The "Grand Old Man of India" and the "Father of Indian Nationalism" who worked with perseverance and unshakeable faith towards the goal of swaraj was the first Indian to claim self-government for his people. Dadabhai Naoroji was also the first Indian to show that India was being drained of its wealth under the British rule and thus was fast succumbing to poverty. He played a key role in founding the Indian National Congress in 1885 and was associated with the organisation till his death.
Dadabhai was born at Khadak in Bombay on September 4, 1825. The pains suffered by his mother in the process of ensuring that Dadabhai received good education made this great leader a zealous supporter of free education especially to children. He stepped out of his college days at the Elphinstone Institution with a host of academic honours and became a partner of the first Indian commercial company set up in Britain. In England itself, he began the task of exposing the miseries India was suffering under the British administration. To further his aims, he joined W.C. Banerjee to found the London Indian Society.
In 1867, he called for admitting Indians to the civil service. He also suggested that the civil service examinations should be held in India also. His "Evidence relating to the Efficiency of Native Agency in India" upheld the capability and integrity of Indians when appointed to posts of trust and responsibility. His labours proved fruitful with the government's decision to include Indians in the civil service. In 1876, he published his paper titled "Poverty of India"—a prelude to Poverty and Un-British Rule in India, published in 1901. He held the British government responsible for India's poverty.The drain of India's wealth to England was taking place at a time when the country was in dire need of industrialization and other economic reforms, he pointed out.
To secure justice for India, Dadabhai brought out the monthly, The Voice of India. He was a key factor behind the introduction of the Ilbert or Criminal Jurisdiction Bill that allowed courts in India to try Europeans under Indian judges. In 1885, Dadabhai became the vice-president of the Bombay Presidency Association. Dadabhai also became the first Indian to be elected to the British Parliament.