Tata Founder’s Day Special – How India’s Largest Conglomerate Was Built

The heritage of Tata Group, one of the oldest business conglomerates in India evokes respect and adoration every time we think about it. From Jamshetji Tata to Ratan Tata, each one of its Chairmans played a vital role in shaping the massive multinational business group.

Tata Group Logo


On occasion of Jamshetji Tata’s birthday which is celebrated as Founder’s Day, we take a look back at the various highs which contributed to Tata’s phenomenal success story.

1. Foundation (1868-1930)

Jamshedji Tata

Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata laid the foundation of the group with the start of a private trading firm. These seeds were sown long before Indian became an independent country.

1874: The Central India Spinning, Weaving and Manufacturing Company is set up marking Tata’s first venture into the Textile industry.

1902: The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower, India’s first luxury hotel is opened in Mumbai.

Jamshetji Tata set the foundation for technical education in India and helped the country leapfrog from one of the backward nations to the ranks of an industrialized nation.

Sir Dorabji Tata

Sir Dorabji Tata followed in the footsteps of his father and began an industrial revolution with setting up Tata Steel and Tata Power. It was under his leadership that Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, a premier charitable endowment of the Tatas was created.

1907: The Tata Iron and Steel Company is established to set up India’s first Iron and Steel plant in Jamshedpur.

1910: The first of the three Tata Electric Companies, the Tata Hydro-Electric Power Supply Company is set up.

Tata Hydro-Electric Power Plant

The First Tata Hydro-Electric Power Plant

1911: The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is established in Bangalore to serve as a center for advanced learning.

1912: Tata introduces an eight-hour working days system much before a law was generalized in the west.

1917: Tata enters the consumer goods segment with the Tata Oil Mills Company which is set up to manufacture detergents, soaps, and cooking oils. This company was later on sold to Hindustan Unilever in 1984.

2. Sailing through the Great Depression (1931-1945)

JRD Tata

When worldwide economic depression hit industries in the 1930s, Tata made a safe sail through it under the leadership of visionary J.R.D Tata. The late chairman of the Tata Group ensured that Tata continued on its path-breaking achievements and ventured into newer spheres throughout the journey.

1932: Tata Airlines is established. This opens up the aviation sector in India. A division of Tata Sons, Tata Airlines was nationalized as Air India in 1953.

Tata Airlines

J.R.D Tata landing in Calcutta from Bombay on Tata Airlines

1939: Tata Chemicals, the largest producer of Soda Ash in India is established.

1945: Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company, renamed as Tata Motors in 2003 is set up to manufacture automobiles and engineering products.

Tata Motors

Tata Nano cars being built at Tata Motors’ Plant at Sanand, Gujarat

3. Beginning of a New Era (1946-1991)

J.R.D Tata remained the Chairman of the Tata Group for more than half a decade, revolutionizing the conglomerate and adding more businesses to its arm regularly. Post independence, Tata Group ventured into steel and power to establish an industrial base for India.

1952: Upon request by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of free India, Tata sets up a cosmetics brand Lakme to manufacture and sell cosmetics.

Tata Lakme

1954: One of India’ major engineering and manufacturing organization, Voltas is established by Tata.

1968: Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India’s first software services company is set up under Tata Sons.

Tata Consultancy Services

1984: The first 500MW thermal power station is commissioned at the Trombay Station.

4. Consolidation and Expansion (1992-Present)

Ratan Tata

The exit of J.R.D Tata brought in Ratan Tata as his replacement who with the liberalization of the Indian economy unleashed a period of remarkable growth for the company. During his tenure, the revenues of Tata Group grew manifold totalling over $83 billion in 2010-11.

1996: Tata Teleservices is established to mark Tata’s entry into the telecom sector.

1998: Tata Indica, the first indigenously designed and manufactured car in India rolls out, spearheading Tata’s foray into the passenger car segment.

Tata Indica

Tata Indica was the first passenger car manufactured by Tata Motors

2000: Tata Tea acquires the Tetley group, UK. This is the first international acquisition by the Indian brand.

2002: Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) becomes the first Indian software company to cross one billion dollars in revenues.

2004: TCS goes public in July 2004 in the largest-ever IPO in the Indian market, raising close to $1.2 billion.


2006: Tata Sky satellite television launched across the country.

2007: Tata Steel acquires Anglo-Dutch company Corus. The acquisition makes Tata Steel the fifth largest steel producer in the world.

2008: Tata acquires Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford Motor Company. It also unveils Tata Nano, the most affordable passenger car in India.

Tata Jaguar

Ratan Tata launches Jaguar and Land Rover as part of Tata Motors

2010: Tata DoCoMo launched its 3G services in India.

2011: Tata Tea and Starbucks sign MoU for a strategic alliance in India.

2015-2016: Revenues of the Tata Group of Companies rise to an altogether high of $103.51 billion.

The impressive growth and expansion of Tata Group continues till date. The companies founded by Tata Sons have not only been huge successes, but have paved way for large scale-industrialization in India.

Wishing more success ahead for the largest conglomerate in India.

Geoffrey Ashok
CashKaro Blog