Dorabji Tata

Sir Dorabji Tata (27 August 1859 – 3 June 1932) was an Indian businessman, and a key figure in the history and development of the Tata Group. He was knighted in 1910 for his contributions to industry in British India.

Dorabji Tata
Dorabji Tata (cropped)
Dorab Tata
1st President of Indian Olympic Association
In office
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byMaharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala
Personal details
Born27 August 1859
Bombay, British India
Died3 June 1932 (aged 72)
Bad Kissingen, Germany
Spouse(s)Meherbai Bhabha
ParentsHirabai and Jamsetji Tata
RelativesSee Tata family
Alma materCambridge University
University of Bombay
Known forInaugurated Tata Steel
Founder of Tata Power
Founder of Tata Chemicals

Early life and education

Dorab was the elder son of Hirabai and Parsi Zoroastrian Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata. Through an aunt, Jerbai Tata, who married a Bombay merchant, Dorabji Saklatvala, he was a cousin of Shapurji Saklatvala who later became a Communist Member of the British Parliament.[1]

Tata received his primary education at the Proprietary High School in Bombay (now Mumbai) before travelling to England in 1875, where he was privately tutored. He entered Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge in 1877,[2] where he remained for two years before returning to Bombay in 1879. He continued his studies at St. Xavier's College, Bombay, where he obtained a degree in 1882.

Upon graduating, Dorab worked for two years as a journalist at the Bombay Gazette. In 1884, he joined the cotton business division of his father's firm. He was first sent to Pondicherry, then a French colony, to determine whether a cotton mill might be profitable there. Thereafter, he was sent to Nagpur, to learn the cotton trade at the Empress Mills which had been founded by his father in 1877.


Dorabji's father Jamshetji had visited Mysore State in south India on business, and had met Dr. Hormusji Bhabha, a Parsi and the first Indian Inspector-General of Education of that state. While visiting the Bhabha home, he had met and approved of young Meherbai, Bhabha's only daughter. Returning to Bombay, Jamshetji sent Dorab to Mysore State, specifically to call on the Bhabha family. Dorab did so, and duly married Meherbai in 1897. The couple did not have children.

Meherbai's brother Jehangir Bhabha became a reputed lawyer. He was the father of the scientist Homi J. Bhabha and thus Dorabji was Homi Bhabha's uncle by marriage. This family connection explains why the Tata group lavishly funded Bhabha's research and the research institutions set up by Bhabha, including the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.

Business career

Dorabji was intimately involved in the fulfilment of his father's ideas of a modern iron and steel industry, and agreed to the necessity for hydroelectric electricity to power the industry. Dorab is credited with the establishment of the conglomerates Tata Steel in 1907 which his father founded and Tata Power in 1911, which are the core of the present-day Tata Group. Dorabji is known to have personally accompanied the mineralogists who were searching for iron fields, and it is said that his presence encouraged the researchers to look in areas that would otherwise have been neglected. Under Dorabji's management, the business that had once included three cotton mills and the Taj Hotel Bombay grew to include India's largest private sector steel company, three electric companies and one of India's leading insurance companies. Founder of New India Assurance Co Ltd. in 1919, the largest General Insurance company in India. Dorabji Tata was knighted in January 1910 by Edward VII, becoming Sir Dorabji Tata.[3]

Non-business interest

Dorabji was extremely fond of sports, and was a pioneer in the Indian Olympic movement. As president of the Indian Olympic Association, he financed the Indian contingent to the Paris Olympics in 1924. The Tata family, like most of India's big businessmen, were Indian nationalists but did not trust the Congress because it seemed too aggressively hostile to the Raj, too socialist, and too supportive of trade unions.[4]


Dorabji Tata Mausoleum Brookwood
Mausoleum of Dorabji Tata in Brookwood Cemetery

Meherbai Tata died of leukaemia in 1931 at the age of 72. Shortly after her death, Dorabji established the Lady Tata Memorial Trust to advance the study into diseases of the blood.

On 11 March 1932, one year after Meherbai's death and shortly before his own, he established a trust fund which was to be used "without any distinction of place, nationality or creed," for the advancement of learning and research, disaster relief, and other philanthropic purposes. That trust is today known as the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust. Dorabji additionally provided the seed money to fund the setting up of India's premier scientific and engineering research institution, the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

Dorabji died in Bad Kissingen, Germany on 3 June 1932, at the age of 73. He is buried alongside his wife Meherbai in Brookwood Cemetery, Woking, England. They had no children.

