Birthday: March 3, 1839
Died At Age: 65
Sun Sign: Pisces
Also Known As: Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, J. N. Tata
Born in: Navsari
Famous as: Father of Indian Industry
Spouse/Ex-: Hirabai Daboo
father: Nusserwanji Tata
mother: Jeevanbai Tata
children: Dorabji Tata, Ratanji Tata
Died on: May 19, 1904
place of death: Bad Nauheim
Founder/Co-Founder: Tata Group, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, Tata Sons
education: Elphinstone College
Who was Jamsetji Tata?
Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata was an Indian industrialist and entrepreneur who founded the Tata Group, India’s biggest conglomerate company. The Tata Group of industries which today encompasses seven business sectors and operates in over 80 countries throughout the world is believed to be India's best-known global brand within and outside the country. The massive success which the Tata Group enjoys today was the result of the vision and mission of one man—Jamsetji Tata, who not surprisingly is regarded as the "Father of Indian Industry”. Born into a family of Parsi Zoroastrian priests in a small town in Gujarat, he was the first person in his whole family to venture beyond priesthood. An adventurous and ambitious young man, he dreamed of building an iron and steel company and a world-class educational institution among others. Blessed with an intuitive business sense and a sharp mind, he soon became a pioneering entrepreneur and founded his first venture, a trading concern in 1868. After setting up several other enterprises, he went on to incorporate the Tata Iron and Steel Company. He was not just an astute businessman but also a humanist who greatly empathized with his employees. He was a visionary who played a pivotal role in the development of India through his industrial and philanthropic activities.
Childhood & Early Life
He was born on 3 March 1839 to Nusserwanji and Jeevanbai Tata in a small town in South Gujarat, India. He hailed from a family of priests.
Even as a young boy he displayed great ambitions and had a strong will-power. It was expected that he too would become a priest, but he rebelled as he had set his eyes elsewhere.
He went to Bombay (now Mumbai) when he was 14 and enrolled at the Elphinstone College and completed his education as a “Green Scholar”—equivalent to today’s graduation—in 1858.
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He joined his father’s trading firm after graduation in 1858. The year 1858 was a turbulent one in India as the country was still shaken by the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
His father owned an export-trading firm and even though it was a difficult time for business, Jamsetji worked hard and helped to establish its branches in Japan, China, Europe and the United States.
He traveled extensively all over the world while trying to expand his father’s business and as a result acquired a lot of valuable knowledge and experience. He realized that there was tremendous scope for Indian companies to develop and compete with the British dominated industries.
He founded a trading company in 1868 which would eventually evolve into the Tata Group. The next year he bought a bankrupt mill at Chinchpokli and renamed it as Alexandra Mill which he sold two years later for a profit.
He was very much interested in the textile industry and set up a cotton mill at Nagpur in 1874. When Queen Victoria was proclaimed the Empress of India in 1877, he christened the mill “Empress Mill”.
He also founded mills at Bombay and Coorla (Kurla). He was a humanist and an efficient leader. His enterprises were known not just for their efficiency and profitability, but also for the labor-protection policies.
He had four goals in life: setting up an iron and steel company, a world-class learning institution that would tutor Indians in the sciences, a unique hotel and a hydro-electric plant.
He was an idealist and philanthropist who believed that India’s development depended upon the harnessing of her finest minds, and through disciplined industrialization. Thus he established the JN Tata Endowment in 1892 which enabled Indian students regardless of caste and creed to pursue higher studies in England.
One of his visions was realized in the form of the Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay (Now Mumbai), inaugurated in December 1903. At the time of its inauguration, it was the only hotel in India to have electricity.
He donated land for a research institute in Bangalore (now Bengaluru) in 1898. He drew up a blueprint for the proposed institute and solicited the support of several powerful people like Lord Curzon and Swami Vivekananda to turn it to reality. However, this institution could not come into existence within his lifetime.
The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) was eventually established by his successors years after his death. Today the IISc is widely regarded as India's finest institution in its field.
During the early 1900s he made ambitious plans for a hydroelectric power plant and large-scale ironworks. However, he could not realize his dream of establishing these enterprises as he unexpectedly died in 1904.
He is best remembered for forming the Tata Group which is today India's largest business group and multinational company. The company which was founded as a trading concern in 1868 presently has over 100 operating companies including Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Tata Power, and Tata Chemicals.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Hirabai Daboo while he was still in college. Their sons Dorabji Tata and Ratanji Tata later took over the Tata Group after the death of their father.
He went on a business trip to Germany in 1900 and became seriously ill there. He died on 19 May 1904 in Nauheim, Germany.