Born in Paris on 29 July 1904, JRD Tata was a Parsi by religion. He had the honour of being India’s first licensed pilot in 1929. He had a great interest in flying which led to the formation of India’s first commercial airline Tata Airlines in 1932. Tata himself piloted its inaugral flight from Karachi to Mumbai (the then Bombay).
In 1946, Tata Airlines was renamed as Air India. Later on, Tata kept a big heart and decided to give Air India for the benefit of the country. In 1948, Air India became country’s first joint sector project between the government and the private sector to start an overseas service. Later on, the Government of India decided to nationalise the business.
After 1947, the Indian Government decided to expand the aviation business and effective suggestions were given by JRD Tata. He gave an idea of enchancing the airlines into two ventures : one for domestic avaition ( Indian Airlines ) and the other for flying overseas (Air India ). The Government of India also requested JRD Tata to become the chairman of Air India a few years after independence.
He continued to hold his post for 25 years until politics prevailed the avaition business and the then Prime Minister of the country, Moraji Desai terminated him from the post in 1978 without much explanations. Tata was very much upset by the decision and he expressed his expressed his displeasure in his letter to Moraji Desai. However Indira Gandhi reappointed him to the Board of Air India in 1980 after coming back to power.
Air India was JRD Tata’s love. Of all the things which he had achieved in life, Air India was his proudest one. His love for the aviation never diminished. He was too obsessed with Air India and devoted most of his time to the airlines though he stood to gain nothing from the Air India’s success and accepted only ₹ 1 as an annual salary. He regarged Air India as his own child. He often used to give surprise visits to the airlines for inspection and gave feedbacks to the Government for the improvement of avaition industry. Once in his surprise visit to an Air India flight, he saw that the omelette served was under cooked to which he gave necessary guidelines to cook the food properly. He also suggested to change the coffee machines, which according to him was “undrinkable” for the passengers. He was also very particular about the hair style and dressing sense of the crew on board. His every decision emphasised on building the reputation of the airlines rather than the short term profit.
1992 witnessed the unfortunate demise of JRD Tata due to a kidney infection. The nation was in a shock and the Parliament was adjourned for a day. He was conferred with many accolades and recognitions during his life long career – the most important one being Bharat Ratna for his selfless humanitarian endeavours.
The Admirable India community takes deep pride learning about the mastermind behind India’s civil aviation success. With the high quality standards of his companies, JRD’s efforts contributed a lot in creating a new and more positive image of India. Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata is a source of continuing inspiration since decades and will live forever in the hearts of the Indians. The events of his life are not just memories but a series of revolutionary events treasured by all of us forever.
Post by: Jaywant Zala