See also


  1. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Volume 48. Oxford University Press. 1904. pp. 675–676. ISBN 0-19-861398-9.Article on Saklatvala by Mike Squires, who refers to Jamsetji as J.N. Tata.
  2. ^ "Tata, Dorabji Jamsetji (TT877DJ)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. ^ "London Gazette, 21 January 1910".
  4. ^ Claude Markovits, Indian Business and Nationalist Politics 1931–39: The Indigenous Capitalist Class and the Rise of the Congress Party (Cambridge University Press, 2002) pp 160–66

Further reading

  • Choksi, R. "Tata, Sir Dorabji Jamshed (1859–1932)" in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004) accessed 28 Jan 2012, a brief scholarly biography
  • Nomura, Chikayoshi. "Selling steel in the 1920s: TISCO in a period of transition," Indian Economic & Social History Review (January/March 2011) 48: pp 83–116, doi:10.1177/001946461004800104

External links

Bombay House

Bombay House is a historic privately owned building in Fort, Mumbai, India that serves as the head office of the Tata Group.Situated near Flora Fountain, it was completed in 1924 and has been the Tata Group's headquarters ever since. The building is a four-story colonial structure built with Malad stone, and was designed by Scottish architect George Wittet, who designed over 40 buildings for the group and later became the head of Tata Engineering Company Limited, now Tata Motors.

The building houses the office of chairman and all top directors of Tata Sons, the holding company. Core companies of the group-Tata Motors, Tata Steel, Tata Chemicals, Tata Power, Tata Industries and Trent-operate out of the Bombay House.

India at the 1920 Summer Olympics

India sent its first Olympic team to the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium, some twenty years after a single athlete (Norman Pritchard) competed for India in 1900 (see India at the 1900 Summer Olympics).

Jamshed Jiji Irani

Jamshed Jiji Irani, K.B.E., FREng is an Indian industrialist. Educated in Metallurgy, he joined British Iron and Steel Research Association. Later he joined Tata Steel where he was elevated to chief post gradually from which he retired in 2007. Later served on boards various Tata group and other companies. He received Padma Bhushan in 2007.

Jubilee Diamond

The Jubilee Diamond, originally known as the Reitz Diamond is a colourless, cushion-shaped diamond weighing 245.35 carats (49.07 grams), making it the sixth largest diamond in the world. It was originally named after Francis William Reitz, the then president of the Orange Free State where the stone was discovered, before being renamed to honour the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Victoria in 1897.

The original stone, a rough octahedron weighing 650.80 carats (130.16 g), was discovered in 1895 at the Jagersfontein Mine in South Africa. A consortium of diamond merchants from London purchased it along with its even larger sister, the Excelsior, in 1896, and sent it to Amsterdam where it was polished by M.B. Barends. A 40 carat (8 g) chunk was removed, which itself yielded a 13.34 carat (2.668 g) pear-shaped gem eventually purchased by Carlos I of Portugal.

Dorabji Tata acquired it around 1900 and gave it to his wife Meherbai. She used to wear it during her visits to the royal courts and public functions. The Jubilee Diamond was the largest in the world until 1905 when a bigger diamond was exhibited. It was sold only after his death in 1932 and the money went to the formation of the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust.

List of entities associated with Tata Group

The Tata Group is a large multinational conglomerate based in India, with many subsidiary and joint venture companies.

Tata Sons Limited is the holding company of the Tata Group, and holds the bulk of shareholding in these companies. Tata Sons Ltd is the owner of the Tata name and the Tata trademarks, which are registered in India and several other countries.

About 86% of the equity capital of Tata Sons is held by philanthropic trusts endowed by members of the Tata family. The biggest two of these trusts are the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Sir Ratan Tata Trust. Tata business support service also part of tata group

N. Kesava Panikkar

Nedumangattu Kesava Panikkar (1913–1977) was an Indian zoologist, a former director of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, a former adviser to the Government of India on fishery development and a former vice chancellor of the Cochin University of Science and Technology. He was a recipient of the Indian civilian award of Padma Shri in 1973.

New India Assurance

The New India Assurance Co. Ltd., based in Mumbai, Maharashtra is a public sector general insurance company of India. It is the "largest general insurance company of India on the basis of gross premium collection inclusive of foreign operations". It was founded by Sir Dorabji Tata in 1919, and was nationalised in 1973.

Previously it was a subsidiary of the General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC). But when GIC became a re-insurance company as per the IRDA Act 1999, its four primary insurance subsidiaries New India Assurance, United India Insurance, Oriental Insurance and National Insurance got autonomy.

New India Assurance operates both in India and foreign countries. In the recent past it has collaborated with some of the leading public sector bank of India and Financial Institutions to increase its distribution network.

