“I know that aiming at perfection has its drawbacks. It makes you go into details that you can avoid but that is the only way you can achieve excellence. So, in that case, being finicky is essential.” – J.R.D. Tata
There is usually that one person who sparks inspiration and ingenuity that spreads into a wildfire of innovation and revolutionizes an age.
For India, it ended up being one family.
India is known as the birthplace for yoga, for the colorful clothes, the interesting history, and of course for the Taj Mahal. However, for many that is all that they know India for. Those in business know that there is just one more thing synonymous with India – and that is the TATA Group.
The TATA Group is a conglomerate of a hundred companies in everything from motors, to the food industry, from jewelry, all the way to technological consultancy services. Obviously the group wasn’t started on its own. It was started by one man in the late nineteenth century, with the dream of only starting one company, and his name was Jamshedji Tata.
On XLRI’s campus, there is a museum and archives for the first company created by the descendants of Jamshedji Tata, TATA Steel. TATA Steel was the first industrial company that was created by an Indian in India in the early twentieth century. Though he wasn’t alive to see it built, Jamshedji set the plans in motion. It was amazing hear from our tour guide all the various ideas and the great lengths that this gentleman went through in order to pursue a dream. Not only was he instrumental in the creation of TATA Steel, but he was also integral in the creation of India’s first technical institute, and India’s first planned city, which of course was named in honor of him; Jamshedpur.
Jamshedpur, where XLRI is located, is TATA’s city. You can see TATA Steel from campus and it’s still producing quality steel that is used by the likes of Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai. TATA motors also has offices here and hopefully as part of our courses here we will be able to go to this factory as well. I haven’t seen much of Jamshedpur, but from what I can see, it is a beautiful city. It is the first planned city, as I mentioned before, and it is also the seventh (or eighth) cleanest city in India. Another unique fact about Jamshedpur is that the city is completely run by the TATA Group, not the Indian city government. TATA provides filtered water and electricity to the city. TATA owns some of the land that makes up Jamshedpur, but the rest it leases from the government. The current term of the lease is 99 years and the lease was just renewed in the last few years.
From the museum visit, I also learned that TATA group also pours much of their resources into environmental protection and education for the people of Jamshedpur and the rural villages that are around the city. They have many small programs such as health programs, and teaching programs in these rural parts, not only to foster a learning environment, but also making sure the people are healthy and well cared for and more opportunities than they could have imagined before.
It’s always nice to see a huge corporation giving back to the people and for me, I’m awed to see that the inspiration of one man over a century ago, inspired his family to create and nurture this same spirit within itself and to others over the years that have past.