Nalinaksha Sanyal

Nalinaksha Sanyal
Member of Legislative Assembly
In office
Constituency Karimpur
Personal details
Born November 1898
Died 29 October 1987
Political party Indian National Congress / Bangla Congress

Nalinaksha Sanyal (born 1898) was an Indian politician, economist and freedom fighter.


He studied at Krishnath College, Baharampur and Presidency College, Kolkata and taught economics at Krishnath College. He earned a master's degree from the London School of Economics and secured a PhD in Economics from London University after carrying out research under Harold Laski.[1]


While in London, Sanyal served on several committees for the London branch of the Indian National Congress, a banned organization. He was arrested twice for his participation. Sanyal returned to India to become a professor at Calcutta University, but the government disallowed his appointment because of his activism. Sanyal took a position with insurance companies New India Assurance Co., the Metropolitan Assurance Co., and the Hindustan Co-operative Society Ltd.

Sanyal continued to actively protest against British colonial rule and was imprisoned seven times. He was elected to the Bengal Assembly and served as Chief Whip of the Indian National Congress of undivided Bengal, prior to the partition of the province. He was a vocal critic of the colonial government's policies during the Bengal Famine in 1943.[2] In 1946, Sanyal was at the forefront of efforts to avoid the Partition of India. His suggestion of a loose federation was widely circulated and debated but was ultimately not adopted.[3] When India was partitioned in 1947, he and Atulya Ghosh were able to convince the British to leave Maldah district in India (the area had a population that was evenly divided between Hindus and Muslims).

After independence, Sanyal remained an active force in building the new India and held many senior positions in government as well as represented India in international bodies.

Sanyal's book Development of Indian Railways is still considered a classic on railway transport and a primary source on the history of the Indian Railways. It was based on his Ph.D. thesis accepted by the University of London and was published by the University of Calcutta, 1930. The book is widely quoted in Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India's Geography by economist and writer Sanjeev Sanyal who is Nalinaksha Sanyal's great grandson.


  1. Samsad Bangali Charitabhidhan (Biographical Dictionary) by Anjali Bose, Vol II, 3rd edition 2004, page 150, ISBN 81-86806-99-7, (in Bengali) Sishu Sahitya Samsad Pvt. Ltd., 32A Acharya Prafulla Chandra Road, Kolkata-700009
  2. Communalism in Bengal: From Famine To Noakhali, 1943–47, p. 76, at Google Books
  3. Correspondence between Dr Sanyal and Dr Rajendra Prasad regarding ways to avoid the Partition of India, p. 112, at Google Books
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