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“To my father, the acquisition of wealth was only a secondary object in life; it was always subordinate to the constant desire in his heart to improve the industrial and intellectual condition of the people of this country…Kind fate has…permitted me to help in bringing to completion, his inestimable legacy of service to the country."
- Sir Dorabji Tata

The Braveheart who Started India’s Industrial Revolution with Steel

Dorabji gave shape to a vision of an India, strengthened by Steel and Power. He built the nation’s first steel plant in the inhospitable Chhota Nagpur region. He also built a hydel station in the daunting terrain of the Western Ghats. Dorabji saw in every challenge an opportunity.

A Man of Ingenuity

Sir Dorabji Tata was a man determined to create an extraordinary tomorrow. Starting off at the cotton division at Tata, he later went on to fulfil his father’s dream by establishing Tata Steel and Tata Power, both equally integral parts of the Tata Group industries today. It was under his leadership that Tata Steel became the largest private sector steel company in the country.

Soon after, he ventured into sectors such as hydroelectricity, edible oil, soap manufacturing, construction and aviation. His contributions towards industries in British India was recognised in 1910, when he was knighted by King Edward VII.

He Pledged his Personal Wealth to Prevent Tata Steel from Closing Down

In the 1920s, Tata Steel was hit by a severe market slump. Dorabji pledged his entire personal wealth which included even his wife’s Jubilee Diamond, twice the size of the legendary Kohinoor. The Imperial Bank gave him a personal loan of 1 crore which he used to bail out the company.

Dorabji was acutely aware that every tonne of steel produced is the hard work of thousands. He introduced initiatives like 8-hour day, maternity leave, provident fund, accident compensation and free medical aid. Thanks to him, Tata Steel is regarded as a company whose heart beats for its people.

Pursuing his admiration for sports, he facilitated four athletes and two wrestlers in the Antwerp Olympics, 1920 which was merely the first stride in his fruitful journey of prodigious contributions in the field of sports. Before becoming a prestigious member of the International Olympic Committee, he served as the President of the Indian Olympic Council, during which he financed the Indian team to the Paris Olympiad in 1924.

Sir Dorab was also a keen sportsman from his early boyhood.

Dorabji put all his wealth in a Trust that fuelled the advancement of learning. He initiated cancer research, set up Indian Institute of Science, provided impetus to fundamental research and the study of social sciences. Later, the Trust would help establish the National Centre for Performing Arts.

Indian Institute of Science

  • JN Tata thought of Indian Institute of Science, when he met Swami Vivekananda on a ship in 1893
  • JN Tata felt that a scientific research institute is a pre-requisite for industrialisation
  • Sir Dorabji Tata after JN Tata’s death met Lord Curzon, who promised to expedite the process for setting up of the institute.
  • In 1911 the Maharaja of Mysore laid the foundation stone of the institute.

A Pioneer of a Better Tomorrow

Abiding by his staunch belief against discrimination based on place, nationality or creed, he set up the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust using all his life’s earnings in 1932. It focussed on the advancement of learning and research, disaster relief, and other humanitarian matters.

Furthermore, he donated significant amounts of money to the University of Cambridge and the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute for installing laboratory equipment and establishing a Chair for Sanskrit Studies, respectively. His philanthropy and compassion towards society inspires millions of people, even today.

On his 161st birth anniversary, we celebrate the man whose wisdom and vision continues to lead Tata Steel to greater heights and better tomorrows.

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