|The young J. N. Tata
birth of a pioneer
Jamsetji Nursserwanji Tata was born in 1839 in Navsari, a
small town in Gujarat, into a family of priests. Having completed
his education, he joined his father’s firm at the age
of 20. Later he went to England, and set up a profitable private
trading company with a capital of Rs.21, 000 only.
Way back in 1882 a report by a German geologist, Ritter Yon
Schwartz aroused Jamsetji’s interest in the black metal.
After a disappointing stint with iron ores in areas close
to Nagpur, the much-awaited opportunity came in 1899 when
the Viceroy, Lord Curzon, liberalised the mineral concession
policy. The same year, Major R H Mahon published an incisive
report on the subject, announcing that it was time that India
started manufacturing its own iron and steel. Mahon suggested
the Jharia coalfields as a source of fuel. The Salem district
in the South, the Chanda district in the Central Provinces
and Bengal as good for yielding the iron ore. To initiate
the project, Jamsetji went to England and secured an audience
with the then Secretary of State for India, Lord George Hamilton,
who appreciated the idea and readily gave his support.