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Jainti Dass Saggar (6 September 1898 – 14 November 1954) was an Indian-born doctor in Dundee, Scotland, who in 1936 became the first non-white local authority councillor in Scotland. He served 18 years as a Labour Party councillor and was one of Dundee's longest-serving council members.

Jainti Dass Saggar
Jainti Dass Saggar.jpg
Born6 September 1898
Deharru, Punjab
Died14 November 1954(1954-11-14) (aged 56)
Dundee, Scotland
MonumentsSaggar Street, Dundee (named after him in 1974)[1]
Alma materUniversity of St Andrews
OccupationPhysician, local authority councillor
Years active1919–1954
Known forServed 18 years as Labour councillor. First non-white local authority councillor in Scotland.
Medical career


Early life and familyEdit

Jainti Saggar was born on 6 September 1898 in the village of Deharru in Ludhiana district, Punjab, British India.[2] He was the second son and the fourth of six children of Hindu parents, Ram Saran Dass Saggar (1870–1943), a merchant, and his wife, Sardhi Devi Uppal.[3][4]

Saggar married Jane Quinn, the daughter of a bailie and town councillor of Dundee.[5]


In 1919, Saggar moved to the United Kingdom to study medicine at the University of St Andrews and completed postgraduate diplomas in ophthalmology, public health, and surgery. He served as chairman of the public libraries committee and was a member of the committee of the local branch of the Nursery Schools Association of Great Britain.[5] He was the only Indian doctor in Dundee in the 1920s.[1][6]


In 1936, Saggar was elected as a Labour Party councillor in Dundee, making him the first non-white local authority councillor in Scotland.[5] In 1939, he was instrumental in the selection of Krishna Menon as parliamentary candidate for Dundee.[5]

In the late 1930s, Saggar became involved in the debate about imports of cheap jute products from India that were undercutting the profits of manufacturers in Glasgow and the wages of local workers. He was part of a joint delegation of manufacturers and trade unionists that travelled to London to call for the British government to protect the British jute industry, claiming before he went that "as long as cheap labour in India, working under both British and Indian capital, went on increasing, the over production of cheap commodities would have a detrimental effect on Dundee." The matter was part of a wider debate in the 1930s in which British manufacturers and labour felt that their profits and wages might be being sacrificed for the sake of keeping the colonies happy. Saggar called for higher wages for Indian workers which would have had the effect of making their output more expensive and less of a competitive threat in Glasgow.[7]

He was one of the longest-serving members of Dundee Town Council.[1]

Death and legacyEdit

Saggar died of an intracerebral haemorrhage on 14 November 1954 at the Royal Infirmary, Dundee.[4] The Lord Provost of Dundee, William Hughes, paid tribute to him after his death, saying: "He was a man of compassion for everyone in need ... he came to Dundee from halfway across the world but no son of Dundee had greater love for its people or worked harder in their interest. Dundee is much poorer by his passing."[5]

Twenty[citation needed] years after his death, the Dundee Corporation named Saggar Street after him.[1][8] He had at one time supported the building of houses on this same site.[9] In 1974, a public library was opened in memory of him and his brother.[1]

In 2015 his daughter, Kamala Stewart and her husband, John Stewart, published his biography, entitled Dr Jainti Dass Saggar – from Deharru to Dundee, with the help of their daughter, Rosemary McKnight.[3][9]


  1. ^ a b c d e Esmail, Aneez (1 October 2007). "Asian doctors in the NHS: service and betrayal". The British Journal of General Practice. 57 (543): 827–834. PMC 2151817. PMID 17925142.
  2. ^ Saggar, Shiela; Stewart, Kamala; Stewart, John (14 November 2014). "Saggar". Dundee Courier. DC Thomson. Archived from the original on 8 June 2019. Retrieved 8 June 2019 – via
  3. ^ a b "Dr Jainti Dass Saggar – From Deharru to Dundee". Archived from the original on 8 June 2019. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  4. ^ a b Saggar, Jainti Dass, Rozina Visram, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Online edition, Oxford University Press, 4 October 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2018. (subscription required)
  5. ^ a b c d e Jainti Saggar. Making Britain, Open University. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  6. ^ The New Scots: The Story of Asians in Scotland. Ashwin Kumar, Global Research Forum on Diaspora and Transnationalism, 15 September 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  7. ^ Tomlinson, Jim (2014). Dundee and the Empire: 'Juteopolis' 1850–1939. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. p. 150. ISBN 9780748686155.
  8. ^ King, Brian (2016). Lochee Through Time. Stroud: Amberley Publishing. ISBN 9781445654232.
  9. ^ a b "Newsletter—January 2015" (PDF). Friends of Dundee City Archives. January 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 March 2018. Retrieved 28 February 2018.