party disposes of in a liberal spirit only those questions that are recognised as coming within the pale of practical politics. Mr. Morley has declared that the Government of India must remain personal and almost absolute. By this Mr. Morley, as the responsible minister of the Liberal party in charge of Indian affairs, means that the claims of the Congress to Swaraj are beyond the range of practical politics. To make any question fall within the pale of the practical politics of the Imperial Parliament depends solely on the doings of the Indians themselves. The revival of liberalism in England has nothing to do with it. It is for the Indians alone to make the question of self-government—a question of practical politics in England and not merely a question for academic discussion. If by our patriotic deeds, backed by a firm and united resolve, we succeed in thrusting our demands on the attention of England and inducing the Liberal party to count our questions amongst the questions of practical politics, then we may depend on the sense of justice and fair-play of English politicians and the revival of liberalism for the favourable and just solution of Indian problems. But how to force an entrance into this reserved enclosure of practical politics? The presidential address is truly disappointing to those who expected an answer to this query. As an exposition of the aims and objects of the Congress movement, the address will be looked upon as the political gospel of new India, but in devising the methods and means to secure the accomplishment of Swaraj, India will have to follow the lead of new guides and give up the hackneyed tracks of old coaches.
Vihari (Marathi weekly, published in Bombay), 31 December 1906, in “Report on Native Papers for the week ending 5th January 1907”. [edited by Balkrishna Narayan Phatak, circulation 1,000]
Never was the speech of a President of the Congress so insipid, meaningless and timid as that delivered by Mr. Dadabhai this year. People were in high hopes that Mr. Dadabhai would, in his speech, point out the means of attaining self-government. But they were disappointed to find that the keynote of his address was mendicancy. It is needless for us to dwell here on the futility of this method of agitation. The Boers obtained self-government within a few years after their conquest by the British, not because they are a more capable people than the Indians, but because they love liberty dearer than their lives and have among their leaders men who boldly and openly preach armed resistance to their English rulers, should the latter refuse their political rights. Mr. Dadabhai should have in his speech referred to this real cause of the attainment of self-government by the Boers. It would also have been more appropriate if his speech had contained a reference to the measures adopted by the British people themselves in wresting a constitution from their kings when all peaceful methods of agitation had failed, such as rising in rebellion against them or banishing or beheading them. In quoting a number of worn-out platitudes instead, the venerable President of this year’s Congress sorely disappointed the people of India.
Kesari (Marathi weekly, published in Poona), 1 January 1907, in “Report on Native Papers for the week ending 5th January 1907”. [paper edited by Bal Gangadhar Tilak, with circulation of 18,000]
The last session of the Congress, which attracted an unprecedentedly large number of delegates and spectators owing to the rumours of a probable split in the Congress camp, passed off without any hitch. The grand ovation accorded to Mr. Dadabhai Navroji at Calcutta might well be envied by kings and princes. The garbled reports of the private meetings of delegates, held previous to the commencement of the Congress sessions, which have appeared in certain papers, make it appear that the extremists were utterly routed by the moderates. But subsequent events have utterly falsified these rumours and made it clear that the policy advocated by the Kesari has left its thorough impress on the national gathering. The presidential address strikingly bore out the fact that the Congress was entering upon an era of plain speaking. The keynote of the address lay in the fact that it exhorted the Indians to place self-government in the forefront of their demands. Mr. Dadabhai, in openly declaring his adherence to swadeshi as best adapted to the unnatural economic conditions prevailing in this country, has tacitly given his support to boycott, and we recommend his attitude in this matter for the consideration of our hyper-sensitive and alarmist politicians of the city of Bombay. Though Mr. Dadabhai confessed that his repeated disappointments in political matters had sometimes driven him almost to rebel, he appears still to have great confidence in the sense of justice of Englishmen. But we venture to assert that if he had spent the last few years in India, he would have come to a different conclusion altogether. Mr. Dadabhai found no time in his address to elaborate the ways and means by which the demand for self-government was to be driven home, but the Congress made up the deficiency by passing the boycott and the swadeshi resolutions. The first part of the former resolution is intended to lay down that boycott is a legitimate weapon to be used against Government whenever the latter turns a deaf ear to the complaints of the people, while the latter part holds up the example of Bengal as worthy of imitation by other provinces. As regards the resolution on swadeshi, it includes all the points for which the extremists had been fighting. Our Anglo-Indian contemporaries were not far from wrong when they declared that the last Congress was a triumph for the extremist party, and we daresay that all thinking men, who watched its proceedings, must come to the same conclusion.
