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The Tatas

Nominated | Book Awards 2020 | English Non-fiction

The Tatas


Full Title: The Tatas: How a Family Built a Business and a Nation

Author: Girish Kuber
Publisher: Harper Collins India

Award Category: English Non-fiction
About the Book: 

The nineteenth century was an exciting time of initiative and enterprise around the world. If John D. Rockefeller was creating unimagined wealth in the United States that he would put to the service of the nation, a Parsi family with humble roots was doing the same in India. In 1822, a boy was born in a priestly household in Gujarat's Navsari village. Young Nusserwanji knew early on that his destiny lay beyond his village and decided to head for Bombay to start a business - the first in his family to do so. He had neither higher education nor knowledge of business matters, just a burning passion to carve a path of his own. What Nusserwanji started as a cotton trading venture, his son Jamsetji, born in the same year as Rockefeller, grew into a multifaceted business, turning around sick textile mills, setting up an iron and steel company, envisioning a cutting-edge institute of higher learning, building a world-class hotel, and earning himself the title of the 'Bhishma Pitamah of Indian Industry'. Stewarded ably over the decades by Jamsetji's sons Dorabji and Ratanji, the charismatic and larger-than-life JRD, and thereafter the more business-like Ratan, the Tata group today is a 110-billion-dollar empire. The Tatas is their story. But it is more than just a history of the industrial house; it is an inspiring account of India in the making. It chronicles how each generation of the family invested not only in the expansion of its own business interests but also in nation building. Few know, for instance, that the first hydel power project in the world was conceived of and built by the Tatas. Nor that some radical labour concepts such as eight-hour work shifts were born in India, at the Tata mill in Nagpur. The Tata Cancer Research Centre, the Indian Institute of Science, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, as also the national carrier Air India - the family has a long, rich and unrivalled legacy. The Tatas is a tribute to a line of visionaries who have a special place in the hearts and minds of ordinary Indians. Written by seasoned journalist Girish Kuber, this is also the only book that tells the complete Tata story spanning almost two hundred years.

About the Author: 

Girish Kuber is the editor of Loksatta and a regular columnist in the Indian Express. He is also the author of six books in Marathi. He lives in Mumbai. Vikrant Pande is President of Northern Arc Foundation, Capital. He has translated several books from Marathi to English, including Raja Ravi Varma and Shivaji: The Great Maratha by Ranjit Desai, Shahenshah: The Life of Aurangzeb by N.S. Inamdar, Karmachari by V.P. Kale and Shala by Milind Bokil. He is a graduate of IIM Bangalore and has worked in the corporate sector for more than twenty-five years.


The book is a tribute to the conglomerate that pioneered the idea of wealth creation with a clear focus on nation-building.
– Kuber

This is an epic story spanning 200 years of family, company and national history. This book is a must-read. It’s so well researched and written. The Tata story itself is obviously quite remarkable — a family whose ups and downs are mirrored in the development of India itself. The book covers a vast sweep of history in a fast-paced style that makes the book hard to put down.
– Michael Queen, global investment professional

Girish Kuber’s book handholds the readers through the two century-long heritage of this business house and its leaders from the illustrious family, their vision and forward thinking that not only made their business interests flourish, but also played an important role in the building of new India.
– Tribune India


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