The quiet conqueror
Born in Paris in July 1904, Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata was the second child of Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata and his French wife Sooni. His childhood was spent in different countries and he schooled in Paris, Mumbai and Yokohama. A joyride on a plane sparked off a passion for soaring in the skies. It was then that the fifteen-year-old boy decided that one day he too would fly. He had to wait ten years for it to happen. The first flight of the Indian civil aviation took off at Karachi in October 15, 1932 with JRD Tata at the controls of a Puss Moth that he flew solo to Ahmedabad and onward to Bombay.
In 1938 at the age of thirty four, JRD was placed at the head of India's largest industrial empire. For over half a century, JRD guided the destiny of the Tatas. Despite enormous pressure on his time, JRD took the role of citizen very seriously and never failed to be of service to the nation. He was a patron of the arts and supported India's progress to become a scientifically advanced nation.
For these endeavours, JRD Tata was awarded the country's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna in 1992. Yet he remained at heart a simple, unassuming person, who refused to take himself seriously. Years after his pioneering flight on the Puss Moth, he re-enacted the event to inspire a little hope and enthusiasm in young people of the country.