R. C. Dutt

Other names: 

Romesh Chunder Dutt

Rameshchandra Dutt



University College, London
Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom
51° 31' 29.856" N, 0° 8' 3.84" W
Date of birth: 
13 Aug 1848
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
30 Nov 1909
Location of death: 
Baroda, India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1868
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1868-71, 1897-, 1906, 1908-9


Romesh Chunder Dutt was the son of Ishanchandra and Thakamani Dutt. They were part of one of the Calcutta families who had prospered through their commercial associations with the British East India Company. In 1868, he left for Britain in secret in the company of two friends, Bihari Lal Gupta and Surendranath Banerjea. In London, Dutt secured admission to University College and sat for the Indian Civil Service examination in 1871. Dutt was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in the same year. He joined the Indian Civil Service as assistant magistrate and collector. In 1883 he was the first Indian to be appointed district magistrate and, after serving in many districts of Bengal, was appointed divisional commissioner, first in Burdwan and later in Orissa (1894–5).

When the premier literary association of Bengal, Bangiya Sahitya Parishad, was set up in 1894, Dutt was elected its first President. In 1899 Dutt was invited to preside over the fifteenth session of the Indian National Congress held at Lucknow, and in 1905 he presided over the industrial exhibition held in Benares in connection with the twenty-first session of the Congress. Dutt shared his time between London and India. In 1897, he was appointed Professor of Indian History at University College, London. From 1898, Dutt regularly wrote letters to the Editor of The Manchester Guardian on Indian matters, particularly famine and tariffs. A collection of these letters was published in 1900. Dutt also wrote a number of works on history, economics and translations of Indian Classics for the 'Temple Classics' series.

With Major B. D. Basu and Dadabhai Naoroji, Dutt formulated what is now recognized as the classic diagnosis of the Indian economic problem under colonial rule. It emphasized the ‘drainage of wealth’ from India through home charges payable to Britain and unrequited exports, the absence of protection for India's infant industries, and the negative implications of even constructive efforts like the railways, which deprived many providers of traditional transport services and facilitated the import of British manufactured goods.


Surendranath Banerjea, Toru DuttAravinda Ackroyd Ghose, Dr Theodore Goldstrucker (Professor of Sanskrit at UCL), Bihari Lal Gupta, Henry Morley (English Literature Professor at UCL), Max Müller, Dadabhai Naoroji, Rabindranath Tagore (vice-president of Bangiya Sahitya Parishad while Dutt was president).

Published works: 

Three Years in Europe, Being Extracts from Letters Sent from Europe. By a Hindu. Second Edition (Calcutta [printed], London, 1873)

Bangabijeta (1874)

Madhabikankan (1877)

Jibanprabhat (1878)

Jibansandhya (1879)

England and India (London: Chatto & Windus, 1897)

Maha-Bharata: The Epic of Ancient India, Condensed into English Verse by Romesh Dutt, C.I.E. With an Introduction by the Right Hon. F. Max Muller. Twelve Photogravures from Original Illustrations Designed from Indian Sources by E. S. Hardy (London: J. M. Dent & Co., 1899)

The Civilization of India (London: Dent, 1900)

Famines and Land Assesments in India (London: Kegan Paul, 1900)

A School History of Modern and Ancient India (London: Macmillan, 1900)

Ramayana ... Condensed into English Verse by Romesh Dutt ... Illustrations Designed from Indian Sources by E. Stuart Hardy (London: J. M. Dent & Co., 1900)

Land Problems in India. Papers by Mr. Romesh Chunder Dutt, C.I.E., Dewan Bahadur R. Ragoonath Rao ... Also the Resolution of the Government of India and Summaries of the Views of Various Local Governments and Other Important Official Papers (Madras: G. A. Natesan & Co., 1903)

Civilisation in the Buddhist Age, B.C. 320 to A.D. 500 (Calcutta: Elm Press, 1908)

The Slave Girl of Agra: An Indian Historical Romance (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1909)

A History of Civilization in Ancient India, Based on Sanscrit Literature (Calcutta: Thacker, Vol. 1889-90), p.3

The Economic History of British India : A Record of Agriculture and Land Settlements, Trade and Manufacturing Industries, Finance and Administration, from the Rise of the British Power in 1757 to the Accession of Queen Victoria in 1837 (London: K. Paul, Trench, 1902)

The Literature of Bengal (Calcutta: Bose, 1877)

Lays of Ancient India: Selections from Indian Poetry Rendered into English Verse, Trubner's Oriental Series (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, 1894)

Rambles in India: During Twenty-Four Years, 1871 to 1895 (Calcutta: Lahiri, 1895)

Reminiscences of a Workman's Life (Calcutta: Elm Press, 1896)

India in the Victorian Age ([S.l.]: Kegan Paul, 1904)

Open Letters to Lord Curzon & Speeches and Papers (Delhi: Gian, 1986) [1904]

A Brief History of Ancient and Modern Bengal ... Sixth Edition, Revised (Calcutta: Elm Press, 1904)

Indian Poetry, Temple Classics ([S.l.]: [s.n.], 1905)

Economic History of India under Early English Rule ([S.l.]: K. Paul, 1906)

Peasantry of Bengal (Calcutta: Manisha Granthalaya, 1980) [1874]

Contributions to periodicals: 

Asiatic Quarterly Review

Bengal Magazine

Mukherjee's Magazine

Letters to the Editor published in The Manchester Guardian

Secondary works: 

Bagchi, M., Rameshchandra (1962) [in Bengali]

Bandyopadhya, B., Rameshchandra Datta (1947) [in Bengali]

Banerjea, Surendranath, A Nation in Making, Being the Reminiscences of Fifty Years of Public Life ([S.l.]: Oxford University Press, 1925)

Gupta, J. N. B., and Maharaja of Baroda Sayaji Rao Gaekwar III, Life and Work of Romesh Chunder Dutt, C.I.E. ... With an Introduction by His Highness the Maharaja of Baroda. Four Photogravure Plates and Ten Other Illustrations (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1911)

Mukherjee, Meenakshi, An Indian for all Seasons: The Many Lives of R. C. Dutt (Delhi: Penguin, 2009)

Raychaudhuri, Tapan, 'Dutt, Romesh Chunder [Rameshchandra Datta] (1848–1909)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/32943]

Rule, Pauline, The Pursuit of Progress: A Study of the Intellectual Development of Romesh Chunder Dutt, 1848-1888 (Calcutta: Editions Indian, 1977)

Archive source: 

Correspondence, National Archives of India, New Delhi

Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi