Ratan Tata

Indian industrialist (born 1937)
This article is about the former chairman of Tata Sons For the philanthropist and grandfather of Tata, see Ratanji Tata For the father of J R D Tata, see Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata

Ratan Tata


Tata in 2010
Ratan Naval Tata

(1937-12-28) 28 December 1937 (age 84)

Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India
(present-day Mumbai, Maharashtra, India)
Alma mater Cornell University (BArch)
Occupation Industrialist
Title Chairman Emeritus, Tata Sons and Tata Group
Term (1991–2012)
Predecessor JRD Tata
Successor Cyrus Mistry (2012–2016)
Natarajan Chandrasekaran (2017–present)
Parent Naval Tata
Relatives Tata family
Awards Assam Baibhav (2021)
Padma Vibhushan (2008)
Maharashtra Bhushan (2006)
Padma Bhushan (2000)

Ratan Naval Tata (born 28 December 1937) is an Indian industrialist and former chairman of Tata Sons He was also the chairman of the Tata Group from 1990 to 2012, serving also as interim chairman from October 2016 through February 2017 He continues to head its charitable trusts In 2008, he received the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour in India, after receiving the Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian honour in 2000

He is the son of Naval Tata, who was adopted by Ratanji Tata, son of Jamsetji Tata, the founder of the Tata Group He graduated from the Cornell University College of Architecture with a bachelor’s degree in architecture, and the Harvard Business School through a management course he completed in 1975 He joined Tata in 1961, where he worked on the shop floor of Tata Steel He later succeeded J R D Tata’s as chairman of Tata Sons upon the latter’s retirement in 1991 Under his tenure the Tata Group acquired Tetley, Jaguar Land Rover, and Corus, in an attempt to turn Tata from a largely India-centric group into a global business Tata is also one of the largest philanthropists in the world, having donated around 60-65% of his income to charity

Early life

Main article: Tata family

Ratan Tata was born in Bombay, now Mumbai, during the British Raj, on 28 December 1937 He is the son of Naval Tata, who was born in Surat and later adopted into the Tata family, and Sonoo Tata, the niece of Tata group founder Jamsetji Tata Tata’s biological grandfather, Hormusji Tata, was a member of the Tata family by blood In 1948, when Tata was 10, his parents when separated, and he was subsequently raised and adopted by Navajbai Tata, his grandmother and widow of Ratanji Tata He has a half-brother, Noel Tata, from Naval Tata’s second marriage with Simone Tata, with whom he was raised His first language is Gujarati

He studied at the Campion School, Mumbai till the 8th class After which, he studied at the Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai, the Bishop Cotton School in Shimla, and the Riverdale Country School in New York City, which he graduated from in 1955 After graduating from high school, Tata enrolled in Cornell University, from which he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1959 In 1975, he attended the seven-week Advanced Management Program of Harvard Business School, an institution which he has since endowed


In the 1970s, Tata was given a managerial position in the Tata group He achieved initial success by turning the subsidiary National Radio and Electronics (NELCO) around, only to see it collapse during an economic slowdown In 1991, J R D Tata stepped down as chairman of Tata Sons, naming him his successor Initially, Tata faced stiff resistance from the heads of various subsidiaries, who had a large amount of operational freedom under the senior Tata’s tenure In response, Tata implemented a number of policies designed to consolidate power, including the implementation of a retirement age, having subsidiaries report directly to the group office, and requiring subsidiaries to contribute their profit to building the Tata group brand Tata prioritised innovation and delegated many responsibilities to younger talent Under his leadership, overlapping operations between subsidiaries were streamlined into company-wide operations, with the group exiting unrelated businesses to take on globalisation

Ratan Tata (right) in Bangladesh, 2005

During the 21 years Tata led the Tata Group, revenues grew over 40 times, and profit over 50 times When he took over the company, sales overwhelmingly comprised commodity sales, but at the end of his tenure, the majority of sales came from brands He had Tata Tea acquire Tetley, Tata Motors acquire Jaguar Land Rover, and Tata Steel acquire Corus These acquisitions repositioned Tata from a largely India-centric group into a global business, with over 65% of revenues coming from operations and sales internationally

He also conceptualised and spearheaded the development of the Tata Nano car, which helped put cars at a price-point within reach of the average Indian consumer Tata Motors has sinced rolled out the first batch of Tigor Electric Vehicles from its Sanand Plant in Gujarat, which Tata has described as “fast-forward India’s electric dream”

