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Sunday, 29 March 2015

178) Commemorating the 175th Birth Anniversary of Jamshetji Nusserwanji Tata (03.03.1869 – 19.05.1904) with the issue of Commemorative coins in the denominations of Rs.100/- and Rs.5/- by the Kolkata Mint in Proof, Uncirculated and Circulation coins categories:

178) Commemorating the 175th Birth Anniversary of Jamshetji Nusserwanji Tata (03.03.1869 – 19.05.1904) with the issue of Commemorative coins in the denominations of Rs.100/- and Rs.5/- by the Kolkata Mint in Proof, Uncirculated and Circulation coins categories:

About Jamshetji Nusserwanji Tata:

Jamshetji was born on 03.03.1869, at Navsari, Gujarat into a Parsi Zoroastrian family when Navsari was a part of the princely state of Baroda. He was an Indian pioneering industrialist, who is remembered today as the Founder of the Tata Group.

Jamshetji’s father Nusserwanji was an ambitious businessman who shortly thereafter relocated to Bombay (present day Mumbai) where he commenced his own business in commodities.

He engaged a private tutor to teach Jamshetji in Bombay and in 1853, Jamshetji was admitted to the Elphinstone Institute, in Bombay where his Tuition fee was waived as he was an excellent student with good prospects.

 In 1858, he passed out from Elphinstone Institute as a “green scholar” (which was the equivalent of present day graduation).

Thereafter, Jamshetji joined his father’s export trading firm Nusserwanji & Kaliandas, where he gained valuable experience in commodities and he helped set up its branches in China, Europe, Japan and the USA.

His knowledge expansion came through his successive trips abroad primarily to America, England and continental Europe etc. which convinced him that there was tremendous scope for Indian companies to forge through and make a foray in British dominated industries.

In December 1859, Jamshetji opened a new branch called Jamshetji & Ardeshir in Hongkong, trading in commodities like opium, cotton, tea, silk, camphor and Cinnamon and base and precious metals like copper, brass and gold etc.  from China and the Orient. When civil war in the USA broke out their textile mills were starved of cotton and Jamshetji seized upon an opportunity to ship cotton to the USA at huge profits. Nevertheless, this business opportunity soon dried up and his family had to sell their properties to pay off creditors.

Nusserwanji’s credibility in the market as an honest businessman who paid all his debts in time, again got his business running and making good profits when he sold large quantities of supplies to a British Army Regiment  headed to Abyssinia to attack King Theodore who had raised a banner of revolt against the British.

In 1868, Jamshetji started a trading company that later grew into the several subsidiaries of the Tata Group. Thus he founded the Tata group in this year.

In 1869, Jamshetji planned a new venture of setting up a cotton mill, when he purchased a disused oil mill at Chinchpokli in Bombay (present day Mumbai). He called this mill Alexandra Mill which immediately started earning huge profits. He wanted to set up a new mill with the most modern machinery and for this purpose he sold the Alexandra Mill two years later for a profit and went to England to plan out future business expansion plans based on modern technology, particularly to study the Lancashire cotton industry, who were the World’s best processors of cotton. Jamshetji had a vision to best the Lancashire cotton industry and make a name for Indian cotton products world-wide.

On 26.04.1873, he sailed to England passing through Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Turkey and Russia, studying and assessing business opportunities along the way.

In 1874, upon his return to Mumbai he decided to set up his new cotton mill at Nagpur. Short of funds, he approached a local money lender to help him out financially and upon his refusal to finance a green venture, he went about setting up his mill alone. It is said that when Jamshetji’s Mill started earning huge profits, the local moneylender rued his decision.

On 01.01.1877, the Nagpur Mill commenced business. It was the day when Queen Victoria was declared the Empress of India. To mark this occasion, Jamshetji named his Mill the “Empress Mill.

Meanwhile, Dadabhai Naoroji was spearheading the Swadeshi Movement, stressing that British Rule was creating poverty in India and that their trade rules were unfavourable to Indian businesses. Jamshetji too was inspired by Dadabhai Naoroji’s Swadeshi call and pledged to have Swadeshi Industries camparable to the best in the World.

He purchased another sick mill called “Dharamshree Mill” in the Kurla area of  Mumbai and named it  Swadeshi Mill which initially did not do well because of outdated machinery but later broke even , turned around and started reaping handsome profits after the installation of modern machineries.

Jamshetji set high standards for his procurement and processing procedures and his business establishments were noted for their efficiency, improved labour protection policies and using the finest grades of fibre as raw materials.

