J R D Tata

Looking back at my early working days, and my learnings in my Air India days, I cannot stop myself from thinking how lucky I have been. More than luck, I would like to suggest that luck strikes the one who converts any event into opportunities to grow by taking the maximum of benefit by using one’s brain power and one’s will to ever innovate for the better.

In 1968, an offer was made to a number of my colleagues to join in a challenging new position. All of them turned down the offer. Air India was then a new airline operating to Mauritius with low perspective of growth. It was really hard to get clients to travel to India and further more, most of my then colleagues thought that reporting to an Indian expatriate boss, with a mind and culture so different from our own, was an unnecessary hassle to bear. I took up the challenge with an understanding that I could re-integrate my rank and job at Rogers if I was not happy.

During my terms of duty at Air India, my experience was enhanced for having worked with three different Indian bosses with different styles, outlooks of life and work whilst all three had the same seed of inspiration to grow from. All of them had as hero the chairman of the company: J R D Tata. All of them had J R D Tata, their guru’s picture, hung in their office and always acted humanely in their dealings.

P.B. Dhar, the first Country manger of Air India, was Kashmir born, of military training background. The Dhar’s had always lived as ex patriates and were typical of army high ranked officers who are assigned postings all over the country. He practiced a top down management style and his words were orders not to be discussed. He was a fatherly figure commanding the enterprise, whilst he would transmit and execute orders received. JRD Tata was for him the second to the almighty.

Then came along: R.Misra. A young graduate selected by the Tata’s group as an upcoming business leader, R.Misra made his mark in Jamsedpur at Tata mills and was transferred to Air India. A true marketer he was. JRD Tata’s spirit of entrepreneurship, innovation and risk taking inspired him and gave him his drive.

Marajah Zutsi, the third boss I had, incorporated other aspects of JRD Tata, which were of thorough thinking, and completeness. He was a meticulous hard worker and ensured what he delivered was minutely thought of.

Working and adjusting my behavior to the various management styles could only hone my flexibility in action and understanding in people. I did not have the privilede to meet J R D Tata personally. People who met him described to me the aura he projected and favorable marks he imprinted on them. Amede Maingard, the founder and first chairman of Air Mauritius who had met him more than once was profoundly touched by JRD’s charisma. An inspiring leader, a motivator, the humane entrepreneur, JRD Tata has been, through his achievements. He is claimed to be one of the model of India entrepreneurship and a master of humane management.

I reproduce here the

5-guiding Principles of JRD:

1. Nothing worthwhile is ever achieved without deep thought and hard work;

2. One must think for oneself and never accept at their face value slogans and catch phrases to which, unfortunately, our people are too easily susceptible;

3. One must forever strive for excellence, or even perfection, in any task however small, and never be satisfied with the second best;

4. No success or achievement in material terms is worthwhile unless it serves the needs or interests of the country and its people and is achieved by fair and honest means;

5. Good human relations not only bring great personal rewards but also are essential to the success of any enterprise.

Some concluding remarks

Would it be fair to contribute his greatness and success to his life background? Have his varied youth experiences and multi faceted living, like to be born in France of a French mother, be of Zoroastrian culture and having been educated in a foreign country, the UK, moulded his life outlook?

We, Mauritians, could benefit of a similar situation, if only we would use these life experiences to build us up. We live in such a varied cultural atmosphere. Let us all value our differences.


#1 Hans on 09.13.06 at 7:05 pm

Nice theme you’ve got here Joseph. Still have to fill something there in the about section 😉

The mixture of blue, black and white. Nice choice!

#2 Hans on 09.13.06 at 7:16 pm

Been more comfortable here and after having read your article. That makes me think of school. Teachers there that would have different personality, from each one we’re learning something. But as you said, we might also be learning their way and views of life.

I like very much the 5 principles but more the 5th one. Relationship. That’s what making businesses succeed nowadays. I mean there are so many competitive one in the same pool so I think those that keep a pool of contacts around them and those that are more heard about and get infront much easier.

#3 joseph on 09.14.06 at 4:17 pm

Thanks Hans for your comments

#4 Somnath on 04.03.08 at 7:08 am

In this day & age, when even the most progressive companies are bogged down by the mounting attrition rate of its skilled force, it has to still ring the alarm bell for the TATA group. This emphasises the underlying belief that money cannot buy the best; and more than justifies the 5th principle of Bharat Ratna JRD Tata.

For me, it is a matter of pride & privilege to be a member of TATA family

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