Nowroji Saklatwala

Sir Nowroji Saklatwala, (1875–1938) was the third chairman of the Tata Group from 1932 till his sudden death in 1938 due to a heart attack.He was the son of Bapuji Saklatwala and Virbaiji Saklatwala (néé Tata). His mother Virbaiji was the sister of Jamsetji Tata. He completed his studies at St. Xavier College, joined the Tata Group in 1899 as a clerk in Svadeshi Mills in Mumbai. Within twenty years, he rose to be the head of the firm. He was the first non-Tata to make it to the top, and worked closely with Dorabji Tata. When Dorabji died in 1932, he became the Chairman of the Tata Group and had the task of consolidating the company during the Depression years.Closely connected with Indian cricket, Saklatwala played for the Parsees team during 1904-05, but stopped playing actively due to business pre-occupations. As a cricket player he represented the Parsees against the Europeans in 1904.He was the first Chairman of the Cricket Club of India after its inception in 1933 till his death and was instrumental in the development of Brabourne Stadium, for which he also donated a large sum of money.Saklatwala was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE) in the 1923 New Year Honours list, knighted in the 1933 Birthday Honours list and further knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the 1937 Coronation Honours list. He is buried in the Parsi Section of Brookwood Cemetery.

People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights

The People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) is an Indian non-governmental organisation that fights for the rights of marginalised people in several North-Indian states, especially in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. It was founded in 1996 by Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, his wife Shruti Naghuvanshi and the Sarod Maestro Vikash Maharaj. Nowadays the PVCHR has about 50,000 members including 3,000 former torture victims.

The PVCHR works on the eradication of caste based injustices that prevail in India though prohibited for more than 60 years now. The organisation therefore takes manifold action as for example:

Promoting the concept of Jan Mitra Goan (Hindi - people friendly village) for which Lenin Raghuvanshi became Ashoka fellow in 2001

fighting police torture and creating public awareness in the 'Project on Preventing Torture in India', (Project of the European Union),which leads into a new initiative as developing the testimonial model for survivors of torture and organized violence with support of Danish organization Rehabilitation and Research Center for Torture Victims(RCT)[1]

imparting elementary education to Dalit children in several villages in Varanasi district (funded by Dorabji Tata Trust, India)

working in the Right to Food campaign

R. K. Krishna Kumar

Rayaroth Kuttambally Krishna Kumar is an Indian business executive and a former director of Tata Sons. He is a member of Tata Administrative Service and continues to serve as a trustee of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Sir Ratan Tata Trust, which hold 66 percent stake in Tata Sons. His contributions are known behind several acquisitions of Tata Group, including the GB£ 271 million buy-out of Tetley in 2000, which made Tata Global Beverages the second largest tea company in the world. The Government of India awarded him the fourth highest civilian honour of the Padma Shri, in 2009, for his contributions to Indian Trade and industry.

Sir Dorabji Tata and Allied Trusts

The Sir Dorabji Tata Trust was established by Sir Dorab Tata (fondly called Sir Dorabji), the elder son of Tata Group founder Jamsetji Tata. Founded in 1932, it is one of the oldest non-sectarian philanthropic organisations in India.

TISS Mumbai

TISS was established in 1936 as Sir Dorabji Tata Graduate School of Social Work in Mumbai. It was renamed to its current name Tata Institute of Social Sciences in 1944. TISS Mumbai is the main campus of the TISS. In the year 1964, it was declared Deemed to be a University under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act (UGC), 1956. TISS Mumbai provides various M.A., M.Phil & Ph.D programs. Over the years, TISS Mumbai is well known for its contribution through research in social work, social sciences, human resources management & health systems.

Tata Institute of Social Sciences

The Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) is a multi-campus public funded research university in Mumbai, India. TISS is Asia's oldest institute for professional social work education and was founded in 1936 in then Bombay Presidency of British India as the Sir Dorabji Tata Graduate School of Social Work by the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust. In 1944, the institute was officially renamed as the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and in 1964, the Government of India declared TISS as Deemed university under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission Act (UGC), 1956.In 1954 TISS moved to a permanent campus in Deonar, Mumbai of 10 acres (4 ha) now known as the Main Campus, from the earlier campuses in Nagpada and then Andheri. In 2001, the Deonar campus was expanded to include the Malti Jal and Jal A.D. Naoroji Campus Annexe, now commonly known as the New Campus. TISS in 1986 established a rural campus in Tuljapur, Maharashtra and two off-campuses in Guwahati and Hyderabad in 2011. In addition to these campuses, TISS offers teaching and training, research and development support from centres established across India including in Leh Ladakh and Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands.TISS's academic programs focus on the Social Sciences and offers doctoral degrees in Management and Labour Studies, Disaster Studies, Development Studies, Education, Gender Studies, Health Studies, Law, Media and Cultural Studies, Public Policy, Rural Development and Social Work. Since its inception TISS has had a focus on field action including in responding to disasters such as the Partition of India, the Bhopal disaster and Uttarakhand floods. Several TISS initiatives have shaped public policy in India, such as India's labour welfare laws. Notable organizations and personalities have been appreciative of TISS's social service work including Eleanor Roosevelt, Jawaharlal Nehru, Niels Bohr and the United Nations, among others.