In 1887, Jamshetji formed Tata & Sons with his sons Dorabji and Ratanji offered a partnership to his cousin Ratan Dadabhai Tata who was a financial wizard.

Unsuccessful foray into a Shipping Line:

 The improved quality and economical pricing of the products of Swadeshi Mill gave stiff competition to the Lancashire cotton industry and the British created several hurdles for Jamshetji.

P & O Shipping, a British Company,  started charging higher freight rates from him than the British, to discourage Jamshetji from competing across the globe with the Lancashire cotton industry. This was highly ridiculous, as P & O shipping was subsidised by the Indian tax-payers. When Jamshetji tried to bypass P & O shipping by using Italian and Austrian shipping lines, the three European companies combined together to ensure that Jamshetji’s products would not ship out of India without charging him exhorbitant rates.

At this point, Jamshetji decided to foray into his own shipping line in collaboration with Nippon Yusen Kaisha Line which was called “Tata Line”. Tata Line offered much concessional freight rates, but the P & O combine undercut his rates to almost throwaway prices, just to run Tata Line out if business. Jamshetji had no alternative but to close down his shipping line – the first and only time that he conceded to British machinations!!

In 1892, Jamshetji, himself a noted philanthropist established the J.N. Tata Endowment which encouraged Indian students to pursue higher education and building up an intellectual capital in the country. The Tata family became one of the most important private funders of technical education and scientific research in India.  The endowment has funded thousands of Indian scholars, including such names as K.R. Narayanan and Raja Ramanna.

In 1893, Jamshetji Tata and Swami Vivekananda travelled aboard a ship to Canada – one was an industrialist and the other an ascetic – but they both shared a common vision – that of a self-reliant India and both worked towards that goal. A mutual admiration developed between them following their chance meeting.

Thereafter, Jamshetji began to concentrate on his four dream projectsSteel, Institute of Science, Power and a Grand Hotel in Bombay. Jamshetji’s futuristic vision was to build an India that would be an industrial power in its own right with its own steel plants, power plants and World Class universities.

The Tata Steel story:

In 1899, after years of exploration, good quality coal was found in Jharia and the time was ripe to set up his steel industry. Jamshetji visited USA to acquire in-depth knowledge of the steel industry.

When his first steel plant was taking shape, there was wide spread scepticism, particularly among the British bordering on derision, as to how would he raise the 20 million pounds sterling to set up his project. Nevertheless, investors queued up to put money in the public issue of Tata Steel. Such was the confidence in Jamshetji that people brought chairs, umbrellas, bedding and tiffin boxes to prepare for the long wait.

Like the Swadeshi Mill, Tata Steel was too purely a “Swadeshi” venture – by an Indian, of the Indians and for the Indians.

In 1901, he began organising India’s first large-scale iron and steel works which in 1907 were incorporated as the Tata Iron and Steel Company (present day Tata Steel) .

The Steel plant came up after Jamshetji passed away and became a stupendous success. The first Tata Steel ingot rolled out in 1912.

Despite this superlative success, the English were determined not to let his venture succeed and offer competition to British Steel.

When Tata Steel approached Sir Frederick Upcott, Chairman of the Indian Railways, Frederick is known to have said “Do you say that Tatas propose to make steel rails to British specifications? Why, I will undertake to eat every pound of steel rail they succeed in making”.

Yet Tata Steel produced excellent steel for the railways within a few years and the company stands among the very best even today. Indeed, Upcott did not stand true to his word, otherwise, he and his future generations would have had their work cut out “eating Tata produced steel” at every meal. Quipped Sir Dorabji Tata “If Sir Frederick Upcott were to keep his word, he surely would have some slight indigestion”.

On 02.01.1919, when Viceroy Chelmsford came to visit the Tata steel plant, he said to Dorabji “Mr. Tata, I sincerely admire your father’s enterprise. In his honour Sakchi will henceforth be known as Jamshedpur”. (The Tata Iron and Steel Plant was set up at Sakchi village in the present day Indian state of Jharkhand. The village has now grown into a town area within the modern city of Jamshedpur, named in his honour). A little later the Bihar government renamed Kalimati Railway station (near the Tata Steel plant) as Tatanagar Railway station.

Setting up the Institute of Science, Bangalore (Bengaluru):

Jamshetji was aware that industrial development cannot be managed without the support of modern scientific education.

In 1892, he founded the J.N. Tata Endowment Fund for students.

