Indira Gandhi’s letter to JRD Tata dated 1978 surfaces

With Tata Sons, the country’s oldest and largest conglomerate, set to regain control of debt-laden national carrier Air India, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has shared a letter written by former prime minister Indira Gandhi, addressed to the airline’s founder, JRD Tata, after being asked to step down as chairman.

Taking to Twitter, Ramesh wrote, “In February 1978, JRD Tata was summarily removed by Morarji Desai Govt as Chairman of Air India – a position he had occupied since March 1953. This was an exchange that followed between JRD and Indira Gandhi, who was then out of power. Her letter was handwritten. “

Tata-govt collaboration

Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy (JRD) founded Tata Air India in 1932 and named it Tata Airlines. In 1946, JRD Tata renamed the airlines in Air India.

Independence changed Tata’s relationship with the Center. Tata Group, in October 1947, offered the Air-India International float Center.

The Center was to hold a 49% stake in the Air India venture with a provision of acquiring an additional 2% stake in the company. Tatas was to be 25% and the rest to be in the public domain. The proposal got Nehru government approval within weeks.

Five years after Tata allowed the government to own a 49% stake, the Nehru government decided to nationalize Air India.

In 1953, the government paid 2.8 crore to buy the rest of Air India stock.

Despite the nationalization of Air India, JRD Tata remained chairman of Air India for over 25 years. He was removed from office in 1978.

JRD Tata sacked as Chairman of Air India

On February 1, 1978, the then government of Morarji Desai removed Chairman JRD Tata off the boards of Air India and Indian Airlines. It was later restored on the boards of both airlines in April 1980 by Indira Gandhi. However, he did not return as chairman.

In a handwritten letter in 1978, Gandhi offered her sympathy for the government’s decision and praised Tata’s efforts to build Air India. “You were not just the Chairman, but the founder and nurturer who felt deep personal concern,” Gandhi’s note read. , which raised Air-India to the international level and indeed to the top of the list. “

“We were proud of you and the airline. No one can take this satisfaction from you or humiliate the government’s debt to you in this regard, “he wrote. Recognizing the” misunderstanding “between the two of them, Gandhi said she had to operate under great” pressure “, and also noted that there was “competition in the Civil Aviation Administration”.

JRD Tata responded to the letter after almost two weeks. He said, “I was touched by your kind reference to the part I played in building the airline. I was fortunate in the loyalty and enthusiasm of my colleagues and staff and the support I received from government, and I could have achieved very little from either. “

Subscribe to Mint Newsletters

* Enter a valid email

* Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

Never miss a story! Stay connected and informed with the Mint. Download our App Now !!