Prakash Tandon


Prakash Tandon was the son of a civil engineer and born in a canal colony in the Punjab. His autobiographical writings, published in the second half of the twentieth century, give vivid accounts of life in Punjab from the late nineteenth century. Following schooling in Gujarat and Lahore Government College, Tandon sailed for Britain in 1929, aged eighteen years old. His elder brother, Manohar, was already in London. Tandon enrolled at Manchester University with the view to become a Chartered Accountant, of which there were very few qualified Indians at the time.

Tandon spent eight years in Britain. He got involved in the University debating team, and following his degree at Manchester stayed in London to pursue some economics research and his accountancy qualifications. At a students' congress in Oxford, he met his future wife, a Swedish woman, Gärd.

In 1937, Tandon returned to India. He settled in Bombay and he eventually got a job at Unilever. Despite his accountancy qualification, Tandon was employed in the advertising department and earnt less than his British colleagues. He eventually became director of Unilever in 1951. He was a member of the first board of Hindustan Lever in 1956 and then the first Indian Chairman in 1961. Tandon was an extremely influential business leader in independent India, and one of the pioneers of professional management in India.

Published works: 

Banking Century: A Short History of Banking in India & the Pioneer, Punjab National Bank (New Delhi: Penguin, 1989)

Beyond Punjab, 1937-1960 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1971)

Punjabi Century, 1857-1947 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1961)

Punjabi Saga (1857-2000) (New Delhi: Rupa & Co, 2000)

Return to Punjab, 1961-1975 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981)

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1911
Precise DOB unknown: 
Secondary works: 

Lahiri, Shompa, Indians in Britain: Anglo-Indian Encounters, Race and Identity, 1880-1930 (London: Frank Cass, 2000)

Masani, Zareer, Indian Tales of the Raj (London: BBC Books, 1987)

Misra, Maria, Business, Race, and Politics in British India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999)

Mukherjee, Sumita, Nationalism, Education and Migrant Identities: The England-Returned (London: Routledge, 2010)

Archive source: 

Oral Interview Transcript, Mss Eur T127, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 


University of ManchesterM13 9PL
United Kingdom
53° 27' 19.3716" N, 2° 12' 18.7164" W
Date of death: 
20 Oct 2004
Location of death: 
Pune, India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1929
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 



University of Manchester

Tags for Making Britain: 

Shapurji Saklatvala


The nephew of J. N. Tata, Shapurji Saklatvala travelled to England in 1905 to recuperate from malaria and to manage the Tata company office in Manchester. He married Sarah Marsh in 1907 (a waitress he had met at the hydro in Matlock where he had been treated). They moved to London in 1907 and Saklatvala joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP) in 1909. In 1921, Saklatvala was adopted as the Labour candidate for Battersea North, despite joining the Communist Party in the same year. In November 1922, he won the seat for Labour and was defeated in December 1923. He regained the seat in October 1924, when he stood as a Communist representative and held the seat until 1929. Saklatvala was the 3rd Asian to become an MP in Britain (all incidentally of Parsee background).

Saklatvala raised Indian issues in Parliament. He was a member of the Indian Home Rule League (founded in 1916). He was also a founder member of the Workers' Welfare League in 1917. This League was initially concerned with the working conditions of Indian seamen in London, but soon widened its objectives to improve the position of all types of Indian workers. He was an influential figure to Indian students in London in the 1920s and 1930s, but was banned from returning to India because of his Communist affiliations. He died in his home in London in January 1936 and was buried in the Parsee burial ground in Brockwood, Surrey.

Date of birth: 
28 Mar 1874

Mulk Raj Anand, Mancherjee Merwanjee Bhownaggree (previous Asian MP), Clemens Palme Dutt (CPGB), Rajani Palme Dutt (CPGB), Jomo Kenyatta, Harold Laski, Krishna Menon, Dadabhai Naoroji (previous Asian MP), Walter Neubald, George Padmore, Sehri Saklatvala (daughter), S. A. Wickremasinghe.

Member of Communist Party, Independent Labour Party, India Home Rule League, Social Democratic Foundation, Workers' Welfare League


Hinnells, John R., Zoroastrians in Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996) 

Hinnells, John R., The Zoroastrian Diaspora: Religion and Migration (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005)

Squires, Mike, ‘Saklatvala, Shapurji (1874–1936)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) [] 

Squires, Mike, Saklatvala: A Political Biography (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1990)

Saklatvala, Sehri, The Fifth Commandment: A Biography of Shapurji Saklatvala (Salford: Miranda Press, 1991)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain (London: Pluto Press, 2002)

Wadsworth, Marc, Comrade Sak: Shapurji Saklatvala, A Political Biography (London: Peepal Tree, 1998)

Archive source: 

L/PJ/12/406, Scotland Yard Report on Central Association of Indian Students, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras.

Communist Party Archive, People's History Museum, Manchester

Saklatvala Papers, Mss Eur D1173, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras.

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 
Current name country of birth: 


Derbyshire , DE4 3NZ
United Kingdom
53° 7' 23.2356" N, 1° 33' 37.6452" W
2 St Albans Villas,
Highgate Road,
London , NW5 1QY
United Kingdom
51° 33' 6.3252" N, 0° 8' 28.0428" W
Date of death: 
16 Jan 1936
Location of death: 
London, England
Dates of time spent in Britain: 


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