Jamshetji Nusserwanji Tata (Gujarati: જમ્શેત્જી નુંસ્સેર્વાનજી ટાટા; March 3, 1839 – May 19, 1904) was an Indian entrepreneur and industrialist, prominent for his pioneering work in Indian industry. He was born to a Parsi family in Navsari, Gujarat, India.
He founded what would later become the Tata Group of companies. Jamsetji Tata is regarded as the “father of Indian industry”
Jamshedji Tata was born to Nusserwanji and Jeevanbai Tata on 3 March 1839 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.
Jamshedji joined his father in Bombay at the age of 14 and enrolled at the Elphinstone 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 suppressed by the British government.
Jamshedji worked in his father’s until 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 Chinchpokli, 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 on 1 January 1877 when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India.
He devoted himself to bringing to fruition four of his key ideas: setting up an iron and steel company, a world-class learning institution, a one-of-a-kind hotel and a hydro-electric plant. Only one of the ideas became a reality during his lifetime. The Taj Mahal Hotel was inaugurated on the 3rd of December 1903.
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:
- Tata Steel (formerly TISCO – Tata Iron and Steel Company Limited) is Asia’s first and India’s largest and became world’s fifth largest steel company,after it acquired anglo-Dutch Corus group producing 28 million tonnes of steel annually
- The Indian Institute of Science
- The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research was founded by Dr. Homi Bhabha. Dr. Homi Bhabha approached J.R.D Tata requesting his support towards the establishing of a scientific institution. The institution was founded in 1945.
- 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 Palace & Tower in Colaba district in Mumbai.The hotel was completed for a princely sum of Rs. 4,21,00,000 on 16 December 1903. Taking inflation into account it would cost Rs. 11,475,496,284 (£160,962,295) in today’s money.