The contribution of the Tata group to the building of modern India is beyond estimation. Both Jamshetji and JRD Tata have been largely instrumental in changing the face of industrial India. JRD Tata is aptly named as the father of civil aviation in India.

Some of the milestones in Bharat Ratna (Jewel of India) JRD Tata’s life in the field of civil aviation are as follows. [Courtesy: Beyond the Last Blue Mountain-A Life of JRD Tata –by R.M. Lala]

In 1932, he pioneered civil aviation in India by piloting the inaugural flight from Karachi to Bombay. From 1948 to 1978 JRD was the Chairman of Air India. He was also the President of IATA (International Air Transport Assn) from 1958 to 1959. In 1980, JRD was reappointed to the Boards of AI and IA. In 1982, the Commemorative Golden Jubilee Flight from Karachi to Bombay was piloted by JRD, then 78 years young!

JRD has been the recipient of several national as well as international awards. He was awarded Tony Jannus Award in recognition of his contribution to the development of scheduled and commercial aviation. He received the Padma Vibhushan Award in 1955. In 1985 he was awarded Federation Aeronatique Internationale’s Gold Medal. He was also the recipient of Edward Warner Award by ICAO [International Civil Aviation Organization] in 1986. In 1988, JRD received the Daniel Guggenheim Medal for distinguished service to aviation. The nation’s highest award – the Bharat Ratna – was conferred on him in 1992.

This was the message of his former company Air India:
He touched the sky and it smiled.
He stretched out his arms and they encircled the globe.
His vision made giants of men and organizations.

What could be a better tribute to JRD Tata than naming the proposed Pune International Airport after him? With several Tata group organizations, including the flagship and truly global Tata Motors Ltd. based in Pune, it will be a fitting acknowledgment of JRD’s yeoman services to the nation for the cause of civil aviation in India. It will also be an honour for the cultural capital of India, the seat of education – the Oxford of the Orient, also the industrial, automotive and fast growing IT and BT hub, and citizens of Pune.

Anup Y. Attavar

Connecting Indians
B.E. Mech. (COEP, Pune);
P.G.D.I.T. – International Trade (IIFT, New Delhi)
Alumnus – Loyola High School, Pune (India)