JRD Tata on Nehru, Patel, JP & Indira

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JRD Tata (29 July 1904 – 29 November 1993) was a renowned Indian aviator, entrepreneur, and chairman of Tata Group. We reproduce an edited video based on his television interview by Rajiv Mehrotra telecast by Doordarshan in 1978-79.

The fact that we are a conglomeration of such different kinds of people, who have inherited over the centuries or even the millennia, a certain common sense that makes them resist to pressures, makes them revolt when they have to, and makes them disagree when there is no other way – JRD Tata

Just leadership is not enough

JRD said in his interview more than 40 years ago:

“If one has to be a leader in a difficult environment as the Indian one – such a mixed one – there must be total devotion.

Sometime just devotion is not enough.

Jayprakash Narayan was a case in point. He was totally motivated and a totally devoted man of high intelligence, who was so good a human being that he was always prepared to consider the views of others, including his opponents. He could have been a great leader after Jawaharlal.

Of course a great leader of his caliber, we needed and got at that time, was (Sardar) Vallabh Bhai.

I often say to myself, suppose Vallabh Bhai had been the young man and Nehru had been the older man, Vallabh Bhai obviously would have become the Prime Minister of India.

Certainly in the Economic Plan, there would have been a totally different situation than the one that existed….

Jawaharlal Nehru

He liked me… I loved him…admired him..but when you, on this kind of thing – Economics – of which he knew very little in my opinion, (and) certainly on Socialism and how Socialism could be established without the loss of economic freedom for the majority of the people.

I would go and see him…some time he would invite me even to have a meal..to see the giant Panda that he had. And then I would try and bring the conversation to Economics, Nationalisation, Bureaucracy, he was not only not interested but he wasn’t willing even to talk. He had invented a little trick….and there was a window not too far, the moment I began something, he would turn around and look out of the window…and I got the message.

Indira Gandhi

In the case of Mrs Gandhi, it was a slightly different way of doing it. When she began to lose interest in what you were saying, viz…..she would begin to pick up some of the letters and start opening envelopes and pulling out – practically hinting that look I have other things to do…”


Footage courtesy: “In Conversation – J. R. D. Tata” by Rajiv Mehrotra.

Rajiv Mehrotra twice addressed plenary sessions at The World Economic Forum at Davos and was nominated a Global Leader for Tomorrow by them. He was a Judge of the Templeton Prize for Spirituality.

His films have won more than 170 international and forty national awards from the President of India.

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