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Have you ever dreamed of accomplishing something so important that no one, including yourself, seems to grasp what you're talking about?
Have you ever dreamed of anything so massive that people stare at you as if you're insane?
There once lived a man who had such gigantic aspirations, of such epic proportions, that they could only come true after he died–a man with such a sharp vision that he could see into the future beyond his own life.
India transitioned from a trading nation to an industrialized nation because of him. It's no surprise that many consider him the "Father of Modern Indian Industry" - the guy who foresaw the future.
‘’History tells us that powerful people come from powerful places. History was incorrect! Powerful people make places powerful.’’
This is a dramatized version of the story of “India’s Father of Industrialization” - Jamsetji Tata.
The Young Entrepreneur’s Early life
Jamshetji Tata, born on March 3, 1839, in Navsari, Gujarat, was son to Nusserwanji Ratan Tata, a 17-year-old Zoroastrian priest, and Jeevanbai Kavasji Tata, his cousin-wife. Nusserwanji was among the first Indian entrepreneurs in a Parsi Zoroastrian priest family. Gujarati was his mother tongue. He defied family tradition by becoming the family's first Indian founder. He established an export trade company in Mumbai.
For centuries, the small town, Navsari was home to the priestly class of Parsees. They kept the light of the sacred fire and preserved a tradition of asceticism. According to ancient writings, Navsari was well-known in the seventh century. The Chalukya dynasty dominated this territory in 671 AD, known as Samana Navsarika.
Shila Dritniya Guru Naavdrdha is said to have lived in the present-day Naagtalavdi area at the time. This area became known as "Naag Mandal" due to its location, and the district's current name "Navsari" evolved through time.
In the early 13th century, two generations of Parsi Zoroastrian priests settled in Navsari. The town quickly became a prominent Parsi priesthood and religious authority center. The new Parsi colonies sought the priests from Navsari as Parsi populations spread in various parts of India.
Being among the families that stayed there, Jamshetji's family adopted the name Tata, which meant The Hot-Tempered One. When Jamshetji Tata was born, he was initiated into the various rights of the Tata family religion and background. He served his novitiate, inscribing his name among the priestly records.
"This boy will travel, he will grow wealthy, and he will build a house with seven stories," a fortune-teller said when he was still a child. The family laughed at the prophecy at the time but mocking it was to ignore the guy; clever and entrepreneurial as he was, his success eventually enabled him to fulfill the prophecy. He did, after all, travel, get wealthy, and buy a seven-story home in Bombay.
Jamsetji's early life is solely known because he was inducted into numerous religious rites and consecrated as a priest. Jamsetji received no formal schooling during those years because the country did not have a well-developed educational policy at the time.
Jamsetji's father took him to Bombay when he was thirteen and arranged to attend a few classes taught by local pundits. After demonstrating great promise, he was offered a free studentship at Elphinstone College in January 1856.
He received a more sophisticated education in India and developed a love of reading that he carried throughout his life. Jamsetji graduated from college in 1858 with a bachelor's degree. While still a student at the college, Jamshedji had a narrow escape from death. His study in his home was in an attic tar, very close to a rattling tile roof.
During one terrific cyclone, his father rushed up from the floor below, insisting that the young boy leave the house (Tata family's owning Navsari's largest house—the only one, I should add, that was two stories tall).
The son obeyed and came down to the street filled with an excited and shrieking crowd. Suddenly, the house he had occupied was torn away by the force of the wind and came crashing down at his feet.
Jamshedji Tata graduated from the Elphinstone College in the education system in India as a "Green Scholar" in 1858, which was the equivalent of a degree at the time. Jamsetji's liberal education instilled a lifelong reverence for academics and a passion for reading. Those passions, however, would rapidly take a backseat to what Jamsetji soon realized was his true calling in life: business.
Politically, this was a time of strife and upheaval. It was also a time when British rule spread into more of India. Parallel to this was a shift in the British attitude toward Indians, who were increasingly seen as inferior in every way: fear and the urge for the minority to dominate mentally as militarily may have prompted this new mindset.
But in terms of economic development, the country had already seen the start of steam transportation by river and ocean in 1835, as well as the establishment of tea and coffee plantations, modest iron and coal production, and the building of a road network, drainage projects, and irrigation canals.
Of course, the expansion of connections enabled by railways and telegraph lines provided a significant boost to industry and trade. The English language and Western ideals, in general, were gaining traction in the educational field.
It was an inopportune time for a young local to take his first timid steps into the tumultuous world of Indian commerce. Jamsetji started his entrepreneurial career in these circumstances.
Beginnings of a Career in Business
Jamsetji believed strongly in the liberal education philosophy. He believed that such an education provided a robust and stable foundation for a business career. He was aware of the constriction that too limited specialization might have.
He understood that a successful administrator must go beyond his specialization's boundaries to see his challenges from all angles, considering both current and future requirements.
He must have an ever-expanding perspective. He must be open to new ideas and adaptive to changing situations, as knowledge is not still. He must be compassionate, empathetic, and able to communicate effectively. He put all of these aspirations when he joined a solicitor's office to pursue one of the learned professions. This, however, was not to be a long-term job.
Dorabji, his first son, was born in his mother-in-residence law's in 1859, when he was only twenty years old. This occurrence raised his financial duties immediately, and he quit the solicitor's office to work for his father.
He later joined his father's small merchant and banker business just two years after the Indian Mutiny of 1857, one of the most important events of India as a British Colony.
In 1857–1858, the British East India Company, which served as a sovereign government on behalf of the British Crown, faced a massive insurrection in India in 1857–58. An uprising of Company army sepoys began on May 10, 1857, in the garrison town of Meerut, 40 miles (64 kilometers) northeast of Delhi.
