October 15, 1932 was a glorious day that went down in Indian history with J.R.D. Tata launching the first air mail service in a Puss Moth from Karachi (formerly a part of India) - Ahmedabad - Bombay (now Mumbai), marking the birth of air transport in the country.
J.R.D. conceived the idea of India’s first air mail service with South African, Nevill Vintcent, another flying enthusiast.
On the morning of October 15, 1932, J.R.D., aged all but 28 then, clad in long white trousers and short-sleeved white shirt, armed with only a pair of goggles and a slide rule that he always carried on flights, took off punctually at 6.30 a.m. The single-engine De Havilland Puss Moth VT-ACZ, with a 25 kg load of mail took four hours and fifteen minutes to reach Ahmedabad. Here, the plane was refuelled by Burmah Shell. Two hours and thirty-five minutes later, the first airmail service arrived at Bombay in India.
Within twenty minutes of J.R.D.’s landing, the mail was transferred to the second waiting Puss Moth VT-ADN. Neville Vincent took off from Juhu in the second Puss Moth carrying the airmails further south to Madras, via the small district headquarters town of Bellary.
J.R.D. Tata re-enacted this first flight from Karachi to Bombay in 1962 to commemorate the 30th
anniversary and again in 1982, when he was 78 years old, on the golden jubilee.
On September 5, 1918, at the age of 47, Sir Ratan, the youngest son of Jamsetji Tata passed away at St. Ives in Cornwall, England. He was buried at Brookwood Cemetery, near London, besides his father.
In his Will he bequeathed his property to a trust fund and noted: If I leave no children, I give the rest of the residue of my property - for the advancement of education, learning and industry in all its branches including education in economy, sanitary science and art, or for the relief of human suffering or for other works of public utility - such work is not (to be) undertaken from a stereotyped point of view but from the point of view of fresh light that is thrown from day to day by the advance of science and philosophy on problems of human well-being.
Following Sir Ratan’s death as mentioned in his Will the Sir Ratan Tata Trust was formed on September 10, 1919. The Sir Ratan Tata Trust is one of the oldest philanthropic institutions in India, and has played a pioneering role in changing traditional ideas of charity.
The Tata Monthly Bulletin an in-house publication of the Tata group had brought out a special issue on India’s Independence Day - August 15, 1947.
One of the items featured in this issue mentions that the following Tata companies granted half a month's bonus as a special “Independence Day Bonus” to their employees:
● Tata Sons and Tata Industries
● Tata Iron and Steel Company
● Tata Hydro-Electric Group of Companies
● Tata Locomotive and Engineering Company
● Tata Oil Mills
● Tata Chemicals
● Indian Hotels Company
The Tata Group of Textile Mills will be governed by the decision of the Millowners' Association.
Three days before his birthday, on July 26, 1938, 34-year-old, J.R.D. Tata assumed the Chairmanship of Tata Sons Ltd.
The appointment was made at the board meeting of the company at Bombay House. Pursuant to Article 118 of the Constitution of the Company, Sohrab Saklatvala proposed and Ardeshir Dalal seconded the proposal that J.R.D. Tata be appointed the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Tata Sons Ltd.
When J.R.D. became Chairman, he was still by far the youngest member of the Board and the group had 14 companies. The decade following his appointment was the most creative for the group. Having had the longest innings as Chairman, under his stewardship, the group expanded to cover a range of industrial activities, such as commercial vehicles, engineering, hotels, air conditioning & refrigeration, consultancy services, information technology, consumer goods, consumer durables and industrial products.
Registered on December 10, 1917, with an authorised capital of a crore of rupees, the Tata Oil Mills Company Ltd. (TOMCO), put up its first factory at Tatapuram with the main purpose of extracting oil from copra and seeds. Unfortunately, the initial years were years of heavy losses. When it was found that the Company could not hold its own merely by working as an oil miller, it decided to utilise oils of its own crush for the manufacture of household products, such as soaps and cocogem. The first boiling of soap was inaugurated in a three-ton improvised soap kettle by J.A.D. Naoroji in April 1927 at Tatapuram with a view to utilise the accumulated soap stock obtained in the process of the refining of oils, and a few cases of laundry soap were offered to the local market.
J.R.D. Tata was conferred the degree of Doctor of Literature (Honoris Causa) at a Special Convocation of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) on February 12, 1993, at the Institute’s premises at Deonar in Bombay (now Mumbai). The degree was conferred in recognition of his outstanding contribution to society and meritorious attainments in public life.
