A tribute to Dr Jamshed Irani, the father of quality in Indian steel industry

  • Industry News
  • Nov 07,22
Dr Jamshed J Irani, the steel industry veteran and Tata Steel's former MD, passed away on October 31, 2022, at TMH, Jamshedpur. R Jayaraman pays a tribute to Dr J J Irani, considered to be the father of quality in the Indian steel industry.
A tribute to Dr Jamshed Irani, the father of quality in Indian steel industry

I had the privilege and pleasure of working directly with Dr Irani for many years in Tata Steel. One of the best bosses one can find in the industry, a great and astute leader, a man given to systematic hard work. His vision of the future made him select quality as an emerging field which will give a huge competitive advantage to Tata Steel. He sensed it, got himself fully educated about its potential, and implemented it like no other CEO in any company. When he bacame the President of CII, he gave his full support to initiate and drive the TQM movement all over India. His commitment, dedication and leadership were the hallmarks of the work done in Tata Steel becoming the 'lowest cost producer of steel in the world'. He was the one who 'held the mirror' to Tata Steel and showed to himself and his senior management team that Tata Steel needed to do something serious, else it might 'sink like the Titanic'. This, he did in 1991! He then masterminded the 'Turning the Titanic' movement in Tata Steel, which resulted in the institutionalisation of quality in all that Tata Steel did. And, to this day, the company is reaping the rewards of that movement.

Dr Irani did such a fine job that Tata Steel became the first company in the Tata Group to win the coveted JRD Tata Quality Value award, an in-house awards system, which was initiated by Mr RN Tata. In one of greatest achievements of his time, Mr Ratan Tata guided the Tata Group into becoming a coherent, synergised entity, in which great leaders like Dr Irani participated with enthusiasm and distinction in the Tata Business Excellence Movement, TBEM, for short. From then on, Tata Steel went on to bag many awards, such as, the CII EXIM award, the Prime Minister 's Trophy for the best managed intgrated steel plant, the Golden Peacock award, and many more. The crowning glory was possibly the Deming award and prize won by the company in later years, under the able guidance of the then Managing Directors.

After his stint in Jamshedpur and Tata Steel was over, he shifted to Mumbai and Bombay House, in his capacity as a Director on the Board of Tata Sons. I had the privilege to be in contact with him when he gave me guidance and encouragement to drive the quality movement speedily in VSNL (now Tata Communications). That Tata Communications is a leading company in the Tata group is well known today.

I place my prayers for the departed soul of Dr Jamshed Irani, and mourn, with many others, the loss of a doyen of the quality movement in India. May his soul continue to provide inspiration and guidance to Tata Steel and the Tata Group as a whole. And the Indian industry too.



About the author:
R Jayaraman is the Head, Capstone Projects, at Bhavan's S P Jain Institute of Management & Research (SPJIMR). He has worked in several capacities, including Tata Steel, for over 30 years. He has authored over 60 papers in academic and techno economic journals in India and abroad. Jayaraman is a qualified and trained Malcolm Baldrige and EFQM Business Model Lead Assessor.

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