Ratan Tata, who legacy speaks for itself – a Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibushan awardee, philanthropist and one of the most successful business tycoon of India, has turned 83 today.
Born on December 28, 1937, Tata graduated from the Riverdale Country School in New York City and received a degree in architecture with structural engineering from Cornell University, US. He later enrolled at the Harvard Business School and completed an Advanced Management Program in 1975.
In 1962, he began his journey to the top with Tata Steel division and was appointed the director-in-charge of the National Radio & Electronics Company Limited in 1971. Two years after completing his course from Harvard, Tata was moved to Empress Mills, a struggling textile mill under the Tata Group. It was in 1991 that JRD Tata stepped down as chairperson of Tata Sons, naming Ratan Tata as his successor.
Under his leadership, Tata Sons’ revenue grew over 40 times and profit over 50 times. He was instrumental in the business’ expansion and conceptualisation of popular cars like the Tata Nano and the Tata Indica. He got Tata Tea to acquire Tetley, Tata Motors to acquire Jaguar Land Rover, and Tata Steel to acquire Corus and in 2004. Tata Motors was even listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
As a philanthropist, he invested 65 per cent of his shares in charitable trusts including the Tata Education and Development Trust, an affiliate of the Tata Group which provided a $28 million Tata Scholarship Fund to Cornell University to provide financial aid to undergraduate students from India.
Tata also donated on several projects including $50 million to his alma mater, Harvard Business School, for the construction of an executive centre and a whooping $950 million to IIT Bombay the largest donation received in its history, and formed the Tata Centre for Technology and Design to develop design and engineering principles suited to the needs of people and communities with limited resources.
Ratan Tata also received several awards for his contribution to society.
Ratan Tata retired as the chairperson of Tata Sons on his 75th birthday in 2012, giving the reins to Cyrus Mistry of Shapoorji Pallonji Group. Mistry was ousted in 2016 and Tata was made interim chairperson until January 12, 2017, and Natarajan Chandrasekaran was named as Tata Sons’ chairperson.