Kesari (Marathi weekly, published in Poona), 8 January 1907, in “Report on Native Papers for the week ending 12th January 1907”.
As already pointed out by us in our last issue the dominant note of the Calcutta Congress was to place the demand for self-government in the forefront of the Congress programme. The credit of giving this new turn to the deliberations of the Congress belongs entirely to Mr. Dadabhai. Very few amongst the moderates ever dreamt that he would go so far as he has done, but as the new position has been most clearly defined by their own idol, they have to make the best of the situation. It should be noted that the term swarajya, so familiar to the inhabitants of Maharashtra, has been deliberately used by Mr. Dadabhai to denote the new demand and the Congress and swarajya are now so indissolubly connected together that however much the moderates may dislike the combination, they will have to put up with it. The Congress has not only formulated the demand for swarajya, but has also indicated the manner in which it is to be achieved.Mr. Dadabhai plainly stated in the course of his address that the keen disappointments which he had had to face in his political career would have driven any other man to rebel. What lesson are we to learn from these disappointments of Mr. Dadabhai? Are we to learn to tread the new path of self-reliance or continue to move in the old grooves of mendicancy? This question has been satisfactorily solved by the last Congress by passing the resolutions of boycott and swadeshi and whatever interpretations the moderates may put upon these resolutions it cannot be gainsaid that the nation has definitely pledged itself to a new line of activity after due deliberation. We have not the least doubt that this new programme will lead us to success.
Kaiser-i-Hind (Anglo-Gujarati weekly, published in Bombay), 20 January 1907, in “Report on Native Papers for the week ending 19th January 1907”. [published in English columns]
We will not say that Mr. Dadabhai Navroji performed a miracle in the battlefield of Indian politics, but surely he did something next to it. By his open-mindedness, his patience and tolerance of all shades and varieties of opinion on matters on which Congressmen had been unhappily divided, by his great tact, sound judgment and, above all, by his temper which was as sweet as it was seraphic, he appeased the passions which had been aroused in the Congress camp before his arrival, steered, as only a veteran captain could steer, the bark of the Congress clear of the shoals and quicksands which surrounded it, and brought her safe to a haven of rest amidst universal thanksgiving. It is not given to an ordinary leader to perform the feat which the veteran of eighty-two accomplished. Hence the great jubilation of the people when he accepted the Presidentship of the Calcutta Congress, and hence the storm of applause which has greeted him since he accomplished his most arduous and responsible task. It is indeed pathetic to note how the G.O.M. at the call of duty donned his armour, crossed six thousand miles of land and sea to assume the generalship of a four days’ most difficult field operation and displayed the highest traits of the practised soldier—patience and endurance, apart from skill and ability—brining it to a brilliant and successful close. And more pathetic still to notice him doffing the same armour, receiving the homage of all, humble and the great, midst a series of triumphant demonstrations unparalleled in Indian annals, from Bombay to Calcutta and back, till the last hour of his departure, and quietly and modestly embarking on board the mail steamer midst the deafening cheers of a grateful and gratified public, who perhaps may never see him again. It was indeed a fitting compliment which the citizens of Bombay paid him in the Town Hall on Thursday last where had congregated the public of Bombay to pay him their last puja and bid him a cordial farewell with best wishes for the prolongation of a strenuous life which has never known rest. For him life has been one long spell of duty—duty nobly discharged and most conscientiously and unselfishly accomplished. In the world’s field of battle, in the bivouac of life, Mr. Dadabhai has acted as a hero, pure and without reproach, a very Bayard indeed of all India who has made his life sublime, and who has now departed from his native shores once more, leaving indelible foot-prints, which it is to be hoped generations yet unborn will tread making their lives equally sublime and heroic.
FROM GANDHI’S SOUTH AFRICA
“The Grand Old Man of India,” Indian Opinion, 19 November 1903.
[Mahatma Gandhi relied upon Naoroji to broadcast the plight of Indians in South Africa to the Indian and British public as well as to relevant authorities in London. While Gandhi eventually repudiated many of Naoroji’s tactics, he had great reverence for Naoroji, even proclaiming him to be a “mahatma” and the “father of the nation.” Gandhi’s Indian Opinion regularly ran articles on Naoroji around the time of his birthday.]