The Convocation was declared open by Jamshed J. Bhabha, Chairman of the Governing Board of the TISS. The Citation was read by Dr. Armaity S. Desai, Director of the Institute. The Citation records the aims, ideals and activities to which J.R.D. Tata dedicated himself all his life, which won him the admiration and esteem of people within and outside the organisation.
January 2, 1919, was the day when Lord Chelmsford, the then Governor General and Viceroy of India, visited the city of Jamshedpur for the first time. He renamed it from Sakchi to Jamshedpur, in honour of its founder, Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, for the unstinted support that the Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO, now Tata Steel) had offered to Britain during the World War I.
On the occasion, Lord Chelmsford said, “I can hardly imagine what we should have done during these four years (of the First World War) if the Tata Company had not been able to gift us steel rails which have been provided for us, not only for Mesopotamia but for Egypt, Palestine and East Africa, and I have come to express my thanks … It is hard to imagine that 10 years ago, this place was scrub and jungle; and here, we have now, this place set up with all its foundries and its workshops and its population of 40,000 to 50,000 people. This great enterprise has been due to the prescience, imagination of the late Mr. Jamsetji Tata. This place will see a change in its name and will no longer be known as Sakchi but will be identified with the name of its founder, bearing down through the ages the name of the late Mr. Jamsetji Tata. Hereafter, this place will be known by the name of Jamshedpur.”
The name of the station too was changed from Kalimati to Tatanagar.
J.R.D. Tata received the Padma Vibhushan September 7, 1955, in recognition of his service to Indian aviation. The Padma Vibhushan and the sanad were presented by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, President of India.
The magnificent historical Durbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan was crowded with distinguished personalities who had gathered to honour the recipients of the President's Republic Day awards, amongst whom were Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr. Bhagwan Das, Indian Theosophist, V.K. Menon, former Minister of Defence of India and M. Visvesvaraya, engineer-statesman.
The flag of free India was first unfurled officially exactly nine days before the Dominion of India came into being. It was unfurled neither on land nor on sea, but very significantly, on an airship. It was an Air India plane chartered by the Government that first carried the historic flag. Under this flag, India’s first woman Ambassador, Mrs. Vijayalakshmi Pandit flew to Russia on August 3, 1947.
To Capt. A.C. Gazdar, who piloted the plane, Mrs. Vijayalakshmi Pandit wrote, ''This journey has indeed been a memorable one for all of us. We have for the first time in history, carried the flag of free India to another great nation and I am happy that it was a Tata plane that brought us here. I want you to know how greatly l have appreciated the skill with which you piloted us and the comfort which you provided throughout the journey. l shall be obliged if you will accept for yourself, and convey to your crew, my warm thanks for everything you have done for my party."
Air-India Limited was formed in July 1946.
With the air mail service growing in strength year after year, following its launch by J.R.D. Tata, in 1932, new aircrafts and new routes were added, expanding its operations. As time went by and the planes became marginally bigger, a lone passenger was accommodated in an open seat behind the pilot. It took Tata pilots some time to get accustomed to a human being riding in the seat behind them. Within six years, the air mail operations had grown large enough to necessitate the setting up of a bigger organisation to look after its affairs. It was thus that the Aviation Department of Tata Sons was enlarged and was renamed Tata Airlines in 1938.
During the Second World War, the Government of India had to depend heavily on Tata Airlines for its war operations. At the end of the War, the Airlines operations had grown substantially. Tata Airlines was thus converted into a public limited company and re-named as Air-India.
The November 19, 1929, issue of the London Times carried an announcement that Aga Khan had offered through the Royal Aero Club, a prize of £500 for the first flight from England to India, or vice versa, by a person of Indian nationality.
Three hardy souls took up the challenge. One was Manmohan Singh. Twice he left England but lost his way over Europe and had to fly back to England to start all over again. Another competitor starting from England was 18-year-old Aspy Engineer. The third was J.R.D. Tata, from the Indian end. J.R.D. Tata flew in a Gipsy Moth G-AAGl for the Aga Khan Prize Flight, from May 3 to 12, 1930. At Alexandria in Egypt, J.R.D. ran into Aspy, who had left England a week earlier and who was stranded for want of spark plugs. J.R.D. gave Aspy his spare spark plugs, and they took off in opposite directions. Aspy reached Karachi a few hours before J.R.D. reached England, winning the prize. J.R.D. said later that he was glad that young Aspy won — it helped him get into the Indian Air Force. (Engineer rose to be the second Indian to be Chief of Staff of the IAF).
