J.R.D. Tata was born in Paris, France, the son of Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata, an Indian of Parsi-Zoroastrian heritage, and his French wife Sooni nee Suzanne Briere. His father was a first cousin of Jamsetji Tata, a pioneer industrialist in India. 'Jeh', or 'JRD' as he was commonly known, came to be regarded as the most famous industrial pioneer in modern India. As his mother was French, he spent much of his childhood in France and as a result, French was his first language. He attended the Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai.
J.R.D. Tata was inspired early by aviation pioneer Louis Bleriot, and took to flying. In 1929 Tata got the first pilot licence issued in India. He later came to be known as the father of Indian civil aviation. He founded India's first commercial airline, Tata Airlines, in 1932, which in 1946 became Air India, now India's national airline.
JRD worked out of Bombay House in Mumbai and dominated the business landscape with ethical leadership from 1932-1990.