English Heritage, a charity, will honor Dadabhai Naoroji’s house at 72 Anerley Park in London. He was the first Asian elected to the British Parliament. Prior to this, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi were honored with the Blue Plaque
English Heritage, a charity, will honor Dadabhai Naoroji’s house at 72 Anerley Park in London. Image Courtesy: @DinyarPatel/Twitter
The London home of Dadabhai Naoroji will receive a ‘blue plaque’, an honor reserved for notable figures who have lived and worked in London.
Naoroji was the first Asian to be elected as a member of the British Parliament.
English Heritage, a charity, will honor Dadabhai Naoroji’s house at 72 Anerley Park in London. He lived in this house from 1895 to 1904, according to The footprint.
Besides being the first Asian to serve in the House of Commons, Naoroji was an important leader before Mahatma Gandhi’s rise in the freedom struggle.
Dinyar Patel, an author who wrote Dadabhai Naoroji’s biography, said the plaque will be installed later this month.
After a decade of attempts, @EnglishHeritage succeeded in securing a blue plaque for Dadabhai Naoroji’s London home at 72 Anerley Park, where he lived from 1897 to 1904. The plaque will be installed later this month. pic.twitter.com/WBHfRW9mTS
—Dinyar Patel (@DinyarPatel) August 2, 2022
Let’s take a closer look at the history of the Blue Plaque and Naoroji’s contribution as an MP in Britain.
History behind the blue plate
In 1863, MP William Ewart of the House of Commons introduced the idea of a commemorative plaque program. Three years later, the Society of Arts adopted the scheme.
In 1867 the organization erected two plaques – one commemorating the poet Lord Byron at his birthplace at 24 Holles Street in Cavendish Square and the other honoring Napoleon III in King Street, Westminster.
This is the oldest plate to have survived.
The Society of Arts ran the program for 35 years. During this time, they erected 35 plaques, including those of poet John Keats, novelist William Makepeace Thackeray and MP Edmund Burke.
At the beginning of the 20e Century, London County Council (LCC) took over the plaque scheme and introduced a more formal selection criterion. They named the project as ‘Indicating House of Historic Interest in London’.
The LCC played with the plate design by trying different colors and decorative schemes and by 1921 blue ceramic plates had become standard. In 1938, an anonymous student at the Central School of Arts and Crafts suggested a modern, simplified blue plaque.
In 1986, English Heritage took over the project. Since then, English Heritage has erected over 360 plaques in over 900 buildings in London.
Contribution of Dadabhai Naoroji as MP
Dadabhai Naoroji was the first Asian to sit in the British Parliament as a Liberal Party candidate from 1892 to 1895.
Naoroji laid the foundations of India’s freedom movement by organizing India’s first political association, the Bombay Association.
He was also one of the founding members of the Indian National Congress.
Naoroji established his own cotton trading company called Dadabhai Naoroji & Co in 1859, three years after traveling to the UK, according to a report by The footprint.
Following this, he established the East India Association in 1867 to combat discrimination against Asians in England. The organization later merged with the Indian National Association which eventually became the Indian National Congress in 1885.
In 1886, Naoroji lost an election as a Liberal Party candidate after then British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury declared that the English constituency was not ready to elect a “black man”.
During his political career in the British Parliament, Naoroji raised Indian issues and also campaigned for Indian independence in the House of Commons.
Other Indians who received the Blue Plaque
The blue plaque was erected in the homes of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Mahatma Gandhi, Sri Aurobindo, Jawaharlal Nehru and BR Ambedkar among others.
Between 1830 and 1831, Raja Ram Mohan Roy was sent to England by Mughal Emperor Akbar Shah II as an ambassador. He lived in the Bloomsbury area in the London Borough of Camden. The blue plaque of Roy’s residence was erected in 1985.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi arrived in London from Gujarat aged 18 in 1891. He stayed at number 20 Baron’s Court Road in the Metropolitan Borough of Hammersmith, according to Scroll.
Gandhi’s house was commemorated with the Blue Plaque in 1986.
The home of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru at 60 Elgin Crescent, Notting Hill was awarded the Blue Plaque in 1989.
With contributions from agencies
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