As a result, there were further mutinies and rebellions in the upper Gangetic plain and central India, although there were also incidents in the north and east. The uprising made up a significant danger to British dominance in the region, and they only put it down on June 20, 1858, when the rebels were defeated in Gwalior.
The British granted rebels who had not been implicated in murder amnesty on November 1, 1858. Still, the British did not declare the war officially over until July 8, 1859. This revolt against British rule is also known as the Sepoy Mutiny, the Great Rebellion, the Revolt of 1857, the Indian Insurgency, and the First War of Independence.
Jamsetji and his father continued pursuing business opportunities locally and internationally despite the tumultuous time. The younger Tata soon developed an excellent understanding of trade and commerce because of his strong academic background and the supervision of his father. He was dispatched on behalf of his father's company with this information to expand the China trade.
Nusserwanji Tata traveled to China regularly to learn about the India-China opium trade, which was thriving at the time within a small Parsee colony that was strictly locked off to outsiders. For a moment, allow me to deviate from the story for a historical reference. I'm assuming you're familiar with the term "Parsi colonies," right? No. Let me bring you up to speed.
The Parsis are members of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster's followers in India (or Zarathustra). The Parsis, whose name means "Persians," are descendants of Persian Zoroastrians who fled to India to escape Muslim persecution.
They predominantly live in Mumbai and a few towns and villages to the north of the city, but they also live in Karachi (Pakistan) and Bengaluru (Karnataka, India). Although they are not a caste in the strictest sense, they do form a distinct group because they are not Hindus. By the nineteenth century, the Parsis had established themselves as one of Mumbai's most significant communities.
Parsi community growth has long been a high point in Mumbai's history and culture. From Jamshedji Tata to Freddie Mercury, the community has been a hub of growth in Mumbai for nearly four centuries.
When you go deeper into the Parsi community, you'll notice that they have their architectural style and way of life that still survive in today's world. The community has always played an important role in forming the Mumbai of today.
Anyway, let's get back to our story...
In December 1859, a new branch in Hong Kong opened. It was called Jamsetji and Ardeshir, but the significant partners were Nusserwanji Tata, Kalyandas, and a man named Premchand Raychand, who was unknown at the time.
Their principal imports from India were cotton and opium. They exported tea, silk goods, camphor, cinnamon, copper, brass, and other metals in exchange for gold. Nusserwanji Tata wanted his son to be a part of the opium trade in India, so he sent him to China to learn about the trade.
Jamsetji went to Hong Kong to join his father's relative, Hormusji Saklatvala, and followed him to Shanghai after a few months. At both of these locations, he had established branches. Apart from a brief stint soldiering as a volunteer in Shanghai, Jamsetji spent the majority of his time there studying Eastern marketplaces.
When Tata was traveling across China, a civil war in the United States erupted. As a side note, you all know that the purpose of this war was to abolish slavery in the United States, right? - Right.
We may need to refresh our knowledge because the domestic issue has far-reaching global effects.
One of the ways the Union (North) placed pressure on the Confederacy (South) during the Civil War was to persuade other countries not to buy cotton from the American south because Confederates employed slave labor on the cotton plantations.
But this was all taking place in England around the period of the industrial revolution. Because of the ban on American cotton, England had to look for other raw material sources to feed their "Dark Satanic Mills."
Our man Jamsetji sailed from China to the United Kingdom to establish a bank to finance these Indian farms. He had a stack of purchase orders or some other form of demand demonstration that he planned to present to English bankers to persuade them to fund his venture.
Unfortunately, in the 1860s, there was no such thing as Twitter. They didn't even have iPhones in those days! So, while Jamsetji was at sea for many months, he had no idea,
1) The American civil war ended.
2) England resumed purchasing cotton from the United States.
3) Cotton demand in India has plummeted.
Jamsetji landed on the Thames's banks and quickly recognized that the papers he had brought with him were worthless. He had to have several uncomfortable discussions with the bankers he intended to do business with.
Jamsetji's honesty and integrity shone through in these interactions, to the point where he has named his own company, named him its liquidator, which had gone bankrupt, and the bankers paid him £20 a month. While still in London, Jamsetji was influenced by two Zoroastrian Whigs and fervent supporters of then Prime Minister Gladstone.
The Zoroastrian Whigs hoped to influence English politics to improve India's situation. Remember that an unsuccessful rebellion against the British East Trading Company occurred less than a decade before, in 1857. These guys were attempting a novel strategy.
As a result, Jamsetji had a front-row seat to everything that was going on. It's also worth noting that Zoroastrians are generally fair-skinned for those who don't know, which is why British colonizers favored them during colonial times.
The industrial revolution was another thing Jamsetji witnessed up close and personal. He went to see the mills and mill towns. While he was impressed by the machines' productivity, he was horrified by the conditions factory workers had to live in.
Industrial Revolution's "evil side" was exceedingly dark. The poverty was extreme in these English milling cities. The skies were dark with coal, and "living conditions" were hardly bearable.
Jamsetji N Tata wished to introduce a more modern cotton mill to India, "where men might work as men should," with fair compensation and better working conditions.
First Business Venture
In 1869, Jamsetji began working in the textile industry. Bombay and Ahmedabad, India were India's Lancashire in the 1870s. Jamsetji, presumably on his father's advice, set out to build his mill near where the cotton was grown.
In honor of the Princess of Wales, he bought a run-down and insolvent oil Apollo Mill Chinchpokli, Bombay's industrial heartland, renamed it, Alexandra Mill Tata. He turned it into a cotton textile mill, becoming the Tata group's first business.
Jamsetji sold the mill to a local cotton trader for a large profit two years later. He then took a long trip to England, where he studied the Lancashire cotton trade in depth. Jamsetji was impressed by the quality of individuals, machinery, and produce he witnessed during his journey, but he was confident that he could recreate the tale in his nation.
Jamsetji was confident that he could challenge and defeat the colonial masters in a game that had been rigged in their favor.
