Ratan Tata’s Lasting Philanthropic Legacy

Ratan Tata

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Ratan Tata is a name that instantly catches everyone’s attention. The scion of the Tata group has earned respect not only as a successful businessman but as a great human being and philanthropist.

Known as the best chairman in India, he has always put social and employee welfare above commercial gains. At the age of 73, he heads one of India’s largest conglomerates, comprising nearly 100 companies, with a combined revenue of USD 67 billion.

He became the chairman of Tata Sons in 1990 and then again in 2016 as interim chairman. During his tenure the Tata Group reached great heights – its revenue increased 40 times, and profits increased 50 times. Let us see his life story and try to learn a chapter or two from his book.

Childhood and early life

Ratan Tata was born in 1937 in Mumbai into one of India’s richest industrial families. His grandfather Jamshedji was the founder of the Tata Tata group, which pioneered industrialization in post-independence India. Tata went to Cornell University in the US to study architecture and structural engineering and later pursued a management course at Harvard University.

Although the future chairman of the Tata Group, he started his career at the grassroots level, working with blue-collar employees in the Tata Steel division. In 1971, Tata was appointed director-in-charge of National Radio and Electronics Company Limited (NELCO), which was in dire need of revival, and turned it around.

In 1990 he took over the helm of the Tata Group and initiated a series of reforms to modernize the group’s business practices to compete successfully in the new era. During his tenure, he brought all the Tata companies under one umbrella, acquired several compliantly produced cars ‘Indica’ and the first compact car ‘Nano’. The Nano is the world’s most economically produced car which was the brainchild of Tata who was concerned about the safety of nuclear families traveling in two-wheelers.

Achievements of Ratan Tata

Ratan Naval Tata, who recently turned 84, ran the Tata Group as its chairman until his retirement in 2012, then acted as interim chairman in 2017. The businessman is a recipient of Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan. The highest awards instituted by the Government of India.

Ratan was one of Tata’s biggest achievements in globalizing the Tata brand, with acquisitions such as Tetley T, 


the truck manufacturing arm of Daewoo Motors and Jaguar Land Rover, apart from the Corus Group.

IT services firm, TCS, went public in 2004 during Ratan Tata’s stewardship. Tata Motors, an auto company, was listed on the New York Stock Exchange during Ratan Tata’s tenure, followed by the Nano, his own brainchild. During his tenure, the Tata Group’s revenue grew more than 40 times and its profits more than 50 times

How did Ratan Tata face the challenges?

A major challenge faced by Ratan Tata was when he met the Ford leadership to sell the Tata Group’s car business. The deal did not materialize but Tata worked to boost the auto business. In 2008, nine years later, when Ford was on the brink of bankruptcy, it was Tata who managed to seal the company’s acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover for over $2 billion.

Ratan Tata

Further proof of his strength to overcome challenges came during the 26/11 terror attacks when he led efforts to help the victims outside the Taj Hotel. To quote his own words, “If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together.”


Be the change you want to see

Living up to the philosophy, Tata has always shown curiosity in new ventures and potential technologies. He has made several small and large investments in several start-ups and next-gen technologies. He co-invested in bitcoin venture Abra with American Express. Also, collaborated with some Pune-based designers to execute a scheme to provide clean drinking water to marginalized sections of rural areas. 


The result is a clean indigenously designed sub-1000 water purifier. Tata Motors has also rolled out the first batch of Tigor electric vehicles from its manufacturing plant in Sanand, Gujarat.

A true leader in every sense

Tata is the true epitome of leadership, who always believed in putting the human face before commercial gains. He is involved in numerous philanthropic activities providing quality life, education in rural India.

He has received a lot of recognition in his lifetime. In 2000, the Government of India awarded him the Padma Bhushan, and in 2008 he received the Padma Vibhushan. In addition, he was awarded several international accolades including honorary doctorates from Ohio State University, University of Warwick and Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok.

His wealth is a staggering GBP 300 million, but he owns less than 1 percent of the conglomerate Tata Group. A majority of Tata Group’s shares are owned by several charitable trusts that provide finance for several philanthropic activities.

An amazing human being and businessman, surpris

Dhirubhai Ambani and Ratan Tata were prominent figures in the Indian business world, but they did not have a familial relationship. However, they were both influential industrialists and entrepreneurs who made significant contributions to the growth and development of India’s economy.

Dhirubhai Ambani was the founder of Reliance Industries, one of India’s largest conglomerates. He was known for his vision and pioneering efforts in industries such as petrochemicals, textiles, and telecommunications. Under his leadership, Reliance Industries became a major player in India’s business landscape.