Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata | Biography, Birth, Early Life & Education

Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata was the founding father of Tata Group which began with a textile workshop in central India in the 1870s. He was a Leading industrialist whose vision and ambitious endeavours helped catapult India into the league of industrialised countries. Jamsetji Tata was a loyalist and humanist whose ideas and vision shaped an exceptional business empire. His attributes marked him an extraordinary figure. His quality of warmheartedness made him unique and placed him in the pantheon of modern India's greatest sons.

Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata
  • Full Name: Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata
  • Other names: Founder of Tata Group, Founder of Jamshedpur, Founder of Tata Steel
  • Born: 03 March 1839, in Navsari, Gujarat, India
  • Died: 19 May 1904, in Bad Nauheim, Germany
  • Resting place: Woking, Surrey, England
  • Profession: Businessman, Pioneer Industrialist
  • Parents: Nusserwanji Tata, Jeevanbai Tata
  • Spouse: Hirabai Daboo
  • Children: Ratanji Tata, Dorabji Tata

Early Life

Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata was born on 03 March 1839 in Navsari, a town in southern Gujarat, to Nusserwanji Tata and Jeevanbai Tata. His family was a part of the nonage group of Parsees, who came to India from fleeing the persecution of Zoroastrians in Iran. Jamsetji Tata was born in a respectable, but the poor family of priests. His father Nusserwanji was the first businessman in a family of Parsi Zoroastrian preachers and his mother was a Gujarati. He broke his family's priestly tradition to turn as the first member of the family to start a business. He started a supply trading business in Mumbai.


Unlike other Zoroastrians, Jamshedji Tata had a formal Western education because his parents (Nusserwanji and Jeevanbai Tata) saw that he was blessed with special inner arithmetic from a very young age. still, for him to have further ultramodern education, he was latterly transferred to Bombay.

Jamsetji tata joined his father, in Bombay at the age of 14 and enrolled at Elphinstone College completing his education as a" Green Scholar" (the coequal of a graduate). After completing his scale from the Elphinstone College in Bombay in 1858, he joined his father's export-trading firm and helped establish its strong branches in Japan, Europe, China, and the United States of America. It was a turbulent time to start a business as the Indian Rebellion of 1857 had just been suppressed by the British government. Nusserwanji Tata regularly traveled to China to become familiar with the opium trade bustling at the time within a small colony of Parsees that was tightly closed off to outlanders.

Early Career

Nusserwanji Tata wanted his son to be a part of this business, so he sent his son to China to learn about the business there and the details of the opium trade. still, when Tata traveled around China, he began to realize that the cotton industry was growing very fastly and there was a chance of making a great profit.

Till he became 29, Jamsetji Tata worked in his father Nusserwanji Tata's company. Jamsetji Tata founded a trading company in 1868 with ₹21,000 capital and bought a bankrupt oil mill at Chinchpokli in 1869. He converted this oil mill to a cotton mill and renamed it Alexandra Mill. He sold his Alexandra mill 2 years later for a profit. Later, in 1874, Jamsetji Tata floated the Central India Spinning, Weaving, and Manufacturing Company in Nagpur because it seemed like a suitable place for him to establish another business venture. Due to this unconventional location, the people of Bombay scorned Tata for not making the smart move by taking the cotton business up in Bombay, known as the "Cottonopolis" of India. They did not understand why he went to the undeveloped city of Nagpur to start a new business.

But Tata's selection of Nagpur led to his success. Unlike Bombay, land in Nagpur was cheap and readily available for resources. Abundant farm work, and distribution was very smooth there, and the cheap land subsequently led to the converging of rails at Nagpur, which further developed the megacity. In 1877, Tata established a new cotton mill, called" Empress Mill".

Jamsetji Tata had four targets in life setting up an iron and steel company, a unique hotel, a world-class education institution, and a hydroelectric plant. Only the hotel became a reality during his life, with the inauguration of the Taj Mahal Hotel on 03 December 1903, at Colaba waterfront in Mumbai, at the cost of ₹ 11 million. At that time, it was the only hotel in India to have electricity.

