J.R.D. Tata

Here we listed out important facts about The Great Visionary J.R.D. Tata, with his Biography, Profile, Facts, Timeline, Awards, Achievement, etc.,

Born: 29 July 1904, Paris, France
Died: 29 November 1993, Geneva, Switzerland
Full name: Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata
Spouse: Thelma Vicaji Tata (m. 1930–1993)
Organizations founded: Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services, more
Books: Letters J.R.D. Tata, Safalta Ke Aadhar, Sambodhan Ke Sopan

  • The great Tata enterprise was truly due to the imagination and genius of the late Jamsetji Tata.
  • The huge steel plant located at Sakchi in Bihar, is identified with the name of its founder, Jamsetji Tata, which Lord Chelmsford named as ‘Jamshedpur’.
  • Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhai Tata, the great grandson of this Indian industrialist and philanthropist, Jamsetji Tata, was born in Paris on July 29, 1904, the second child of Ratanji Tata and his French bride Sooni.
  • The Tatas had five children who were brought up in a comfortable atmosphere. Their early childhood was spent in France and  they did their early schooling in Paris and Bombay.
  • When JRD, as he was popularly known, was about five years old, the family bought a house at Hardelot, a beach on the channel coast of France. It was here that JRD’s interest in flying was kindled.
  • JRD decided he wanted to be a pilot, In 1919, JRD’s father sent him to England to brush up his knowledge of English so that he could enter a British University. In 1922, JRD’s mother Sooni died of tuberculosis.
  • Just then a new law was passed in France, making it compulsory for all French boys above 20 to serve in the army. After completing his schooling JRD joined the French army for some time and later became a pilot in 1929.
  • In 1925 his father asked him to come to India and join the Tata Steel Company. JRD came to India and joined the Tata Steel Company as a trainee.
  • On the demise of his father in 1926, the responsibility of managing the Tata Group of Industries fell on JRD’s young shoulders.  He became Director of Tata Sons Ltd., and by 1938 he became Chairman of the Company.
  • In 1930, JRD married the beautiful Thelma Vicaji, the niece of one of Mumbai’s most celebrated lawyers. The Vicajis were pioneers in banking.
  • In 1931, JRD got a pilot’s license and he participated in a race for the Agha Khan prize of five hundred pounds for the first Indian to fly between India and England or vice versa.
  • JRD Tata was President of 16 Companies of the Tata Groups of Industries and took keen interest in each one of them.
  • He was President of the Tata Group for more than 50 years and was responsible for encouraging the growth and diversification of  the Indian industry into several new endeavors from cosmetics, chemicals and electronics to genetics.
  • When JRD retired from the Presidenship of the Tata Group, the annual turnover of the group was more than ten thousand crore rupees, JRD gave the credit of this success to his colleagues and workers.
  • He was greatly revered and loved by the staff, and during his tenure of fifty years there was not a single strike. He took good care of the welfare of his staff.
  • JRD’s greatest passion, however, was flying, On October 15, 1932, 28 year old JRD flew all alone, the Leopard Moth aircraft from Bombay to Karachi. This was considered a remarkable feat at that time.  Later he flew the same aircraft on the same date in 1962 and again in 1982 at the age of 78.
  • JRD played an important role in ushering in the era of air transport to India. In 1932, he started ‘Tata Airlines’, the first airline company in India.  The airline developed into the international carrier ‘Air India’.
  • Air India International later became the first Asian Airline to link East and West by a regular service. On every flight he flew, JRD would observe everything minutely, make notes of his observations and turn them into memos.  He was a great team builder and generous in giving credit to others.
  • In 1953 air transport got nationalized along with other industries in India, JRD was offered the Chairmanship of Air India, which he held until 1978.
  • He was elected President of International Air Transport Association for 1958-59 and was invited to the first TATA conference outside Europe or America in New Delhi, which was inaugurated by Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • In June 1978, JRD received a message from the US informing him that he had been selected for the Tony Jannus Award instituted in Florida in honour of the man who had started the first scheduled airline service in the world in 1914.
  • In 1985, the Federation Aeronautique International’s gold Air Medal came to JRD. In 1986, the International Civil Organization gave him the Edward Warner Award.
  • In 1988, he was given the Daniel Guggenhim Medal for his distinguished services to aviation.
  • In 1991, at the age of 87, Tata stepped down voluntarily from Tata Sons. The Tata Empire had spread considerably by then.
  • In 1971, he created the Family Planning Foundation. He said, “No success or achievement in material terms is worthwhile unless it serves the needs, or interests of the country and its people and is achieved by fair and honest means.”
  • In public as well as private life, he never compromised on his values. He took his role as Trustee of the Tata Empire seriously and helped thousands of people change their lives for the better.
  • Although he had not graduated from any University, several Universities conferred degrees on JRD. The Bombay University honoured him with the L.L.D. degree.  France made him a Commander of the Legion of Honour.
  • India honoured him first with a ‘Padma Vibhusan’ and in 1992 with the highest civilian award, the “Bharat Ratna”.  The very same year he received the United Nations Population Award.
  • JRD was knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great. He has been named International Management Man and was recently featured in America’s ‘Esquire’ magazine as one of the hundred famous personalities of the world.
  • JRD was keen on physical fitness and played tennis and golf till his mid-seventies. He took up skiing at the age of 40.  JRD and his wife Thelma lived in South Mumbai in a rented house.  They had no children and they adopted a son, Ratan Tata.
  • Jeh, as he was fondly called by his family and friends; and JRD as he was popularly known, died at Geneva on November 27, 1993 at a ripe old age of 89.
  • JRD was a warm-hearted, caring, affectionate human being. Once JRD has said, “I want to be remembered as an honest man who did his duty.
  • Perhaps no other family in India has ever contributed so much to the economic development and philanthropic work as the Tatas have and JRD will be remembered not only as a great industrialist, but also as a great visionary, and one of the makers of modern India.


J.R.D. Tata

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