Upon turning 75, Ratan Tata resigned his executive powers in the Tata group on 28 December 2012 An ensuing leadership crisis over his succession drew intense media scrutiny The board of directors and legal division of the company refused to appoint his successor, Cyrus Mistry, a relative of Tata and the son of Pallonji Mistry of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, which was the largest individual shareholder of the Tata group On 24 October 2016, Cyrus Mistry was removed as chairman of Tata Sons, and Ratan Tata was made interim chairman A selection committee, which included Tata as a member, was formed to find a successor On 12 January 2017, Natarajan Chandrasekaran was named as the chairman of Tata Sons, a role he assumed in February 2017 In February 2017, Mistry was removed as a director for Tata Sons The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal later found in December 2019 that the removal of Cyrus Mistry as the chairman of Tata Sons was illegal, and ordered that he be reinstated On appeal, India’s Supreme Court upheld the dismissal of Cyrus Mistry

Tata has also invested in multiple companies with his own wealth He has invested in Snapdeal – one of India’s leading e-commerce websites In January 2016, he invested in Teabox, an online premium Indian Tea seller, and CashKarocom, a discount coupons and cash-back website He has made small investments in both early and late stage companies in India, such as INR 095 Cr in Ola Cabs In April 2015, it was reported that Tata had acquired a stake in Chinese smartphone startup Xiaomi In 2016, he invested in Nestaway an online real-estate portal that later acquired Zenify to start the online real-estate and pet-care portal, Dogspot Tata also launched India’s companionship startup for senior citizens, Goodfellows, in a bid to encourage intergenerational friendships”


Tata is a supporter of education, medicine and rural development, and considered a leading philanthropist in India Tata supported University of New South Wales Faculty of Engineering to develop capacitive deionization to provide improved water for challenged areas

Tata Hall at the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego), opened in November 2018, houses facilities for the biological and physical sciences and is the home of the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society The Tata Institute for Genetics and Society is a bi-national institution that coordinates research between UC San Diego and research operations in India to assist in societal and infrastructure development in the area of combating vector-borne diseases Tata Hall is named in recognition of a generous $70 million gift from Tata Trusts

Tata Education and Development Trust, a philanthropic affiliate of Tata Group, endowed a $28  million Tata Scholarship Fund that will allow Cornell University to provide financial aid to undergraduate students from India The scholarship fund will support approximately 20 scholars at any given time and will ensure that the very best Indian students have access to Cornell, regardless of their financial circumstances The scholarship will be awarded annually; recipients will receive the scholarship for the duration of their undergraduate study at Cornell

In 2010, Tata Group companies and Tata charities donated $50 million for the construction of an executive center at Harvard Business School (HBS) The executive center has been named Tata Hall, after Ratan Tata (AMP ’75), chairman emeritus of Tata Sons The total construction costs have been estimated at $100 million Tata Hall is located in the northeast corner of the HBS campus, and is devoted to the Harvard Business School’s mid-career Executive Education program It is seven stories tall, and about 155,000 gross square feet It houses approximately 180 bedrooms, in addition to academic and multi-purpose spaces

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has given the largest ever donation by a company to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) for a facility to research cognitive systems and autonomous vehicles TCS donated $35 million for this grand 48,000 square-foot building that is called TCS Hall

In 2014, Tata Group endowed the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and formed the Tata Center for Technology and Design (TCTD) to develop design and engineering principles suited to the needs of people and communities with limited resources They gave ₹950  million to the institute which was the largest ever donation received in its history

Tata Trusts under the Chairmanship of Ratan Tata provided a grant of ₹750 million to the Centre for Neuroscience, Indian Institute of Science to study mechanisms underlying the cause of Alzheimer’s disease and to evolve methods for its early diagnosis and treatment This grant was to be spread over 5 years starting in 2014

Tata Group, under the leadership of Ratan Tata formed the MIT Tata Center of Technology and Design at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a mission to address the challenges of resource-constrained communities, with an initial focus on India

Board memberships and affiliations

Ratan Tata was the interim chairman of Tata Sons He continues to head the main two Tata trusts Sir Dorabji Tata and Allied Trusts and Sir Ratan Tata Trust and their allied trusts, with a combined stake of 66% in Tata Sons, Tata group’s holding company