Nevertheless, he dreamt of setting up a university of advanced studies. He found the Viceroy Curzon’s response to his proposals very lackadaisical but despite Curzon’s negative attitude, he invited Nobel laureate Dr. William Ramsay to suggest locations for setting up a university at Bangalore. When Curzon obstinately refused to help him out with his University project, Jamshetji did an unthinkable act – he adopted the University as his “third son” after Dorabji and Ratanji and suitably amended his will to provide sufficient property or funds out of his estate after he passed away.

Jamshetji realised that there was an urgent need for business leaders to work in “partnership” with the spiritual leaders of society to build a modern India. The businessmen had wealth and ideas while the spiritual leaders had the pulse of the countrymen.

 Jamshetji needed help to set up a world-class Indian university in the face of still opposition from the British Viceroy Curzon, and he left no stone unturned to accomplish his vision. He spelt out his difficulties in establishing the University to Swami Vivekananda, requesting him to lead a crusade supporting this venture.

 Swami Vivekananda wrote an editorial in his Magazine “Prabudh Bharat” “The making of a prosperous Nation depends on the qualities of the head and heart like those possessed by Mr. Tata. A few more Tatas could change the face of India. Let the whole nation therefore, forgetful of class or sect interests, join in making it a success”.

He kept up the pressure through higher officials in London on Curzon until he finally agreed that the Tatas could set up their University of Advanced Research at Bangalore. The Indian Institute of Science a globally recognised institution came up in Bangalore in 1909, five years after Jamshetji’s passing away.

The tables were turned on Curzon, so much so, that when Jamshetji passed away, Curzon conceded that  "No Indian of the present generation had done more for the commerce and industry in India”.

The outreach of the University was unparalleled and helped set up several other institutions of repute – the Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, the Indian Lac Research Institute, Ranchi and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai.

Foray into Hydro-electric power:

In 1900, Jamshetji envisioned the Bombay-area hydroelectric power plants (which later transformed into the Tata Power Company by 1906).

He explored setting up a hydropower plant, first at Jabalpur, then at Goa and lastly at Mumbai all of which projects could not get off the drawing board. Subsequently, he met Mr. Ghostling, an architect from Mumbai who suggested setting up the power plant at Lonavla-Khandala some 50 miles from Mumbai. His plan was to construct a lake and create an artificial waterfall which will provide electricity to Mumbai. Such a project had never been attempted before. The best material was procured from all over the globe – pipelines from Germany, waterwheels for generators from Switzerland, Generators from the USA and cables from England.

In February 1911, a few years after Jamshetji passed away, the foundation of the Walwhan dam at Lonavla was laid and in 1915, the project went live providing electricity to Bombay (present day Mumbai). The Tata Hydroelectric Power Supply Company (later Tata Power Company) is currently India’s largest private electricity company with an installed capacity of over 8000 Mega-Watts providing Hydro-electric power(a Renewable Natural Resource).

We stayed in Mumbai from 1999 to 2005 and were provided electricity by Tata Power. It was extremely low-cost and the power never went off even once, except for one occasion when there was a heavy storm in Mumbai and the Power failed for about two hours. The Tata electric Engineers got the power running in the shortest possible time. Such was Jamshetji’s enduring contribution to Mumbai through his vision of providing hydro-electric power to the Metropolis. Also, the Walwhan dam project was a must see for all tourists coming to Lonavla, what with its artificial waterfalls, landscaped gardens and birding spots.  After the dastardly terrorist attacks on the Taj Hotel Mumbai, on 26/11, we were disappointed to find on a later trip to Lonavla that the Walwhan dam Project had been closed to public viewing but I guess, it is better this way, rather than expose Jamshetji’s legacy to risk.

Setting up of the Taj Hotel in Mumbai:

Much like Mahatma Gandhi, who was “thrown off” a First Class coach while travelling by train in South Africa because it was meant for “Europeans only”, Jamshetji was subjected to an equally unsavoury incident when he was turned away from a hotel that displayed a sign board “Entry for Europeans Only”. He decided to set up the best hotel in the country in Mumbai.

On 01.11.1898, Jamshetji purchased two and a half acres of land opposite the Apollo Bunder in Mumbai. He spared no expense to make the Taj a fabulous hotel. He personally went to Dusseldorf to order electrical machinery, chandeliers from Berlin and cast iron pillars from a Paris Exhibition.

On 03.12.1903, the opening ceremony of the Taj Hotel was performed. Only the Taj Mahal Hotel (built at a cost of Rs.42 million) became a reality during Jamshetji’s lifetime. At that time, it was the only hotel in India to have electricity.