An entry made in J.R.D. Tata's logbook, dated May 7, 1930, about him helping Aspy Engineer with a set of plugs
Towards the end of World War II, the Government concentrated on the economic development of India. They realised that the development of good roads and maintaining them was a vital necessity. In March 1946, a scheme was finalised to supply 950 steam road rollers to the Government by M/s. Marshalls in association with Tata Locomotive and Engineering Company (TELCO). Despite numerous difficulties, the first batch of road rollers was completed.
A large crowd assembled at Jamshedpur on April 22, 1948, to watch the first steam road roller built in India, the ''City of Delhi", take the road. The inauguration ceremony was performed by the Minister of Industry and Supply, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mookerjee by painting the swastika mark with 'kum kum' and breaking a coconut on the "City of Delhi". A number of other road rollers from the first batch, each named after a big city in India - Calcutta, Bombay, Madras, Jubbulpore, Patna, rolled past in quick succession.
Titan Watches Limited, a joint venture of TATAs and Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation, was set up in technical collaboration with France Ebauches, a leading European manufacturer of Quartz movements. Production commenced in 1986 and March 1987 saw the launch of the brand Titan.
On March 11, 1988, J.R.D. Tata formally inaugurated the manufacturing facilities of Titan Watches Limited at Hosur. The plaque unveiled to commemorate the occasion incorporated a functional sundial, a reminder of the origin of the scientific measurement of time. The inauguration ceremony was attended by a distinguished gathering which included F. Perret, President of France Ebauches, Y. Okamoto, Executive Director of Citizen Watch Company Limited, Japan and Directors of many Tata Companies, TIDCO (Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation) and Titan Watches. The Rs. 60 crore plant was set up to manufacture two million watches annually and was the most modern in the country. It had some of the finest horological and precision tool making equipment from Switzerland, Japan, France and Germany.
Jamsetji Tata envisioned that clean energy would power industry, particularly the cotton mills. Jamsetji noted the physical characteristics of the Lonavala district in Western Ghats and came to the conclusion that by constructing three great artificial storage lakes at Lonavala, Walwhan and the Shirawta, water could be directed through gigantic pipes to the foot of the Ghats at Khopoli to generate hydro-electric power. The 1906 investigations of the experts showed that this scheme could be a success and Jamsetji’s dream was eventually realised by his son Dorab Tata who then applied for a license to supply electric power to Bombay. On March 7, 1907, the necessary license was granted. Following this, Sir Dorabji toured India, visiting several native courts and met with unexpected success in persuading their rulers to subscribe for shares. On November 7, 1910, the Tata Hydro-Electric Supply Company Limited, was registered as a public concern. Early in the following year, February 8, 1911, the Governor, Lord Sydenham laid the foundation stone for the Lonavala dam, the first of three massive engineering projects designed to harness the natural resources of the hills near Bombay.
As the war was advancing, J.R.D. was looking beyond to the years of peace when he knew that the British would have to leave India and the country would be able to exercise her own discretion in planning her future. He felt that leading men of industry should meet and plan the future. He invited G.D. Birla, head of the Birla Group of Industries; Kasturbhai Lalbhai, the textile mill owner from Ahmedabad; Sir Purshotamdas Thakurdas, a Bombay-based businessman and Lala Shri Ram, Chairman of the DCM Group of Delhi to join him and three of his colleagues from Tatas. From the Tatas' think-tank he selected Sir Ardeshir Dalai, A.D. Shroff and Dr. John Matthai. Up to this time economic planning was the preserve of communist Russia. These men who represented the interests of capitalism were to be the first to produce an Economic Plan for India.
Thus, a comprehensive document entitled, “The Plan of Economic Development for India”, popularly known as the “Bombay Plan” was published in January 1944, just three years before independence.
The plan was reprinted a couple of times the same year and in May 1944, Penguins in wartime Britain also published it.
Tata Monthly Bulletin, 1946
Tatas were faced with the problem of finding a name for the new Air Line Company which they were forming to take over and extend the activities of the Tata Air Lines which had hitherto functioned as a department of Tata Sons Limited.
A choice had to be made between the following four alternative names: Indian Air Lines; Air-India; Pan-Indian Air Lines and Trans-Indian Air Lines. It seemed a good idea to let the selection be made by popular opinion in Bombay House through a sort of Gallup Poll or Sample Opinion Survey. Accordingly, voting papers were distributed so as to ascertain the views of representative sections of opinion among Tata employees.
The voters were requested to indicate their first and second preferences.
The first count revealed 64 votes for Air-India, 51 for Indian Air Lines, 28 for Trans-Indian Air Lines and 19 for Pan-Indian Air Lines. When the less favoured names had been eliminated, the final count showed 72 votes for Air-India and 58 for Indian Air Lines.
