28.12.2012 | New Delhi
Ratan Tata retired on December 28, 2012. He is credited with giving India its first multinational group. Tata is a now a global brand. Entrepreneurs in independent India aspired to be a Tata or a Birla. But today Tatas are ahead by leaps and bounds thanks to Ratan Tata’s 21 years at helm.
The acquisitions of Tetley by Tata Tea, Jaguar Land Rover by Tata Motors and Corus by Tata Steel were the highlights of his reign. Hosannas have, and will be, sung about Ratan Tata. But his record is not as unblemished as his fans would like us to believe.
Tata has criticised the Indian government for not doing enough.
Ratan Tata started his career in the Tata group with a whimper, and is certainly not leaving it with a bang. His first two leadership roles, at Nelco and Empress Mills, saw the entities ending up bankrupt. The last few years of his innings were marred by the failure of Nano to set the streets on fire and the Nina Radia tape controversy. The Corus acquisition is bleeding the parent company. The car, telecom and power businesses too are not doing well.
Tata has criticised the Indian government for not doing enough. However, he himself has little to show as the chairman of the Investment Commission of India. His disdain for Indian political system and bureaucracy make him popular among the westernised elite. But the attitude harms India’s global reputation as a place to do business.
His successor Cyrus Mistry is an outsider. He is deservedly a Gem of India, though not necessarily a Bharat Ratna.
Ratan Tata draws a lot of sympathy from his followers for having to fight well-established chiefs of Tata group companies, like Russi Mody, in his initial years at top. They fail to see the flipside. JRD Tata had created a pool of talent that could run the group companies independently. Ratan Tata has failed to nurture in-house talent. His successor Cyrus Mistry is an outsider. He is deservedly a Gem of India, though not necessarily a Bharat Ratna.