The cotton makers in Bombay believed that there could be no other suitable place for a cotton mill than Bombay, India. This ideology neglected the disadvantage of the city's distance from the cotton-growing districts. Jamsetji, following his father's advice, rejected this way of thinking. He saw that the textile industry would thrive adjacent to cotton fields and easy access to a railway junction.
Aside from that, the location should be close to a market and have plenty of water and gasoline. After much investigation, he decided on the Pyramid City Nagpur, located in the heart of Maharashtra, and meets all of the prerequisites.
However, no population in the area used to working in a factory. The roads were terrible, and the only way to go around was by bullock cart. Other Bombay entrepreneurs mocked Jamsetji's plan to build a mill in such a backwater instead of Bombay, "India's "Cottonopolis." Jamsetji, on the other hand, had the insight to see that the site's benefits surpassed its drawbacks.
Jamsetji purchased 10 acres of swampy land from the Rajah of Nagpur city area. Jamsetji relaunched the industry on September 5, 1874, under Central India Spinning, Weaving, and Manufacturing Company. Nagpur became the location for constructing the first cotton mill in India.
Big Break-The Empress Mill
This textile facility required three years of hard labor and dedication to get up and operate. Finally, on January 1, 1877, on the same day Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India, Jamsetji opened his mill, Empress Mills.
The land was bought for Rs. 1,000 per acre, with the entire property costing Rs. 8,500. Because there was no available land for contractors to erect structures in Nagpur, the departments did the work internally.
The amount of money invested at the time was around 1.5 lakhs, which is equivalent to approx. 53,000 U.S Dollars today.
Brooksby, Jamsetji’s assistant, discovered ring spindles invented in America while on leave in 1883. Jamsetji purchased two ring spindle frames and assigned them to Brooksby as an experiment. The ring frame's actual speed of 6000 revolutions was quickly exceeded, and 9000 to 12000 revolutions were produced.
In the United Kingdom, ring spinning has yet to catch on. In reality, Platts-Jamsetji's supplier and the world's largest supplier of textile mill equipment at the time refused to create ring spindles, opting instead for an older technology — mule spinning.
Jamsetji switched to Brooks and Doxey as a supplier, and he replaced mule spindles with ring spindles. Jamsetji's fertile intellect was constantly concocting new ideas.
The Empress Mills' success had already made him renowned. At this time, the Swadeshi Movement was well underway. The slogan of the day was Buy Indian!
Jamsetji, being the patriot that he was, decided that his next venture should be tied to this new nationalist tendency. He planned to build a mill to spin finer yam counts and weave finer fabrics.
As a result, he broke away from the mills' previous unenthusiastic approach, which had limited them to coarse textiles for local consumption and coarse yams for export.
Jamsetji was ready and eager to compete with British manufacturers, India's principal suppliers of finer fabrics. He, dubbed the Swadeshi Mills Company, arose from this new way of thinking.
He was well aware that Indian mill manufacturers were lower quality than Manchester and Lancashire mill manufacturers. The reason for this is that British mills utilized long-staple American cotton. In contrast, Indian mills employed short-staple desi cotton.
Despite this, Jamsetji's perseverance and dedication eventually cultivated Egyptian cotton on Indian soil and climate. He taught the novices about the importance of sowing at the correct time, manuring, and watering.
He was akin to what we now refer to as an agriculture scientist. He even went so far as to print a brochure titled Egyptian Cotton Growth in India. He created yet another brochure on enhancing the supply of trained laborers.And with that, Jamsetji Tata, Dorabji Tata, and R.D. Tata founded Tata & Sons in 1887.
Here's JNT with his first partners in business. His three partners were: 1) Dorabji, his son, 2) Ratan, his son, and 3) his nephew RD (also Ratan, but referred to as RD to avoid confusion). Everyone in this family shares one or more of the same four surnames.
He was quite cautious and kept a close check on his plants. His commitment to innovation and technology was evident in the continuous progress he demonstrated in his mills. The Dictionary of National Biography has praised Tata's textile factories.
Jamsetji's worker welfare initiatives were revolutionary. Tata’s were the first Indian employers to introduce 8 hours working days in 1912, free medical aids inside mills in 1915, and Provident Fund Scheme in 1920 - much before they were mandated by the Government of India.
He put the mill's profits into new ventures. Jamsetji accumulated some expensive habits, such as skiing in the Swiss Alps. One of the numerous things he accomplished was constructing what has since become a Bombay landmark.
1. Taj Mahal Palace Hotel at Colaba
Jamsetji's pioneering aspirations for Bombay were not restricted to merely his house and reclamation works. He made a monumental impact in the city that people will remember for a long time.
There was just one actual hotel in Bombay at the period (the 1870s and 1880s), and- surprise surprise- it was owned by the British and off-limits to Indians. Jamsetji Nusserwanji planned to build the Taj Mahal Hotel with his private cash to get even with the British.
The Taj Mahal Hotel was the first structure in Bombay to be illuminated by electric lights. Air conditioners powered by ice blocks and fans that pushed the chilled air via vents were other novelties. There was also a post office on the grounds and tailors and doctors on call.
One of his sons assisted in decorating one wing of the hotel, including employing a well-known British designer to adorn all rooms. Jamsetji famously advised his son to avoid British décor because it was pretentious and left out "all those reds and yellows" when he viewed this wing.
The Taj Mahal Hotel has been the location for many international movies. Christopher Nolan has the hotel among his real-life filming locations. After visiting India to film a minor segment in The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan chose to return to the country as a shooting location.
2. The Man of Steel
Jamsetji got enamored with the iron and steel industry as manufacturing developed across Europe and America. He kept a scrapbook in his library, one of his most prized items. The first sentence was a statement from the famed thinker Thomas Carlyle, who said, "The country that has the steel has the gold," in a lecture he gave in Manchester in 1867.
