J.R.D. was different from almost all other men of his era, because of his wide range of activities. J.R.D. went ahead steadily with industrialization programme under the British Empire in Colonial India, rule in the remaining four decades; he expanded this industrial empire Independent India. He set up institutions of international repute for generating the necessary man-power.
He undertook the task to industrialize the country under difficult conditions. Industrialization of the country was the motive and vision of J.R.D. that played a crucial role realizing that pursuit of excellence in institution of higher learning that was a prerequisite to development efforts. He believed that the attempts to industrialize India without adequate manpower were like trying to support a dome of steel with a pillars of snow.
The House of Tata took a leading role in setting up great institutions Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai was established by J. R. D. Tata. He believed that the lack of proper conditions and intelligent financial support hamper the development of science in India.
JRD Tata provided the necessary financial support to Dr. Homi Bhabha to establish the Institute of Fundamental Research. The uniqueness of J.R.D. is seen in yet another facet. He headed a group of engineering industries. His passion for building institutions for excellence was not limited to the field of technology. He was aware of the consequences of social science not keeping pace with growth of physical sciences.
It was this deep insight, which prompted to identify potential social scientists in several voluntary groups set up to help victims of various calamities and to establish Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Soon this institute acquired international standing and has contributed substantially to social sciences.
Cancer was, at that time, a dreadful and new disease. This disease could be treated only in advanced countries at enormous cost. Again J.R.D. took interest in setting up the Tata Memorial Centre for Cancer Research. Treatment for cancer comparable to that available in western countries is now available in India at affordable costs.
As said earlier J.R.D. was also a connoisseur of arts, he established the National Centre for Performing Arts. Thus he gave equal importance to arts. In this centre of excellence all forms of art is encouraged. It has succeeded in drawing up great artists from all over India. One of the most important aspects of his life was that he was a great and an expert pilot.
One of his hobbies was flying. He had a keen interest in flying various types of aircrafts. He established Air India’—the first company in Indian aviation Industry. He was the first chairman of Air India. Even at the age of seventy he piloted his aircraft from Mumbai to London.
Thus J.R.D. Tata was an amazing personality. The capability of J.R.D. to convert hurdles into opportunities must stand out as unique role model for his countrymen. This great son of India passed away on Nov. 29, 1993 at the ripe age of 89. This man of great importance created many centers of excellence in science, technology, social science and arts.
All the people of India acknowledge his contribution to the building of modern India, especially his visionary behavior in setting up institutions for the pursuit of excellence in higher education. We surely can learn a lot from his life. Modem India would always remain indebted to this great visionary and man of action.