Friday, September 17, 2021

The ‘Founding’ Story of Tata Steel

It was on August 26, 1907 that the Company was registered in India with an original capital of Rs 2,31,75,000. A notice to raise the capital was issued.

Jamshedpur: In 1867, Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata attended a lecture by the famous British essayist, Thomas Carlyle, in which he mentioned, “The nation which gains control of iron, soon acquire control of gold.”

Little did Carlyle know that his lecture would lead to a path-breaking journey of India’s economic resurgence. Jamsetji’s thoughts on building a steel plant, thus, received a positive impetus at this moment.

In 1899, a report by Major Mahon recommending the steel industry be promoted in India received acceptance, and Lord Curzon, the then viceroy of India, immediately liberalised the mineral concession policy which provided a golden opportunity to Jamsetji to advance towards his dream of giving India its first integrated steel company.

In 1902, Jamsetji met Julian Kennedy, head of Julian Kennedy, Sahlin and Co. Ltd. in Pittsburgh, USA. Jamsetji briefed Kennedy about his desire to come up with a steel plant in India. Kennedy advised Jamsetji to have a thorough scientific investigation of the local conditions, availability of raw materials, and the market conditions in India. He also recommended Charles Page Perin, an eminent consulting engineer in New York, for the project.

On February 24, 1904, the Tatas received a letter from Pramatha Nath Bose, the first graded Indian geologist, that spoke about the high quality of iron available in Mayurbhanj state and the availability of coal in Jharia.

In 1905, Charles Page Perin and his associate, C M Weld, presented their report as to how the steel plant would be erected. In September 1905, the Maharaja of Mayurbhanj granted the prospecting license to the Tatas.

In 1906, Government of India through an official letter declared its intent to help Tatas by promising to purchase steel for a particular period of time, and also providing other assistance that the company would require to start its production.

In the same year, Tata Iron and Steel Company was registered in England, however, the response of British investors was not very encouraging. It was on August 26, 1907, that the Company was registered in India with an original capital of Rs 2,31,75,000. A notice to raise the capital was issued. The response was tremendous and within three weeks the entire amount was raised.

In 1908, the construction of the Works began, and steel production started on February 16, 1912.

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