Steel Man of India J.J. Irani passes away at 86

Irani was associated with Tata Steel for over four decades

November 01, 2022 08:02 am | Updated 10:15 am IST - Mumbai

Jamshed J. Irani. File.

Jamshed J. Irani. File. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Tata Steel veteran and its former MD Jamshed J. Irani passed away on October 31, 2022, at 10 p.m. at TMH, Jamshedpur, Tata Steel said in a statement. He was 86.

He is survived by his wife Daisy Irani and his three children, Zubin, Niloufer and Tanaaz.

Irani was associated with Tata Steel for 43 years. He retired from the board of Tata Steel in June 2011.

He will be remembered as a visionary leader who led Tata Steel from the forefront during India’s economic liberalisation in the early 1990s and contributed to the growth and development of the steel industry in India.

Besides Tata Steel and Tata Sons, Irani also served as a Director of several Tata Group companies, including Tata Motors and Tata Teleservices.

He was the National President of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for 1992-93. 

He was conferred several honors, including his appointment as an 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 Irani as the Chairman of the Expert Committee for the formation of the new Companies Act of India. 

He was conferred the Padma Bhushan in 2007 for his contribution to the industry. He was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Government of India in 2008 as an acknowledgment of his services in the area of metallurgy. 

Irani was the pioneer of the quality movement in India. 

He enabled Tata Steel to reinvent itself with a focus on quality and customer satisfaction while becoming the lowest-cost steel producer in the world with quality that could compete in the international market. 

Irani also called the Steel Man of India 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.

He was born on June 2, 1936, in Nagpur to Jiji Irani and Khorshed Irani. Irani completed his Bachelor of Science degree from Science College, Nagpur in 1956 and a Master of Science degree in Geology from Nagpur University in 1958. 

He then went to the University of Sheffield in the U.K. as a J.N. Tata scholar where he secured a Masters in Metallurgy in 1960 and a PhD in Metallurgy in 1963.

He 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 the then 

The Tata Iron and Steel Company (now Tata Steel) 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. 

He was a keen sportsman who played and followed cricket till his last and had a passion for stamp and coin collection.

Being a metallurgist, he was deeply interested in the research, development, and collection of metals and minerals.

Irani was also the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Government of India in 2008 as acknowledgement to his services in the area of metallurgy.

TV Narendran, CEO & MD, of Tata Steel said, “Dr. Irani transformed Tata Steel in the nineties and made us one of the lowest-cost steel producers in the World. He helped build a strong foundation on which we grew in the subsequent decades.“

“He was one of the pioneers of the TQM movement in the country. He led with courage and conviction and was a role model and mentor for many in Tata Steel then and now. The employees of Tata Steel past and present are indebted to his leadership during turbulent times.,” he added.

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