November 29, 1993, marks the death anniversary of Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata, popularly known as JRD Tata; the man who took the Tata legacy higher.
Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata, renowned as the pioneer of Indian aviation, the longest-serving chairman of the Tata group, and the visionary founder of several iconic companies, was a prominent figure in Indian business. He died on November 29, 1993, leaving behind a lasting legacy and significant contributions to various industries.
Born on July 29, 1904, to a French mother and a Parsi father, he grew up imbibing two distinct cultures during his upbringing. His educational journey encompassed studies in France, England, and Japan. At the age of 22, he started his career with the Tata group as an unpaid apprentice.
At the age of 34, he took over the reins from his father and under his leadership, he established various industries within the Tata group. These included Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Motors, Titan Industries, Tata Salt, Voltas, and Air India.
On JRD Tata’s death anniversary, here’s a look at some interesting facts about Father of Indian Aviation.
1) JRD Tata was the first person to obtain the first-ever pilot license in India in 1929, initiating India's aviation industry. He has been called the 'Father of Indian aviation' for his extensive work in the field.
2) He served as the chairman of the Tata Group for a remarkable 53 years, from 1938 to 1991, contributing significantly to its growth and expansion.
3) Under his leadership, the Tata Group diversified into various industries such as steel, airlines, hospitality, and more, establishing numerous successful companies.
4) JRD Tata founded India's first commercial airline, Tata Airlines, which later became Air India, India's national carrier.
5) Tata is the only businessman who has received two of India's highest civilian awards the Padma Vibhushan (1955) and the Bharat Ratna (1992) for his extensive effort in growth of Indian industry. He was also awarded the French Legion of Honour.
6) JRD Tata was deeply involved in social causes. He established various trusts and foundations, focusing on education, healthcare, rural development, and arts and culture.
7) He played a pivotal role in establishing TISS, a premier institution for social sciences, to address social issues and provide education and research in this field.
8) His philanthropic initiatives included the founding of Tata Memorial Hospital for cancer treatment and research, showcasing his commitment to societal welfare.
In the book 'The Tata Group: From Torchbearers to Trailblazers', Shashank Shah reveals, “If he saw a dirty airline counter, he would shame everyone by requesting a duster and wiping it himself. From the inside décor to the colour of the air hostess’ saris; from wordings on Air India hoardings to the availability of toilet paper in lavatories on-board, J.R.D. set high benchmarks in hands-on leadership.”
JRD Tata and Sports
He was always inclined towards sports. In 1937, he established the Tata Sports Club and served as the President from 1937 to 1980. The club proved to be a boon to a lot of budding athletes.
Remembering the legend and his legacy
Tata died in Geneva, Switzerland on 29 November 1993 at the age of 89 of a kidney infection. He said a few days before his passing: "Comme c'est doux de mourir" ("How gentle it is to die").
Upon his death, the Indian Parliament was adjourned in his memory – an honour not usually given to persons who are not members of parliament. He was buried at the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.