‘Steel man of India’ J J Irani dies at 86

JAMSHEDPUR: Former Tata Steel MD Dr Jamshed J Irani, whose 43-year association with the company earned him the epithet “Steel Man of India“, died late on Monday in Jamshedpur’s Tata Main Hospital. He was 86 and is survived by his wife Daisy and three children.
Irani retired from the board of Tata Steel in June 2011, leaving behind a legacy that won him and the company many laurels. He was the MD of the erstwhile Tata Iron and Steel Company, rechristened Tata Steel, from 1992 till his retirement.
Irani is credited with being among the pioneers of the quality movement. He enabled Tata Steel to reinvent itself with the focus on becoming the lowest-cost steel producer in the world despite maintaining quality that could compete in the international market. He was instrumental in starting the Tata Education Excellence Program in 2003 to improve the quality of academic facilitation through a calibrated approach adopted from the renowned Malcolm Baldrige Performance Excellence criteria.
Born on June 2, 1936, at Nagpur to Jiji Irani and Khorshed Irani, he earned a BSc from Science College in 1956 and an MSc in geology from Nagpur University in 1958. He then went to the University of Sheffield in the UK as a J N Tata scholar, where he secured a masters in metallurgy in 1960 and a PhD in 1963.
Irani started his professional career with the British Iron and Steel Research Association in Sheffield in 1963, but always yearned to contribute to the nation’s progress and returned to India to join Tisco in 1968, as Assistant to the Director in-charge of Research and Development. He went on to become General Superintendent in 1978, General Manager in 1979, and President of Tata Steel in 1985. He then became Joint Managing Director of Tata Steel in 1988, Managing Director in 1992 before retiring in 2001.
He joined the Board of Tata Steel in 1981 and was also a Non-Executive Director from 2001 for a decade. Besides Tata Steel and Tata Sons, Dr Irani also served as a Director of several Tata Group companies, including Tata Motors and Tata Teleservices.
Irani was the National President of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for 1992-93. He was conferred several honours, including his appointment as International Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 1996 and an Honorary Knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997 for his contributions to Indo-British Trade and Co-operation. In 2004, the Government of India appointed Dr Irani as the Chairman of the Expert Committee for formation of the new Companies Act of India. He was conferred the Padma Bhushan in 2007 for his contribution to industry. He was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Government of India in 2008 as acknowledgement to his services in the area of metallurgy. The statement by Tata steel read.

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