Dadabhai Naoroji’s London house gets ‘Blue Plaque’ honour
London: The south London home where Dadabhai Naoroji, a prominent member of the Indian freedom struggle and Britain’s first Indian parliamentarian, lived for about eight years has been honoured with a commemorative Blue Plaque. The London Blue Plaque scheme, run by the English Heritage charity, honours the historic significance of certain buildings across London. Naoroji’s plaque was unveiled on Wednesday, as part of the 75th anniversary celebrations of Indian Independence. Born in Mumbai, the prominent Parsi nationalist was an influential political and intellectual force in both India and Britain.
Much of his work was underpinned by his ‘drain of wealth’ theory on British colonial rule, contending that India was impoverished by an expensive foreign bureaucracy for which it had to pay, and that any benefits from the British presence there were incidental. Naoroji, often referred to as the grand old man of India, is reported to have moved to Washington House—located at 72 Anerley Park, Penge, Bromley—in August 1897, at a time when his thoughts were turning increasingly towards full independence for India. “Much of his time here would have been occupied by his work as a member of the Welby Commission, set up by the British government to investigate wasteful spending in India,” the statement noted. His seminal work about the ‘drain of wealth’ theory, ‘Poverty and Un-British Rule in India’ (1901) was published while he was living here. According to records, Washington House functioned as an important centre for the Indian community in London, a place where many Indians were invited and where Indians travelled to if they were in trouble. Naoroji made seven trips to England and spent over three decades of his long life in London, English Heritage said in a statement.