The 150 years of Tata Group history began back in 1868, when young Jamshedji Nusserwanji Tata started his own textile business. Today, the Tata Group is India’s largest conglomerate, with its products and services reaching over 150 countries. Tata Group’s 150-year-long history book has seen it launch and grow successful businesses across a wide range of industries, from chemicals, consumer products, energy, and textiles, to IT, automobiles, and steel.

Our team at Business2Community has researched a wide range of reliable sources to walk you through Tata Group’s history. Our rundown provides a fascinating insight into how a business of such a considerable size can remain true to its founder’s powerful vision to help others while succeeding in creating value for shareholders.

A History of Tata – Key Dates

  • In 1868, Jamshedji Nusserwanji Tata started his own company and traveled to England to learn about the textile industry.
  • Jamshedji’s eldest son Sir Dorabji Tata set up the Tata Iron and Steel Company in 1907, and Tata Power in 1910 when he established Western India’s first hydroelectric power plant.
  • In 1932, Tata Air Services was born. It was the first Indian commercial air carrier.
  • The Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company (now Tata Motors) was launched in 1945.
  • Tata Steel announced a major merger of its subsidiary companies in 2022.

Who Is the Owner of Tata Group?

Tata Group is named after the pioneering Indian industrialist Jamshedji Nusserwanji Tata, who founded the company in 1868.

Tata founder statue

The 30 or so global Tata Group companies sit under the holding company, Tata Sons. Around two-thirds of Tata is owned by charitable trusts (the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and the Sir Ratan Tata Trust) and good causes that focus on improving education, access to medicines, and employment opportunities, as well as investing resources into art and cultural initiatives.

Pallonji Mistry is the largest individual shareholder in Tata Sons.

Who Is the CEO of Tata?

The chairman of Tata Sons, the holding company of Tata Group, is Natarajan Chandrasekaran. He joined the Board in October 2016 and was appointed Chairman in January 2017.

Known as Chandra, Natarajan Chandrasekaran joined Tata Consultancy Services as an intern in 1987. For two decades he worked his way up through the ranks before being named as chief operating officer in 2007.

Natarajan Chandrasekaran

In 2009, at the age of 46, Chandra was appointed CEO of Tata Consultancy Services, becoming one of the youngest CEOs in the Tata Group. He took over as chairman of the Tata holding company following the controversial ousting of his predecessor Cyrus Mistry.

Cyrus Mistry was the son of the largest individual shareholder of Tata Sons, Pallonji Mistry. He was appointed chairman in 2012, the first outsider in the role. In a 2018, court case it was said that during his tenure in the chair, Mistry sent tax details to the Indian tax office that he shouldn’t have and leaked information to the media.

After being ousted in a fraught boardroom battle in 2016, Mistry took legal action against Tata Sons while Ratan Tata was appointed interim chairman before Natarajan Chandrasekaran took on the role. One legal body judged that the board was right to remove Mistry in 2017, but this was overturned on an appeal in 2018 and he was supposed to be reinstated. There was a back and forth in the courts for three more years before it was finally ruled the board was allowed to remove Mistry. Unfortunately, Cyrus Mistry never got to rejoin his company as he died in a car crash in September 2022.

A list of previous Tata Sons chairmen is below:

Chairman Tenure
 Jamshedji Tata 1868-1904
 Sir Dorajbi Tata 1904-1932
 Nowroji Saklatwala 1932-1938
 JRD Tata 1938-1991
 Ratan Tata 1991-2012
 Cyrus Mistry 2012-2016
 Natarajan Chandrasekaran 2017-present

Growth and Development of Tata Group

For more than 150 years, Tata Group has grown and diversified into a wide breadth of industries, from chemicals, consumer products, energy, and textiles, to IT, automobiles, and, of course, steel.
Here we’ve summarised some of the key developments in Tata’s history.