In this scrapbook, Jamsetji kept track of the news regarding minerals in India for seventeen years. A few years ago, Jamsetji read a report on iron ore availability in the Chanda District in the Central Provinces by Ritter Von Schwartz's German geologist.
During one of his journeys to Germany, he obtained coal and iron-rich soils from Warora and Lohara and transported them to Germany for testing. The samples, however, were rejected because they were deemed unsuitable.
But by 1899, India was ready for the steel industry, and it could now utilize that good grade coal from the Jharia coalfields in eastern India, the iron ore from Chanda and Salem districts to make steel.
Lord Curzon, India's Viceroy between 1899 and 1905, who decided to liberalize the licensing system. Jamsetji took a bet on the concept, but instead of approaching Lord Curzon, he went straight to Lord George Hamilton, the Secretary of State for India in London.
Despite his reservations about iron ore grade, Lord Hamilton gave Jamsetji permission to proceed with the project. Jamsetji sought licenses in the Chanda District's Lohara and Peepulgoan areas right away.
However, Lord Curzon was wary about India's ability to complete such a vast project, so he sent British industrialist Sir Ernest Cassel to assess the project's practicality in India.
Initially, this was a one-person performance, but Jamsetji kept his son updated on the project's progress. He went to the United States to explore and gather additional knowledge and information for his steel project, and he went to every place rich in coal, iron, and limestone.
In New York, he set up a modest office to collect data for him. Jamsetji was greatly affected by the American working method and locales.
From this letter to his son, one might infer Jamsetji's passion for the environment and sports. Mr. Charles Page Perin, who had an exciting experience with Jamsetji, was one of the most critical players in achieving this idea.
Charles was 'astonished' but accepted Jamsetji's offer and dispatched his partner C. M. Weld first.
Perin spent years wandering across the Indian jungle in search of iron ore. It was insane, and he and his crew went on some fantastic experiences, including tiger hunting!
Due to Jamsetji's worsening health (he was already over 60), his son Dorabji was asked to take up the project. He observed a dark area near Durg District on a colorful map he was given.
On further investigation, he discovered a study written fifteen years ago by an Indian geologist, P. N. Bose, claiming a substantial iron potential in the Dhalli-Rajhara hills district. Dorabji and Weld arrived at the location right away. The work on establishing the company was once known as TISCO (Tata Iron and Steel Company) and is today known as Tata Steel.
The steel project's tortuous twists and turns would have defeated lesser men, but Dorabji and RD Tata were adamant in their desire to see Jamsetji's dream realized. They had to endure the ridicule of persons like Sir Frederick Upcott, the chief commissioner of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, who threatened to "consume every pound of steel rail [the Tatas] succeed in making" along the way.
Sir Frederick was nowhere to be found when the first steel ingot rolled off the plant's production line in 1912.
The key plant Tata Tisco Jamshedpur is located in the state of Jharkhand, and the company is regarded as the top Tata Iron and Steel Company producer in the world.
Tata Steel is Asia's first and India's largest steel company and has a crude steel production capacity of more than 12.2 million tonnes per year.
Along with its subsidiaries, the organization manufactures and sells steel products in India and worldwide. As of March 31, 2021, the Company had 209 subsidiaries and 49 partner entities (including 28 joint ventures).
3. A Pioneer of Hydroelectric Power
Jamsetji's mind was now wandering into a new arena, unsatisfied with whatever he was working on his iron and steel project. His belief in the future of electrical power was bolstered by his experience with the electric drive in his cotton mills. It was less expensive than coal, but it did not contaminate the air. He was particularly taken by the economics of hydroelectric power generating. The Indian subcontinent is exposed to the southwest monsoon.
The Western Ghats, like the ocean, get a lot of rain every year. Instead of letting these waters stream wastefully to the sea, Jamsetji reasoned, why not harness them for hydro-electric power generation?
Daniel Joneaire, a Frenchman, carried out the first successful hydro-electric experiment in 1757, six years before the first hydro-electric plant was established on the Fox River in Wisconsin in 1882.
Jamsetji, too, was interested in investigating the possibilities of hydraulic energy, beginning with the Empress Mills. He investigated the waterfall in Jabalpur for the same reason.
Jamsetji was keen to expand this plant, but it fell through because a fakir had been residing there, and the government was concerned that removing him would hurt the feelings of his considerable following.
Jamsetji considered Doodhsagar Falls on the Goa-Madhya Pradesh border as a backup plan. He believed that the energy produced there might be sent to Bombay. He dropped the project since Goa was a Portuguese colony, and the power was to be provided to British colonies.
Meanwhile, in Darjeeling, a company had built a hydroelectric plant to support their tea estates. David Gostling, the owner, was looking into the possibility of hydroelectricity in the Western Ghats of Lonavala and Khandala.
Jamsetji was first hesitant to supply power from the Western Ghats to Bombay, believing the distance too great. However, after visiting England, he learned that hydropower was designed to be distributed over large distances.
His plan remained a "secret" from the Indian government because he feared that the administration would see the distance as a disadvantage and try to derail the project.
In November 1902, Jamsetji met Lord Hamilton again to discuss his institute and steel plant plans. During the conversation, he was able to present the hydroelectric project briefly.
Jamsetji followed up a month later with a proposal stating that he was very interested in the Bombay Telephone Company and that the Brush Company of London had left him with no place to put new power lines.
He suggested that Lord Hamilton investigate his idea for electricity at the cost of less than a fifth of what the Brush Company of London was charging. Lord Hamilton responded positively, saying, "If Tata succeeds, it will bring immense pride to the country.
Jamsetji's hydroelectric project drew a lot of attention and support. Lord Sydenham, an engineer, was enthralled by Jamsetji's idea of creating an artificial waterfall to create energy. In order to eliminate the problem of water scarcity, his tiny idea was expanded to three artificial lakes.
