Ratan Tata was born into an old Parsi family of Bombay (present-day Mumbai), the first child of Soonoo & Naval Hormusji Tata. Ratan’s childhood was troubled, his parents separating in the mid-1940s, when he was about seven and his younger brother Jimmy was five. His mother moved out and both Ratan and his brother were raised by their grandmother Lady Navajbai. He was schooled at the Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai.
In 1962, after graduating from Cornell University with a degree in Architecture and Structural Engineering, Ratan joined the family business. Ratan turned down a job offer from IBM, following the advice of J.R.D. Tata, and entered the family business. Ratan joined the Tata Group in December 1962, when he was sent to Jamshedpur to work at Tata Steel. He worked on the floor along with other blue-collar employees, shoveling limestone and handling the blast furnaces. In 1971, Ratan was appointed the Director-in- Charge of the National Radio & Electronics Company Limited (Nalco), a company that was in dire financial difficulty.
Ratan suggested that the company invest in developing high-technology products, rather than in consumer electronics. J. R. D. followed Ratan’s suggestions. From 1972 to 1975; Nalco eventually grew and recovered its losses. In 1977, Ratan was entrusted with Empress Mills, a textile mill controlled by the Tatas. When he took charge of the company, it was one of the few sick units in the Tata group. Ratan managed to turn it around and even declared a dividend. In 1998, Tata Motors introduced his brainchild, the Tata Indica.
On January 31st, 2007, under Ratan Tata’s chairmanship, Tata Sons successfully acquired Corus Group, an Anglo-Dutch steel and aluminum producer. With the acquisition, Ratan Tata became a celebrated personality in Indian corporate business culture. The merger created the fifth largest steel producing entity in the world. Ratan Tata was honored by the Government of India with the Padma Bhushan on 26th January 2000, on the occasion of the 50th Republic Day of India.
He serves in senior capacities in various organizations in India and he is a member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry. In March 2006 Tata was honored by Cornell University as the 26th Robert S. Hatfield Fellow in Economic Education, considered the highest honor the university awards to distinguished individuals from the corporate sector. He recently received an honorary doctorate from the London School of Economics and listed among the 25 most powerful people in business named by Fortune magazine in November 2007.
Ratan Tata is indeed a visionary and has made India proud. With novel ideas like the Tata Nano Priced at a lakh only, more people can afford to buy a car. He has played a very important role in helping increase the standard of living of the common man. The future of India is bright with leaders like Ratan Tata showing the way to success.