No secret’ J. R. D. Tata replied once when he was asked what was the secret of his success in business, “Just long hours”, he used to put in seventy five to eighty hours of work a week. That makes for about twelve to thirteen hours in a day.
He was born on July 29, 1094 and died November 1993 at the ripe age of 89. For fifty two years he was the chairman of the largest industrial group in India Tata Industries which produced everything from steel and electric power to chemicals and automobiles. During his chairmanship there was never a strike in Jamshedpur.
The doyen of Indian industry Jehangir Ratan Ji Dadabhog Tata was popularly and lovingly known as J.R.D. Tata. He was called so because of his vast industrial empire.
Apart from being an industrialist par excellence, he was a keen and active supporter of modern science and technology, a connoisseur of arts, an expert management, a visionary who supported excellence in education in all branches and above all, a fine example of a rare combination of scientific temper, humility and the milk of kindness.
J.R.D. was different from almost all other men of his era because of his wide range of activities. J.R.D. went ahead steadily with his industrialisation programme under the British Empire in Colonial India, while in the remaining four decades; he expanded this industrial empire in Independent India.
He set up institutions of international repute for generating the necessary manpower. He undertook the task to industrialise the country under difficult conditions. Industrialisation of the country was the motive and vision of J.R.D. tata played a crucial role in realising that pursuit of excellence in institution of higher learning which was a pre-requisite to development efforts. He believed that the attempts to industrialise India without adequate manpower were like trying to support a dome of steel with a pillars of snow.
The House of Tata took a leading role in setting up great institutions Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai was established by J. R. D.Tata. He believed taht the lack of proper conditions and intelligent financial support hamper the development of science in India.
JRD Tata provided the necessary financial support to Dr. Homi Bhabha to establish the Institute of Fundamental Research. The uniqueness of J.R.D. is seen in yet another facet. He headed a group of engineering industries. His passion for building institutions for excellence was not limited to the field of technology.
He was aware of the consequences of social science not keeping pace with growth of physical sciences. It was this deep insight which prompted to identify potential social scientists in several voluntary groups set up to help victims of various calamities and to establish Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
Soon this institute acquired international standing and has contributed substantially to social sciences.
Cancer was, at that time, a dreadful and new disease. This disease could be treated only in advanced countries at enormous cost. Again J.R.D. took interest in setting up the Tata Memorial Centre for Cancer Research. Treatment for cancer comparable to that available in western countries is now available in India at affordable costs.
As said earlier J.R.D. was also a connoisseur of arts, he established the National Centre for Performing Arts. Thus he gave equal importance to arts. In this centre of excellence all forms of art is encouraged. It has succeeded in drawing up great artists from all over India.
One of the most important aspects of his life was that he was a great and an expert pilot. One of his hobbies was flying. He had a keen interest in flying various types of aircrafts. He established ‘Air India’—the first company in Indian aviation Industry. He was the first chairman of Air India. Even at the age of seventy he piloted his aircraft from Mumbai to London.
Thus J.R.D. Tata was an amazing personality. The capability of J.R.D. to convert hurdles into opportunities must stand out as unique role model for his countrymen. This great son of India passed away on Nov. 29, 1993 at the ripe age of 89. This man of great importance created many centers of excellence in science, technology, social science and arts.
All the people of India acknowledge his contribution to the building of modern India, especially his visionary behaviour in setting up institutions for the persuit of excellence in higher education. We surely can learn a lot from his life. Modern India would always remain indebted to this great visionary and man of action.