Thus, the name of the new Company came to be "AIR-INDIA”.
On September 17, 1954, the Cross of an Officer of the French Republic was conferred upon J.R.D. Tata by M. Jaques Chaban-Delmas, Minister of Transport, Public Works and Tourism, for meritorious services rendered to the cause of aviation.
In January 1983, J.R.D. Tata was promoted to the rank of Commander of the Legion of Honour for the development of civil aviation in India.
At a private function held at the residence of the Ambassador of France in New Delhi on July 21, 1983, Mr. Tata was decorated with the medallion by the French Ambassador, Monsieur Serge Boidevaix.
The liberalisation of mining laws in 1899 by Lord Curzon, provided an opportunity for Jamsetji Tata to advance towards his dream of giving India its first steel company.
In 1902, Jamsetji met Julian Kennedy in U.S.A. and briefed him about his desire to come up with a steel plant in India. Julian recommended Charles Page Perin for the project.
On February 24, 1904, the Tatas received a letter from P.N. Bose, an Indian geologist about the high quality of iron available in Mayurbhanj state and the availability of coal in Jharia for the project. In 1905, Charles Page Perin and his associate, C.M. Weld, presented their report on the steel plant and in September 1905, the Maharaja of Mayurbhanj granted the prospecting license to the Tatas.
In 1906, the Government of India declared its intent to help Tatas by promising to purchase steel for a particular period of time and to provide other assistance that the company would require to start its production.
On August 26, 1907, that Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO) was registered in India with an original capital of Rs 2,31,75,000. A notice to raise the capital was issued. The response was tremendous and within three weeks the entire amount was raised.
In 1908, the construction of the Works began, and steel production started on February 16, 1912.
Sir Dorabji Tata had an enduring love for sport, trying his hand at different disciplines in his younger days. It was he who paved India’s way into the Olympics. The story of the Indian team’s participation in the Olympics goes back to 1919, when Sir Dorabji Tata who was Chief Guest at the Annual Sports Meet of the Deccan Gymkhana in Pune. He noticed that most of the athletes at the meet were peasants running bare footed but were clocking creditable timings that were close to European standards. Sir Dorabji decided to personally finance the first Indian team to the Antwerp Olympics in 1920. In fact, because there was no official body, he also helped establish a committee to select the team. He set up a nine-member committee led by himself and selected a six-member squad to represent India at their first ever Olympics. The Indian contingent included four athletes and two wrestlers.
As the President of the Indian Olympic Council, he financed the Indian contingent that went to the Paris Olympiad of 1924. He was also a member of the International Olympic Committee.
As Jamsetji approached the age of sixty-five his health began to fail. Whatever medical science could do was tried in his case and eventually his doctors decided that he should take the cure at Bad Nauheim, a German watering-place much frequented by subjects, suffering from ailments of the heart.
While in Bad Nauheim, Jamsetji fell seriously ill. R.D. Tata joined Jamsetji at Nauheim and during his last days became his constant companion, as his son Dorab and his daughter-in-law, Meherbai were in Vienna. Even in his last days, Jamsetji urged R.D. Tata to carry forward the work he had started. “If you cannot make it greater,” he said, “at least preserve it. Do not let things slide. Go on doing my work and increasing it, but if you cannot, do not lose what we have already done.”
On May 17, Jamsetji suddenly took a turn for the worse. His son and his daughter-in-law hurried from Vienna when they received the news that Jamsetji was sinking rapidly. On 18th
Dorabji and his wife arrived. By the time Jamsetji was comatose, but he had made an effort to live until their arrival and spoke to them a few affectionate words. On the following morning, May 19, 1904 he passed away in his sleep.
The body was taken to England and on May 24, the remains were interred at Brookwood cemetery.
Soon after Jamsetji Tata's death on May 19, 1904, at Bad Nauheim, Germany, a requisition was addressed to the Sheriff of Bombay by numerous representatives and leading citizens, to convene a public meeting to do honour to his memory. The meeting was accordingly held on March 28, 1905, under the distinguished presidentship of H.E. Lord Lamington, the Governor of Bombay. During the meeting it was proposed that a committee be appointed for the purpose of raising subscriptions for a suitable memorial to perpetuate the memory of Jamsetji Tata. A big and thoroughly representative committee was then formed and donations came pouring in from all parts of India. It was thereupon resolved to erect a statue of Jamsetji on a site not far from Esplanade House.