1868-1904: Jamshedji Nusserwanji Tata Paves the Way for Tata Group

Tata was founded in 1868 by a pioneering Indian industrialist called Jamshedji Nusserwanji Tata. Born in a small town in Gujarat, Jamshedji came from a family of Parsee priests. However, his father had broken with tradition when he entered the business world instead of joining the priesthood.

Jamshedji moved to Bombay with his father and joined the small family business at the age of 20. Nine years later, in 1868, Jamshedji started his own company and traveled to England to learn about the textile industry.

Convinced he could beat the British at their own game, Jamshedji set up a textile operation in India. Shrewdly snubbing the industrial city of Bombay, Jamshedji set up his mill in the heart of India’s cotton country. In 1874, the Central India Spinning, Weaving, and Manufacturing Company was launched.

Indian factory

Jamshedji led the way in worker welfare in his mills, something that was far from commonplace at the time. His workers benefited from eight-hour working days, safe working environments, and paid leave long before these ideas were built into law.

In 1899, Tata Group incorporated the Indian Hotels Company Limited. The first hotel for the Indian Hotels Company Limited was The Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, which opened in 1903.

The remainder of Jamshedji’s life was filled with dreams and plans to set up an iron and steel company, harness hydroelectric power, and establish a best-in-class college to teach Indians the sciences. Sadly he didn’t live to see any of these dreams come to fruition, but he laid the groundwork for them to become reality over time.

1904-1932: Sir Dorabji Tata Brings His Father’s Vision to Life

Following his death in 1904, Jamshedji’s eldest son, Sir Dorabji Tata, became chairman of the business. Sir Dorabji Tata took his father’s vision and brought it to life, setting up the Tata Iron and Steel Company in 1907 (now known as Tata Steel).

Sir Dorabji Tata showed extreme commitment to delivering his father’s legacy and, when the company hit hard times following the First World War, he risked his personal wealth to pay his workers’ wages. Sir Dorabji Tata is quoted as saying:

To my father, the acquisition of wealth was only a secondary object in life; it was always subordinate to the constant desire in his heart to improve the industrial and intellectual condition of the people of this country and the various enterprises which he from time to time undertook in his lifetime had for their principal object the advancement of India in these important respects.

In 1909, the Indian Institute of Science was established, furthering Jamshedji’s dream of providing world-class scientific education to Indian students. Just one year later, Sir Dorabji Tata succeeded in launching Tata Power in 1910 when he established Western India’s first hydroelectric power plant.

Hydro Power Plant

In 1917, Tata Group launched Tata Oil Mills Co, its first venture into the consumer market.

Jamshedji’s younger son, Sir Ratan Tata, died in 1919. Sir Ratan Tata was a philanthropist at heart and was committed to using his privilege to help others. The Sir Ratanji Tata Trust and Allied Trusts were set up on his death, the first of several Tata Trusts to be established.

1932-1991: JRD Tata Leads Tata Group Into New Markets

In 1932, JRD Tata, the son of Sir Ratan Tata, set up Tata Air Services. The new venture was the first Indian commercial air carrier. A keen aviator, JRD piloted the first flight of Tata Air Services himself.

JRD Tata

“We were a small team in those days. We shared successes and failures, the joys and headaches, as together we built up the enterprise which later was to blossom into Air-India and Air-India International,” JRD Tata once said.

Tata Air Services was renamed Tata Airlines in 1938 and then, in 1946, it became Air India Ltd. It wasn’t long before the domestic operation became international with the first flight to London operating by 1948. Air India Ltd was nationalized in 1953 and JRD Tata was named as the organization’s first chairman.

Back in 1938, JRD Tata had also been appointed as chairman of the Tata Group, a role he maintained for some 50 years. During his tenure, JRD led the group into a range of new industries such as chemicals, cars, tea, and computer software. He also moved away from the Indian tradition of a family-run business and the Tata Group became an organization where entrepreneurial talent was nurtured and expertise valued.

