The Tata Trusts disbursed more grants in the last 10 years than they did in the previous 100 years. Sir Ratan Tata trust, the first of the nearly dozen philanthropic trusts, was established in 1919. Prior to that, the Tata group had a tradition of making individual and need- based grant. Together with Sir Dorabji Trust (established in 1932), the two trusts own 51.54 per cent of Tata Sons' common shares.
The other two key trusts, Jamsetji Tata Trust and Navajbai Ratan Tata Trust, own Tata Sons' preference shares that give them preference dividends. A majority control over the India's largest holding company provides Tata trusts large financial resources. In FY12 for instance, the group's four key trusts together earned around Rs 500 crore as equity and preference dividends from Tata Sons.
Expect Ratan Tata to leverage this financial heft to expand the Trusts' activities. When he first became chairman, the trusts' activities were restricted to Mumbai and its surrounding areas. Now they work at the national level and operate like any other national enterprise. They collectively disbursed Rs 329.84 crore on the objects of the Trusts in FY11, the latest year for which numbers are available. That numbers can only go up as companies increase their dividend payout in step with their growth.