ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Amlya Kumar BagchiSubscribe to Amlya Kumar Bagchi

J R D Tata, 1904-1993

Amlya Kumar Bagchi J R D TATA embodied, more than almost any other person of his generation, the paradoxes of industrial entrepreneur 11 ship in late colonial and independent India. He inherited an industrial empire which owed its birth to the entrepreneurship of Jamsetji Tata, probably the most far-seeing industrialist modern India has produced. The initial fortune of the Tata family ('the primitive accumulation') was made as subalterns of British imperialism: Trade in opium with China and supplying the requirements of the British Indian army fighting in Ethiopia were the source of those profits. But the cotton mills founded by J N Tata had to contend with the disastrous tariff policy of the British Indian government, and they also had to go against the blind faith of 'British is best' in order to be able to employ the right technology. At later stages of his career Jamsetji had to contend with the indifference, if not the active hostility, of a colonial government and the British businessmen battening on the colonial connection. Jamsetji*s efforts to break the monopoly of British shipping companies came to nought, and it took long years of struggle for the ScindiaSteamNavigation Company founded and piloted by another remarkable entrepreneur, Narottam Morarjee, to make a headway against the cartels serving British and multinational interests. The project for Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO) was viewed by British capital with haughty disdain. However, once TISCO came into being, its fortunes became vitally dependent on governments policies. The Indian railways controlled and managed by British managers and civil servants had to be persuaded to buy TISCO's rails, and TISCO supplied vital materials for the British war effort east of Suez during the first world war.
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