On April 11, 1912, the statue was unveiled by the Governor of Bombay, Sir George Sydenham Clarke amidst a distinguished gathering. Lady Clarke, Lady Meherbai Tata, Sir Dorabji Tata, Ratan Tata, Sir Pherozeshah Mehta and Dinshaw Wacha were also among the guests present for the unveiling ceremony.
The country's highest civilian award - the Bharat Ratna was conferred on J.R.D. Tata for his great contribution not only to the industrial development of this country but also the pioneering role he played in promoting civil aviation in India.
At an impressive investiture ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhawan on March 28, 1992, the President of India, R. Venkataraman, conferred the Bharat Ratna on J.R.D. Tata. The award, consisting of a medal and a citation, was presented to him amidst a distinguished audience.
The Vice-President of India, Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, the Prime Minister of India, P.V. Narasimha Rao, members of the Union Cabinet, Defence officials and members of the Board of Tata Sons were present on this august occasion.
J.R.D. Tata is the only industrialist till date to have received the Bharat Ratna.
Suffering from leukaemia, Meherbai passed away on June 18, 1931. Soon after her death as a memorial to his wife, Sir Dorabji endowed the Lady Tata Memorial Trust with a corpus for research into leukaemia.
After Dorabji’s death, his successor, Nowroji Saklatvala, was eager to launch on a comprehensive cancer institute and was supported by J.R.D. in this endeavour. Nowroji invited Dr. John Spies, the Head of the Cancer Service of the Peking Union Medical College to India to report on the proposal. Dr. Spies recommended 'a small but high-grade institution', with 50 or 60 beds to begin with, to be increased up to a 100 or 150 bed hospital in course of time. The construction work for the hospital began in 1937 on the site in the vicinity of the Haffkine Institute and the K.E.M. and the Jerbai Wadia Hospital. The construction was supervised by the firm of Gregson, Batley and King. The work on the hospital was to some extent delayed owing to the death of Sir Nowroji Saklatvala in 1938, followed by the outbreak of the War. The Tata Memorial Hospital was formally inaugurated by Sir Roger Lumley, Governor of Bombay on February 28, 1941. The hospital opened for the treatment of patients on March 3, 1941 with departments of Surgery, Pathology, Radiology, Radio physics and Anaesthesia.
In December 1907, a place called Sakchi, a couple of miles from the railway station at Kalimati was found suitable for the Iron and Steel Works. In February 1912, the first ingot of steel rolled on the lines of the Sakchi. When the steel plant opened, people came from all corners of India to Sakchi and it became a truly cosmopolitan town. The plant in the town of Sakchi supplied 1500 miles of steel rails for Mesopotamia and the region.
On January 2, 1919 Lord Chelmsford, Viceroy of India, steamed into Kalimati station. After seeing round the works, the Viceroy said: “I can hardly imagine what we should have done during these four years (of war) if the Tata Company had not been able to give us steel rails which have been provided for us not only for Mesopotamia but for Egypt, Palestine and East Africa, and I have come to express my thanks ... It is hard to imagine that ten years ago, this place was scrub and jungle; and here we have now, this place set up with all its foundries and its workshops and its population of 40,000 to 50,000 people. This great enterprise has been due to imagination and genius of the late Mr. Jamsetji Tata ... This place will see a change in its name and will no longer be known as Sakchi but will be identified with the name of its founder, bearing down the ages the name of the late Mr. Jamsetji Tata. Hereafter, this place will be known by the name Jamshedpur.” So, saying he unveiled on the archway atop the director's bungalow the new name. After a couple of weeks the Government of Bihar and Orissa renamed Kalimati station as “Tatanagar”.
Tata group’s foray into the Consumer and Retail segment began with the setting up of Tata Oil Mills Company Ltd., known as TOMCO. The Tata Oil Mills Company Ltd. was registered on December 10, 1917. Sir Dorabji Tata was the first Chairman of the Board.
The Company put up its first factory at Tatapuram with the main purpose of extracting oil from copra and seeds. When it was found that the Company could not hold its own merely by working as an oil miller, it decided to utilise oils of its own crush for the manufacture of household products, such as soaps. P.T. John, a soap chemist, was the man who introduced soap to TOMCO. The first boiling of soap was inaugurated in a three-tonne improvised soap kettle by J.A.D. Naoroji, Tomco’s Director-in-Charge in April 1927 at Tatapuram, with a view to utilise the accumulated soap stock obtained in the process of refining of oils.
TOMCO were the first to market an Indian toilet soap with an Indian name – Hamam. The soap was launched in 1931 by J.A.D. Naoroji, who himself chose the name.
Besides Hamam, the company was also known for iconic brands like Moti, Okay and Cocogem.
