Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhai Tata, known throughout the world as J.R.D Tata, was born on the 29th of July, 1904 in Paris. His father, Ratanji Tata. His mother Sujaine was French. The Tatas belong to the Parsi community. They settled in Navsari, a small town near Bombay in 1942 A.D.
The Tatas, an industrial family, have provided employment to lakhs of Indians all over the country. Tata Corporate is an industrial giant in our country. The Tatas have products that cover almost every industry right from railway engines to watches, cloth to soaps to common salt and also electrical goods. The Tata industry was started by Jamshedji Tata the Grand Old Man of the Tata family. He started a steel factory in Jamshedpur and a cotton factory in Nagpur, laying a foundation for industrial technology in India. This tradition was continued by J.R.D. Tata was known as the father figure of Indian industry.
J.R.D. Tata received his primary education both in Paris and Bombay. He wanted to pursue his studies at Cambridge but his father involved him in the running of the company and hence he could not pursue his further studies at Cambridge. From childhood, J.R.D. wanted to be a pilot. His inspiration was Louis Blerio, an adventurous pilot who had crossed the English Channel in an airplane. After Tata returned to India he became a member of the Bombay Flying Club in 1929, obtained a pilot’s license. He flew his plane and in 1953 the Tata airlines were born which later became Air Indian, India’s international airline. Tata had undertaken his maiden solo flight from Bombay to Karachi and back, he re-enacted his maiden flight fifty years later from Karachi to Bombay in memory of the inaugural flight at the age of 88, such was his spirit!
J.R.D. Tata participated in the struggle for freedom too. He was influenced by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and attended Congress meetings but later he felt he would be of better service if could help in eradicating poverty and employment than being behind bars. Under his chairmanship, the assets of the Tata Group grew from US$100 million to over US$5 billion. He started with 14 enterprises under his leadership and half a century later on 26 July 1988, when he left, Tata Sons was a conglomerate of 95 enterprises which they either started or in which they had a controlling interest.
He was the trustee of the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust from its inception in 1932 for over half a century. Under his guidance, this Trust established Asia’s first cancer hospital, the Tata Memorial Centre for Cancer, Research and Treatment, in Bombay in 1941. He also founded the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS, 1936), the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR, 1945), and the National Center for Performing Arts. The growth of Tata industries under him was phenomenal. As mentioned earlier from salt to steel, soap to atomic power, hotels, transport system, Tata industries lead by J.R.D. Tata was everywhere.
To recognition of his achievements and services in various fields, he received numerous awards. The Padma Vibhushan, in 1955 was one such award of civilian honor. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1992 the highest civilian honor in India. J.R.D. Tata breathed his last on November 29, 1993, in Geneva, Switzerland. He is no more but his industries spread out all over India give a lifeline to lakhs of people.