Farewell Ratan Tata!
The curtain came down on the career of one of the most illustrious of Indian industrialists when Ratan N Tata called it a day on December 28, 2012 and handed over the baton of leadership of the Tata Group to Cyrus Mistry
He was way ahead in that thought process and while this was something the western world had already done, it had proven successful, economical and also very reliable. Sadly, so many of his peers laughed at the very thought and now two decades later there is again such talk, but now from those who were the disbelievers! Also talk about synergies of shared development and such he was in the forefront of trying to initiate this with such diverse auto makers as Peugeot-Citroen for executive mid-size sedans, even the VW Group for a range of all-monocoque vans and of course that joint venture with Honda which many vested interests within the industry and the powers that be didn’t allow to take shape.
All these could have demoralised a lesser human being but through it all Ratan Tata never stopped trying, and in a certain way went ahead and re-invented the wheel, at great cost to self and group but which today is a solidly established business.
I used the word nation-builder in my opening remarks and it is in this light that I feel his legacy should be remembered. A principled man to the core, he never even once called me or pulled us up when we panned the original Indica for its shortcomings (and not its concept) when I headed Overdrive magazine, then part of Tata Infomedia Ltd, when the obvious Indian way to do things could have been just otherwise!
Maybe being an automobile aficionado had much to do with this as also his love for things mechanical as well as those associated with movement. His love of flying, his eye for artistry and his flair for technological brilliance were other aspects that impressed but more than that his idealistic nature never came in the way of his interactions across all segments of society. Never one for pomp or ceremony, Ratan N Tata merged old world values and tradition and made them relevant to revel in the present. To say he will be missed would be a massive understatement but I do believe, fervently at that, you can’t keep a good man out and in his next innings I am sure we will hear even more of the great nation builder that he is!
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