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JRD Tata: A visionary ahead of his time

JRD Tata, Tata airlines, Tata Group of Companies, Tata Group, Air India, Indian AirlinesIt was JRD as he was lovingly called initiated the significant contribution to the industry by identifying with the life and problems of the people of community.

The man who made Tata Group one of the most prestigious and successful industrial groups in India, Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata, better known as J.R.D.Tata, was a fearless aviator and a visionary ahead of his times. Born in France to an Indian father and a French mother, Tata had an idyllic childhood. His family was wealthy and had the means to fulfill the curiosities of his young mind. He began his career as an unpaid apprentice in the Indian company Tata & Sons and within years rose to the position of the company’s Chairman. From a young age he had been fascinated by airplanes and took to flying. An avid aviator, he became the first person to obtain the first ever issued pilot license in India. He took his passion for flying to another level by establishing India’s first commercial airline, Tata Airlines which later became Air India. Under his astute leadership and direction the Tata Group expanded into newer horizons and became one of India’s most trusted brands. His never ending endeavors to make the world a better place earned him several prestigious awards.

JRD Tata joined Tata and Sons as an unpaid apprentice in 1925. In 1938, at the age of 34, JRD was elected Chairman of Tata & Sons making him the head of the largest industrial group in India. He took over as Chairman of Tata Sons from his second cousin Nowroji Saklatwala. For decades, he directed the huge Tata Group of companies, with major interests in Steel, Engineering, Power, Chemicals and Hospitality. He was famous for succeeding in business while maintaining high ethical standards – refusing to bribe politicians or use the black market.

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 astute leadership and half a century later on July 26, 1988, when he left, Tata & Sons was a conglomerate of 95 enterprises which they either started or in which they had controlling interest.  In 1945, he founded Tata Motors. In 1948 JRD Tata launched Air India International as India’s first international airline. In 1953, the Indian Government appointed JRD Tata as Chairman of Air India and a director on the Board of Indian Airlines – a position he retained for 25 years. For his crowning achievements in aviation, he was bestowed with the title of Honorary Air Commodore of India. Tata was a visionary from the word go and maintained it well.

JRD Tata cared greatly for his workers. In 1956, he initiated a program of closer employee association with management’ to give workers a stronger voice in the affairs of the company. He firmly believed in employee welfare and espoused the principles of an eight-hour working day, free medical aid, workers’ provident scheme, and work men’s accident compensation schemes, which were later, adopted as statutory requirements in India.

On his 115th birth anniversary we pledge to continue the journey of the living legend as a pioneering and successful global country and sustain his legacy with the community at his heart. He is the real visionary of the nation.


(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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