Two of the most powerful mill owners backed the plan and offered to convert their mills from steam to hydropower. In 1915, the first hydroelectric power generating station was commissioned at Khopoli with an installed capacity of 40MW, later upgraded to 72MW.
Today, Tata Power Company Limited, currently India's largest private electricity company with an installed generation capacity of over 8000MW and 1.8 million customers across the country.
With a track record of excellence, customer service, and steady expansion, the company has emerged as a pioneer in the Indian electricity market. Tata Power operates in all areas of the power industry, including generation (thermal, hydro, solar, wind, and liquid fuel), transmission, and distribution.
Since its founding in 1909, Tata Power has reliably and uninterruptedly supplied power to Mumbai, a luxury not enjoyed by other parts of the country.
Jamshedji Tata as a Philanthropist
Tata’s charity actions were sparked by the twin realities of harsh foreign occupation and crushing poverty that defined Indian lives. Jamsetji's philanthropic ideals were based on the belief that India's brightest minds needed to be tapped to raise the country from poverty.
The Tata Trusts
JNT's inherent generosity of heart and love for India inspired him to establish India's first higher education scholarship in 1892. The JN Tata Endowment was the first of the Tata Trusts, kicking off a 126-year journey of nation-building and societal benefit.
This allowed Indian students of all castes and creeds to pursue higher education in England. This seed was planted, and the Tata scholarships grew to the point where, by 1924, two out of every five Indians entering the elite Indian Civil Service were Tata scholars.
This allowed Indian students of all castes and creeds to pursue higher education in England. This seed was planted, and the Tata scholarships grew to the point where, by 1924, two out of every five Indians entering the elite Indian Civil Service were Tata scholars.
Support for Education and Science
Jamshedji also refocused his efforts on the science institute he wished to establish. In 1898, he wrote Swami Vivekananda the following letter.
Vivekananda denied the offer because he was too busy preaching the gospel in the United States, but he did offer assistance through Sister Nivedita. Sister Nivedita and the philanthropist came up with a meticulous strategy for the Institute. But guess who didn't think the scheme was a good idea...this guy!
Jamsetji offered to donate half of his fortune (about £20 million in today's money) to create the school. Curzon, however, felt threatened by this wealthy Indian businessman and turned down his offer.
A donation of $3 million, or half of his fortune, was given to the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science. The Institute has aided India's atomic energy and space programs. It has been intimately affiliated with several of India's most prominent scientists, including Nobel laureate CV Raman, Homi J Bhabha, Vikram S Sarabhai, and the most recent Bharat Ratna awardee CNR Rao.
Dorabji and Ratanji, Jamsetji's sons, inherited his love for country and humankind. Ratanji, the younger of the two, was an altruist by nature and was passionately concerned with bringing about social change.
Throughout his life, he supported many worthwhile organizations and causes (including The Mahatma Gandhi Peace Foundation's campaign against apartheid in South Africa).
Following Ratanji's death, most of his fortune was donated to the Sir Ratan Tata Trust, founded in 1918 with an initial capital of $8 million, making it one of India's oldest charitable organizations.
Dorabji, the elder son, was a dedicated philanthropist as well. In 1932, he formed the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust to promote development, learning, and research. The Sir Dorabji Tata Trust was given Dorabji's whole fortune, which was estimated to be worth $10 million. It contained large stakes in Tata Sons, Indian Hotels, and other Tata firms, as well as real estates and 21 pieces of his wife's jewelry, including the renowned "jubilee diamond."
In honor of his wife, Dorabji established the Lady Tata Memorial Trust, which he endowed with a fund for leukemia research.
The Lady Meherbai D Tata Education Trust was established to train women in hygiene, health, and social welfare. In 1974, the Navajbai Ratan Tata Trust was established to honor Sir Ratan Tata's wife, Navajbai. JRD Tata established trusts in his and his wife Thelma's names in a similar vein.
Today, the Tata Trusts are made up of several Tata trusts. The Tata Trusts have made a significant contribution to social development and created some of India's most prestigious institutions, including the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Tata Memorial Center, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, and the National Center for Performing Arts.
Tata Sons accounts for 66 percent of Tata's overall charitable value, which is believed to be around $100 billion.
Over the last century, many philanthropic ideas have been dominated by American and European philanthropists. Still, Jamshedji Tata has been the world's most prominent philanthropist. Not Bill Gates or John D Rockefeller, but JNT.
According to the '2021 EdelGive Hurun Philanthropists of the Century,' the Tata group founder's cumulative donations were greater than Kenya's, Ethiopia's, Sri Lanka's, or Luxembourg's GDPs, which are all less than $100 billion.
"It is a proud moment to see an Indian top the 2021 EdelGive Hurun Philanthropists of the Century," stated Anas Rahman Junaid, MD and Chief Researcher of Hurun India.
Hurun and the EdelGive Foundation have been documenting the lives of living philanthropists for the past few years to bring you up to speed. This "once in a century list" aims to learn about the Top 50 Philanthropists who lived throughout the previous century.
They've wanted to understand the stories of some of these benefactors through these lists. That includes finding out how their legacy has been passed down to their generations.
Back to our Man, JNT, he was named the world's largest philanthropist in the last century, donating USD 102 billion, according to a top-50 list.
The second Indian on the list is Azim Premji, the former Chairman of Wipro and founder of the same-named Trust. He is ranked No. 12 with a total of $22 billion in donations to date. He has signed the Giving Pledge and is ranked No. 7 on the list of the greatest annual gifts.
Business acumen and bucking the system runs in the Tata blood, as we can see from the following members of Jamsetji’s family. Indian businessman Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata (1856-1926) played a significant role in expanding the Tata Group in India. In addition to being a pioneering Indian industrialist, he was the first cousin of Jamshedji.
