March 2008

The quotable Jamsetji Tata

These quotations by and on Jamsetji Tata, Founder of the Tata group, draw a vivid portrait of a visionary with a deep commitment to his country and its people

There is one kind of charity common enough among us… It is that patchwork philanthropy which clothes the ragged, feeds the poor, and heals the sick. I am far from decrying the noble spirit which seeks to help a poor or suffering fellow being… [However] what advances a nation or a community is not so much to prop up its weakest and most helpless members, but to lift up the best and the most gifted, so as to make them of the greatest service to the country.


Be sure to lay wide streets planted with shady trees, every other of a quick-growing variety. Be sure that there is plenty of space for lawns and gardens. Reserve large areas for football, hockey and parks. Earmark areas for Hindu temples, Mohammedan mosques and Christian churches.
Jamsetji Tata in a letter to son Dorab about his vision for the township that would eventually become Jamshedpur.


We do not claim to be more unselfish, more generous or more philanthropic than other people. But we think we started on sound and straightforward business principles, considering the interests of the shareholders our own, and the health and welfare of the employees, the sure foundation of our success.


Freedom without the strength to support it and, if need be, defend it, would be a cruel delusion. And the strength to defend freedom can itself only come from widespread industrialisation and the infusion of modern science and technology into the country's economic life.


I have always held the opinion that all taxation in India bears most heavily on the poor and most lightly on the well-to-do classes. Those whose life and property receive the greatest protection from the government have the least to pay for it, while those with nearly nothing to lose have often to forgo their meals to pay the dues of government.


If you cannot make it greater, at least preserve it. Do not let things slide. Go on doing my work and increasing it, but if you cannot, do not lose what we have already done.
Jamsetji Tata to his son Dorab while on his deathbed.


With honest and straightforward business principles, close and careful attention to details, and the ability to take advantage of favourable opportunities and circumstances, there is a scope for success.


In a free enterprise, the community is not just another stakeholder in business, but is in fact the very purpose of its existence.

Quotes about Jamsetji Tata

The wealth gathered by Jamsetji Tata and his sons in half a century of industrial pioneering formed but a minute fraction of the amount by which they enriched the nation. The whole of that wealth is held in trust for the people and used exclusively for their benefit. The cycle is thus complete. What came from the people has gone back to the people many times over.
JRD Tata


When you have to give the lead in action, in ideas — a lead which does not fit in with the very climate of opinion — that is true courage, physical or mental or spiritual, call it what you like, and it is this type of courage and vision that Jamsetji Tata showed. It is right that we should honour his memory and remember him as one of the big founders of modern India.
Jawaharlal Nehru


He was not a man who cared to bask in the public eye. He disliked public gatherings, he did not care for making speeches, his sturdy strength of character prevented from fawning on any man, however great, for he himself was great in his own way, greater than most people realised. He sought no honour and he claimed no privilege, but the advancement of India and her myriad peoples was with him an abiding passion.
The Times of India on Jamsetji Tata's death


While many others worked on loosening the chains of slavery and hastening the march towards the dawn of freedom, Jamsetji dreamed of and worked for life as it was to be fashioned after liberation. Most of the others worked for freedom from a bad life of servitude; Jamsetji worked for freedom for fashioning a better life of economic independence.
Dr Zakir Hussain, the former president of India


That he was a man of destiny is clear. It would seem, indeed, as if the hour of his birth, his life, his talents, his actions, the chain of events which he set in motion or influenced, and the services he rendered to his country and to his people, were all pre-destined as part of the greater destiny of India.
JRD Tata


No Indian of the present generation had done more for the commerce and industry of India.
Lord Curzon, the viceroy of India, following Jamsetji Tata's demise