JRD Tata : Backbone of the Tata Group

Remembering JRD Tata on his 117th birth anniversary. Here’s his whole life journey from being a citizen in France to becoming the chairman of tata groups.

On 29 July 1904 in a Parsi Family the honorable Air Commodore of India,  Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata was born. He was the second number child of the renowned businessman Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata and Suzzane Briere. His mother was also known as Sooni Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata and in India was recognized for being the first-ever woman to drive a car in 1905.

JRD Tata was an entrepreneur, Indian Aviator, businessman. Especially he’s famous as the chairman of Tata Group. He founded several industries under this Tata Group. Some of which are Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Motors, Titan Industries, Tata salt, voltas, and Air India.

Jamshedji Tata, a pioneer Industrialist in India was the first cousin of JRD’s father. JRD Tata was having two sisters and two younger brothers. His elder sister’s name was Sylla, and his younger sister’s name was Rodabeh. His brother’s names were Darab and Jamshed(Jimmy tata).

Being the son of a French mother his almost childhood was spent in  France. As a result, French became a native language to him. Tata was educated in four different countries. These were London, Japan, France, and India. He studied in :

Janson De Sailly School – Paris

Cathedral and John Connon School –  Bombay

The whole family was living in London when his father joined the TATA company. When his father was in India, his mother died at the age of 43 in France. After Suzzane’s death, RD Tata decided to move his family to India. Along with this in October 1923 JRD continued his further higher studies in England. Thus, he was enrolled in a grammar school in England.

JRD Tata childhood

How did JRD Tata join the Tata company in India?

He was interested in studying Engineering at Cambridge. Being a citizen of France, he had to join the Army for at least one year. After 12 months of militarization in the French Army, he wanted to study engineering at Cambridge. But his father decided to bring him back to India. Hence after this, he joins the TATA company in India. In 1929 JRD’s French citizenship renounced. Thus, after this, he became a citizen of India.

In 1930 he got married to Thelma Vicaji. On 10 February 1929, he obtained the first pilot license issued in India. Later on, he came to popular know as the father of Indian Civil Aviation. In 1932, the first-ever Indian commercial airline, Tata Airlines was founded by JRD Tata. In 1946 this Tata Airlines became Air India.

Appointment Of JRD Tata as The chairman of Tata sons

In the year 1938 when his age was 34, he got elected as the chairman of Tata Sons. Thus he got renowned as the head of the largest industrial group in India. Earlier his second cousin Nowroji Saklatwala was the chairman of Tata Sons. The tata group touched the skies of success under his chairmanship. As the assets of the TATA Group from US$100 million to over US$5 billion.

He started his chairmanship with 14 Enterprises and the day he left tata sons, it was a conglomerate of 95 enterprises. Only in a half-century, in 1988, JRD made tata sons’ growth immense.

Following are the years, along with the programs initiated by JRD Tata:-


Year Programs
1932 Trustee of Sir Dorabji Tata trust
1936 Founded the Tata Institute of Social Sciences(TISS)


Founded Tata Memorial Centre for Cancer Research and treatment in Bombay – Asia’s first Cancer Hospital


Founded the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the National Centre for performing arts
1945 Founded Tata Motors
1948 Air India International – India’s first international airline


JRD Tata was appointed as chairman of Air India by the Indian government


Initiated “employee Association with management” program to give workers a stronger voice in the affairs of the company
1956 Founding member of the first Governing Body of NCAER
1968 Founded Tata Consultancy Service(TCS)
1979 Founded Tata Steel
1987 Founded Titan Industries


Death Of JRD Tata:

On 29 November 1993, he died in Geneva Switzerland due to a kidney infection at the age of 89. Though he was not a member of parliament. But upon his death, the Indian parliament was adjourned in his memory. In the end,  at the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris buried.

Kritika Agarwal

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