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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Jamsetji Tata "father of Indian industry"


Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata (March 03, 1839 to May 19, 1904) was a pioneer in the field of modern industry. He was born in Navsari, Gujarat.

He founded what would later become the Tata Group of companies. Jamsetji Tata is generally accepted to be the "father of Indian industry"

Jamshedji Tata was born to Nusserwanji and Jeevanbai Tata in Navsari, a small town in South Gujarat. Nusserwanji Tata was the first businessman in a family of Parsi Zoroastrian priests. He moved to Bombay and started trading.
Jamshetji joined him in Bombay at the age of 14 and enrolled at the Elphinston College. He was married to Hirabai Daboo while he was still a student. He graduated from college in 1858 and joined his father's trading firm. It was a turbulent time to step into business as the Indian Rebellion of 1857 had just been crushed by the British government.

Jamsetji worked in his father's firm till the age of 29. In 1868, he started a trading company with a seed capital of Rs. 21,000. In 1869, he acquired a bankrupt oil mill in Chinhpokli, converted it into a cotton mill and renamed the mill Alexandra Mill. He sold the mill two years later for a healthy profit. Thereafter he set up a cotton mill in Nagpur in 1874. He christened it Empress Mill.

The period following the establish of Empress Mill was the most poignant period of Jamsetji's life. Over the next thirty years till his death in 1904, Jamsetji laid the foundations for the Tata Group as we know it today.

He devoted himself to bringing to fruition three of his key ideas: setting up an iron and steel company, a world class learning institution, and a hydro electric plant. Ironically none of the ideas became a reality during his lifetime. However, the foundations laid by him and hard work by his successors ensured that each of the ideas were eventually established and are respectable entities in their respective fields today:

1. Tata Steels (formerly TISCO - Tata Iron and Steel Company Limited) is Asia's first and India's largest integrated private sector steel company

2. Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is a premier post-graduate institution of research and higher learning located in Bangalore offering postgraduate and doctoral research programmes to over 2,000 active researchers working in 48 specialized departments.

3. The Tata Power Company Limited is India’s largest private sector electricity generating company with an installed generation capacity of over 2300 MW.


Among his notable ventures that did bear fruition during his lifetime was the historical Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai. The hotel was completed for a princely sum of Rs. 4,21,00,000 on 16 December 1903.

The company started by Jamsetji Tata came to be known as the Tata Group and is today among the largest and most respected companies of India.

Jamsetji, was however, known for much more than just starting a company. He was a pioneer in his field and thought way ahead of his times.

When he started the Empress Mills in Nagpur, he didn't just think of novel ways to manufacture textiles, he also put in place very good labour practices. This was long before any labour laws came into existence.

He was also a nationalist. Though India remained under British rule while he was alive, he interacted with activists such as Dadabhai Naoroji and Pherozeshah Mehta. He was strongly influenced by their thinking. However, he always maintained that political freedom must be accompanied by economic self sufficiency. Not only did he manage to create thousands of jobs, he paved the way for many future enterprises.

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