Excerpted from Tata: The Evolution of a Corporate Brand by Morgen Witzel with permission from Penguin Books India:
Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata was born on 3 March 1839 in the town of Navsari in southern Gujarat.
His father, Nusserwanji Tata, established a successful trading and banking business in Mumbai.
The family were Parsis, descendants of refugees who had fled from Persia nearly a thousand years before to escape religious persecution.
Despite their lengthy exile, they retained the ancient Zoroastrian faith of their ancestors, Navsari being one of the centres of Zoroastrian worship.
Parsis were prominent in business circles in north-west India from at least the eighteenth century if not before. Tata's most recent biographer, RM Lala, makes the point that Parsi society lacked the restrictions of the Hindu caste system and tended to be more flexible and meritocratic.
In particular, while high-caste Hindus were forbidden by their faith from travelling overseas, Parsis were under no such restriction and could and did travel widely.
This may account for Tata's own worldview, for during the course of his life he travelled widely and absorbed an immense range of ideas, many of which influenced his business dealings.
Images Courtesy: The Tata Group