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Rata Tata Turns 86: Some Lesser-Known Facts, Impactful Investments in Startups by Him Born to Naval Tata and Sooni Tata, the Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons and Tata Trusts Ratan Tata is a skilled pilot and the first Indian to pilot the F-16 Falcon in 2007. Besides this, he is prolific investor in various startups too.

By Priya Kapoor

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Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus, Tata Sons and Chairman Tata Trusts; Pic coutesy: X

Business tycoon Ratan Tata has turned 86 today. Born on December 28, 1937, in Mumbai to Naval Tata and Sooni Tata, the Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons and Tata Trusts attended various schools. He studied at Campion School till 8th standard and thereafter at the Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai and the Bishop Cotton School in Shimla. Later, he went to Cornell University to study architecture. In 1975, he completed his advanced managment at Harvard Business School. Here's a look at some lesser-known facts about his life and investment made by him in various startups.

A Man of Humble Beginnings

Rata Tata, who took over from JRD Tata as Chairman of Tata Sons and Chairman of the Tata trusts in 1991, started small. He joined the Tata Group as an assistant in Tata Industries in 1962 and; later in the year, spent six months training at the Jamshedpur plant of Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company (now called Tata Motors). In 1963, he was moved to Tata Iron and Steel Company, or Tisco (now called Tata Steel), at its Jamshedpur facility for a training programme. Three years later, in 1965, he was appointed technical officer in Tisco's engineering division.

Ratan Tata with JRD Tata

A Skilled Pilot

Very few know that the industralist with over 12 million followers on X (formerly Twitter) loves flights and flying. Ratan Tata is a skilled pilot and the first Indian to pilot the F-16 Falcon in 2007. He is reported to own a Dassault Falcon 2000. The compact beast has a twin-engine and is designed by a group of expert French engineers.

Launched India's First Indigenous Car

In 1998, Ratan Tata launched India's first indigenous car, a compact hatchback- Tata Indica with a tagline 'More car per car'. In 2008, he also launched 'Nano' at an affordable price point of INR 1 lakh for Indian masses.

Putting Group on Global Map with Acqusitions

Ratan Tata took the group global with major acquisitions. It began with Tata Tea's acquisition of British Tea giant Tetley in 2000, and thereafter 36 companies in a span of 9 years. The most historic acquisitions till date have been Tata Steel's takeover of Anglo-Dutch steel maker Corus, and the British automobile marquee Jaguar and Land Rover by Tata Motors.

Recipient of Many Honours and Awards

Ratan Tata was bestowed with the highest civilian honours by the Indian government: Padma Bhushan (2000) and Padma Vibhushan (2008). Along with national civilian honours, Tata has also received various state civilian honours. He is also the receipient of Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) (2014) by Queen Elizabeth II and Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) (2023) by King Charles III. He is also a member of the board of trustees of many universities including University of Southern California.

A Philanthropist By Heart

Ratan Tata is a philanthropist. Under his leadership, Tata group established a $28 million Tata Scholarship Fund at Cornell University to provide financial support to undergraduate students from India. In 2010, Tata group donated $50 million to build an executive centre at Harvard Business School (HBS), where he received his undergraduate training, which was named Tata Hall. In 2014, Tata group donated INR 95 crore to the IIT-Bombay and formed the Tata Center for Technology and Design (TCTD) to develop design and engineering principles suited to the needs of people and communities with limited resources.

A Prolific Investor in Startups

The Chairman Emeritus of Tata Group has invested in over 30 startups, including Ola Electric, Paytm, Zivame, CarDekho,, UrbanLadder, Lenskart and many more, some from his personal capacity and some through RNT Capital Advisors, his investment company. In 2022, he also funded start-up 'Goodfellows', which provides companionship to seniors through young and educated graduates.

Pics courtesy:

Priya Kapoor

Former Feature Editor

Priya holds more than a decade of experience in journalism. She has worked on various beats and was chosen as a Road Safety Fellow in 2018, wherein she produced many in-depth & insightful features on road crashes in India. She writes on startups, personal finance and Web3. Outside of work, she likes gardening, driving and reading. 




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