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‘Steel Man of India’ Jamshed Irani Dies at 86

Jamshed Irani was an integral member of the Tata company for over four decades

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INDIA: Jamshed J Irani, former Director of Tata Sons and Managing Director of Tata Steel, passed away at the age of 86 on Monday at Tata Main Hospital in Jamshedpur. The Padma Bhushan awardee was revered for his prestige in the steel industry, and was fondly nicknamed the “Steel Man of India.” Tata Steel notified the public about his demise through Twitter.

“We are deeply saddened at the demise of Padma Bhushan Dr Jamshed J Irani, fondly known as the Steel Man of India. “The Tata Steel family offers its deepest condolences to his family and loved ones,” the tweet read.

Irani was an integral member of the Tata company for over four decades. He retired from the Board of Directors at Tata Steel in June 2011.

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T.V. Narendran, CEO and MD of Tata Steel, paid homage to the great figure and said: “Dr Irani transformed Tata Steel in the nineties and made us one of the lowest cost steel producers in the world. He helped build a strong foundation on which we grew in the subsequent decades. He was one of the pioneers of the TQM movement in the country. He led with courage and conviction and was a role model and mentor for many in Tata Steel then and now. The employees of Tata Steel, past and present, are indebted to his leadership during turbulent times.”

As the Tata steel corporation, one of the biggest names in the steel market worldwide, mourns the loss of this respected figure along with the country, here are a few details about his journey to Tata.

Jamshed J Irani was born to Jiji and Khorshed Irani in Nagpur, Maharashtra, on June 2, 1936. He finished his bachelor’s in science (BSc) from Science College in Nagpur in 1956 and then went to pursue and complete his MSc in Geology from Nagpur University in 1958.

Irani moved abroad to secure a higher education and finished another Master’s degree, in Metallurgy, as a JN Tata scholar at the University of Sheffield in 1960. He became a true academician after he completed his PhD in metallurgy in 1963.

Beginning his professional career in the steel business, Irani worked at the British Iron and Steel Research Association in Sheffield in 1963.

However, the larger-than-life figure had always aspired to contribute his knowledge and talent to the betterment of India’s steel industry. He decided to return home and cater to his country’s needs.

He joined Tata Steel, or Tata Iron and Steel Company (as it was then known), in 1968, working as an assistant to the director in charge of R&D (Research and Development).

Irani worked his way up to the top of the company to become the general superintendent in 1978 and was eventually promoted to the rank of general manager the following year. In 1985, he stood at the helm of one of the biggest steel brands in the world and became president of Tata Steel.

He became joint managing director of Tata Steel in 1988 and managing director in 1992, before retiring in 2011, after nearly four decades of service.

Moreover, Irani also served as a member of the Board of Steel in 1981 and a non-executive director from 2001 for nearly a decade. He was also incorporated into several of the Tata Group companies as a director, including Tata Motors and Tata Teleservices.

The Steel Man’s achievements did not end there. For his lifetime achievement and unparalleled contribution to the steel industry, he was appointed as an International Fellow by the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1996.

To pay tribute to his father for instilling in him the qualities of perseverance, gratitude and diligence, Irani, along with his sister Diana Hormusjee, established the “Jiji Irani Challenge Cup”, a cricket club organised by the Zorostrian Club of Secunderabad.

In a grand ceremony of great prestige for our nation, Irani was conferred an honorary knighthood by the late Queen Elizabeth II in 1997. He achieved grand success back at home when he was presented with the Padma Bhushan by the government of India in 2007.

Also Read: Tata Group Plans to Borrow Rs 15,000 Crore for Air India’s Working Capital


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