Date of Death: 03/06/1932
Father: Jamsetji Tata
Some lesser known facts about Dorabji Tata
- Dorabji Tata was a famous Indian businessman, industrialist and philanthropist. He was a leading businessman, sports enthusiast and achiever for industrial development in British India. He was an Indian businessman who established the first steel plant in India and the first hydroelectric station in the Western Ghats.
- Dorabji Tata was the eldest son of his parents and had two siblings, Ratanji Tata and Dhunbai Tata.
- He received his early education at Proprietary High School, Bombay. In 1875, his parents sent him to Kent, England to study under a private tutor. He studied with a tutor for two years and then went to Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge in 1877.
- He was a sports lover since his college days. He also won honors for cricket and football while studying in England. He was a skilled equestrian, expert rower and a good tennis player in college. In 1879, he returned back to Bombay, India. After returning, he joined St. Xavier’s College and obtained a bachelor’s degree in arts from there in 1882.
- His father Jamsetji encouraged him to gain practical experience in journalism. Dorabji agreed with his father’s decision and worked as a journalist in the Bombay Gazette newspaper. Later, he was given the opportunity by his father to set up a textile project in Pondicherry. After setting up this venture, he was sent to handle the operations of Express Mills in Nagpur. After Jamsetji Tata’s death in 1904, Dorabji along with his younger brother Ratanji Tata took the responsibility of realizing his father’s dreams, who were:
- setting up of steel plant
- Establishment of a higher education institution in India
- starting a hydroelectric plant
- he established 1907 Tata Iron and Steel Company Limited (TISCO), now known as Tata Steel. He was a man who paid attention to every minute detail of his work. This was the reason that he went with his scientists and researchers to search for iron in mineral areas and left no area untouched.
- During World War I, TISCO supplied about 290,000 tonnes of steel to Britain and to show appreciation for this work, the British government changed the name of Sakchi to Jamshedpur.
- After the First World War TISCO faced a major business crisis and the situation became so dire that the company did not have enough funds to pay the wages of the workers. During that time Dorabji stood the test of time and took a loan of Rs. 1 crore. With this loan money and the support of Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohammad Ali Jinnah (future leaders of Pakistan and India), TISCO served the crisis.
- He was 38 years old when he married Meherbai Bhabha, daughter of HJ Bhabha, who was an inspector General of Education, Mysore State. His wife was chosen by his father Jamsetji and they were a happily married couple. However, they had no children.
- In 1904, at the time of Jamsetji’s death, Tata & Sons had three textile mills and a hotel (Taj Mahal Palace Hotel) in Bombay. With Dorabji’s leadership, the company diversified into several business units. These successful organizations included TISCO, the largest industrial unit in British India. Other successful ventures include two cement companies, three electric power companies, an aviation unit, a large edible oil and soap company and a major insurance company.
- Dorabji Tata once talked about his father and said,
For my father, earning money was only a secondary thing in life; To improve the industrial and intellectual condition of the people of this country was always subject to his constant desire in his heart… Merciful fate … has allowed me to help fulfill his invaluable legacy of serving the country . ,
- He supplied hydroelectric power to Bombay in 1910, a few years before the concept of clean and cheap energy was introduced in Bombay.
- He was a great philanthropist like his father and came up with a series of policies to benefit his workers. These include 8-hour working days, accident compensation, maternity compensation, provident fund and free medical assistance. He donated generously to disaster relief, education, learning and research, and other philanthropic work. He also contributed to the Oriental Research Institute and the University of Cambridge to establish a chair for the study of Sanskrit. Being a sports lover, he financed four athletes and two wrestlers at the Antwerp Olympics in 1920. He made a major contribution to the Indian Olympic Movement and the Indian Olympic Council after becoming the President of the Indian Olympic Council. At the time of the Paris Olympics in 1924, he financed the Indian players participating in the event.
- Dorabji’s wife Meherbai died of leukemia in 1931. After her death, Dorabji established the Lady Tata Memorial Trust to conduct research about blood diseases.
He invested a major part of his wealth in this trust and later this trust was named Sir Dorabji Tata Trust. He also offered to fund India’s Institute of Scientific and Engineering Research, known as the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
- Dorabji Tata died on 3 June 1932 in Bad Kissingen, Germany and was buried next to his wife at Brookwood Cemetery in Woking, England.