The 22nd of March 2018 was a momentous occasion for the Zoroastrian all-party parliamentary group. At 16:00 Zoroastrians gathered in the House of Lords Committee Room 5 for the centenary commemoration of the death of Dr Dadabhai Naoroji, the first Zoroastrian/Indian to be elected into British parliament (1892). The meeting was hosted and presided over by Lord Karan Bilimoria, Co-Chair of the Zoroastrian APPG, and to mark the occasion the group had arranged for three speakers to present essays to the APPG. These speakers included Dr Vikram Visana with his paper ‘Never say die!: Dadabhai Naoroji’s Indianisation of British politics’, Mr Daniel Hunt MA, discussing ‘The British political careers and historical legacies of Dadabhai Naoroji’. And thirdly, speaker Dr Kusoom Vadgama spoke on ‘Naoroji: the Icon of Indian Nationalism.
All three speakers combined personal interest, with intellect and objective truths to produce three truly touching tributes to Naoroji and his lifelong pursuit of Indian interests, and relations. A key theme of all three was Naoroji’s benevolence and philanthropic work as a true Zoroastrian, and his abilities as a skilful politician to manoeuvre through the turbulent atmosphere of parliament enabling the voices of Indians globally to be heard. Naoroji didn’t allow the power of the Empire to distort his views, rather he stood up to the mistreatment of India by the Empire, and actively aimed to correct the Empires faults.
Touching words from Ms T. Ajungla Jamir, Councellor (Political & Extradition) at the Indian High Commission, and closing remarks from Mr Malcom Deboo, President Zoroastrian Trust Funds Europe (ZTFE). Lord Karan Bilimoria thanked the Parliamentary group, and touching final words were delivered from Dr Vadgama who had the room in total suspense with a quote from Naoroji himself, “I am a Hindu, a Muslim, a Parsi, but above all an Indian”. A true citizen of India, but also of Britain, he deserves to be remembered as the greatest patriot of India in the last century.
Report written by Rory Newman