Dwarkanath Tagore (1794–1846)

প্রিন্স দ্বারকানাথ ঠাকুর। ১৭৯৪ – ১৮৪৬

Dwarkanath Tagore (1794–1846), or Dwarokanath Ţhakur, one of the first Indian industrialists[1] and entrepreneurs, was the founder of the Jorasanko Tagore family, notable for making substantial contributions to the Bengal Renaissance.
“As a zamindar Dwarkanath was mercilessly efficient and businesslike, but not generous”. He looked upon his investment in land as investment in any other business or enterprise and claimed what he deemed a fair return. In later years Dwarkanath would appoint European managers for his estates at Sahajadpur and Behrampore. In time Dwarkanath would convert his estates to integrated commercial-industrial complexes with indigo, silk and sugar factories. In the cut throat world of zamindari politics Dwarkanath took no nonsense and gave no quarter to either European or native. His knowledge of the tenancy laws stood him in good stead. Unlike his good friend Rammohan Roy, who pleaded for the rights of the poor ryots, Dwarkanath Tagore was the best corporate minded entrepreneur of his contemporary age. His innovative ideas, sharp intelligence, disciplined approaches and dedication established his greatness in the history of Indian social- entrepreneurs of all time.
Dwarkanath Tagore was of the firm conviction that at those times “the happiness of India is best secured by her connection with England”. He was also firm in defending the interest and sentiments of his people against European prejudices. With this in view he established on 21 March 1838 an Association for Landholders. The association was overtly a self-serving political association, founded on a large and liberal basis, to admit landholders of all descriptions, Englishmen, Hindus, Muslims, and Christians. From this grew the British Indian Association, the precursor to the Indian National Congress.
Tagore played a pioneering role in setting up a string of commercial ventures—banking, insurance and shipping companies—in partnership with British traders. In 1828, he became the first Indian bank director. In 1829, he founded Union Bank in Calcutta. He helped founding the Anglo-Indian Managing Agency Carr, Tagore and Company., Parsis were classified as a Near Eastern community as opposed to South Asian. Tagore’s company managed huge zamindari estates spread across today’s West Bengal and Odisha states in India, and in Bangladesh, besides holding large stakes in new enterprises that were tapping the rich coal seams of Bengal, running tug services between Calcutta and the mouth of the river Hooghly and transplanting Chinese tea crop to the plains of Upper Assam. His was one of those Indian private companies engaged in the opium trade with China. Production of opium was in India and it was sold in China.In 1832 Tagore purchased the first Indian coal mine in Runigunj which eventually became the Bengal Coal Company. Very large schooners were engaged in shipments. This made Dwarkanath extremely rich. And there are legends about the extent of his wealth.
A restless personality, with a firm conviction that his racial identity was not a barrier between him and other Britons as long as he remained loyal to the British Sovereign, Tagore was well received by Queen Victoria and many other British and European notables during his two trips to the West in the 1840s, who called him a prince because of his majestic lifestyle. Dwarkanath Tagore died “at the peak of his fortune”[1] on the evening of Saturday 1 August 1846 at the St. George’s Hotel in London.
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2 comments on “Dwarkanath Tagore (1794–1846)

    • The phrase ‘Drug Runners’, used in the title of the linked post, has come into use in early 20th century to mean ‘A person involved in the smuggling of illegal drugs’. Opium, which had been on great demand worldwide for its medicinal and recreational attributes, was never an illegal trade. Those pioneer Indian entrepreneurs who wrestled the business, trade and industrial powers away from Company Raj warrant a more informed and objective review of their contributions toward making modern India.

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