The mail papers to hand from India contain very long notices of the birthday anniversary of Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji, who is undoubtedly to India what Mr. Gladstone was to Great Britain. He has entered upon his 79th year, and the whole of India has celebrated the anniversary in a manner befitting the occasion. Millions of voices have gone up to Heaven praying for the blessings of the Almighty to be showered upon the grand old man and for many years of life on this earth. We join the millions in their prayer. Mr. Dadabhai is loved from the Hindukush to Cape Comorin and from Karachi to Calcutta as no other living man in India is loved. He has given a lifetime to the service of the country of his birth, and though a Parsi, Hindus, Mahomedans, Christians and all revere him just as strongly as the followers of Zoroaster. He has sacrificed for the cause of India ease and luxury, and has imposed upon himself a long exile. He has devoted his wealth also to the cause. His is the purest type of patriotism and comes from a sense of duty to the motherland. Nor is this all. Mr. Dadabhai’s private character has been also a perfect pattern to be copied by the rising generation in every respect, and if we are not much mistaken, there is behind all his political work a strong religious pious fervour which nothing can quench. The land which is capable of producing a Dadabhai has every reason to hope for the best in the long run. Soon after he was elected member of the House of Commons, an honour conferred by a British constituency for the first time on an Indian, he paid a visit to India, and those who were privileged to witness his triumphal progress from Bombay to Lahore have testified that the enthusiasm with which he was received was only equalled, if at all, by that which accompanied the progress of the ever to be remembered Lord Ripon when he retired from his Viceroyalty. The nation certainly honoured itself by honouring such a man. To us in South Africa, a life of so much devotion and so much self-sacrifice in the midst of enormous difficulties (and Mr. Dadabhai had, as many of our readers will remember, much to suffer) should be a very rich lesson in loving our country and our people, and also in patience. In the political struggle, victories are not won in a day. Disappointments are often the lot of people who are engaged in them. We have in South Africa a very fair share thereof, and if we would but remember that Mr. Dadabhai has been struggling for the last forty years or more, we would find in the thought a great deal to console us that, after all, our struggle has only just commenced, and that we have not been without silver linings to the clouds which have hung over us. Amid all his labours, Mr. Dadabhai has always found time to attend to the question in South Africa, and has been one of the most zealous patrons of our cause. May he continue to enjoy health and vigour of mind for a long time to come, and may he yet be privileged to serve his country is our sincere prayer to the Almighty.
“The G.O.M. [Grand Old Man] of India,” Indian Opinion, 7 October 1905.
[The article references Naoroji’s final parliamentary campaign, in North Lambeth in early 1906].
Our Indian exchanges bring news with reference to the meetings held to commemorate the eighty-first birthday of Mr. Dadabhai Naoroji, the Grand Old Man of India, on the 4th September last. Public meetings were held all over India. The services rendered by Mr. Naoroji to India, in our humble opinion, are far greater than the services rendered by England’s Grand Old Man to England. Mr. Naoroji’s work has been pioneer work, and when he commenced it, few indeed were his helpers. The self-sacrificing devotion with which he has pushed forward the cause of India, in season and out of season, has hardly any parallel in India; and it is no wonder that he stands unequalled by any one in the estimation of millions of his countrymen. The spectacle of an old man of over eighty years wooing a British constituency, not for the sake of glory or honours, but in order that he may serve India the more, is most pathetic and magnificent. If the electors of North Lambeth send Mr. Naoroji to the new Parliament, they will have done themselves a unique honour. We echo the prayers that were offered by the millions in India for long life and health to Mr. Naoroji.
“Petition to Dadabhai Naoroji,” Indian Opinion, 3 July 1909.
[This was delivered to Naoroji when he was 84 years old, demonstrating his continued interest in Indian affairs in South Africa.]
TO THE HON’BLE DADABHAI NAOROJI
We, the undersigned, British Indians residing in the Transvaal hereby approach you as the father of the Indian nation that is to be, with reference to the gigantic struggle in which we are engaged in this Colony. Through you we appeal to the whole of India.