The latter formed Tata Sons, and he was one of the partners. J. R. D. Tata's father is Ratanji. Ratanji operated an opium importing firm in China under the name Tata & Co, which was lawful at the time.
In 1887, he and other merchants, including David Solomon Sassoon, filed a petition on opium traders. They expressed their dissatisfaction with a Hong Kong Legislative Council measure that threatened to disrupt their business.
Jamsetji conceptualized and commissioned Tata Steel. Jamsetji, on the other hand, died before he completed the project. Ratanji, along with Jamsetji's son Dorab, was instrumental in completing the Tata Steel Project, which resulted in the establishment of Tata Steel in Jamshedpur.
During World War I, the Tatas provided steel to the British. On the other hand, Tata Steel had a difficult time in the 1920s following the war, when steel from the United Kingdom and Belgium was dumped in India.
Ratanji and other directors successfully obtained protection for the Indian steel industry from the colonial government, which helped stabilize Tata Steel's operations.
His sister Jerbai, Shapurji, worked for Tata as an iron and coal prospector, successfully finding iron ore and coal resources in Bihar and Odisha. He was the first person of Indian ancestry to become a British Member of Parliament after briefly managing Tata's Manchester business (MP)
J. R. D. Tata
In 1925, Jamsetji's first cousin's son, Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata, became an unpaid apprentice at Tata company. JRD was elected Chairman of Tata Sons in 1938, at the age of 34, putting him in charge of India's largest industrial conglomerate.
He succeeded his second cousin Nowroji Saklatwala as Chairman. In 1905, his mother Suzanne RD Tata became India's first woman to drive an automobile.
J. R. D was one of the first Indians to receive a business license in 1929. Tata Aviation Service, a precursor of Tata Airline and Air India, first flew in 1932. He flew the first commercial mail flight to Juhu in a de Havilland Puss Moth aircraft.
For decades, J. R. D. Tata oversaw the vast Tata Group of companies with substantial holdings in steel, engineering, electricity, chemicals, and hotels. He was known for his financial success while adhering to strong ethical standards, refusing to bribe politicians or engage in black market transactions.
The Tata Group's assets increased from US$100 million to nearly US$5 billion during his chairmanship. He began with 14 businesses under his direction. By the time he left on July 26, 1988, the family business had grown to be a conglomerate of 95 businesses they had created or had a controlling interest in.
For over half a century, he was a Sir Dorabji Tata Trust trustee, starting in 1932. Under his leadership, this Trust founded Asia's first cancer center, the Tata Memorial Center for Cancer, Research, and Treatment, in Bombay in 1941.
A few of his other projects include the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), and the National Center for Performing Arts (all created in 1936).
Lady Meherbai Tata
Jamsetji's elder daughter-in-law was a pioneering feminist. She helped pioneer The Child Marriage Restraint Act, or the Sarda Act, in 1929. She did so by being a consultant for the Sarda Act and campaigning in India and overseas in support of it.
Lady Tata presented a case for the Hindu Marriage Bill in Michigan College on November 29, 1927. She was a member of the emerging women's organization, the National Women's Council, and the All India Women's Conference.
Jamsetji's younger daughter-in-law was the first female director on the company board. Sir Ratan Tata was married to Navajbai (the younger son of Jamsetji N Tata).
In 1924, she was appointed to the Board of Directors. She was a key figure in establishing the Sir Ratan Tata Institutein 1928, which aimed to discourage charity in the form of doles.
Her goal was to provide work to impoverished and needy women through training and job possibilities.
Jamsetji's grandson joined the Tata Sons as a dispatch clerk/assistant secretary in 1930 and quickly progressed through the ranks to become the Assistant Secretary.
In 1933, he was promoted as the Secretary of the Aviation Department. Five years later, he joined the Textiles Department as an executive. In 1939, he was named Joint Managing Director of Tata Factories, the holding company for Tata's textile mills. In 1947, he was named Managing Director. He joined Tata Sons as a Director on February 1, 1941.
In 1948, he became the Managing Director of Tata Oil Mills Co Ltd. He was also the Chairman of Ahmedabad Advance Mills, a Tata Group firm with headquarters in Ahmedabad.
He rose through the ranks of the other textile mills and the three electric firms over time. He succeeded in becoming the Deputy Chairman after serving as an Active Directory. He was in charge of the Sir Ratan Tata Trust, the three Tata electric firms, and the four textile factories. He was JRD Tata's longest-serving colleague and close associate on the company board.
Simone Naval Tata (Née Dunoyer)
Simone Tata is an Indian entrepreneur of Swiss descent who is a member of the Tata dynasty. She was born and raised in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1953, she traveled to India as a tourist and met Naval H. Tata.
Simone moved to Mumbai permanently after they married in 1955. Noel Tata's parents are Simone and Naval. Simone is the stepmother of Ratan Tata, the Tata company chairman, who is Naval's son from a previous marriage.
Simone Tata joined the Lakme Board as managing director in 1962, when it was still a minor subsidiary of Tata Oil Mills, and rose through the ranks to become its chairman in 1982. She also served as Non-Executive Chairman of Trent Ltd. till October 30, 2006.
Ratan Naval Tata
Ratan Naval Tata (Ratan, born December 28, 1937) is an Indian businessman and philanthropist. He was the Tata Group Chairman from 1991 to 2012.
He served as interim Chairman from October 2016 to February 2017. He continues to serve as Chairman of the company's charity trusts. He has received two of India's highest civilian honors, the Padma Vibhushan (2008) and Padma Bhushan (2009).
He was born in 1937, the son of Naval Tata. The latter was later adopted by Ratanji Tata, the Jamsetji’s son.
