I am sure nobody will dispute on this matter that during his lifetime, Ratan Tata was the most admired businessman of India, probably the most respected too. I was reading a news magazine yesterday where I read an interview of Ratan Das Tata, on his life, on TATA Nano, future aspects of Tata Group etc. He is truly one of those businessman who has finally succeeded in inheriting his title. He is not at all upset with Mamata Banerjee, nor he is too happy to shift his Nano plant in Gujarat. He said, “like a mother protects her child from doing any unwilling activities, similarly Mamata Banerjee has protected her child, West Bengal falling under the industrialization of Tata Group. She did no wrong.”
I just read this line and went into the phase which was 10 years ago. The phase when the Tatas were struggling to reinvest their entire business in the post JRD era. It just gave me a thought on how Ratan Tata would have sensed then, the anger against many of the protectors of the JRD regime. It was during this time when the license permit quota raj was finally ended. New groups were forming every now and then. The certainties of the economy was finally collapsed. It was finally a time to change.
It was during this time when companies like Infosys and Reliance had just started their regime. Reliance was seen as the most powerful industrial phenomenon in the history of Indian economy whereas Infosys personified its business growth under the leadership of Narayan Murthy, marked by world class high talented technical team.
What was going on at Tata Headquarters during this time? We saw that there were record losses at Tata Motors, the crisis was mounted. It was during this time when there were criminal charges over Tata tea’s links with the militants of Assam, it was during this time when JRD Tata decided to launch Tata Indica, it was during this time when there were allegations in the sale of Tata Oil Mill’s assets, it was during this time when Tata decided to launch a domestic airlines with collaboration of Singapore Airlines. All these plans were seemed to be scuttled. The entire country was watching India’s largest Industrial power diminishing before their eyes.
The JRD Tata Group was seen crumbling. It was becoming impossible for the shy Ratan Tata to cope up with so many problems.
And then there was a reborn of same Ratan Tata, merely a decade later, who became the world’s Media man, who reinvented the idea of motor car. He did something which was not even possible for a global car maker to do, i.e. to build a car which looked so good and unique and available at low prices. And then there was a new Ratan Tata. He brought Tata Nano in front of the entire world. He faced huge number of negative feedback for Nano, especially from the environmentalists who claimed Tata Nano being the pollution threat and but of course from our own Mamata Banerjee, who sacrificed her day and night to force Ratan Tata to move his car plant out of West Bengal.
As soon as Nano was launched, it managed all the impossibilities. Not a single negative review and there were no ends of the raves. As there was huge competition going in the car market, Ratan Tata kept to the price commitment. The input price of Nano was higher than what he expected but even then he did not increase the price of Nano. It is still sold at Rupees One Lakh only.
The success of Tata Nano made Ratan Tata forget all the losses (600 crore) of the past when Nano gave them huge profits not only in India but overseas too. He also recovered his previous losses with Tata Indica, the dream car of Ratan Tata. People thought that the launch of Tata Indica will take the Tata Group into the sink, but nothing of this sort happened. In the very first year Tata Indica earned huge profits and it marked Ratan Tata to stand once again in the battle of Industrialization.
In the early 1990’s when nobody noticed Tata Consultancy Services or TCS. But all of a sudden it was TCS which started dominating the Indian IT sector though it had the toughest competitor around, the Infosys. The slim and lean company Tata Group was successful enough in buying the global giant, Corus. The plan for building the world’s cheapest car on roads was finalized and even then Tata’s were on the verge of purchasing the world’s greatest luxury car, the Jaguar.
It is seriously unbelievable for me that how can so many people who knew Ratan Tata so well got him wrong? I am sure the business pundits have the answer of this question even though it was these pundits who left not a single chance to criticize about Ratan Tata and his way of doing business.
Ratan Tata realized India was changing. He knew that the old formula which worked so well with Indian companies where the old man was the emperor and the companies were in the hands of the viceroys will not give his company good results. He had a plan. He professionalized the entire Tata Management, democratized it and was very successful in abounding the feudalism and got all the things done under his supervision. He formed a company that had no room for any emperors or viceroys.
He decided that this was the best time to plan about the future of the Tata Group and then he brought TCS in the limelight. He decided to go global. He grabbed the opportunities for globalization in such a way which was not not done by any of the Industrialist. Look at his intelligence. He had full faith in the team of young India and as a result of this trust he decided that he will give all the responsibilities of Tata Nano to the young group. Though he was a shy person but he never lost a single opportunity in motivating his team. He is a very warm and outgoing person.
The best thing about Ratan Tata is that he never cared for the government. Tatas are the only group that has faced the maximum governmental harassment. He was never in favor of paying bribes to them. He never complained about these government people to the Prime Minister. No matter he is losing a project because of all this, he never lost his principles. He made his own principles and always followed his heart. It was in his heart to built the India’s cheapest car.
He told in a press conference that he has seen family of four on a scooter or a bike. He asked his heart that why cant we give these families a car where all these four people can safely travel. There were many other reasons behind building Nano, but I personally believe that this is the best among the all.
It is quite possible to be honest and win the world like Ratan Tata did it.
This is the new India. The young India.
Please note : all the points written in the above article are based on author’s personal views. Special thanks to Hindustan Times.