Friday, August 20, 2010

If there were more like Ratan Tata

My Grandfather told me once that it takes ages to earn respect and it takes minutes to actually lose it. One of the most important aspects in our lives is actually not the process of living but the inculcation of values inside the living process. What is born is a living being, but what actually makes this living object a human is actually the character that it adorns. I was very young probably 11 or so, but his words later found their own meaning in my life and I realized that this was told by a person who probably devoted half of his life to the most respected corporate houses of India, TATAS.

I could never understand as to why a business house could be synonymous with heavy words like values, principles and so on. My understanding for business was the mere fact where it is a process in which money is used to make more money. Money brings power brings more money brings more power. The bottom-line of any business house was profit and nothing else than that. Yes there was a kind of social display of this power but that was probably to make people like me and you aware of the fact that these corporate giants also have a kind of social responsibility which they actually fulfill. I was wrong. I was really wrong about this for one business house, the TATAS. Many people told me about the value practices of the TATAS but then I would not believe such high standards of honesty and ethics being practiced in one of the largest business houses of India. I was wrong. So what made me change my mind? Which was the incident that actually led me to take a complete rethinking on my opinion of business houses?

None of us could forget the bruises of 26/11 Mumbai attacks. At least not who stay in Mumbai and had to go through those horrific 3 days when the whole city was held hostage. The drama ended for many of us after the 3 days. The news channel stopped reporting because the show was over, politicians shouted for some days and declared compensation, which is actually the regular practice after any kind of attacks in this country, and life, as they say, was back on track displaying the true Mumbai spirit. Life however had changed for two people, one coming from the lowest income group and one coming from the most élite strata of the society. This is a story of the two. A hawker who sat opposite the Taj Hotel and the owner of the Taj Group Shree Ratan Tata were both affected in that horrific attack.

The TAJ hotel had seen the worst kind of combat over the three days and there was immense loss to life and property. A businessman’s’ nightmare is a loss to the property especially if it has a heritage value like the TAJ has. The property required a renovation worth hundreds of crores of rupees and some of the part of the property that was damaged had antique value which was not available any more. Ratan Tata had one of the biggest challenges in front of him and that was to restore the TAJ. This however, did not make him wary. The entrepreneur thought about the lives that were lost. Not only of those who were inside the hotel but also of those who were in the vicinity among which was also the injured hawker. Tata made sure that those injured were properly nursed in the hospitals and full funding was given from his organization. The hawker also benefitted from it and is today healthy enough to again look after his family. The employees of TAJ who had lost business were not retrenched, as it would happen in any BPO or any kind of corporate houses if one of the units would have gone sick.

On the contrary they were given additional benefits and salaries did not stop for the TAJ employees. Tata probably knew that business is not all about process it is about people, which very less people in India or in fact the world knows of. Tata knew that Human Resource Development (HRD) is probably more important than the contemporary idea of Human Resource Management (HRM). He also helped every family who were in any ways directly or indirectly affected due to the TAJ attacks not caring about the fact that he had a hotel to restore that demanded more than hundred crore rupees to spare. Where contemporary business houses would actually shut shop, TATA went ahead nurturing the employees of the sick household.

Results of these good works followed. In a span of less than two years the TAJ was back to its glory. The employees who were not deserted by the corporate house put in their best to restore this magnificent structure back to its own glory. It was a slap on the face of terrorism by peace, it was a victory of hard work and more-over victory of values exhibited by one of the most valuable person this country had Ratan Tata. The utter humility came at that instant when the Taj was re-inaugurated and in the advertisement you had the picture of all employees of the TAJ but Ratan Tata. He never wanted to come to the fore-front. This gesture probably was not covered by any kind of media houses.

For me, from that time Rata Tata is the candidate for the Nobel Prize. I may be a bit unjustified for that but then if a person can restore life, restore faith, command respect and still win a battle against terrorism with all peaceful means then he and only he can deserve the Nobel peace prize. I came to know about earning respect and still being rich. Ratan Tata is definitely the Model Millionaire of India and the face of India for the 21st Century.

The Damn Common Man today salutes this incarnate called Ratan “NOBLE” Tata.


  1. I have all respect to the TATAs.. when compared the Market Cap these guys are bigger than Vendanta,Ambani, Mittal groups.. but if you see promoter's share they are no where..that shows..

  2. Hi, The point is not about Business alone. It is about the fact as to how business is done with dignity. I am not sure about the financial nitty gritties of the TATA group, however, one thing is certain the group is definitely one of the most powerful business houses in India today and that too with a good human touch, which other business houses actually lack.

  3. Yes, true Kalyan the TATAs are the most sensible group in terms of the Corporate Social Responsibilities. TATA group has set up several philanthropic trusts — Trusts that have given to the nation a host of pioneering institutions — IISc, TIFR, TISS, Tata Memorial Hospital, TERI and NCPA. Most of these are now national institutions... Good Article.

  4. True Saurabh and the feel of their social commitment is definitely seen in their institutions.