One of the most well-known and respected industrialists in India, Ratan Naval Tata was born on December 28 1937 in Mumbai. He is the present chairman of Tata Group. Ratan Tata was born into the wealthy and famous Tata family of Mumbai. He was born to Soonoo & Naval Hormusji Tata, a Gujarati-speaking Parsi family. Ratan is the great grandson of Tata group founder Jamsetji Tata. Ratan’s childhood was troubled, his parents separating in the mid-1940s, when he was about seven and his younger brother Jimmy was five. His mother moved out and both Ratan and his brother were raised by their grandmother Lady Navajbai.
He was schooled at the Campion School, Mumbai and graduated from Cornell University in 1962 with a degree in Architecture and Structural Engineering. Ratan joined the Tata Group in December 1962, when he was sent to Jamshedpur to work at Tata Steel. He worked on the floor along with other blue-collar employees, shovelling limestone and handling the blast furnaces. In 1971, Ratan was appointed the Director-in-Charge of The National Radio & Electronics Company Limited (Nelco), a company that was in dire financial difficulty.
In 1977, Ratan was assign with Empress Mills, a textile mill controlled by the Tatas. When he took charge of the company, it was one of the few sick units in the Tata group. Ratan managed to turn it around and even declared a dividend. However, competition from less labour-intensive enterprises had made a number of companies unviable, including those like the Empress which had large labour contingents and had spent too little on modernisation.
In 1991, he took over as group chairman from J.R.D. Tata, pushing out the old guard and ushering in younger managers. Since then, he has been instrumental in reshaping the fortunes of the Tata Group, which today has the largest market capitalization of any business house on the Indian Stock Market.
Under Ratan’s guidance, Tata Consultancy Services went public and Tata Motors was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. His dream was to manufacture a car costing Rs 100,000 (1998: approx. US$2,200; today US$2,528). He realised his dream by launching the car in New Delhi Auto Expo on January 10, 2008. The car is expected to be sold to public from December 2008. In 1998, Tata Motors introduced his brainchild, the Tata Indica.
Awards and Recognition
Padma Bhushan – India’s 50th Republic Day on 26 January 2000
Padma Vibhushan – On 26 January 2008