He has served in various capacities in organizations in India and abroad He is a member of Prime Minister’s ‘Council on Trade and Industry’ and the ‘National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council’ He is on the jury panel of Pritzker Architecture Prize – considered to be one of the world’s premier architecture prizes

He is a director on the boards of Alcoa Inc, Mondelez International and Board of Governors of the East–West Center He is also a member of the board of trustees of University of Southern California, Harvard Business School Board of Dean’s Advisors, X Prize and Cornell University He is a member on the board of International Advisory Council at Bocconi University

He is also a member of the Harvard Business School India Advisory Board (IAB) since 2006 and previously a member of the Harvard Business School Asia-Pacific Advisory Board (APAB) 2001–2006

In 2013, he was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

In February 2015, Ratan took an advisory role at Kalari Capital, a venture capital firm founded by Vani Kola

In October 2016, Tata Sons removed Cyrus Mistry as its chairman, nearly 4 years after he took over the reins of the over $100 billion conglomerate, Ratan Tata made a comeback, taking over the company’s interim boss for 4 months On 12 January 2017, Natarajan Chandrasekaran was named as the chairman of Tata Sons, a role he assumed in February 2017

Honours and awards

President Pratibha Patil presenting the Padma Vibhushan to Ratan Tata, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, in 2008

Ratan Tata received the Padma Bhushan in 2000 and Padma Vibhushan in 2008, the third and second highest civilian honours awarded by the Government of India In 2021 he received the highest civilian award of Assam ‘Assam Baibhav’ for his exceptional contribution towards furthering cancer care in Assam

Other awards include:

Year Name Awarding organisation Ref
2001 Honorary Doctor of Business Administration Ohio State University
2004 Medal of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay Government of Uruguay
2004 Honorary Doctor of Technology Asian Institute of Technology
2005 International Distinguished Achievement Award B’nai B’rith International
2005 Honorary Doctor of Science University of Warwick
2006 Honorary Doctor of Science Indian Institute of Technology Madras
2006 Responsible Capitalism Award For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST)
2007 Honorary Fellowship The London School of Economics and Political Science
2007 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
2008 Honorary Doctor of Law University of Cambridge
2008 Honorary Doctor of Science Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
2008 Honorary Doctor of Science Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur
2008 Honorary Citizen Award Government of Singapore
2008 Honorary Fellowship The Institution of Engineering and Technology
2008 Inspired Leadership Award The Performance Theatre
2009 Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) Queen Elizabeth II
2009 Life Time Contribution Award in Engineering for 2008 Indian National Academy of Engineering
2009 Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic Government of Italy
2010 Honorary Doctor of Law University of Cambridge
2010 Hadrian Award World Monuments Fund
2010 Oslo Business for Peace award Business for Peace Foundation
2010 Legend in Leadership Award Yale University
2010 Honorary Doctor of Laws Pepperdine University
2010 Business for Peace Award Business for Peace Foundation
2010 Business Leader of the Year The Asian Awards
2012 Honorary Fellow The Royal Academy of Engineering
2012 Doctor of Business honoris causa University of New South Wales
2012 Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun Government of Japan
2013 Foreign Associate National Academy of Engineering
2013 Transformational Leader of the Decade Indian Affairs India Leadership Conclave 2013
2013 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year – Lifetime Achievement Ernst & Young
2013 Honorary Doctor of Business Practice Carnegie Mellon University
2014 Honorary Doctor of Business Singapore Management University
2014 Sayaji Ratna Award Baroda Management Association
2014 Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) Queen Elizabeth II
2014 Honorary Doctor of Laws York University, Canada
2015 Honorary Doctor of Automotive Engineering Clemson University
2015 Sayaji Ratna Award Baroda Management Association, Honoris Causa, HEC Paris
2016 Commander of the Legion of Honour Government of France
2018 Honorary Doctorate Swansea University
2022 Honorary Doctorate of Literature HSNC University

Personal life

Tata has never married and has no children In 2011, Ratan Tata stated, “I came close to getting married four times and each time I backed off in fear or for one reason or another”

In popular culture

Mega Icons (2018-2020), an Indian documentary television series on National Geographic about prominent Indian personalities, dedicated an episode to Ratan Tata’s contributions He has also appeared on Rendevouz with Simi Garewal, an informal chat show hosted by Indian actress Simi Garewal

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