Thursday, August 7, 2008

Who is Ratan Tata?

By the way, who is Ratan Tata? He is the Chairman of a holding company called Tata Sons. You can read a short article about Tata Sons here. Tata Sons is the holding company of the Tata group and it is not a publicly traded company, whereas a number of companies in the Tata group are public companies. The Tata group is a conglomerate from retail to steel and from IT to automobiles to refrigeration.

Ratan Tata is the heir to JRD Tata, who was the Chairman of the Tata group and he passed on the baton to Ratan. Ratan Tata is best known as an industrialist who doesn't court too much of media. But about a decade ago, he was simply written off. I still remember when he announced that it was his pet project to build a passenger car, Indica. All the major Indian newspapers and magazines and anyone in the media was ready to call him 'foolish', someone who would wreck a very successful truck making company, Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company Limited [TELCO] which is now renamed as Tata Motors by making passenger cars. But he was able to prove everyone wrong and the car that he made, Indica, has been a successful car on the Indian roads.

In 2008, he again pulled off what seemed impossible. He got us the world's cheapest car, the Tata Nano. Ratan Tata is a Zoroastrian, a Parsi and I'll keep you informed about Parsis at a later stage.

I read an exceptionally interesting article on Ratan Tata by the noted Indian journalist, Vir Sanghvi. This was published in Hindustan Times, a major Indian daily, on January 12, 2008. I have never read a more interesting piece in a newspaper where any major journalist has written in such glowing words about anyone. Let me quote the first paragraph from Sanghvi's article:

Nobody disputes that, during his lifetime, JRD Tata was the most respected — and probably the most admired — businessman in India. On Thursday, as I watched the TV coverage of Ratan Tata unveiling the Tata Nano in New Delhi, I was struck by a sudden thought: Ratan has finally inherited JRD’s title. He is clearly the most respected and admired businessman in India today.

And you can read Vir Sanghvi's complete article at this link. If you can't access it, please do let me know. I have a copy which I had saved offline. I even gave this article to my students to read.

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