Apart from being known as one of India’s most successful business tycoons, Tata is also one of the biggest philanthropists in the country.
According to the IIFL Wealth Hurun India Rich List 2022, the former Tata Group head had 118 lakh followers on social media platform Twitter and is the most followed entrepreneur from this list. His Twitter following rose by 18 lakhs in one year.
He is ranked at 421st place in the list with a total net worth of Rs 3,800 crore in 2022.
People from all walks of life wished him a good health and a happy & long life. YSR Congress Party MP Raghu Ramakrishna Raju wrote to President Droupadi Murmu urging her to confer Ratan Tata with Bharat Ratna award.
Stating that Tata will be “a pervading presence in nation’s list of the philanthropic billionaire”, Raju said,”Ratan Tata is a legend and one existing personality who deserves Bharat Ratna.”
Heartiest birthday greetings to the legendary Shri Ratan Tata ji!Sir, wishing you a very long life and very good h… https://t.co/xKJeRiVcJQ
— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) 1672206241000
Birthday greetings to the legendary @RNTata2000, an entrepreneur par excellence admired for his business acumen, le… https://t.co/Gs4uYS4UdC
— N Chandrababu Naidu (@ncbn) 1672204041000
Heartiest birthday greetings and best wishes to Mr. Ratan Tata, former chairman of Tata Group, world’s renowned ind… https://t.co/RHKT2PUO7H
— Vishnu Vardhan Reddy (@SVishnuReddy) 1672200087000
Ratan Tata, the name is enough to command respect. Birthday wishes to one of the leading global giants of industry… https://t.co/MXLSoSkfFX
— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) 1672224714000
Born to Naval and Soonoo Tata on December 28, 1937, Tata and his younger brother, Jimmy, were brought up by their grandmother, Navajbai R Tata, in a baroque manor called Tata Palace in downtown Bombay [now Mumbai].
Life was luxurious, the young Ratan was driven to school in a Rolls-Royce. But Lady Navajbai, a formidable matriarch, instilled a strong set of values in her grandchildren. “She was very indulgent, but also quite strict in terms of discipline,” he had said.
Tata would recall in one of those rare interviews where he opened up about his growing-up years: “We were very protected and we didn’t have many friends. I had to learn the piano and I played a lot of cricket.”
Tata was schooled at Campion and then at Cathedral and John Connon (both in Bombay), where he spent the last three of his schooling years. Already, he was well on his way to becoming the person he is today.
Speaking to an excited bunch of pupils at Cathedral and John Connon in March 2009, he said: “I was shy [back then]. One thing I have never recovered from is a fear of public speaking. The only people speaking publicly in school were those reading out the sermon at assembly and those participating in debates. I wasn’t among either. Nor was I into too many extracurricular activities… I particularly remember a mathematics teacher who, I felt, was determined that I never complete school. He almost succeeded.”
He then went on to Cornell University in the United States where he studied architecture and structural engineering, and those years in America from 1955 to 1962 would influence Ratan Tata tremendously. It was, in multiple ways, the making of him. He travelled the country and got so charmed by California and that West Coast lifestyle he was ready to settle down in Los Angeles. But when Lady Navajbai’s health deteriorated, Tata was forced to return to a life he thought he had left behind. “I was in Los Angeles and very happily so. And that was where I was when I left before I should have left,” Tata said in a 2011 interview.
Journey at Tata Group
Back in India, Tata had a job offer from IBM but JRD Tata wasn’t amused. “He called me one day and he said you can’t be here in India and working for IBM. I was in [the IBM office] and I remember he asked me for a resume, which I didn’t have. The office had electric typewriters so I sat one evening and typed out a resume on their typewriter and gave it to him.” And that was how Tata came to be offered a job, in 1962, with Tata Industries, the promoter company of the group (he would go on to spend six months at Telco, now called Tata Motors, before joining Tisco, now Tata Steel, in 1963).
During his tenure, the group’s revenues grew manifold, totalling over $100 billion in 2011-12.
Tata was the chairman of major Tata companies, including Tata Motors, Tata Steel, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Power, Tata Global Beverages, Tata Chemicals, Indian Hotels and Tata Teleservices. He is also associated with various organisations in India and overseas. Tata is on the international advisory boards of Mitsubishi Corporation and JP Morgan Chase.
Ratan Tata took over as the chairman of Tata Sons in March 1991. Less than a decade from the new millennium, the Tata group was a bloated, unevenly managed and excessively bureaucratic behemoth operating in an India that had only begun jettisoning the jargon of socialism and the shibboleths of policy-making that had promised plenty but delivered little.
More than 30 years later, Ratan Tata has changed the group for the better in more substantial a manner than any of the luminaries under whose care the organisation evolved since its inception in 1868. That he has done this while staying true to the traditions and tenets of the group — in an environment where so many have succumbed to the allure of the soft buck — make his accomplishments exemplary. By coincidence or destiny, Tata becoming chairman got synchronised with the opening up of India’s economy, and he seized the day.
Ratan N Tata was the chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata group, from 1991 till his retirement on December 28, 2012.
After retirement, Mr Tata has been conferred the honorary title of Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, Tata Industries, Tata Motors, Tata Steel and Tata Chemicals.
He is the chairman of the Sir Ratan Tata Trust and Allied Trusts, and the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and the Allied Trusts. He is the Chairman of the Council of Management of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. He also serves on the board of trustees of Cornell University and the University of Southern California.
Tata joined the Tata group in 1962. After serving in various companies, he was appointed director-in-charge of the National Radio and Electronics Company in 1971.
In 1981, he was named Chairman of Tata Industries, the group’s other holding company, where he was responsible for transforming it into a group strategy think tank and a promoter of new ventures in high-technology businesses.
The government has honoured Tata with its second-highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2008. He has also received honorary doctorates from several universities in India and overseas.
Tata began restructuring of the Tata group at a time when the liberalisation of the Indian economy was underway. He played an instrumental role in the business expansion of popular cars including the Tata Nano and Tata Indica. He got Tata Tea to acquire Tetley, Tata motors to acquire Jaguar Land Rover, and Tata Steel to acquire Corus in 2004.