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Naval Hormusji Tata (30 August 1904 – 5 May 1989) was an adopted son of Sir Ratanji Tata and a noted industrialist of the Tata group. He is the father of Ratan Tata, Jimmy Tata and Noel Tata.
He was born in Bombay on 30 August 1904 in a middle class Parsi family. Naval was only four years old when he lost his father in 1908, who was a Spinning Master in the Advanced Mills at Ahmedabad.After death of his father family shifted to Navsari, where the family survived on modest resources that were supplemented by his mother’s income from embroidery work. The young Naval was later put in as boarder at the J. N. Petit Parsi Orphanage by family friends in an effort to support the family.
In a fortunate turn of event, which changed Naval’s fortune and life was when Navajbai wife of Ratanji Tata adopted Naval while he was still at the orphanage. Naval was 13 when he was adopted by Lady Tata. Naval later graduated from Bombay University in Economics and proceeded to London for a short course in Accountancy.
He never forgot his past and once said:
I am grateful to God for giving me an opportunity to experience the pangs of poverty, which more than anything (else) moulded my character in later years of my life.
Naval’s first wife was Soonoo and they had two sons Ratan and Jimmy from the marriage. They separated in the mid-1940s.
Naval later married Simone, a lady from Switzerland, whom he fell in love with and they got married in 1955. Noel Tata is their son.
He differed in opinion with his cousin and long standing colleague, JRD Tata. While JRD wanted to steer clear of politics, Naval stood as an independent candidate from South Bombay in 1971 but lost elections.
Naval was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the President of India on Republic Day, 1969. The same year he was given recognition for his role in industrial peace and awarded the Sir Jehangir Ghandy Medal. He was conferred the life membership of the National Institute of Personnel Management.
He died on May 5, 1989 due to cancer in Bombay