Prince Dwarkanath Tagore, best known for his significant role in the Bengal Renaissance of the 19th century, has been honoured with a new bust in London. The grandfather of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore was among the first Indian industrialists, also known as merchant princes, investing in a range of businesses from steam engines to banking in the 1820s.
He died during a visit to the UK in August 1846 and was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery in north-west London, where his bust was unveiled yesterday.
“He was a Tagore who uplifted the face of trade and business long before his grandson Rabindranath Tagore received the Nobel Prize in Literature. He believed the sky’s the limit and his range of accomplishments spanned from coal, tea, jute, shipping, banking and the list can go on,” said Anirban Mukhopadhyay, President of London Sharad Utsav (LSU), among the groups behind the new statue.
After decades amid thousands of other graves, LSU joined hands with the Bengal Heritage Foundation and with the support of the British Council, iLead (Kolkata), Friends of Kensal Green (London) launched the bust and a plaque marking Dwarkanath’s contributions. Scores of people from the British Bengali community gathered for the event here.
Kolkata-based businessman Pradeep Chopra travelled all the way from India with his family for the occasion. “I always wanted to break this fallacy that entrepreneurship is not for Bengalis and they are only meant to be doctors or professors. Entrepreneurship has been in the roots of Bengal since Dwarkanath’s era and some of the best entrepreneurs in the country can be from Bengal – just like he was,” Chopra said.
The ceremony was also marked by the presence of Saikat Maitra, Vice Chancellor of Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad University of Technology, who also flew in from India. “Emulation of corporate mindset and management of business by Dwarkanath needs to be presented in a more effective way before the next generation,” Maitra said. Dwarkanath died aged 52 at St. George’s Hotel in London during a major thunderstorm in the city.
Britain’s then Queen, Victoria, and husband Prince Albert, who had welcomed him to their court like “an old friend” earlier, sent four carriages to the funeral for a so-called “princely” send-off. “Very few Indians are aware of Prince Dwarkanath Tagore’s tomb in London.
From coal to banking to trading, he successfully set the foundation of an industrial Bengal and internationalisation of India,” said Sourav Nyogi, President of the Bengal Heritage Foundation, which spearheaded the project. “Our effort is a humble tribute to this great son of Bengal and to keep his heritage alive for the future generations,” he said.