In 1941, the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust commissioned the building of the Tata Memorial Hospital. In keeping with the Tata family’s philanthropic aims, the Tata Memorial Hospital was designed to lead the way in cancer treatment for all in India.

Tata Memorial Hospital

Tata’s business expansion moved another step further in 1945 with the establishment of the Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company that would later become Tata Motors. The company began producing trains, boilers, and trucks. In 1952, the Tata Group also made more strides into the consumer goods market with the launch of Lakme, India’s first cosmetics brand.

In 1963, Tata-Finlay Ltd was launched in a joint venture with James Finlay and Company to produce and sell tea, coffee, and spices. Tata Tea came into existence in 1982 when James Finlay and Company sold its holdings. With 53 estates covering 26,000 hectares, Tata Tea soon became the largest tea producer in the world.

JRD Tata’s leadership of Tata Group also saw the organization launch Tata Consultancy Services. Tata Consultancy Services was one of the first IT companies in India and its establishment has been seen as the start of a new era for Tata Group.

1991-2019: Acquisitions and Stock Market Floatations

After its success with commercial vehicles, in 1991 the Tata diversified into the passenger vehicle market with the Tata Sierra.

Tata Sierra

That same year, JRD retired and appointed Ratan N Tata as his successor. Ratan quickly began to seek expansion and globalization opportunities.

In 1992, JRD Tata received India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna, and won the UN Population Award.

In 2000, Tata Tea acquired the British London-based Tetley Tea Group, an iconic beverage brand in the UK. The acquisition is thought to have cost £400 million ($600 million). In 2001, Tata announced a joint venture with American International Group, Inc (AIG) to create the insurance company Tata AIG, aimed at growing its presence in the insurance market.

Tata Communications was born in 2002 when the Tata Group acquired a controlling stake in the telecoms company VSNL. Tata Communications was focused on harnessing emerging and growing technologies such as the internet and mobile phones.

Continuing a productive start to the 2000s, Tata Consultancy Services became the first Indian software company to exceed $1 billion in revenue. Following this success, Tata Group announced that Tata Consultancy Services would be going public in 2004. This turned out to be the largest IPO in India, at almost $1.2 billion.

The Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company became Tata Motors in 2003. The following year it acquired the heavy vehicles business of Daewoo Motors and became listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

“This is indeed a major step for Tata Motors and a milestone for the group in its quest for globalization. I am confident that both companies will derive considerable benefits from this agreement,” said Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Motors of the acquisition.

Then in 2008, Tata Motors announced the launch of the affordable Tata Nano and the acquisition of the iconic British car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover from the Ford Motor Company. The pod-shaped Nano sold at a base price equivalent to $1,500 to $3,000.

Tata Nano

In 2007, Tata Steel acquired Corus, a major Anglo-Dutch steel manufacturer serving the construction, automotive, packaging, and engineering sectors. The acquisition created the world’s second-most global steel producer with a combined presence across 45 nations.

In 2018, Tata Steel Europe and ThyssenKrupp AG announced plans for a joint venture for their European steelmaking operations to tackle over-capacity and other challenges in the industry. The deal, which would have created Europe’s second-largest steel company, was blocked by the European Commission in an antitrust veto.

Following the controversial ousting of his predecessor Cyrus Mistry, in 2017, Natarajan Chandrasekaran was appointed as Chairman of Tata Sons. The removal of Mistry, which was reportedly linked to disagreements with members of the Tata family, led to a protracted legal battle. India’s highest court eventually ruled in favor of Tata Group.

2019-2024: Mergers and New Technology Power a New Era for Tata

In 2019, Tata Global Beverages and Tata Chemicals announced that they would be combining their brands to create a new company, Tata Consumer Products Limited. At the time, the company stated that mixing the two businesses would benefit shareholders with a combined reach of over 200 million households, a broader product portfolio, and substantial revenue and cost savings.

