Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided to honour Tata Group founder Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata by releasing commemorative coins to mark his 175th birth anniversary.
The coins, a first for an industrialist, are being minted on the instructions of the Prime Minister’s Office with an eye to enthuse Indian businesses for Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign.
Jamsetji was chosen by the Modi government because he is regarded as the “father of the Indian industry” for setting in motion what became Asia’s first integrated steel company, despite the hostile investment environment of a colonised India and his own failing health.
The coin release, sources said, would be done at a small ceremony at the Prime Minister’s residence on January 6. The guest list of industrialists is yet to be finalised.
A collector’s item, the set of Rs 100 and Rs 5 coins in silver depicting Jamsetji’s bust, has been fabricated by the Kolkata mint of the Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India and would be priced at Rs 4,500 each. Initially, only a dozen sets have been sent for being presented to the dignitaries.
In the past, Jamsetji has been honoured by India Post through release of stamps — one in 1958 to mark the golden jubilee of the steel industry in India and another in 1965 in recognition of his contribution to the industrialisation of India.
So far, coins have only been minted in honour of the freedom struggle, freedom fighters, events, scientists, temples, institutions and organisations.
Born on March 3, 1839 in Navsari (then part of the princely state of Baroda), Jamsetji was the first businessman in a family of Parsi Zoroastrian priests. Besides setting up a hotel, he initiated an iron and steel company, a world-class learning institution and a hydroelectric plant.
Only the hotel — Taj Mahal in Mumbai — became a reality during his lifetime. Tata Iron and Steel Company Ltd (now Tata Steel) came into being in 1907, three years after his death in May 1904, and is ranked among the world’s top steel companies.
The Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore and Tata Hydroelectric Power Supply Company were set up by his successors to establish his planned Tata Group, now India’s biggest conglomerate company.