Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and the Allied Trusts

Established in 1932 by Sir Dorabji Tata, the elder son of group founder Jamsetji Tata, the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and the Allied Trusts are one of India’s oldest and largest philanthropic foundations. The trusts offer monetary assistance to students and economically disadvantaged patients, make financial contributions to institutions and provide financial support to more than 600 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the country. Their vision of constructive philanthropy has been sensitive to the fast-growing needs of a developing nation, and the projects and programmes they support bear contemporary relevance.

The grant-making pattern of the trusts is based on three broad segments: institutional grants, NGO grants and grants to individuals (medical and educational).

Institutional grants
The trusts have promoted, and continue to support, several institutions of learning, research and culture in India. These include the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru; the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai; the Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai; the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai; the Tata Medical Center, Kolkata; the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru; and the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai. The trusts have also helped in establishing the JRD Tata Ecotechnology Centre, Chennai.

NGO grants
The trusts make grants to NGOs in six social development sectors:

  • Natural resource management and livelihoods: The portfolio addresses the interlinked issues of sustainable and equitable management of natural resources, and the enhancement of the livelihoods of the rural poor. Its sub-thematic areas of engagement include household food security, ecological security and establishment of institutions.
  • Urban poverty and livelihoods: This portfolio supports projects that address issues of in-country migration, informal sector livelihoods, urban planning and governance, and employability.
  • Education: The education portfolio supports a series of projects in the fields of elementary education, adolescent education, child protection and women’s education.
  • Health: The trusts have made contributions in creating and upgrading medical infrastructure and healthcare facilities across India. They have also supported research studies in alternative systems of medicine such as Ayurveda. Besides aligning with the specific needs of the country, this portfolio supports endeavours in sub-thematic areas such as community-based health interventions, non-communicable diseases with a focus on cancer, violence against women as a public health issue, and disability.
  • Civil society, governance and human rights: This portfolio is dedicated to the protection of human rights as guaranteed under the Indian Constitution, strengthening civil society and the promotion of transparent and participatory governance at the grassroots.
  • Media, art and culture: This portfolio extends support to art and culture projects in rural and urban areas. It lays special emphasis on promoting arts scholarships and building archival facilities; protecting and conserving India’s cultural heritage and dying art forms; supporting research and development activities of the arts, supporting development media projects as well as developing proactive areas through folklore.

The trusts also provides financial succour for relief and rehabilitation to alleviate distress and suffering caused by natural and man-made disasters. In the event of large-scale calamities, they work collaboratively with the Tata Relief Committee (TRC).

Individual grants
The trusts give merit- and means-based educational as well as medical grants to individuals:

  • Medical: Financial help is extended to individuals for the treatment of diseases and to treat other health problems.
  • Education: The trusts’ annual scholarship programmes offer scholarships for higher education in India and abroad, travel grants for studies abroad, and for attending conferences and sports activities. Means-based grants are also given to deserving students.

The Allied Trusts
The Allied Trusts are primarily smaller trusts; while some have a specific mandate, the rest are broad-based in their approach to grant-making. The JRD Tata Trust gives scholarships to students for studies in India while the JRD and Thelma J Tata Trust focuses on the health and education of women and children. The Jamsetji Tata Trust, the RD Tata Trust, the Tata Education Trust and the Tata Social Welfare Trust concentrate on overall developmental issues. The Sir Dorabji Tata Trust administers the Allied Trusts.

The JN Tata Endowment for the Higher Education of Indians: The first of the Tata trusts, it was established in 1892 by group founder Jamsetji Tata to offer loan scholarships to individuals for higher studies abroad. Annually, around 120 students are selected every year from across India as JN Tata scholars.

The Lady Tata Memorial Trust: The trust was established in 1932 by Sir Dorabji Tata in memory of his wife, Lady Meherbai, who died of leukaemia in 1930. It grants scholarships (both national and international) supporting research in leukaemia and blood-related diseases, and assists in the alleviation of human suffering from other diseases. It also supports institutional research carried out by recognised Indian institutions, research laboratories and leading scientific / medical centres doing scientific research work. A recent initiative has been the instituting of an annual Young Researcher Award, which entitles the recipient to a five-year postdoctoral research grant.

The Lady Meherbai Tata Education Trust: Also established in 1932, this trust grants scholarships to young Indian women graduates from recognised Indian universities for pursuing higher studies abroad in the field of social work and public health.

Board of trustees of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust:

  • Ratan N Tata, Chairman
  • NA Soonawala
  • Dr Amrita Patel
  • Deanna Jejeebhoy
  • RK Krishna Kumar
  • AN Singh, trustee and adviser
  • Prof MS Valiathan
  • VR Mehta
  • E Sreedharan