28 December 1937 |
Surat, Gujarat, British India
|Residence||Colaba, Mumbai, India|
|Alma mater||Cathedral & John Connon School
Harvard Business School
|Occupation||Chairman(Interim), Tata Group |
|Relatives||See Tata family|
I'm the non-executive chairman of nine or so major companies, and on the nine companies, it's a little trying because you jump from one industry to another, as the case might be. But one had the reasonable knowledge of those nine activities, and it's been an exciting job.
Telco is totally committed to commercial vehicles, where it is bound to remain a major player. What may well happen in the future is we may split the company into two business units.
I have two or three cars that I like, but today, Ferrari would be the best car I have driven in terms of being an impressive car.
My most visible goal is to do something in nutrition to children in India, and pregnant mothers. Because that would change the mental and physical health of our population in years to come.
Apart from values and ethics which I have tried to live by, the legacy I would like to leave behind is a very simple one – that I have always stood up for what I consider to be the right thing, and I have tried to be as fair and equitable as I could be.
Since I got involved in Telco, we first developed the first modular truck, the 407, then the 709, and now the 2213. These trucks broke away from the old face of Telco trucks. I was also just as much involved with the Safari, but nobody talks about the Safari. My involvement has been there with all Telco's projects -somehow the car has got hyped up.
If we dispense with some of our self-made boundaries, India can really take its place in the world as an economic power. It hasn't happened because we, sadly, don't look at ourselves as Indians but as Punjabis or Parsis, unlike the Americans. Don't make such boundaries.
I will certainly not join politics. I would like to be remembered as a clean businessman who has not partaken in any twists and turns beneath the surface, and one who has been reasonably successful.
I may have hurt some people along the way, but I would like to be seen as somebody who has done his best to do the right thing for any situation and not compromised.
I would say that I'm blessed with a very, very good executive team that operates, reasonably autonomously, each of the companies.
I have been constantly telling people to encourage people, to question the unquestioned and not to be ashamed to bring up new ideas, new processes to get things done.
If there are challenges thrown across, then some interesting, innovative solutions are found. Without challenges, the tendency is to go on the same way.
I quite frankly enjoy the touch and feel of a store, so I am a big bookshop person. Or, I go to an electronics store; Best Buy and Croma are places I could spend a lot of time in.
The economic situation, the high cost of undertaking manufacturing, the supply chain – which is, by the way, dying out also as manufacturing undergoes hardship – make the U.K. not the first place you would look at to make a manufacturing investment.
There are many things that, if I have to relive, maybe I will do it another way. But I would not like to look back and think what I have not been able to.
If a founder has passion and innovation, he needs to be supported. I am more intuitive than a numbers person, and I recognise that not all investments are going to be positive. Some may fail, and some may have problems for other reasons. That is life.
After I retired, it seemed to me that there was a whole new world out there, which was a digital world driven by a marketplace, basically, which had a huge potential driven by handheld devices, which would one day become the virtual retail store of India.
When you see in places like Africa and parts of Asia abject poverty, hungry children and malnutrition around you, and you look at yourself as being people who have well being and comforts, I think it takes a very insensitive, tough person not to feel they need to do something.
I have always been very confident and very upbeat about the future potential of India. I think it is a great country with great potential.
I followed someone who had very large shoes. He had very large shoes. Mr. J. R. D. Tata. He was a legend in the Indian business community. He had been at the helm of the Tata organization for 50 years. You were almost starting to think he was going to be there forever.
I probably have everything that Apple has made and everything Bose has made; I am very loyal to certain brands.
A founder who is in for the short run, or has no passion for the sector he is in, doesn't give me a great deal of comfort.
Perhaps the loneliest time was during the Tata Tea issue in Assam. For some reason, everyone believed that we had conspired with the extremists, ULFA. People still believe what they read is necessarily the truth. Sometimes it is based on inadequate or wrong information.
I would say that one of the things I wish I could do differently would be to be more outgoing.
Some entrepreneurs talk of a high burn rate, high advertising rate, and so on, with no outcome, so it doesn't impress me. But an entrepreneur who has that kind of a feeling of responsibility towards his investors is somebody who will have all my support.
The government should do its job. The government's job is, in fact, to run the country, to manage the country, to govern the country. And governance is an important thing, not application where it suits one so, to micro control where it suits them on the other hand.
I have always been bullish about India's potential. I still am, and I feel India is a country that really has an enormous amount of potential and has the human capital to succeed.
I am in favour of disinvestment. But if a disinvested company has to tie up with a government company for its livelihood, there is a problem.
I can tell you in all honesty that I am highly connected to my family, my wife, and my three children, though I don't get to spend dollops of hours with them.
India needs to come out of its socialist pattern of doing things on a rationing basis.
What I would like to do is to leave behind a sustainable entity of a set of companies that operate in an exemplary manner in terms of ethics, values and continue what our ancestors left behind.
Indian car buyers have not really been exposed to customer care in a competitive environment.
Flying, I continue to be involved with. I love flying, and I hope to keep doing it so long as I can pass my medicals and stay proficient.
As you grow older, you become – everybody becomes – less inflexible and a little more accommodating.
There has to be a drive to make the U.K. competitive in the motorcar industry or in the engineering industry. To do that, you have to give attention to the manufacturing sector.
What are the crumple zones on scooters? The helmet is the only crumple zone I can think of.
Jardine is the largest dealer of Mercedes in the world. They also sell cars for two or three Japanese makers.
I came seriously close to getting married four times, and each time I backed off in fear or for one reason or another. Each occasion was different, but in hindsight when I look at the people involved, it wasn't a bad thing what I did. I think it may have been more complex had the marriage taken place.
If I were to look in the United States or in Europe, in some of the garages, you would have a Bentley or two Bentleys or a high-end Mercedes, and you may find a Smart also in that same garage because that person thinks it's a fun extra car to have. He may have four cars but also have a Smart because he thinks it is cute.
People of great power wield great power, but people of lesser power or people who have fallen out of power go to jail without adequate evidence, or their bodies are found in the trunks of cars.
There has not been a conscious view of re-energising manufacturing. So, in some form, someone has to wave the Union Jack in the area of manufacturing.
The early Rockefellers made their wealth from being in certain businesses and remained personally very wealthy.
I always felt that Nano should have been marketed towards the owner of a two-wheeler because it was conceived giving the people who rode on two wheels with the whole family an all-weather safe form of affordable transportation, not the cheapest.
When you have to earmark human and monetary resources for such a long time, it starts to hinder your other activities.
If it stands the test of public scrutiny, do it… if it doesn't stand the test of public scrutiny then don't do it.
New startups embody the creativity, the innovation of young people, and for me, it was and is a very worthwhile experience to interact with them.
The – the early Rockefellers made their wealth from being in certain businesses and – and remained personally very wealthy. Tatas were different in the sense the future generations were not so wealthy. They – they were involved in the business, but most of the family wealth is put into trust, and the family did not, in fact, enjoy enormous wealth.