Former Tata Steel and Air India Chairman Russi Mody dies at 96

Kolkata: Russi Mody, former joint chairman of Air India and chief of erstwhile TISCO, died here following old age complications, sources said.

Modi, 96, died at a private nursing home near his South Kolkata residence Friday night.

Born in Mumbai Jan 17, 1918, Mody was a leading member of the Tata Group and served it in various capacities, later earning the sobriquet of India’s “Steel Man”.

Months after his retirement in 1993 as chairman of TISCO, now christened Tata Steel, Modi was appointed as joint chairman of Air India and the then Indian Airlines by erstwhile prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao.

Recipient of the nation’s third highest civilian award Padma Bhushan in 1989 for his exemplary contribution to the Indian industry, the flamboyant Modi unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha election from Jamshedpur in 1998 as an Independent. He came second, getting about two lakh votes, but lost by a margin of over 97,000.

Son of an affluent Parsi couple Sir Homy Modi and Lady Jerby, Rustomji Hormusji Modi was educated at Harrow and Christ Church College, Oxford and joined TISCO as an office assistant upon his return to India.

He rose through the ranks to become the company’s director of personnel in 1953, and took up the position of director of raw materials in 1965. In 1970, he was appointed director of operations and became joint managing director in 1972. Two years later, Modi was made managing director, and in 1984 became chairman and managing director.

A keen sports enthusiast, Mody played a big role in setting up the Tata Football Academy in Jamshedpur in 1987.

Condoling his death, Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata said Mody was an institution at TISCO.

“Under his leadership, the company grew significantly and he instituted many human resource initiatives,” he said.

Cyrus P. Mistry, Tata Sons group chairman, described Mody as a stalwart with an all-encompassing vision rooted in an enduring commitment to society. “He widened the company’s development initiatives for local communities and also to address larger national needs. Entities like the Tata Steel Rural Development Society and the Tata Football Academy bear testimony to this.”