From our Archives

Sri. J. R. D. Tata

29 July 1904 - 29 November 1993


The National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) was one of last endeavours of Sri J. R. D. Tata. The Institute was conceived and established by his vision and initiative on 20 June 1988.

Born in Paris in 1904, Sri J.R.D. Tata had his early education in France, Japan and India. Sri J.R.D. Tata led India’s largest industrial conglomerate with uncommon success for nearly six decades. There were many shades to his personality. He was an enlightened institutional builder, who was also extremely sensitive to the loss of friends and to the poverty he saw around him. He strived to make India ‘a happy country’. Overall, he was a philanthropist, a man with a passion for literature, fast cars, skiing and flying.

Sri J.R.D. Tata and NIAS

During his occasional visits to France later in life, JRD had observed that the Grande L ‘Ecole Polytechniques produced some of the finest practical intellects of France and had often wondered if a similar institution of higher learning would be beneficial for India. Although his attempts in the 1960s for establishing such an institute had failed, his abiding interest finally resulted in its establishment in 1988. During the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in 1984, Sri J.R.D. who was the President of the Court of IISc, had enquired whether the time had come ‘to review one of the original ideas Jamsetji had when he formulated his scheme for the IISc, namely, the inclusion, in some form, of subjects usually referred to as the “Humanities”. Jamsetji thought of education not only as a means of raising the standard of living of his countrymen but also their quality of life.’ Thus, NIAS came into being in IISc. By emphasizing Humanities and Social Sciences, NIAS was meant to complement the work going in the IISc. Sri J. R. D. Tata in his inaugural address during the first Senior Executive Course conducted by NIAS in 1989, spoke about how he had pursued the idea of such an Institution for nearly two and half decades. Sri J.R.D. was the first Chairman and Dr Raja Ramanna was the first Director of NIAS.
Sri J.R.D. Tata inaugurated the NIAS buildings on 12 March 1992. His second visit to NIAS was on 19 March 1993 (sadly also his last visit) to attend the meeting of the Council of Management and other meetings as Chairman. These meetings were also attended by Mr. J. J. Bhabha, Dr Raja Ramanna, Prof C. N. R. Rao, Mr T. R. Satish Chandran, Prof R. L. Kapur and Prof M. N. Srinivas. Sri JRD also planted a Banyan sapling on the campus during that visit and also shared with the gardeners and others his plans and ideas on how to develop the grounds. The Banyan tree planted by him is the most treasured one on campus.

Honours and Recognitions

Sri J.R.D.Tata was the recipient of the Bharat Ratna the highest civilian honour bestowed by the Government of India, 1992. Several other recognitions include the Padma Vibhushan; French Legion of Honour (Commander); Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Knight Commander’s Cross); Institute of Metals, London (Bessemer Medal); Dadabhai Naoroji Memorial Prize Fund (Dadabhai Naoroji Memorial Award) and Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Allahabad, Benaras, Bombay and Roorkee.

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