He joined his company in 1961 after working on the Tata Steel shop floor, and he was J. R. D. Tata's likely successor when the latter retired in 1991. To transform Tata from a mostly India-centric corporation into a global business, he acquired Tetley for Tata Tea, Jaguar for Tata Motors, and Corus for Tata Steel.
Noel Naval Tata
Noel Naval Tata (born 1957) is the chairman of Trent and Tata Investment Corporation, the managing director of Tata International, and the Vice-chairman of Titan Company.
He is the son of Naval and Simone Tata and a member of the Tata family. He is the half-brother of Ratan Tata, the former chairman of the Tata Group, and Jimmy Tata.
How is Jamsetji related to Muhammed Ali Jinnah, Founder of Pakistan?
Jinnah was Pakistan's first Governor-General and the country's founder. In 1892, at his mother’s insistence, he married his cousin Emibai before going to England to further his education. Emibai, on the other hand, died only a few months later.
In 1918, he married Rattanbai Petit, a Parsi woman who was 24 years his junior. Rattanbai Petit is the granddaughter of Dinshaw Maneckji Petit and Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata. When Rattanbai married Jinnah, she turned to Islam.
The Industrial Icon’s Death
When JNT was in the process of coming up with an institute for science and technology, he began to develop a cardiac ailment. Managing the Tata firm on his own became increasingly difficult. Fortunately, in addition to the three other Tatas, he had invested in a strong management staff over the years (his sons and nephew).
He went to a spa in Germany known for its healing waters. He took immersion baths and drank sulfur water from a natural spring, but he didn't get better. He clung to life until his son came to see him, inquiring why it took them so long to reconcile.
Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata died on May 19th, 1904, after his son arrived at the spa in Germany. Afterward reached Bombay about his passing, it was held in the presence of 400 Parsees, mainly of the Priestly class, on the third day. A Navsari high priest offered prayers to those who remembered his death.
The family brought it up that mummifying a body was against the Parsee religion; hence there was a problem with his burial. As a result, Dr. Row injected a German-made preservative into Jamsetji's body.
Subsequently, the body was transported to England, placed in a coffin, and lowered into the earth on May 24th, per all Zoroastrian customs. Dorabji and his wife, Mr. R.D. Tata, his nephew Mr. Behram, and a few English acquaintances attended the funeral. In a Persian-style tomb, he is buried in Brookwood Cemetery.
The Indian entrepreneur died before some of his ideas could take root. However, he did plant the seeds for his successors.
Jamsetji is most known for founding the Tata Group, India's largest corporate conglomerate and international corporation. The company has over 100 active firms, such as:
- The Tata Motors,
- The Tata Steel plant in Jamshedpur marked the country's transition from trading to manufacturing.
- Tata Chemicals is today's world’s largest soda ash manufacturer.
Tata Group has over 800,000 employees and a revenue of $103 billion. As of March 2021, Tata Group’s 29 publicly listed enterprises have a combined market value of $242 billion. The conglomerate now has business in several industries such as automotive, steel consumer and retails, infrastructure, and even aerospace and defense.
Jamsetji's eldest son succeeded him and realized his great ambition by founding Tata Steel and Tata Power. The Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, the Tatas' premier charity endowment, was established under his guidance, furthering the Tata heritage of philanthropy.
Sir Nowroji Saklatwala succeeded Sir Dorab as chairperson of the Group. Following Sir Nowroji's death in 1938, JRD Tata, then 34 years old, was named the new chairperson.
Tata's current incarnation owes much to Ratan's vision. He focused on two critical projects at Tata: tighter management of the company and presenting Tata as a global collaborator and dealmaker.
In one context, what appears to be a great action may appear to be restrictive in another. If JRD was astute in pursuing a decentralized approach during socialist control, his successor was equally brilliant in reversing the plan later.
Ratan determined that Tata Group needs to own a larger share of its constituent companies in an open, global economy and cultivate tighter collaboration.
Ratan significantly raised the parent company's interest in major businesses between 1992 and 2002, increasing its investment in Tata Steel from 8% to 26% and expanding a 17 percent position in Tata Motors to 32%.
He also strengthened central governance by codifying fundamental values and establishing a quality management group policy board. This final project ensured that best practices were disseminated throughout the organization and enabled meetings amongst leaders.
While Ratan regarded an open market as a threat, he was quick to see it as an opportunity as well. Ratan increased Tata's reach through alliances while sunsetting or selling underperforming business lines (including Lakmé).
Tata has often played the same role in India: collaborating with Daimler to manufacture Mercedes-Benz, delivering insurance alongside behemoth AIG, and partnering with Starbucks to offer coffee from Kargil to Kochi like Tencent now does with China (think Roblox with Luobulesi). (You: Did they just check up on the towns with a complex "C" sound in the far north and far south of India? Tumhari Aisa Karne Ki Himmat Kaise Hui!
The Tatas' goal has always been to prioritize people's well-being over monetary gains or losses. One time Ratan Tata saw a family of four riding a bike. He was concerned about the rider's safety, as well as the plight of a commoner who couldn't afford a four-wheeler to ride with his family.
This prompted him to develop an automobile well within an ordinary person's budget while providing complete safety. This idea resulted in creating the 'Tata Nano,' the world's first low-cost car.
By the way, Ratan Tata versus Bill Gates, who is wealthier? Mr. Ratan Rata? Absolutely!
The general public is aware of Bill Gates' net wealth, estimated to be $86 billion. Ratan Tata's multibillion-dollar corporation dwarfs Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos in terms of revenue.
It Has Not Always Been a Tata
Ratan's rule helped to modernize and consolidate Tata's operations.
Cyrus Mistry was named deputy chairman of the Tata Group, with the clear intention of succeeding Ratan Tata, who had led the company since 1991, as chairman one year later.
He served as chairman until October 2016, when Cyrus Mistry was removed from Tata without warning. According to media accounts, his dismissal was due to differences with members of the Tata family over business strategy.