Tata Motors confirmed plans to launch an all-electric SUV, the Nexon EV, in early 2020. It also claimed that it was closely working with other Tata Group companies to create an e-mobility ecosystem across India to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles.

Nexon EV


True to its mission to improve the quality of life of the communities it serves, Tata Group committed ₹15 billion (around $202 million) to support the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2021, Tata Digital Ltd, Tata Group’s ecommerce subsidiary, acquired significant stakes in online grocer BigBasket and the healthcare marketplace 1MG. Then, in 2022 Tata launched a multipurpose super-app, Tata Neu, which is designed to bring together commerce and financial services in one personalized service.

In 2022, the Tata Group regained a 100% stake in Air India. In the same year, Tata Steel announced a mega-merger of seven of its subsidiary companies. The move was said to be designed to deliver business efficiencies and synergies by simplifying the structure of Tata Group’s steel business. The seven companies that merged were:

  • Tata Steel Long Products Limited
  • The Tinplate Company of India Limited
  • Tata Metaliks Limited
  • TRF Limited
  • The Indian Steel and Wire Products Limited
  • Tata Steel Mining Limited
  • S&T Mining Company Limited

Tata Steel Dividend History

Tata Steel has consistently declared dividends, with 29 dividends paid since 2001.

For the fiscal year ending March 2023, Tata Steel declared an equity dividend of 360.00%, equating to ₹3.6 ($0.04) per share. This was down from a historic high of ₹51 ($0.65) in 2022.

What Does Tata Own?

With its headquarters in India, Tata Group is a truly global conglomerate with 29 publicly listed companies across several primary business sectors and employing more than one million people. Each Tata company operates independently under its own Board of Directors.

As of July 2023, the publicly listed Tata Group companies had a combined market capitalization of $300 billion. In 2022-23, the combined revenue of all Tata Group companies was $150 billion.

Key businesses include:

  • Tata Consultancy Services
  • Tata Steel Limited
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Tata Motors Limited
  • Titan Company Limited
  • Tata Chemicals Limited
  • Tata Power Company Limited
  • Indian Hotels Company Limited
  • Tata Communication Limited
  • Voltas Limited
  • Trent Limited
  • Tata Investment Corporation
  • Tata Metaliks Limited
  • Tata Elxsi Limited
  • Tata Coffee Limited
  • Tata Consumer Products Ltd
  • Tata AutoComp System

Tata Group’s logo history is not especially colorful and has had only one significant redesign in its history.

Tata logo

The first official Tata logo was created in 1910 by Jamshedji and featured a blue oval with the letter T at its center. The core elements have remained the same since and modern design trends have only been subtly combined with the logo to preserve its history.

Each Tata company has its own logo but they all carry the iconic T symbol and font of the group’s signifier.

The Future of Tata

In 2021, Tata Sons chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran said that Tata Group’s growth strategy will be based on four themes:

  1. Digital
  2. New energy
  3. Supply chain resilience
  4. Health

As the world relies more and more on digital platforms and services, a forward-thinking, diverse business like Tata is well-positioned to shape and capitalize on new consumer behavior patterns, evolving technologies, and new ways of learning, working, and living.

For example, Tata Communications has built the world’s largest Internet of Things network across India which has been used to deploy smart street lights to optimize electricity consumption, among other things. Meanwhile, Tata Consultancy Services has been at the forefront of using AI and other machine learning platforms in areas such as drones for disaster management. These technologies are also being used to improve efficiency, safety, and productivity in the group’s steel business.

In its global chemical and consumer product businesses, Tata has focused on developing new and innovative digital platforms to enable a 360-degree view for its vendors and customers. This includes the Tata Neu super-app launched in 2022.

And, of course, we’ve seen how Tata Motors is aiming to lead the way in electric vehicle infrastructure. As well as their electric cars, Tata Motors has also developed electric buses and other commercial vehicles.

As it stands, the future for Tata looks very promising as they continue to innovate and lead the way in many industries.


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