How Jamsetji Tata founded a huge conglomerate

On March 3 in the year 1839, the man who built one of the oldest business groups in Asia was born in the State of Gujarat, India. His name was Jamsetji Tata, the founder of the Tata conglomerate and considered as the “father of Indian industry”.

Jamsetji Tata
Jamsetji Tata (Photo Credit:

Jamsetji Tata was the son of a wealthy trader. He finished his college education as a scholar at the Elphinestone College in Mumbai. After graduation, he joined the family business and was assigned to establish offices abroad particularly in Hong Kong, Japan, Europe and the United States.

In 1868 at the age of 29, Jamsetji left his father’s business and founded his own trading company. The following year, he built the first Indian cotton mill in Chinchpokli. Because the factory was formerly an oil mill, it was not productive. He sold this plant and built a large, modern cotton mill in Nagpur, a city east of Mumbai. Subsequently, he set up other cotton mills in Mumbai and in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.

The Tata cotton mills were noted for their efficiency and good labor practices. Its high-quality products were exported to many countries. In the early 1900s, Jamsetji made detailed plans for the establishment of a power generation plant and an integrated iron and steel mill. He also started building a hotel and a research institute.

Jamsetji died in 1904 while on a business trip to Germany. His two sons, together with his wife Hirabai continued the expansion of the business and oversaw the completion of the power generation plant and the Tata Iron and Steel Mill. At present, the Tata group is the largest business conglomerate in India and one of the largest in Asia with over 100 subsidiaries and affiliates.


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