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A Voyage in 1893 that Changed India!!

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See below an interesting letter that Jamshetji Tata – the pioneer of Indian Science and learning wrote to Swami Vivekananda recalling their voyage from Japan to Chicago on a ship in 1893! Here he is asking Swami Vivekananda to take leadership of the Research Institute of Science (later to become the Halo-ed Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore)!

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This one journey affected India’s destiny in many ways. It created and set into motion the Indian steel industry such that today Indians are the leading steel manufacturers around the world with Arcelor Mittal as #1 and Tata Steel as #5 in the world! On the spiritual side, it first presented the Vedantic ideas to US.

One of these luminaries was going to export something (Indian Spirituality) and the other was going to import something (Steel Industry technology). Both were in their own ways trying to link an India of the past to an India of the Future! Little realizing that their actions would affect millions in the coming centuries!

Here is what Dr. Abdul Kalam (India’s President) says about their meeting.. very significant words!

At this point let me share the meeting between Swami Vivekananda and Jamshedji Nusserwanji Tata during a ship journey. It happened in 1893. A ship was sailing Japan to USA. There were hundreds of people in that ship including two significant personalities. Swami Vivekananda and Jamshedji Tata were in that ship. Swamiji asked Jamshedji for what mission he was traveling. Jamshedji said that he wanted to bring steel industry to India. Swami Vivekanda blessed him. He suggested steel technology had two components – one is steel science and the other is manufacturing technology. What can you bring to this country in material technology – you will have to build material science within the country. Jamshedji was thinking and thinking and made a decision. Earlier when Jamshedji went to London he asked for technology transfer for Steel Plant. UK steel manufacturers looked at Jamshedji and said that if Indians make steel, Britishers will eat it. Jamshedji crossed Atlantic Ocean, talked to Americans and brought manufacturing technology for steel. And the Tata Steel was established in Jamshedpur. He seeded and worked for the steel plant. Jamshedji is not there now, but 7 million tones per annum steel is rolling out. The visionary Jamshedji gave one portion of his asset for starting a science institute today known as Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore. The message I would like to convey to this audience, dream gives vision, Vision gives thoughts and thought leads to actions. Jamshedji brought two establishment to this country – first one was steel plant and the other was an educational research institution. Hence have a goal, persevere and work hard to succeed.

Now you will realise the significance of the letter from Jamshedji to Swami Vivekananda. A visionary like Jamshedji with the blessing of Swamiji established Indian Institute of Science in 1905 with his funds. The IISc born out of a vision of great minds is the foremost scientific research institution providing post graduate education. This institution as envisaged by Swami Vivekananda dreamt, has one of the best material science lab., providing the best of research results for development and production of material for various R&D labs and industries. Also Indian Institute of Science is a world class institution in various areas for physics, aerospace technology, knowledge products, bio-science and bio-technology. This is the one institution where convergence of technology like bio-technology, information technology and nano-technology is emerging. The results will have tremendous influence in improving solar cell efficiency and healthcare, particularly drug delivery system. This institution also participated in the research and development of space programmes, defence programmes and also many societal missions.

Jamshetji Tata’s letter to Swami Vivekananda

Dear Swami Vivekananda ,

I trust, you remember me as a fellow -traveller on your voyage from Japan to Chicago. I very much recall at this moment your views on the growth of the ascetic spirit in India, and the duty, not of destroying, but of diverting it into useful channels.

I recall these ideas in connection with my scheme of Research Institute of Science for India, of which you have doubtless heard or read. It seems to me that no better use can be made of the ascetic spirit than the establishment of monasteries or residential halls for men dominated by this spirit, where they should live with ordinary decency, and devote their lives to the cultivation of sciences – natural and humanistic. I am of opinion that, if such a crusade in favour of an asceticism of this kind were undertaken by a competent leader, it would greatly help asceticism, science, and the good name of our common country; and I know not who would make a more fitting general of such a campaign than Vivekananda. Do you think you would care to apply yourself to the mission of galvanazing into life our traditions in this respect? Perhaps you had better begin with a fiery pamphlet rousing our people in this matter. I should cheerfully defray all the expenses of publication.

23rd November 1898
Jamshedji N Tata’

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4 Comments on "A Voyage in 1893 that Changed India!!"

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July 12, 2007 5:15 am

IT was a really interesting fact about tata steel ,its a real example of dreams comes true ,well i m impressed with this blog of urs thankyou for this wonderful information about tata steel

July 12, 2007 7:15 am

IT was a really interesting fact about tata steel ,its a real example of dreams comes true ,well i m impressed with this blog of urs thankyou for this wonderful information about tata steel

July 12, 2007 3:22 pm

Thanks anonymous for your nice words.. and I agree with you that dreams are what create the future prosperity.