Even today, the Taj, Mumbai has remained one of the finest World-Class hotels in India and several hotels countrywide have been spun off as a part of its hotel chain.

His passing away:

In the same year (1900) he became seriously ill while on a business trip to Germany. On his doctor’s advice that perhaps the equitable climate of Europe may help him recover, he went to Europe for recuperation. The European climate did not help. Years of hectic schedules, travels across the world and a rich spicy diet took its toll on his health.

He passed away on 19.05.1904 at Bad Nauheim, Germany and was interred at the Parsi Burial ground in Brookwood Cemetery, Woking, England.

His Legacy:

Jamshetji is considered to be the “Father of Indian Industry”.

His contribution to Indian Industry is all the more significant, because he set up his integrated businesses/conglomerate against stiff opposition from the British Raj Authorities/European businesses who went all-out to ensure that every possible hurdle was placed in his path. Nevertheless, the Tata Group Companies stand testimony to his vision to develop India through World-Class industrialisation, trained and committed man-power, far-sighted strategies etc. which have constantly ensured that the Tata Group is second to none on the planet, least of all the British.

All his life he believed in the motto – Humata, Hukhta, Hvarshta – meaning “Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds”.

It is said that Jamshetji Nusserwanji Tata turned mud into gold. Perhaps, it was simply skilful management, clear thinking and honesty that worked miracles for him. He had an uncanny knack for recognising a good business opportunity and a selfless will to improve the lot of his countrymen.

As a result of his conviction that business is sustainable only when it serves a larger societal purpose, the Tata group introduced benefits, several of these much before they became laws, like Pension and Gratuity (1877), Worker’s Provident Fund scheme (1901), eight-hour working day (1912), free medical aid (1915), schooling facility for children (1917) and maternity benefits (1921).

He was a man with a vision so clear that he could see “a tomorrow that was beyond his own life”. He dreamt such giant dreams of such stupendous proportions, that they could only be realised after he was no more.

He was aware of this and planned for it by preparing a competent team that was committed to his dream and inspired it with a kindred spirit. A man who thought big but also cared for the small. A man who provided generous scholarships to nurture the talent of tomorrow and made an endowment in his will for building India’s first institute of advanced scientific education – the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

With the establishment of his steel plant, he made a quantum shift in the nature of his business. From a country of traders, India stepped into a world of industrialisation.

 Jamshetji Tata was a Nationalist who worked for the progress of India without seeking or holding any position of power. His vision of environment-friendly energy and his initiatives for the welfare of the people associated with the Tata group are exemplary. His strategy included – industrializing the country and to build up an efficient human capital – and to conduct businesses in a manner that it positively impacted the quality of lives of the people who came in contact with them. For him, the society at large was not just another stakeholder in business, but the very purpose of its existence.

“Amar Chitra Katha” (Immortal Illustrated Stories), the publishing house which brings out Classics Illustrated comics/books on Indian mythology, legends, historical personalities etc. have brought out an illustrated volume titled “Jamshetji Tata – Amar Chitra Katha (Vol.737)” and another one titled "Architects of Modern India (Vol.10037)" in which he has been included as one of three top Industrialists who set India on a course with modernisation and prosperity.

His sons Sir Dorabji Jamshetji Tata and Sir Ratanji Tata pursued their father’s vision further and the Tata Iron and Steel Company became the largest privately owned steelmaker in India and the flagship of a group of companies producing textiles, steel, hydro-electric power, chemicals, agricultural equipment, trucks, automobiles, locomotives, consultancy, cement, hospitality (Taj Mahal Hotel – later, the Taj Group of Hotels) etc.

Thus, a little known Zoroastrian family became the foremost business house in India’s Industrial history.

Inspirational quotes that were the guiding philosophy of his life and approach to business:

Several inspiring quotes have been attributed to Jamshetji Nusserwanji Tata, but I will mention the undernoted ones which perhaps were the cornerstone of his vision and his life’s mission:

“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.”

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

“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. 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”.

Commemorative Coins:

To mark the 175th Birth Anniversary of the pioneer of Indian industrialisation and the Founder of the Tata Group, Jamshetji Nusserwanji Tata, limited edition Commemorative coins in the denominations of Rs.100/- and Rs.5/- have been issued by the Government of India/India Government Mint Kolkata in both Proof and Uncirculated varieties for Numismatists/Collectors and another coin in the denomination of Rs.5/- is being issued for general circulation depicting Jamshetji Tata on the Reverse.