We will not go into the history of the struggle, but will state the question as it stand today. The Indian inhabitants of the Transvaal have asked for repeal of the Asiatic Registration Act of 1907, so that Indians possessing educational attainments, be they ever so few, even six per year, may enter the Transvaal on the same terms as the other immigrants. To-day, by reason of the Registration Act read together with the Immigration Act of the Colony, no British Indian can immigrate into the Colony unless he has been previously domiciled. The laws of the Colony, therefore constitute a colour bar. No other British Colony possesses such legislation. Indians have, therefore, publicly entered into a solemn covenant not to submit to the Registration Acts of the Colony but to suffer imprisonment and other hardships until the national insult is removed.
Under the covenant, during the past two years and six months, over 2,500 Indians have suffered imprisonment mostly with hard labour. Many homes have been broken up, many families have been ruined, in the struggle. Fathers and sons have gone to gaol at the same time, leaving behind them weeping wives and mothers. Many families are being supported from charitable funds raised by us. At the present moment, nearly two hundred Indians are suffering imprisonment for conscience’ sake. The hardship felt has been so great that many have succumbed owing to sheer exhaustion. Others have left the Colony and are probably today starving. A resolute band of over 300 continues an active struggle. Some have passed through the Transvaal gaols five times.
The covenanters are derived from all classes and strata of Indian society. Hindus, Mahomedans, Parsees, Sikhs and Christians are all fighting India’s battle. Merchants who have never undergone physical exertion and have been brought up in the lap of luxury are breaking stones, or doing scavenger’s work, or wheeling barrows of earth and living on coarse mealie meal and boiled potatoes or rice and ghee.
We ask India to come to the rescue and demand from the Indian Government a removal of the bar sinister. Until the racial taint from the Transvaal legislation is removed, the little band of Indians referred to above will suffer unto death. We pray for relief.
Charles Alexander, “Boston on Lynching,” Christian Recorder, 13 September 1894.
[Naoroji met Ida Wells, an African-American journalist who later helped found the NAACP, when she toured Great Britain to highlight lynchings in the American South. He subsequently joined an anti-lynching organization in Great Britain. The Christian Recorder, an African-American newspaper based in Philadelphia, still exists today.]
[…] Mr. Moncure D. Conway was introduced as “an old fine abolitionist and author.” He made a very interesting address, telling of the work that Miss Ida Wells has been doing the anti-lynching cause in New England. He said:
“Miss Wells, the daughter of a slave, is a young lady of education and refinement. Were Longfellow or Whittier alive they would frame her in poetry. The result of her visit [to Great Britain] was the formation of anti-lynching committees, whose objects, quoted exactly are: ‘to obtain reliable information on the subject of lynching and mob outrages in America, to make the facts known and to give expression to public opinion in condemnation of such outrages in whatever way may best seem suited to assist the cause of humanity and civilization.’
“Among the members of this committee are such defenders of American rights as the Duke of Argyll, Jacob Bright, M.P., Justin McCarthy, M.P., Sir Joseph Pease, M.P. The committee was founded in the house of Mr. Clayden of the Daily News, an organ ever faithful to American interest, and its Treasurer is Passmore Edwards of the Echo. Among the clergymen are such distinguished men as Wicksteed, Buting, Clifford, Shuttleworth, Francis Channing, M.P., grand nephew to the great Boston preacher. There is a Hindu Member of Parliament, Dadabhai Naoroji, from the land to which America sends missionaries; his name in the list reminds us that lynching is a barbarity unknown to countries called heathen, a product of regions themselves Christians.”
William Jennings Bryan, “England’s Policy is Our Warning,” New York Journal, 22 January 1899, p. 29.
[In the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, American anti-imperialists and Progressives like Bryan studied British rule in India, using it as a warning against American colonization of the Philippines. It is likely that George Freeman, an Irish-American journalist and member of the Clan-na-Gael, served as the conduit between Naoroji and Bryan, passing on the Indian politician’s writing to the American Progressive leader. The resolutions that Bryan quotes were likely drafted by Naoroji, who served as the president of the London Indian Society.]
