Conferencing the International


List of profiled attendees at the Round Table Conference. For a full list of delegates to each session, see the British Library's Round Table Conference records page.

Please enter a search term and click Search

NM Joshi

Full nameNarayan Malhar Joshi, BA, Kaisar-i-Hind (Silver) Medal (aka Nanasaheb Joshi)
Born05 Jun 1879, Goregaon, Bombay Presidency, India
Died30 May 1955, Bombay, India

Born into a lower middle-class family, Narayan Malhar Joshi was educated at the New English School and Deccan College in Poona, and upon graduating in 1901 found work as a high school teacher. In 1909 he joined Gokhale’s Servants of India Society, before in 1911 moving to Bombay to start a sister institution, the Social Service League. Alongside this he served as Secretary of the Bombay Presidency Social Reform Association from 1915 and as Member of the Central Legislative Assembly from 1921. In 1920 he co-founded the All-India Trade Union Congress, serving as General-Secretary from 1925-1929. He represented Indian labour interests at several International Labour Conferences.

Joshi represented the concerns of labourers within the British Indian delegation at the conference.

For additional biographical information, see the official delegate Who's Whos.


  • In 1929 Joshi was appointed a member of the Royal Commission on Labour in India

First Session

  • 20th November 1930, in Joshi’s plenary address he insisted that the workers of India, though illiterate and ignorant, desired full self-government, in part due to the insufficiency of government efforts to tame the evils of industrialisation. Joshi therefore proposed a set of fundamental rights for workers, adult suffrage, and the retention of labour as a central or federal subject. Only if the federal centre could ratify legislation for all of India, including the Princely States, could International Labour Office conventions be transmitted to every worker. (Indian Round Table Conference, Proceedings)
  • Joshi served in the Provincial Constitution and Franchise Sub-Committees, but was unsuccessful in gaining labour representation in the Federal Structure Committee. Joshi and Shiva Rao also presented a declaration of rights for labour for the Minorities Committee (Karnik, 1972:175). Joshi argued for adult franchise.
  • December 8th 1930: Joshi, Moonje, Ambedkar, Tambe and Shiva Rao co-signed a letter to Sankey, Chairman of the Federal Relations Committee, questioning the prominence given to the question of federating British and Princely India, while most people in India had been expecting the focus to lie on constitutional advance for British India. (Maharaja Ganga Singh Ji Trust archives)
  • In India Joshi campaigned for increased labour representation and succeeded in having VV Giri also invited to the Second Session (Karnik, 1972:185). He also successful campaigned for a place on the Federal Structure and Minorities committees.

Second Session

  • Joshi sat on the Federal Structure and Minorities committees, insisting that labour be a federal subject and objecting to separate electorates (Karnik, 1972:188).
  • Joshi’s failure to pursue a more radically internationalist vision was noted in the British communist newspaper the Daily Worker, who had hired Shapurji Saklatvala to cover the RTCs. Just after the second session of the RTC began the Daily Worker dismissed the trivial talk of democracy and constitutional details by “N.M. Joshi, the imperialists’ principal tame Indian labour leader…” who had failed to advocate universal adult suffrage. (Daily Worker)
  • Joshi was a member of the Consultative Committee appointed to continue the work of the RTC in India, alongside, Sapru, Aiyer, Jayakar, Patro, Ambedkar, Shai, Ujjal Singh, Hydari and others. (Moore, 1974:253) 
    • Following Sapru and Jayakar, Joshi resigned membership of the Committee on July 11th 1932 (Karnik, 1972:191)
    • On 9th August 1932 Joshi joined Sapru, Jayakar and Sastri in issuing an manifesto against the proposal to drop the third session of the RTC in London. (Moore, 1974:260)
  • 13th August 1932: Joshi wrote to Eleanor Rathbone MP protesting her support for Hoare’s attempt to ditch the RTC method in favour of a Joint Select Committee: 
    • “But neither Sir Samuel Hoare nor you and the other signatories have sown why these objects, which are also our objects, could not be attained by following the Round Table method. I also do not understand how the three conditions laid down by Sir Samuel Hoare for a proper procedure, namely, (a) need for speed, (b) need for cooperation between British and Indian representatives and (c) the supremacy of Parliament cannot be fulfilled by the Round Table Method.” (NMML Joshi Papers)

Third Session

  • Joshi was the sole representative of Indian labourers.
  • He was in contact with Agatha Harrison, of the “Indian Conciliation Group” and advised her on how to best intermediate between delegates and the government. (NMML. Harrison Papers)
  • In the concluding discussion he celebrated the move towards federation but stated that: 
    • “Although we rejoice at this result, we cannot shut our eyes to the difficulties and deficiencies that still remain to be overcome in order to avoid disappointment. By making the entry of the Indian States into the Federation an essential condition of Central Responsibility, the British Government has placed British India at the mercy of the Indian States…” (quoted in Karnik, 1972:196)


  • 1934–44 and 1945–48: Member of Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation
  • 1937: President of Bombay Civil Liberties Union
  • 1940-1948: Joshi became General Secretary of the All-India Trade Union Congress for the second time, the schismatic All-India Trade Union Federation that he had set up in 1929 having since recombined with the All-India Trade Union Congress (see Park, 1949)
  • 1946–47: Member of first Pay Commission
  • 1951: Elected to the Asian Regional Council of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions

Sources used

Secondary literature

ImagesPhotograph of NM Joshi, from the published biographical guide to delegates at the second session of the Round Table Conference, 1931

"Mr Narayan Malhar Joshi, B.A." From Indian Round Table Conference Second Session 1931: Biographical Notes and Photographs of the British and Indian Delegates (London: St. James's Palace). By permission of the British Library (shelfmark T 11187). Reproduced under Open Government Licence v3.0 (

Conferencing the International

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 84 68402