TOMCO was sold to Hindustan Unilever Lever Limited (formerly Hindustan Lever Limited) in the 90's.
On November 5, 1892, Ratan Tata, the younger son of Jamsetji Tata, married fifteen-year-old Navajbai, daughter of Ardeshir Merwanji Sett. After their marriage, the couple stayed with Ratan’s parents at Esplanade House, Bombay (now Mumbai). A year after Jamsetji’s death, Ratan shifted to Brightlands on Marine Lines.
The couple had no children. They led an active social life and travelled a lot and spent major part of each year in England. Living part of the time in England, the couple rubbed shoulders with the cream of British society and aristocracy. They were personal friends of King George V and Queen Mary. In 1906, they purchased the ‘York House’ in Twickenham from the Duc d’Orleans. In 1915, the couple moved into the ‘Tata House’, a palatial residence on Waudby Road, Bombay. Both their houses in England and Bombay were a veritable emporium of various objects of art collected from their travel to places in India, Japan and Europe.
Both Ratan and Navajbai were kind-hearted and generous and always had in mind the relief of distress, the upliftment of the poor and the improvement of social surroundings of the masses.
On March 2, 1954, a 15-year technical and financial collaboration with M/s Daimler Benz AG of Stuttgart, West Germany was signed by Dr. Fritz Koenecke for Daimler Benz, J.R.D. Tata for Tata Industries Ltd. and S. Moolgaokar for TELCO (now Tata Motors) to progressively manufacture Mercedes Benz trucks. The product was to bear the name Tata Mercedes Benz. With the assistance of M/s Daimler Benz, diesel engined truck chassis were built at the Company's Works at Tatanagar (Jamshedpur).
The production of vehicles at TELCO commenced on October 15, 1954. On October 23, 1954, amidst much rejoicing and the anthems of India and Germany, Hans Stoehr, Manager of the Auto Division, hoisted the Indian flag while K.C. Cooper, Ag GM, unfurled the German flag. Mr. Moolgaokar, the driving force behind the project, released the first vehicle which was driven out in style by Gerald Hillier, Transport Foreman.
Jamsetji was inspired to set up an iron and steel company, when he attended a lecture by Thomas Carlyle on a trip to Manchester.
The moment Lord Curzon, the Viceroy, liberalised the mining laws in 1899, Jamsetji set off to the United States and visited the firm of Kennedy, Sahlin and Company Ltd. Julian Kennedy suggested the name of Charles Page Perin, a surveyor of international repute as the best person to undertake the investigations. Perin initially sent his assistant, C.M. Weld for prospecting iron ore of requisite quality for the Iron and Steel Works. Dorabji, joined C.M. Weld, in this search. Their extensive search led them to a place called Sakchi, which was a meeting place of the two rivers – Khorkai and Subarnarekha. The actual construction of the plant began in 1908, and the foundations were started in May 1909. The original plant was not large. There were two 200-ton blast furnaces, four 40-ton open-hearth furnaces, a hundred and eighty Coppee’s coke ovens, a steam-driven blooming mill, a rail and structural mill and a small bar mill. The first blast furnace was blown in on the 2nd of December 1911 and the first successful ingot was rolled on the 16th of February 1912.
Nani Ardeshir Palkhivala was born on January 16, 1920. The year 2020 marks the birth centenary of this great legend.
An eminent advocate and constitutional expert, Palkhivala started his legal practice in the chambers of the legendary Sir Jamshed Kanga in Bombay in 1944. He argued a number of historical cases in the courts of India and abroad. He successfully argued before the Supreme Court of India cases which affirmed the fundamental rights of the minorities to establish and administer educational and religious institutions of their choice and to choose the language in which education should be imparted.
Palkhivala was a remarkable orator, whose post-budget speeches drew national and international attention and was attended by thousands of people. He was described as “the conscience-keeper of the nation and an embodiment of humility". He was a strong proponent of the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
Palkhivala was appointed Ambassador of India to the United States of America in September 1977, an assignment which he held until July 1979.
He was on the board of several Indian and overseas companies. He was Chairman Emeritus of the Associated Cement Co. Ltd. and the Director of many Tata companies including The Tata Iron and Steel Co. Ltd., The Tata Engineering and Locomotive Co. Ltd., The Indian Hotels Co. Ltd. and several other companies. He was also the Chairman of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) for several years.
Palkhivala was also a member of the Forum of Free Enterprise, the Leslie Sawhny Programme of Training for Democracy and a Trustee of several charitable trusts.
