The Life and Times of Jamsetji Tata
Year First Published: 2004
Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata was born in 1839, and in his lifetime India remained firmly under British rule. Yet the projects he envisioned laid the foundation for the nation’s development once it became independent. More extraordinary still, these institutions continue to set the pace for others in their respective areas. For, among his many achievements are the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, which has groomed some of the country’s best scientists, the Tata Steel plant in Jamshedpur, which marked the country’s transition from trading to manufacturing, his pioneering hydro-electric project and the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai, one of the finest in the world.
In these as in other projects he undertook, Jamsetji revealed the unerring instinct of a man who knew what it would take to restore the pride of a subjugated nation and help it prepare for a place among the leading nations of the world once it came into its own.
The scale of the projects required abilities of a high order. In some cases it was sheer perseverance that paid off – as with finding a suitable site for the steel project and the establishment of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
In “For the Love of India”, R. M. Lala has drawn upon fresh material from the India Office Library in London and other archives, as also personal letters, to portray the man and his age. It is an absorbing account that makes clear how remarkable Jamsetji’s achievement truly was, and why, even now, one hundred years after his death, he seems like a man well ahead of the times.
Sir Lawrence Jenkings, Chief Justice of Bombay High Court, said of Jamsetji at his Memorial Meeting, 28th March, 1905:
“Wealth came to him in full measure, but he remained to the last wheat he was by nature, a simple, modest gentleman, seeking neither title nor place, and loving with a love that knew no bounds the country that gave his birth.”
‘He sought no honour and he claimed no privilege. But the advancement of India and her myriad peoples was with him an abiding passion. ’
– The Times of India, 20 May 1904.
‘I will always remember Jamsetji …. as a man who helped a nation believe in itself.’
– Azim Premji
‘Jamsetji changed India’s industrial and economic character. He was a visionary far ahead of his time.’
– N. R. Narayana Murthy