J. R. D. Tata Biography

J.R.D. Tata, the man behind the success of Tata Group, was not only a fearless aviator but also a visionary ahead of his time. Born in France to a wealthy family, Tata’s passion for airplanes led him to become the first person to obtain a pilot license in India. He later established India’s first commercial airline, Tata Airlines, which eventually became Air India. With his astute leadership, the Tata Group expanded and became one of India’s most trusted brands. His relentless efforts to make the world a better place earned him numerous prestigious awards.

Quick Facts

  • Indian Celebrities Born In July
  • Also Known As: Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata
  • Died At Age: 89
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Thelma Vicaji Tata
    • Father: Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata
    • Mother: Suzanne
    • Born Country: France
  • Quotes By J. R. D. Tata
  • Aviators
  • Died on: November 29, 1993
  • Place of death: Geneva, Switzerland
  • Ancestry: French Indian
  • Cause of Death: Kidney Infection
  • City: Paris
  • Founder/Co-Founder: TCS, Tata Motors, Titan Industries, Tata Tea, Voltas, Air India
  • More Facts
  • Awards: Legion of Honour, Bharat Ratna

Childhood & Early Life

J.R.D. Tata was born in Paris, France in 1904 to an Indian father and a French mother. He had one elder sister and two younger brothers. He spent his childhood in France and attended the Janson De Sailly School in Paris. He also went to the French Foreign Legion, a unique military unit in the French Army. He hailed from a wealthy family and was educated in France, Japan, and India. He went to the Cathedral and John Connon School in Bombay. In 1923, he went to England for higher studies and enrolled in a crammer school. During this time, a law in France required all young boys to draft in the army for at least one year.


J.R.D. Tata started his career as a member of the Squadron in a regiment called Le Saphis in the French Army. After completing his one year of compulsory service in the French Army, he wanted to go to Cambridge for further education, but his father, who had been working in Tata Company in India, wanted him to join him. He joined Tata & Sons as an unpaid apprentice in 1925. Tata loved flying from a young age and had been greatly inspired by the pioneer Louis Blériot. He became an Indian citizen in 1929 and also obtained the first pilot license issued in India. In July 1932, he formed the Aviation department of Tata & Sons which came to be known as Tata Airlines and later became Air India. He was elected the chairman of Tata & Sons in 1938 when he was just 34 years old. He served as the trustee of the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust from 1932 and helped to establish the Tata Memorial Center for Cancer, Research and Treatment in 1941. In 1945, he founded Tata Motors, a locomotive manufacturing company by forming a joint venture with Daimler-Benz of Germany. The Government of India appointed him as the Chairman of Air India and a director on the Board of Indian Airlines in 1953. He would serve in these positions for the next 25 years.

Major Works

J.R.D. Tata served as the Chairman of the Tata Group for over a period of 50 years, making it India’s best-known global brand. More than being just a successful business, the group played a very active role in making the Indian society better. He greatly expanded the Tata Empire, founding the Tata Tea Limited in 1964, Tata Consultancy Services in 1968, and Titan industries in 1987.

Awards & Achievements

J.R.D. Tata received several international awards for aviation, including The Tony Jannus Award (1979) and Edward Warner Award of the International Civil Aviation Organization, Canada (1986). He was awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna in 1992 for his selfless service towards humanity.

Personal Life & Legacy

J.R.D. Tata married Thelma Vicaji in 1930, but the couple did not have any children. He died at the age of 89 due to a kidney infection. He was also the country’s first licensed pilot.

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