Mistry filed a lawsuit against the board, accusing it of mismanagement and oppression of minority shareholders. His petition was initially denied by India's National Company Law Tribunal in 2018.
Still, the verdict was overturned by the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal in 2019. Mistry's dismissal was upheld by India's Supreme Court two years later. The conglomerate later named Natarajan Chandrasekaran as its new chairman.
This ended months of doubt over the Tata Group's leadership after its expelled chairman Cyrus Mistry was entangled in a nasty battle. Tata reorganized its 30 listed firms and nearly 1,000 subsidiaries into ten verticals in 2019 under now-Chairman Natarajan Chandra.
Chandra's simplification, synergization, and scaling method included the rearrangement (3S). The company has been seeking to leverage its combined resources and experience since Ratan's time as CEO and continuing under Chandra's leadership. Given the ownership structure and that each company has its Board of Directors, this is no easy assignment.
That's hardly the kind of top-down decision-making you'd expect from Reliance, but it appears to be working. Tata's 17 public holdings are now worth more than Reliance's combined market capitalization, making it India's largest conglomerate.
What Legacy did Jamsetji Leave in India?
Though the Bible tells the story of the prodigal son, a wasteful kid who wastes his father's money, statistics show that the third generation is when a family's fortune runs out.
According to one American study, 90 percent of the money had vanished at that time due to frivolous investments, generational dilution, and waning determination.
Even Cornelius Vanderbilt's immense riches evaporated in his increasing gene pool — worth $227 billion when adjusted for inflation, giving him a $96 billion lead over Bezos.
All of this is to argue that Tata still exists is remarkable. Tata is not only still standing but vital, four generations and more than 150 years after its establishment. Unlike any other firm, the conglomerate has maintained (and monetized) Indian life for almost a century and a half.
Tata has built a dizzying tessellate of over 100 industries in the process, ranging from automobiles to garments, steel production to tea.
Jamshedpur: The City of Steel
One of India's first planned cities was named by Lord Chelmsford Jamshedpur in honor of Jamsetji in 1919. Jamshedpur, in Jharkhand, was founded as a village known as Sakchi. Jamsetji Tata chose it as the site for his steel production.
"When the first settlers came in 1908 in what was then Sakchi, they were enticed by the prospect of establishing a home in a yet-to-be-built metropolis. The Tata Steel Plant, of course, was the catalyst for creating modern-day Jamshedpur," According to the Tata Group's website.
"This dream of Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, shared by his sons Sir Dorabji, Sir Ratan, and RD Tata, was realized with the help of moneylenders, artisans, young men, and women seeking a better life."
Jamsetji was so influential in the world of an industry that he was referred to as a One-Man Planning Commission by Jawaharlal Nehru, who served as the country's prime minister for 17 years, starting in 1947.
Tata Motivational Quotes
Here are a few of this Indian industrialist's inspirational quotes.
1. Quotes on Life
- If you cannot make it more significant, at least preserve it. Do not let things slide. Go on doing my work and increasing it, but do not lose what we have already done if you cannot. — Jamshedji to his son Dorab while on his deathbed.
- “There is one kind of charity common enough among us… it is that patchwork philanthropy which clothes the ragged, feeds the poor, and heals the sick. I am far from decrying the noble spirit which seeks to help a poor or suffering fellow being.”
- “We do not claim to be more unselfish, more generous, or more philanthropic than other people. But we think we started on sound and straightforward business principles, considering the interests of the shareholders our own, and the health and welfare of the employees, the sure foundation of our success.”
2. Business Motivational Quotes
- "In a free enterprise, the community is not just another stakeholder in the business but the very existence of it."
- "With honest and straightforward business principles, close and careful attention to details, and the ability to take advantage of favorable opportunities and circumstances, there is scope for success."
- "Freedom without the strength to support it and, if need be, defend it, would be a cruel delusion. And the strength to defend freedom can itself only come from widespread industrialization and the infusion of modern science and technology into the country's economic life."
The Final Note
I’m greatly inspired by India's most famous businessman, Jamsetji Tata, who amassed great wealth 150 years ago. Let us take on some of the attributes of leadership that he exhibited.
He was a firm believer in conducting business in a fair, honest, transparent, and ethical manner. Everything we do must pass the public scrutiny test. All of our activities must be based on honesty.
2. Pioneering mindset
The projects he envisioned were far ahead of their time, whether it was the country's first steel plant, the country's first hydroelectric power plant, Mumbai's best hotel, or a sophisticated research institute, which was eventually dubbed the Indian Institute of Science. He was a visionary who transformed our country's industrial and economic landscape.
He instituted various employee welfare programs, including working hour restrictions, medical facilities, PF, and gratuity (even before the laws mandated these). The workers' hospital in Jamshedpur opened a few years before the first steel ingot emerged from the furnace. He was determined to provide all amenities to his staff, and it was in this spirit the entire city of Jamshedpur was envisioned and created.
4. Taking on social responsibilities
He believed that it could be successful in the long run by integrating business with communities and social causes. What comes from society must return to society multiple times.
Since its beginning, the Tata Group has been the guardian of public good, committed to generating a positive social effect. The Tata Trusts, which promotes philanthropic efforts, owns 66 percent of company shares.
He was humble, always listened to others, and credited those who assisted him in his business endeavors.
There is a difference between making money for oneself and making money for the country. The beloved son of India has constructed a commercial empire that has brought prosperity to our country and continues to do so.
On a daily basis, Jamsetji's impact continues to influence people's lives for the better. Whether it was providing high-quality salt in the Tata Salt Manufacturing Plant or developing cost-effective transport trucks for commercial usage, this enterprise has always prioritized the needs of the country.
And it is for this reason that ‘Tata' has not only established itself as the world's most trustworthy brand but has also gained a place in people's hearts!