Remembering JN Tata: The original crusader for Atmanirbhar Bharat

By Neelanjan Chakraborty|3rd Mar 2021
On the 182nd birth anniversary of JN Tata, we look at the founder of Tata Group, and the original crusader for Aatmanirbhar Bharat.
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JN Tata had four dreams — setting up an iron and steel company, a world-class learning institution, a unique hotel, and a hydro-electric plant. But only the hotel materialised during his lifetime.

Today marks the 182nd birth anniversary of the original crusader for Atmanirbhar Bharat, Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, Founder of the Tata Group, India’s biggest conglomerate company.

Regarded as the 'Father of Indian Industry', JN Tata was born on March 3, 1839, in Navsari, a city in south Gujarat.


While the 20th century in India marked a significant political turmoil with a cry for Swadeshi at its centre, JN Tata believed in the idea long before the idea became viral. Today, he is remembered as the man who changed the business world of India. 


The founder of Tata Iron and Steel Works company, he is also the founder of the city of Jamshedpur.

Tata steel: JN Tata’s dream project

JN Tata’s entrepreneurial attitude was quick to note that the rich nations of his era had amassed their wealth via rapid industrialisation with the iron and steel industry at its core. 

He believed that India’s industrialisation and the ultimate prosperity of its citizens would be possible only by the presence of a robust, indigenous iron and steel industry.

For two decades, he studied various traditional steel towns, overcame unfavourable government policies, and a hostile political environment to establish Tata Iron and Steel Company, which made its first ingot of steel in 1912. 


While JN Tata did not live long to see his dream fulfil, Tata Steel today is one of the world’s top steel-producing companies, operating across 26 countries with key operations in India, Netherlands and United Kingdom.

JN Tata

JN Tata's dream was to see a self-reliant India backed by a strong scientific temperament (Image Credits: Tata group twitter)

Self-reliance in the field of science

JN Tata had a firm belief that India’s progress at a world stage cannot be a success without a strong scientific sentiment. Not only did he set aside half of his personal property to build a world-class institute of advanced studies to promote original investigations in Mumbai but was also one of the original ideators behind the Indian Institute of Science (IISc).

Little do people know, but the idea of IISc was born in Jamsetji’s mind when he met Swami Vivekananda onboard the Empress of India while travelling from Japan to Vancouver. 

IISc went on to be the proving ground for science in India with the institute being the home of several well-known names of the Indian scientific community. These include the likes of CV Raman, Homi Bhabha, and Vikram Sarabhai.

Little known things about JN Tata

  1. JN Tata brought back the idea to harness hydroelectricity from his trip to the US in 1893, the company later grew to what we now know as Tata Power, which is currently India's largest private electricity company.
  2. The idea to create superior quality cotton was born during a study of the Lancashire cotton trade, which JN Tata witnessed during his travels in the county giving birth to the idea to spin better quality cotton on the Indian soil.
  3. In 1898, during the bubonic plague epidemic, JN Tata saw value in the Russian doctor Professor Haffkine’s inoculation and urged people to take it to curb the spread of the disease.
  4. JN Tata's travels inspired him to create a world-class luxury hotel in India. The result of which today is the majestic Taj Mahal Palace at Gateway of India, Mumbai.
  5. Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, used to refer to JN Tata as a ‘One Man Planning Commission’.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

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