Tata Memorial Centre

The Tata Memorial Hospital is situated in Parel, Mumbai, in India. It is a specialist cancer treatment and research centre, closely associated with the Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer (ACTREC). The Centre is the national comprehensive cancer centre for the prevention, treatment, education and research in Cancer and is recognized as one of the leading cancer centres in this part of the world. Its an Autonomous body funded and controlled by Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India which also oversees the administration of institute since 1962.The Tata Memorial Hospital was initially commissioned by the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust on 28 February 1941 as a center with enduring value and a mission for concern for the Indian people. Current Director of the hospital is Dr. Rajendra A Badwe, who took over from for director Dr K. A. Dinshaw.

Tata Oil Mills Company

Tata Oil Mills Company also known as TOMCO, was a public limited company and part of Tata group. It was incorporated on 10 December 1917 with head office at Bombay by Dorabji Tata. It was into manufacture and sale soaps, detergents, cooking oils, glycerine, cattle and poultry feeds, de-oiled meals, oil cakes and fish products. The manufacturing units were spread over India in Maharahstra, West Bengal, Kerala, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. In 1952 Lakme was started as a 100% subsidiary of Tata Oil Mills by JRD Tata. The company owned famous bathing soap brands like Hamam, Okay, Moti to name a few. During early 1990s Tata's wanted to move out of businesses that did not meet their long term strategy and TOMCO was sold to their competitors Hindustan Lever Limited and it was amalgamated into HLL on 28 December 1994 with retrospective effect from 1 April 1993.

Tata Sons

Tata Sons Private Limited is the holding company of the Tata Group and holds the bulk of shareholding in the Tata group of companies including their land holdings across India, tea estates and steel plants.Tata Sons Private Limited was established as a trading enterprise in 1868, engaged primarily in the lucrative opium and tea trade with Mongolia & China. About 66% of the equity capital of Tata Sons is held by philanthropic trusts endowed by members of the Tata family. The biggest two of these trusts are the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Sir Ratan Tata Trust. Tata Sons is the owner of the Tata name and the Tata trademarks, which are registered in India and several other countries. It is one of the largest conglomerates in South Asia.Natarajan Chandrasekaran took over as Chairman of Tata Sons on 21 February 2017. The company also undertook conversion from a public limited company to a private limited one in 2017; the decision remains pending with NCLAT, as of August 2018.

Tata family

The Tata family is a prominent Indian business family, based in the city of Mumbai. The parent company is Tata Sons, which is the main holding company of the Tata Group, and about 65% of stock in these companies is owned by Tata charitable trusts, mainly the Ratan Tata Trust and the Dorab Tata Trust. Approximately 18 percent of shares are held by the Pallonji Mistry family, and the rest by various Tata Sons. The Tatas are a Parsi family who originally came to Mumbai from Navsari in the state of Gujarat. The founder of the family’s fortunes was Jamsetji Tata. The Tatas are the original founders of the Tata Sons and Tata Group.

The Tata family is related to the prominent Petit baronets, a Parsi family, through Sylla Tata, who married Sir Dinshaw Maneckji Petit, 3rd Baronet.

Veerendra Raj Mehta

Veerendra Raj Mehta is an Indian social worker, a former Joint Secretary to the Government of India, a trustee of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and a former consultant of the Asian Development Bank in Manila, Philippines. He is the younger brother of Devendra Raj Mehta, a 2008 winner of Padma Bhushan and the founder of Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS), Jaipur, the makers of renowned Jaipur foot, where Veerendra Raj Mehta works as an honorary executive director.Mehta is credited with taking Jaipur Foot beyond the Indian boundaries, founded the Mahaveer Philippines Foundation Inc. (MPFI) and has established three centres of the prosthetic makers in Philippines and one in Pakistan. He has been honoured by the Philippines House of Representatives and has been presented with the key to the city of Manila. He was honoured by the Government of India in 2015 with Padma Shri, the fourth highest Indian civilian award.

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