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Big boost for philanthropic activities from Ratan Tata

August 22, 2014 12:08 IST

Big boost for philanthropic activities from Ratan Tata

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The Tatas are conspicuously absent from coveted billionaire lists, as the founders bequeathed most of their personal wealth to about 16 trusts they created to give back to society.

Ratan Tata is set to move to a new office at the World Trade Centre in Mumbai.

His current office, at One Forbes, isn’t big enough to handle the growing volume of philanthropic work the Tata trusts are handling under the 76-year-old. 

Last month, through Fruition, one of his biggest initiatives, 20 post-graduate research students enrolled at the Tata Centre for Technology & Design at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay.

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Image: Ratan Tata, chairman Emeritus Tata Sons
Photographs: Reuters
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The centre, created by a donation of Rs 95 crore by the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, is more than a token contribution to promote higher technological education. 

“It’s the brain child of Mr Tata to develop frugal solutions to meet the technological needs of people at the bottom of the pyramid,” says Ravi Sinha, dean (alumni and corporate relations), IIT Bombay.

The trust’s contribution to the centre is not only through identifying the issues of technological intervention, but also the development of a business case for that and reaching people with the solution. “This is a great motivation, as we can concentrate on our strength of technological development,” says Sinha.

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Image: Tata Centre develop frugal solutions to meet the technological needs of people at the bottom of the pyramid.
Photographs: Courtesy, Tata Centre for Technology & Design.

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About two years ago, Tata trusts and Tata group companies had funded such a centre at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US.

Currently, about 60 research scholars from MIT are holding a joint workshop with students at the centre at IIT Bombay. 

Tata trusts control 66 per cent of the shares of Tata Sons, the holding company for about 100 companies in the Tata group.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Tata Centre for Technology & Design.

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The Tatas are conspicuously absent from coveted billionaire lists, as the founders bequeathed most of their personal wealth to about 16 trusts they created to give back to society. 

Ratan Tata became chairman of both Tata Sons and Tata trusts in the early 1990s, after the legendary J R D Tata passed on the baton to him.

He retired as chairman of Tata Sons in December 2012 and now concentrates on the work of Tata trusts.

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Image: J R D Tata with Ratan Tata.
Photographs: Gopal Shetty

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“There is so much work going on now, as he is completely focused on the trusts’ activities,” says A N Singh, trustee and advisor, Sir Dorabjee Tata Trust, one of the largest in the group of 16. 

Now, the trusts are working in the areas of nutrition & health, clean water to rural masses and health and hygiene. 

“In the last year and a half, Tata has brought better measurement of standards, besides accelerated efforts of trust activities,” says Singh.


Image: Courtesy, Dorabji Tata Trust

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