Friday, June 23, 2017

JRD, Nehru & Air India

There is more than just an element of truth about history inching towards a full circle with the Tata Group expressing interest in the ailing Air India. And, that history begins with the pioneer of Indian civil aviation, Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata, popularly known as JRD, the man who took immense pleasure in flying. In 1929, JRD became the first Indian to obtain a pilot’s licence in India still under imperial yoke.

Three years later Tata Sons founded Tata Airlines Ltd. The inaugural flight between Mumbai (then Bombay) and Karachi — a Havilland Puss Moth model carrying a cargo of 25 kg mail — was piloted by JRD himself. He was deeply hurt by the way the Nehru government took over his airline, then called Air India, in 1953.

In a letter to Sir Frederick James, the then in-charge of Tatas’ Delhi office, JRD had written, “Even more than the decision itself, I was upset by the manner in which nationalisation was introduced through the back door without any prior consultation of any kind with the industry.”
23/06/17 DNA