JRD Tata birth anniversary: Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata or JRD Tata was born on July 29 in 1904 in Paris to eminent businessman Ratani Dada Dadabhoy Tata and Suzanne Briere.
A visionary man and always interested in flying, JRD Tata founded Tata Airlines in 1932 – which became Air India in 1946. Before starting his airline, he began his unpaid apprenticeship at Tata Sons 1925. In October 1932, as he landed on Juhu mud flats, India’s first air service was inaugurated.
“On an exciting October dawn in 1932, a Puss Moth and I soared joyfully from Karachi with our first previous load of mail, on an inaugural flight to Bombay,” says Tata’s website (tata.com) quoting JRD Tata.
The quote adds “as we hummed towards our destination at a ‘dazzling’ hundred miles an hour, I breathed a silent prayer for the success of our venture and for the safety of those who worked for it. We were a small team in those days.”
In 1938, at the age of 34, JRD Tata was elected Chairman of Tata Sons. This made 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, JRD Tata remained at the helm of the business and directed the huge Tata Group of companies, with major interests in steel, engineering, power, chemicals and hospitality.
While handling the business empire, he played a critical role in increasing India’s scientific, medical and artistic quotient.
The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), the Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH), the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), the National Institute of Advanced Sciences (NIAS) and the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), now known as some of the premier institutions in India, were projects that came to fruition with JRD Tata’s steadfast support.
JRD Tata received many awards and accolades in his life. Most prominently he was given Padma Vibhushan in 1955. After that, he received French Legion of Honour in 1983.
JRD Tata received ‘Bharat Ratna’ in 1992, becoming the first industrialist to be awarded India’s highest civilian honour. He remains the only industrialist till date to be awarded the Bharat Ratna.
#ThisDayThatYear in 1992, #JRDTata received the Bharat Ratna making him the only industrialist till date to be awarded the country’s highest civilian honour. #ThisIsTata pic.twitter.com/GpQl23hcqg
— Tata Group (@TataCompanies) January 26, 2019
He was bestowed the United Nations Population Award to recognise his initiative and efforts towards successfully implementing the family planning movement in India.
JRD Tata passed away in November 1993 in Geneva, Switzerland at the age of 89.