The Tatas

One of the best books on a business house i have read in a long long time.

Girish Kuber’s The Tatas does full justice to the almost 200 year old salt (well they don’t have salt anymore!!) to software conglomerate. Right from the times of Nusserwanji Tata of Navsari who set out to do business instead of priestly duties which his forefathers had done till then.

Nusserwanji’s son Jamshetji took over the reins and had tremendous vision of building a strong foundation in India. He was the one who started steel manufacturing in Mayurbhanj which later came to be renamed as Jamshedpur.

His cousin RD Tata’s son JRD (Jehangir R. Tata) took over the group to even rarified heights by forming an aviation company and making his dream a reality. It was a hard blow for him to see his pet project being nationalised by the government. It was fortunate that he was around the times of socialist policies of Nehru and Indira Gandhi which saw a distrust for business leaders.

His successor Ratan Tata who was the son of Naval Tata who was adopted for Ratan Tata (son of Jamshetji) who died young leaving behind a young widow. The fights of Ratan Tata with the stalwarts like Darbari Seth, Russy Mody, the fracas behind Ajit Kerkar and Dilip Pendse, all this is truthfully captured in this beautiful book. And then the ugly fight with Cyrus Mistry, though the actual reasons for why the bitterness arose between Ratan Tata and Cyrus Mistry is not divulged, I hope someday we come to know of it.

There are many pleasant surprises in the book, for instance the milk tabelas that you find in Goregaon and Jogeshwari belt is because of the Tatas who took to dairy farming in the then Bombay so many years ago. The iconic group has made many yeoman contributions to India in the form of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, the improvement in worker conditions, like provident fund and gratuity were first thought of by the Tatas much before it was brought into statute. Their quiet contribution to various charities in the field of arts, science, education etc.

Recently one idiot minister called the Tatas as anti nationals. After reading this book it is very clear that the Tatas were anything but that, in fact they were very much involved in nation building during war time also and during natural calamities like earthquake in Latur, the 26/11 terrorist attack in Bombay, they were the first ones on the spot with their relief and rehabilitation efforts.

For somebody like me who was worked in the Tatas for a brief while, it is nostalgic homecoming of sorts. Goodreads 5/5

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