- Jamsetji Nasrwanji Tata was an Indian entrepreneur and industrialist. He is the founder of the Tata group which is known as the father of Indian industries. He was a big-hearted businessman who was a patriot, philanthropist, builder, entrepreneur and maker. He was well ahead of his time and came up with labor welfare policies and practices that won millions of hearts. He started the first steel project in the country and established the steel city of Jamshedpur. He is a top-ranked philanthropist of the 20th century who is still remembered for his philanthropic work.
- Jamsetji Tata was born on Sunday, March 3, 1839, in a small town called Navsari, Gujarat. He belonged to a family of Parsi priests and was the only son of his parents. His father, Nasarwanji, was the first businessman in the family to run a business in Bombay.
His mother was Jeevanbai Tata and she was a homemaker. Jamsetji spent his childhood in Bombay and graduated from St. Elphinstone College, Bombay in 1859.
- In 1858 there was a huge increase in the demand for cotton in India. In the same year Jamsetji joined the export trading business in Bombay. He worked in his father’s firm and helped him expand business overseas. He helped his father establish branches in China, Europe, Japan and the United States. During his visit to Hong Kong, he saw a boom in the textile industry and decided to foray into it.
- Jamsetji was just a student when he was married to Hirabai Dabbu. He was only 16 years old at the time of their marriage and later the couple was blessed with two sons. His elder son was Dorabji Tata and younger son Ratanji Tata.
- In 1869, Jamsetji entered the cotton textile business. For this he bought a bankrupt oil mill at Chinchpokli in South Mumbai. He converted it into a cotton trading mill called Alexandra Mills. The venture became profitable in a year and later he sold it to a cotton merchant for profit.
- In 1874, he established his own textile manufacturing unit in Nagpur. He faced heavy criticism from industry players but still stuck to his plan. They chose Nagpur because it was located in a cotton-producing district and it made it easier for them to get raw materials for textile production. For the export of raw materials they relied on the newly developed railway network in India. It was his conscious choices that made Empress Mills a huge success.
- He had four dreams that he wanted to fulfill in life: building a major hotel, setting up an ironworks and steel company, laying the foundation for a best-in-class institute, and setting up a hydroelectric plant.
- One of his dreams which he fulfilled was to build a premier hotel. The hotel was built in South Mumbai and was inaugurated on 3 December 1903 as the Taj Mahal Hotel.
- In 1901, Jamsetji began planning his second venture with his sons. This project was the first ironworks project in India which we now know as Tata Steel. However, he did not see this dream come true as he passed away in 1904. Later, his sons established this project in Sakchi, Jharkhand. This area is now known as Jamshedpur. Jamshedpur city is also called Tatanagar after Jamsetji Tata.
- Jamsetji Tata initiated a range of welfare practices and programs for its workforce. He was well ahead of his time and was the first industrialist to implement labor protection policies. He introduced free medical aid for his workers, came up with a highly ventilated workplace, reduced working hours, started a crche for working women and started programs such as sports days.
- He was the first businessman to come up with gratuity schemes and provident fund schemes for his employee welfare. In 1886, he came up with a pension fund for the welfare of his employees even after retirement. Later in 1895, when the industrialized world was dominated by the practice of slavery and abuse, Jamsetji introduced accident compensation to cover for any lapses that might emerge at work.
- He is a leading industrialist, donating generously and donating a total of US$102.4 billion, which is much more than the famous philanthropists of the 21st century.
- Jamsetji Tata went on a business trip to Germany in 1900 when he fell ill. He was 65 when he died on 19 May 1904 in Bad Nauheim, Germany. He was buried at Brookwood Cemetery in Woking, England.
- He was the businessman who installed the first fire sprinkler and humidifier in India and supported the development of the bubonic plague vaccine and took a dose himself.
- He was a patriot who supported the Swadeshi movement. In 1886, he started a mill named Swadeshi Mill to support this movement.
- He came up with the roadmap for Mumbai and his established company, Tata Steel, supported the development and construction of major infrastructure in India including Kolkata’s Howrah Bridge and Mumbai’s Sea Link.
- In 1915, Sir Dinshaw Edulji Vacha published the first biography of Jamsetji as Life and Work of JN Tata, His second biography was written by RM Lala in 2006 and published as Love of India: The Life and Times of Jamsetji Tata.
- The famous Mysore silk was discovered through his sericulture experiment in his textile mill.