|The Great Iron Pillar
– Tata Steel
The origins and ascent of Tata Steel, which has culminated
into the century long history of an industrial empire, emerge
from the illustrious efforts of India's original iron man
and the remarkable people who thereafter, have kept the fire
The story of Tata Steel is a century old. And so is the story
of steel in India. Etched with the visions and hardships of
a single man, the story has flowed through ages to redefine
steel in every way. The saga, which started in 1907, completes
a century of trust in 2007. Over the years this one company
has exposed the various shapes and forms in which steel can
be applied for effective utilization. The story of Tata Steel:
defines and redefines conventional wisdom in myriad ways.
The great Iron Pillar, a thousand years older than the
Qutab Minar stands as a living testimony to the unmatched
skills of ancient Indian metallurgists. They had so perfected
the craft of forging that Indian steel was highly sought after.
In Marco Polo’s travels there is a reference to andanique,
a corruption of the Persian hundawaniy, i.e. Indian steel.
Tavernier, the 17th century French traveller, mentions the
existence of a steel industry in the “Kingdom of Golconda”.
And the Arab Edrisi declared, “The Hindus excel in the
manufacture of iron”. For centuries, therefore, steel
of remarkably superior quality was being fashioned in India
out of primitive furnaces, to be used, for instance, in the
preparation of medicine and in the manufacture of arms. It
was only in the last century with the advent of the Industrial
Revolution that the time- honoured skills of Indian ironsmiths
began to die.
The Industrial Revolution in England ushered in an era
of unparalleled peace and prosperity. Modern science bore
fruit in an unprecedented technological development and industrial
progress. This left countries like India, where industrialisation
was still in its infancy, feeling slightly dazzled and overwhelmed.
The leading Indian intellectuals of the 19th century believed
that if India were to keep pace with the world it would have
to master the modern scientific methods of the West. In these
times was born Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata. Within his lifetime,
Jamsetji was to witness the birth of a revolutionary Indian
nationalism that would assist in the emergence of independent
India, which he helped to create and whose presence could
already be felt when he died in 1904.