20th November 2010
Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata or JRD Tata or simply Jeh for short had this greatness for he stood out not just among ordinary people but among other great people like him.
JRD Tata was born in Paris on July 29, 1904 to Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata and, Suzanne his French wife. JRD spent much of his early childhood in France and could speak French fluently. In fact later in life he also enrolled in the French Foreign Legion.
He did his schooling from Mumbai at the Cathedral and John Connon School. But formal studies did not interest him and he did not pursue his studies beyond completing secondary school and passing out his matriculation examination.
His passion from his early youth was aviation. He seems to have got this into him from the story of Louis Blériot the French aviation pioneer. What is noteworthy is that during an age when hardly any private individuals took to flying and airlines themselves were in their infancy, JRD Tata obtained a pilot’s license in 1929. So in fact he was India’s first pilot.
He later established Tata Airlines in 1932 which was renamed as Air India when the government of India nationalized it in 1946. Commercial Airlines are JRD Tata’s gift to the country. For this reason he is called the ‘Father of Indian Aviation’
Earlier in 1925 he had joined Tata Sons as an unpaid apprentice where he finally would serve as chairman for fifty years when he was appointed to this post when he was 34 years old. What he inherited in this capacity as chairman was then India’s largest conglomerate with interests in steel, textiles, hospitality, automobiles, chemicals and engineering.
During his stewardship the Tata Group recorded phenomenal growth when its turnover grew from Indian rupees 620 Million to over 100 Billion. But what marked JRD’s style of functioning was his concern for the welfare of workers of the Tata group. At Tata Steel in Jamshedpur he instituted a new concept that the concern for the safety of a Tata worker is not when he reaches work, but when he leaves home and continues till he gets back there from work at the end of the day (or shift).
JRD was honored with many national awards. He received the Padma Vibhushan in 1957 and in 1992 towards the end of his life he was honored with India’s highest civilian honor the Bharat Ratna. He also received many international awards that included the United Nations Population Award for his initiatives in the field of family planning in India. It was later that the government of India picked up this initiative.
At the end of a life full of accomplishments JRD Tata died on November 29, 1993 at Geneva at the age of 89.
He continues to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs like Narayana Murthy and Azim Premji.
Industrialists:Jamsetji Tata – Iconic founder of the house of Tatas
Industrialists: Narayana Murthy - founder of Infosys
Industrialists:Naresh Goyal - founder of Jet Airways
Industrialists:Azim Premji - the founder of the Indian software major – Wipro
On this page you will read about, J. R. D. Tata the man who made Tatas the largest Business House in India of his times.
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