Lady Meherbai Tata, wife of Sir Dorabji Tata was born in Bombay on October 10, 1879. The year 2019 marks her 140th
Meherbai was the daughter of Hormusji J. Bhabha, a prominent educationist and the Inspector General of Education, Mysore State.
Meherbai married Dorabji Tata on February 14, 1898. She shared Dorabji’s love for sport and travel. She was passionately fond of tennis and played in several tournaments, winning over sixty prizes.
Being sensitive and concerned about the condition of women, she championed the cause of women empowerment, strongly campaigned against child marriage, purdah system and untouchability. She was one of the founders of the Bombay Presidency Women’s Council and the National Council of Women.
Meherbai took a very active part during the War in raising contributions. She was conferred the Commander of the Civil Division of the Order of the British Empire by King George V in 1919 for her services to the War efforts.
She passed away on June 18, 1931. In 1932, Sir Dorabji Tata, established The Lady Tata Memorial Trust in her memory. The Lady Meherbai D. Tata Education Trust was also founded for the training of women in hygiene, health and social welfare.
Lady Navajbai Tata, wife of Sir Ratan Tata was born on September 23, 1877. The year 2019 marks her 142nd
Navajbai was the younger daughter of Ardeshir Merwanji Sett and Pirojbai. She was married to Ratan Tata on November 5, 1892, at the age of fifteen. In her youth, she was proficient at horse riding, in an age when women were rather shy and reluctant to indulge in such sports.
Navajbai was appointed a Director on the Board of Tata Sons in 1925, a position she held right up to her death on August 20, 1965. She was the first woman Director on the Board of Tata Sons.
She was also the first Parsi woman to be appointed on the board of the Bombay Parsi Panchayat.
The Navajbai Ratan Tata Trust was formed in 1974 in memory of Navajbai Tata. The Trust works together with the Sir Ratan Tata Trust (set up in 1919) in bringing about sustainable change in the lives of the marginalised communities of the nation.
Sir Dorabji Tata, the elder son of the Founder, Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata was born on August 27, 1859. The year 2019 marks the 160th
birth anniversary of Sir Dorabji Tata.
It was Dorabji, with his drive and enthusiasm and aided by the resolve of his younger brother, Ratan Tata and his cousin, R.D. Tata, father of J.R.D. Tata, who saw Jamsetji’s projects through to the stage of accomplishment. At the time of Jamsetji’s death, the Tata enterprises comprised three textile mills and the Taj Mahal Hotel, Bombay (Mumbai). Under Sir Dorabji Tata’s stewardship were added an integrated steel plant – then the largest single unit in the British Empire – three electric power companies, a large edible oil and soap company, two cement companies, one of India’s leading insurance company and an aviation unit pioneered by J.R.D. Tata. Meanwhile, Dorabji Tata had also seen through the establishment of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (Bengaluru), which was to spearhead scientific research in India for decades to come.
The name of Dorabji Tata was included in the Honours List in 1910 when he received a Knighthood, in recognition of his contribution to the industrial advancement of India.
J.R.D. Tata, the father of Indian civil aviation, formally joined the ranks of all-time great aviation pioneers when he received the esteemed Daniel Guggenheim Medal Award in Seattle, Washington, on July 31, 1989. John H. Enders, President of the Flight Safety Foundation and Chairman Daniel Guggenheim Medal Board of Award (1988), presented the Medal and the Scroll to J.R.D. Tata.
J.R.D. Tata was presented with the award for a lifetime of significant contributions to aviation and for his pioneering work in developing commercial air travel throughout India and rest of Asia.
The award presentation took place at the Pacific Museum of Flight on the first day of the three-day Aircraft Design and Operations Conference and the Applied Aerodynamics Conference, under the auspices of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).
The backdrop of the stage had a Great Gallery displaying among other things, a Puss Moth and a Tiger Moth, the vintage airplanes, hung from the ceiling.
The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research was formally inaugurated on December 19, 1945 in a portion of a building known as 'Kenilworth', at Pedder Road. However, the activities of the Institute soon expanded, and this building was no longer adequate.
In 1948, the Institute moved to a portion of the building vacated by the Royal Bombay Yacht Club at Apollo Pier Road but soon this space too proved inadequate. After a careful search, a suitable plot for the Institute was identified at Colaba in 1951 on land belonging to the Government of India. The foundation stone of the Institute's new building was laid at this site by the Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru on January 1, 1954.
The construction of the building was completed by the end of 1961 and was formally inaugurated by the Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, on January 15, 1962.
