Dorabji Tata (27 August 1859 – 3 June 1932) was an Indian businessman of the British Raj and a key figure in the history and development of the Tata Group. He was knighted in 1910 for his contributions to the industry in British India.
Dorabji Tata was born on 27 August 1859, in Gujarat, India. From a young age, he had great ambitions and a strong will. Originally, he was supposed to be a priest, but he rebelled because he wanted to do something else.
As a 14-year-old, he went to Mumbai and enrolled at Elphinstone College, where he graduated in 1858 as a “Green Scholar.”
In 1858, he joined his dad’s trading firm, and he helped to establish its branches in Japan, China, Europe, and the United States.
When he was trying to expand his father’s business, he traveled extensively around the world and gained a lot of valuable experience.
In 1868, he started a trading company that would become the Tata Group. He bought a bankrupt mill at Chinchpokli the next year and renamed it Alexandra Mill, which he sold two years later.
His interest in textiles led him to start a cotton mill in Nagpur in 1874. After Queen Victoria became Empress of India in 1877, he named the mill “Empress Mill”.
He also started mills in Bombay and Kurla. He was a humanist and a good leader. He was known for his labor-protection policies as well as his efficiency and profitability.
There were four things he wanted in life: an iron and steel company, a learning institution that tutored Indians in the sciences, a unique hotel, and a hydroelectric plant.
He was an idealist and philanthropist who believed that India’s development would come from harnessing its best minds, and through disciplined industrialization. He founded the JN Tata Endowment in 1892 so Indian students could study in England regardless of caste or creed.
In December 1903, he opened the Taj Hotel in Mumbai, one of his visions. It was the only hotel in India with electricity when it opened.
In 1898, he donated his land to a research institute in Bangalore. To make the institute happen, he drew up a blueprint and sought the support of people like Lord Curzon and Swami Vivekananda. Unfortunately, this institution couldn’t be created in his lifetime.
A few years after he died, his successors founded the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). Today, IISc is regarded as one of India’s best institutions.
He planned a hydroelectric power plant and a big ironworks in the early 1900s. However, he never got to establish these enterprises because he died unexpectedly in 1904.
His biggest accomplishment is forming the Tata Group, which is today India’s largest business group. With over 100 operating companies including Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Tata Power, and Tata Chemicals, the company was founded in 1868 as a trading concern.
Dorabji Tata died on 3 June 1932 in Germany.
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