Tata established another company, in 1885, in Pondicherry for the sole purpose of distributing Indian textiles to the nearby French Colonies and not having to pay duties; but, this failed due to deficient demand for the fabrics. This led to his purchase of the 'Dharamsi Mills' at Kurla in Bombay and later reselling it to buy the Advance Mills in Ahmedabad. Tata named it Advance Mills because it was one of the most high-tech plants at that time. On top of its technology, the company left a great effect on the megacity of Ahmedabad because Tata made an effort to integrate the plant within the megacity in order to give profitable growth to its community. Through these numerous contributions, Tata advanced the textile and cotton industry in India. Jamshedji Tata continued to be an important figure in the industrial world required in his later stages of life. Later on, Tata became a strong supporter of Swadeshism (A political movement in British India that encouraged the production of domestic goods and the boycott of imported goods).

Jamsetji tata get inspired by the Swadeshi movement and named his new cotton mill set up in Bombay the" Swadeshi Mill". The original idea for this new mill was to produce finer cloth, like the type coming from Manchester (widely famous for producing softer cloth).

Jamsetji Tata wanted to manufacture cloth of quality comparable to that of Manchester cloth, to reduce the number of imports coming from foreign countries. He had a vision for India to be the primary manufacturer of all kinds of cloth and soon he became an exporter. He wanted India to be the sole maker of fine cloths for which the primitive weavers of India were famous and started to experiment with various ways to improve the cultivation of cotton grown in different parts of India. He was the first to introduce the ring spindle into his mills, which soon replaced the throstle that was once used by manufacturers.

Tata's successors' work led to the three remaining ideas being achieved:

1. TISCO - Tata Iron and Steel Company Limited (Tata Steel)

Tata Steel Limited is an Indian multinational steel-making company. It is India's largest and Asia's first steel company. It was established on 25 August 1907, in Jamshedpur (present-day - Jharkhand) and became the world's fifth-largest steel company after it acquired Corus Group producing 28 million tonnes of steel annually. Tata steel is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. This steel plant of Tata group comes among the top steel-producing companies in the world. Tata is one of the world's most geographically diversified steel producers, with operations and commercial presence across the world.

2. The Indian Institute of Science (IISc)

Indian institute of science was established in 1909, and it's a deemed, public, research university for higher education and research in engineering, design, science, and management. IISc is located in Bengaluru. IISc is ranked among the most prestigious academic institutions in India. and has the highest citation per faculty among all the best universities in the world.

3. Tata Power Company Limited

Tata Power Company Limited (known as Tata Hydroelectric Power Supply Company, in starting) was established on 18 September 1919, by Dorabji Tata. TPCL's headquarter is located at Bombay House, 24 Homi Mody Street, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India and it is India's largest private electricity company (currently) with an installed generation capacity of over 8000MW.

Personal Information

Jamsetji Tata married Hirabai Daboo, at the very tender age of 16, when he was a student. Their sons, Dorabji and Ratanji Tata succeeded Tata as the chairmen of the 'Tata Group'.

Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata played an important role in the establishment of the Tata Group and jamsetji Tata's sister Jerbai became the mother of Shapurji Saklatvala, who Tata employed to successfully prospect for coal and iron ore in Odisha and Bihar. Saklatvala later settled in England, initially to manage Tata's Manchester office, and later he became a Communist Member of the British Parliament.

Death, Legacy and Charitable Work

In 1900, during a business trip to Germany, Tata became seriously ill. He died on 19 May 1904, in Bad Nauheim, Germany. He was buried in the Parsi burial ground in Brookwood Cemetery, Woking, England.

Tata's iron and steel plant was set up at Sakchi village in Jharkhand. The village grew into a town and the railway station there was named Tatanagar and now it is known as Jamshedpur (Jharkhand), in his honour. The old village of Sakchi (urbanised) now exists within the city of Jamshedpur. Tata became the founding member of the Tata family.

Jamsetji Tata generously donated to education and healthcare. Hurun Research India and EdelGive Foundation named him the greatest philanthrope of the last century. He also topped the list of the world's top philanthropists of the 20th century. In present time, he is a source of motivation and inspiration for entrepreneurs all across the world.

"I know that aiming at perfection has its drawbacks. It makes you go into details that you can avoid but that is the only way you can achieve excellence. So, in that case, being finicky is essential."

~Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata

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