Previously, commemorative coins have been issued to commemorate the 1857 First war of Indian Independence, milestones in Organisational history, Freedom fighters, Scientists etc. but this is the first time that a commemorative coin has been issued in honour of an industrialist and such an eminent one at that.

The purpose seems to be to highlight the role played by Indian Industries and business visionaries in making Indian businesses more progressive and contribute to the Nation’s development and prosperity, in keeping with the present Government’s “Make in India” campaign. This Commemorative coin stresses on what doyens of Indian industry can achieve, if they are driven by a patriotic zeal.
 The Obverse of the Rs.100/- and Rs.5/- coins depicts the Lion Capitol emblem of the Government of India with the motto (“Satyameva Jayate” - meaning “Truth Always Prevails) inscribed below it. On the left periphery of both denominations of coins is mentioned the name of the country “Bharat” (in Hindi/Devnagri script), while on the right periphery is mentioned the name of the issuing country “India” (in English). Below the Lion Capitol is given the Rupee symbol followed by the denominations of the coins in numerals “100” and “5” respectively.
 The Reverse of the Rs.100/- and Rs.5/- coins depicts a bust/portrait of Jamshetji Nusserwanji Tata in the centre. On the upper periphery is  the inscription “175van Janamdivas-Jamshetji Nusserwanji Tata” (in Hindi) and on the lower periphery is mentioned “175th Birth Anniversary-Jamshetji Nusserwanji Tata” on both denominations of the coins. Below the portrait and above the lower peripheral inscription are mentioned the commemoration years – “1839-2014”.

The specifications of the coins are:

Denomination: Rs.100/- :

 Diameter: 44 mm; Shape Circular; Weight: 35 gms; Metal Composition: Quaternary Alloy (QA): Silver: 50%, Copper: 40%; Nickel 5%; Zinc: 5%. No. of Serrations on the Edge: 200.

Denomination: Rs. 5/- :

Diameter: 27 mm; Shape: Circular; Weight: 6 gms; Metal Composition: Nickel Brass: Copper: 75%; Zinc: 20 %; Nickel: 5 %. Edge: Smooth.

The Tata Group Executives and Employees have been offered a concessional rate for Proof Coins/Coin sets with the theme “175th Birth anniversary of Jamshetji Nusserwanji Tata” being issued in the following categories:

Commemorative coin of Rs.100/- (with wooden box) – Rs.4243/-

Commemorative Coin Rs.5/- (with wooden box)         - Rs.2858/-

Commemorative coin Rs.100/- (without packing) -       Rs.2568/-

Commemorative Coin Rs.5/- (without packing) -          Rs.1183/-

Commemorative Coin combo Rs.100/- & Rs.5/-

(Combo with wooden box)             -       Rs.4500/-

(Combo without packing)               -       Rs.3704/-

(Let us see what the pricing of the coins is placed at for general public Numismatists/Collectors when the Coin Bookings commence at Kolkata Mint).

Previously, postage stamps by India-Post have been issued in 1958 and 1965 on Jamshetji. The 1958 stamps in Jamshetji’s name were released to commemorate 50 years of Steel Industry in India while the 1965 stamps were issued in recognition of Jamshetji’s contribution the industrialisation of the country.
Posted on 16.08.2015:
My friend Rajiv Agarwal has yesterday got me a Commemorative Coin Combo of Rs.100/- and Rs.5/- which has been received by Tata Group Executives from the Kolkata Mint on Jamshetji Tata. Scans of these coins are placed below for reference:

   The Reverse of the two coin Proof-set of Rs.100/- and Rs.5/-
    The Obverse of the two coin Proof-set of Rs.100/- and Rs.5/-


  1. I'm reminded of the interest our Indigo car used to generate on the road, it being the first Indian car. Even people in large imported vehicles would click pictures of it. I hope Tata continues with the vision of Jamshetji Nusserwanji because the name generates the same loyalty and confidence today as it did when people lined up with chairs and tiffins to queue up to invest in Tata Steels.

  2. Ramchandra Lalingkar has commented:
    "A Great Man !!"

  3. Pavankumar Chelikani has commented:
    "Tatas are great."

  4. Hirak Mukherjee has commented:
    "I am very proud of you, reading your article on Jamshedji Tata. I realize how much pains-taking research you have done to study Jamshedji's life & Jamshedji's work. I have no doubt that you are a great historian. I am sure anyone reading this article will be impressed".

    1. Thank you Hirakda, for reading the article and your extremely encouraging comments. Really appreciate.

  5. when will this coin be available in circulation?