[…] On the 28th of December, 1897—only a year ago—a meeting of the London Indian Society was held at Montague Mansions and strong resolutions were adopted. Below will be found an extract from the resolutions:
“That this conference of Indians, resident in the United Kingdom, is of opinion—
“That of all the evils and ‘terrible misery’ that India has been suffering for a century and a half, and of which the latest developments are the most deplorable famine and plague, arising from ever increasing poverty, the stupid and suicidal frontier war and its savagery, of the wholesale destruction of villages, unworthy of any people, but far more so of English civilization; the unwise and suicidal prosecutions for sedition, the absurd and ignorant cry of the disloyalty of the educated Indians, and for the curtailment of the liberty of the Indian press; the despotism—like that of the imprisonment of the Natus—and the general insufficiency of the Administration—of all these and many other minor evils, the main cause is the unrighteous and un-British system of government which produces an unceasing and ever increasing bleeding of the country, and which is maintained by a political hypocrisy and continuous subterfuges, unworthy of the British honor and name, and entirely in opposition to the wishes of the British people, and utterly in violation of acts and resolutions of Parliament, and of the most solemn and repeated pledges of the British nation and sovereign.
“That unless the present un-righteous system of government is thoroughly reformed into a righteous and truly British system, destruction to India and disaster to the British Empire must be the inevitable result.”
Mr. Naoroji, an Indian residing in England, in supporting the resolution, pointed out the continuous drain of money from India, and argued that the people were compelled “to make straw, but even without clay.” He insisted that England’s trade with India would be greater if she would allow the people of India a larger participation in the affairs of their own government, and protested against the policy of sending Englishmen to India to hold the offices and draw their support from taxes levied upon the inhabitants. He complained that British justice is one thing in England and quite another thing in India, and said: “There (in India) it is only the business of the people to pay taxes and to slave, and the business of the Government to spend those taxes to their own benefit. Whenever any question arises between Great Britain and India there is a demoralized mind. The principles of politics, of commerce, of equality which are applied to Great Britain are not applied to to India. As if it were not inhabited by human beings?”
Does any one doubt that, if we annex the Philippines and govern them by agents sent from here, questions between them and the people of the United States and for the benefit of the people of the United States? If we make subjects of them against their will and for our own benefit are we likely to govern them with any more benevolence?
The resolutions quoted mention efforts made for the curtailment of the liberty of the press. Is that not a necessary result of governmental injustice? Are we likely to allow the Filipinos freedom of the press if we enter upon a system that is indefensible according to our theory of government? […]
“Notes from Dublin, ” New York Times, 20 January 1907, p. 8.
[Here is a unique perspective, from an American paper, about Indian-Irish links. The article contains a number of errors: the 1906 Congress was held in Calcutta (not Madras), Naoroji was elected to Parliament in 1892 (not 1895), and, lastly, Lord Clive never stepped anywhere near Kashmir.]
The Irish Home Rulers are watching with sympathetic interest a growing agitation in India for home rule for the Hindu. The silken-robed, be-gemmed, perfumed India of the sixteenth century, the famine-wasted India of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century, is taking courage from the spectacle of Canada, Australia, and Boerland and soon Ireland, enjoying self-government, in spite of an alien flag, and hopes to get in line for her birthright, too, which she lost 150 years ago, when Lord Clive first floated his standard over the Vale of Cashmere. There was a National Congress in Madras [sic] recently, and its presiding officer was Mr. Naoroji, a Parsee, 80 years old, but vigorous as if only 50, who has lived in England for the past twenty years. In 1895 [sic] he represented an English constituency in Parliament. He is very fond of Ireland and everything Irish, and in the House of Commons worked and voted with the Irish Party. He expects great things from the Liberal Government, and counts on the help of the Irish members in winning radical measures of relief for India.
He said in his address opening the Hindu Congress: “If even a good Government could never be a substitute for a Government by the people themselves, how much less can an economically evil Government and a constitutionally unconstitutional Government be a substitute for self-government?”
Mr. Redmond and Mr. Naoroji have clasped hands across continents, and both have behind them peoples well united and determined. Both have great confidence in the Liberal Ministry of to-day, and both are alike in the feeling that whether they win to-day or to-morrow or years hence, it is theirs to keep on working for the fullest measure of self-government for their country.
“India,” Horizon, February 1907, pp. 8-9.
[Horizon was edited by W.E.B. Du Bois, who retained a lifelong interest in India and Indian nationalism. He quoted a portion of Naoroji’s 1906 Congress speech, which has not been transcribed below.]
The speech of Naoroji before the National Congress of India was worthy of men who want to be free. […] The dark world awakens to life and articulate speech. Courage, Comrades!