Jews in India can be traced back to at least 2,000 years. Well, some believe they are the direct descendants of the 10 Lost Tribes that moved out of Israel around 720 BC. From what is evident now, I gather we can go by the number of native Jewish communities left in India including the Baghdadi Jews, Bene Israel, Cochin Jews, the Bnei Menashe which lay claim to have originated from the Isreali Tribe of Manasseh, and the Telegu Jews also known as Bene Ephraim. I have seen many Jews in Maharashtra and Gujarat, especially in Mumbai, Navsari and Udwada where their “sacred fire” is kept. Through the generations, Jews have contributed greatly to the nation’s growth. The Tata Group is the modern entity that comes to mind besides other Indian Jews.
Jamsedji Nusserwanji Tata: A pioneer with great ideas, he was instrumental for laying the foundation to many of India’s great companies under the Tata Sons banner. Coming from a family of priests did not dampen his pioneering spirit. He laid the foundation for his ideas with a group that pursued industrialization in the fields of education, iron and steel, hydro power, and hospitality. He lived to see only the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai coming up in his time.
Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata: He was Jamsedhi Tata’s cousin and was instrumental in completing Tata Steel in Jamshedpur after the death of Jamshedji. He remained on the Tata Sons’ board as a permanent director till his death at the age of 70 years when his son took over.
Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata (JRD Tata): He continued from where his father Ratanji left off and remains one of the greatest industrialists India has produced. Honored with the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award, he was instrumental in launching Air India. Like so many others from across the world, I can identify with the Maharaja, the airline’s mascot that extends a royal welcome with humor and humility. JRD started a total of 14 enterprises in his time making the Tata group an even bigger company.
Ratan Naval Tata: Taking over from JRD, Ratan Tata has made the Tata Group a truly international business group. He is a pilot and he never married. I guess the Board of Directors therefore kept increasing the age limit so he does not retire. We once again hear he is scheduled to retire in December 2012 when he turns 75. He has realized most of his dreams. He will be remembered for releasing the really cheap Nano car.
Dr. Dadabhai Naoroji (The Grand Old Man of India): In August 1982, he became the first Indian and Asian to be elected as a member of the British Parliament. Later, he became one of the founders of the Indian National Congress. He believed in moderation and one of his most famous quotes was, “I am a Hindu, a Muslim, a Parsi, but above all an Indian first.”
Homi Babha: One of the pioneers in the field of science, he is the architect of India’s nuclear capability today. Many Indian scientists learned their trade from him, and he is fondly remembered for his effervescence, love of nature, and painting.