Remembering J R D Tata – King Of The Skies

There have been few ideas in history which have taken more shape or have been more unshakeable than the vision of Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata – that of making his beloved India self-reliant. ‘Navigating the Future in an Uncertain Environment’, with special emphasis on the aviation sector, was the thrust of the keynote address by Chief Guest Kapil Kaul, CEO and Director of CAPA (Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation) on 2nd December, 2023, at Taj Land’s End, in Bandra, Mumbai. Introduced to the audience by Michael Mascarenhas, Chairman of the JRD Tata Memorial Trust and former Managing Director of Air India, Kaul was addressing a large gathering, mainly veterans from Air India, on the occasion of the 119th Birth anniversary celebrations of JRD Tata, organised by the JRD Tata Memorial Trust.“JRD’s vision was an inspiration for other airlines,” said Kaul, rattling off facts and figures pertaining to the aviation industry, akin to the late Nani Palkhiwalla, at his annual post budget presentation.

While encapsulating the life of the pioneer, Mascarenhas offered a nugget of information – before renouncing his French citizenship in 1929, he had enlisted in the French army and his unit was posted in Algeria. He took leave from the army for a month to visit Bombay – during which time his entire unit was ambushed and all the men perished! Mascarenhas also spoke of JRD’s relationship with former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who would address JRD as ‘Jeh’, and the Father of Indian Aviation being the only industrialist to be awarded the Padma Vibhushan (1955) and the Bharat Ratna (1992).A technical session – the crux of which was aviation, culminated the proceedings, followed by lunch.

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