Jamshed J Irani – Steel Man of India who advised governments and instituted a cricket trophy

Nov 1, 2022

By: Rounak Jain

'Quintessential Tata man'

“Dr JJ Irani was a quintessential Tata man. He was a towering corporate personality whose contribution to the steel industry was immense. Dr Irani will be deeply missed by all of us at Tata Group and we pray for his departed soul,” said N Chandrasekaran, chairman, Tata Sons.

Credit: BCCL

Education and early life

Jamshed J Irani, born in 1936 to Jiji and Khorshed Irani, completed his BSc from Science College, Nagpur, and MSc in Geology from Nagpur University in 1958.

Credit: BCCL

Metallurgy master

Post his masters from Nagpur University, Irani went to the University of Sheffield in the UK to do his masters in metallurgy, followed by a PhD in 1963.

Credit: Canva

Early career

Irani began his professional career with the British Iron and Steel Research Association in Sheffield in 1963 as a senior scientific officer, eventually being elevated as the head of the Physical Metallurgy division.

Credit: BCCL

India calling

Soon after, Irani came back to India and joined Tata Steel, then known as The Tata Iron and Steel Company. He joined the steel giant as an assistant to the Director-in-charge of research and development in 1968.

Credit: BCCL

The Tata Steel legacy

Irani rose the ranks of Tata Steel over the next decade, being elevated as general manager in 1979, president in 1985, managing director in 1992 and the director in 1998. He retired from Tata Steel in 2001, but remained a non-executive director till 2011.

Credit: BCCL

Bringing Tata Steel back to life

Irani is also credited with bringing Tata Steel – then TISCO – back to life in the 1990s with cost reduction measures and insistence on superior quality production at the Jamshedpur facility.

Credit: Tata-Steel

Honorary Knighthood

After being inducted as an International Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1996, Irani was conferred an honorary Knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997.

Credit: BCCL

Padma Bhushan and lifetime achievement

Back home, Irani received the Padma Bhushan award in 2007, and the Lifetime Achievement award by the Indian government in 2008 for his contributions in the area of metallurgy.

Credit: BCCL

The JJ Irani Committee

He was appointed as the chairman of the JJ Irani Committee in 2004 to advise the government on amendments to the Companies Act (1956).

Credit: BCCL

The cricket connection

Irani instituted the Jiji Irani Challenge Cup along with his sister Diana Hormusjee. It is a cricket tournament organised by the Zoroastrian Club of Secunderabad, in memory of their father Jiji Irani.

Credit: BCCL

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