What a great news and treat it was to watch my hero (and current National Hero too) on Television up there in the skies, doing some complicated manoeuvre on the F-16 in Bangalore Aero Show. It is not because it was Chairman of India’s biggest Industrial conglomerate, “Ratan Naval Tata” who did. No doubt, he is a licensed pilot but a commercial pilot never needs to fly over 900 to 1000 kmph. Here was a civilian handling a military aircraft at – Hold your breath!!! – 6 times the speed of sound Hmmm….. breathtaking indeed. Must have been butterflies in everyone’s stomach till he safely landed after about 35 minutes in the skies. There was a sudden scare too, when an Intermediate Jet trainer had a tyre burst and ran out of the runaway (pun intended). Touch wood! it was not the F-16 that ran of the tarmac. TATA – my salute to you a true national hero who comes out on top whatever be the challenges posed to him.
Flying a F-16 seem to be a small thing after all considering what he has been upto over the past few weeks – what say? The Corus deal indicated the stuff that he was made of. (hey! I am not into any patriotical or sentimental stuff or jingoism in action) This is only a prelude to what I really want to say later on. But to put that in perspective I need to beat around the bush. Corus deal had failure written all over it. For one, it was a take over of a company many many times bigger than his own. The deal went on to prove what the will, drive and determination can help you achieve. Brazil’s CSN with much deeper pockets could not get its Chorus right to clinch Corus .
Secondly (though it is unconfirmed but music to my ears nevertheless) it had some history. A little know fact requires tracing backwards in history when his great grandfather Jamshedji Tata approached then British Government for funds to start TISCO (Tata Steel now). Sir Frederick Upcroft, Railway commisioner at that time, scoffed at and tauntingly vowed to eat every pound of steel TISCO made, by implication he meant that Indians cant make steel. British Steel had a few years back merged with Corus and it is TISCO that has bought out this company. The very first statement from Ratan Tata after succesful bidding for Corus, “it is a moment of fulfilment for India” maybe was with this in mind. If Upcroft were alive, this company now makes the 5th largest steel making capacities (my god, he can eat for generations of his families and still be left with enough steel to build the world). Thanks Britisher, here is our payback – decolonization in process.
Even Indica, India’s own car is a greater success story than Maruti. With technology from Suzuki, virtually the whole government machinery and public funds at its disposal, policy changed to kill Dolphin and clear Maruti’s way ahead, its success was a foregone conclusion. But Indica had no such pleasure. They entered the crowded market when the market was filled with many players, competing for a greater share in the market, it was indeed challenging to bring out a low cost car, at costs competitive to attract enough customer to make it sit up and take note. They did it and did it in Style, a 100% Indian Car that every citizen can be pround of and gave the so far firmly entrenched Maruti, a Korean low cost car manufacturer Hyundai a run for its money.
Why so much hue and cry over something so materialistic and mundane things called Business. It is because, of the man in the centre of the piece. Ratan Tata. From what we hear and one chance meeting with this great personality in an industrial exhibition, it shocked me no ends. A person who can afford to buy the F-16 he co-piloted today and go around in it to shop for his favourite wine is simplicity personified. We (me and a few colleagues whom he had just congratulated on designing an Automatically Guided Vehicle System which was our product on display) were utterly shocked when he coolly sat in a small car, Indica – in the driver’s seat not in the backseat (he apparently always want to be in driver’s seat in whatever he does). But for the fact that the car was allowed to be driven upto the exhibition hall entrance instead of the parking lot , all other special gestures was flatly refused by this Great Gentleman. No Chaffeur, no high flying stuff or no paraphernalias associated with the other Industry Leaders of his stature (or far lesser too). By this he also proved to the world that he truly loves and regards his products which he offers to common man like me. Needless to say, the humanitarian efforts of this industrial giants need no explanation. But the man sets examples and lives them too – firm determined businessman, simple and brave human being, a great soul and a true patriot.
Vande Mataram Vande Ratan Naval Tata – You have made us proud today and forever!!!