Geneva was a special place for J. R. D. Tata as he spent a number of his holidays there. It was to Geneva that he went for his vacation in October 1993. A few days later, he was suffering from a kidney infection and blockage and was admitted to the Cantonal University of Geneva Hospital on November 4. The end came on November 29, 1993.
The funeral ceremony and internment was held two days later on December 3, 1993 at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris – one of the two largest and most famous cemeteries in Europe. Almost at the centre of the parkland stands a stone chapel where the ceremony was held. The last rites were performed in accordance with the Zoroastrian scriptures by two Zoroastrian priests.
JRD was laid to rest in a simple walnut, unembellished coffin in the granite vault of the R. D. Tata family.
In November 1916, Sir Ratan Tata, the younger son of the Founder, Jamsetji Tata who was unwell set sail on the S.S. Arabia, along with his wife, Lady Navajbai Tata. The journey proved to be unlucky since the ship was torpedoed by Germans in the Mediterranean just a day out from Port Said. The ship was sunk but all the passengers were saved. This shipwreck deteriorated his health further.
Sir Ratan Tata passed away on September 5, 1918 at St. Ives, Cornwall. His mausoleum is located at Brookwood Cemetery, near London.
On April 5, 1895 a new weaving shed was inaugurated at “Empress Mills”, a part of the Central India Spinning, Weaving and Manufacturing Company Limited under the management of Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata at Nagpur. It was inaugurated by Mr. John Woodburn, C.S.I., Chief Commissioner, Central Provinces. Jamsetji Tata, the Company’s Director, read out the history and account of the Mills.
Speaking on the occasion, Jamsetji affirmed, “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 prosperity.”
'Tatanagars' – were armoured cars fitted with bullet-proof plates and rivets made by Tata Steel during World War II. They were so robust, that soldiers declared them to be safer than slit-trenches during a bomber raid. Even when a 75-mm shell burst on one side of a 'Tatanagar', the metal plates buckled but did not get pierced, and the occupants emerged unharmed.;
Congratulating JRD on his appointment, Air Marshal Arjan Singh wrote, 'I am delighted that the President has conferred the Honorary Rank of Air Commodore in the Indian Air Force on you. No one reserves this Honorary Rank than you do; you have contributed immensely to the development of aviation in the country and your interest in the Indian Air Force has always been useful. I am sure that your elevation to the rank of Air Commodore, (the rank which Sir Winston Churchill held) will be appreciated by all enthusiast of aviation.'
Jamsetji Tata noticed that the city of Bombay failed in providing travellers the comforts and luxuries available in the West.
Jamsetji leased a large plot of reclaimed land at Apollo Bunder in Bombay (now Mumbai) and announced that he would build a hotel there, a hotel the likes of which India had not seen and would bring the world to Bombay.
The construction of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel began in 1898. The foundations were 40 feet deep, unusual for those days.
Jamsetji was one of the first men in India to appreciate and apply the use of electricity. While at the Düsseldorf exhibition, he arranged with a German firm to carry out the electrification of the hotel.
The hotel opened its doors to the first 17 guests on December 16, 1903.
The rooms were designed both for the man of modest means and for the millionaire who desired a luxurious suite.
When opened, the Taj boasted of a series of firsts in Indian hospitality – American fans, German elevators, Turkish baths and English butlers.
On February 14, 1898, the beautiful Mehri and Dorab were married.
In 1890, Jamsetji Tata, Founder of the House of Tata visited Bangalore at the invitation of Sheshadri Iyer, the Dewan of Mysore.
It is on one of these frequent visits that he came in close contact with Hormusji Bhabha, Inspector-General of Education, Mysore State.
Jamsetji, took a great liking for his young daughter Meherbai, or Mehri as she was then called, and had a hand in the selection of her as his daughter-in-law.
Jamsetji thought that his son Dorab should make his own decision and selection without any prompting from him. He advised Dorab to visit Mysore State and call on the Bhabha family.
Dorab did just that and when served refreshments by Mehri, he predictably fell in love with her at first sight.
March, the birth anniversary of our Founder, Jamsetji Tata is celebrated as Founder’s Day by Tata group companies.
The first Founders' Day celebrations took place in Jamshedpur in 1932.
It was D. M. Madan, Chief Accountant, Tata Iron and Steel Company who first conceived the idea of holding an annual gathering that should give each employee an opportunity of expressing his regard for the memory of the genius to whose faith and judgment, energy and perseverance, the Tata group bears enduring witness.
At the same time, the ceremony was devised so as to enable each worker to demonstrate his pride of membership in the organisation.
To this day, as a tribute to the Founder, March 3 is celebrated as Founder's Day with much pomp and gaiety.