Janakbhai: From JRD to Premji through GD Birla - Times of India
How exactly were JRD Tata and Ratan Tata related? Group founder What is Nusli Wadia's connection to the Tatas? This is slightly more. As Ratan Tata attends his last annual general meeting of changed to Tata Steel and Tata Motors to make the Tata connection more explicit. The year is significant for the Tata Group, as it marks the th birth anniversary of JRD Tata and Naval Tata and the death centenary of.
While the Tata Group firmly remained a family concern -- to date, four out of its five chairman have been Tatas -- JRD's professionalism stood out from the crowd. Moreover, in most of the family firms, the top management tended to belong to the same community as the promoter family. With the Tatas, it was different: Tata's role model in management was the British civil service.
How was it, he wondered 'that a young Briton straight from college, could come to a foreign country and administer various departments with such distinction? His first attempt -- the formation of the Superior Staff Recruiting Committee -- failed when none of the recruits stayed with the corporation.
This commitment to professionalism served the group well. Infor example, when the coal industry was nationalised, Mohan Kumaramangalam, the then industry minister, left Tata Steel's coal mines untouched on the ground that these efficiently run mines would provide a model for the nationalised mines. Professionalism JRD's respect for his managers bound the group.
Most business groups have disintegrated or drifted apart because of family ownership and management, with rival family members wanting to go their own way. In contrast, the Tata Group companies are run by professionals who firmly believe in the trusteeship concept laid down by J N Tata as also by Mahatma Gandhi.
A university dropout, JRD was something of a self-taught technocrat, and died long before the phrase 'war for talent' was coined. Yet, almost every senior Tata director from the s onwards held a degree from a foreign university. Tata willingly financed bright young boys who wanted to go abroad for further education. He was also a vital bridge between the scientific establishment and the government through his founding of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, and as the longest serving member of the Atomic Energy Commission.
Tata's personal interest in technology, combined with India's isolation in the s and s, spurred several group companies, particularly Tata Steel and Tata Chemicals, to innovate in their fields. At Tata Steel, a Research and Control Laboratory had been opened inand its researchers developed an extensive variety of special steels for applications as varied as parachute harnesses and razor blades.
The lab also developed a high-tensile alloy steel -- Tiscrom -- which made it possible for the Howrah Bridge in Calcutta to be built entirely from Indian materials. Another corrosion resistant, low-alloy high-yield strength steel -- Tiscor -- was used for the manufacture of all-metal steel coaches on the Indian railways. Quality first According to JRD, quality had to match innovation. He intensely disliked the laid-back Indian attitude, and much of his fabled short temper was triggered by the carelessness of others.
I know that aiming at perfection has its drawbacks. It makes you go into detail that you can avoid. It takes a lot of energy out of you but that's the only way you finally actually achieve excellence.
So in that sense, being finicky is essential. A company, which uses the name Tata, shares a tradition. The symbol 'T' has to be a symbol of quality. Before JRD took over, the labour situation at key Tata plants was frequently tense despite the fact that management had poured millions into subsidised housing for workers, offered free medical and hospital treatment, as well as free education and was miles ahead of government legislation in terms of labour practices.
For example, Tata Steel pioneered the eight-hour day inlong before the principle had been accepted in the United States or Europe Britain introduced the twelve-hour day in Tata Steel introduced leave with pay inand in India this was established by law in Tata Steel set up a provident fund inwhich was not legalised until Tata asked the question: A benign boss According to Tata, the crux of any successful labour policy lay in making workers feel wanted.
One of the inherent drawbacks of modern industry with its large and concentrated labour forces was that each man felt 'that instead of being a valued member of a friendly and human organisation, he was a mere cog in a soulless machine.
He is easily led to feeling himself the victim of callous and unfair treatment and little is needed to make him look upon his employers as his enemies and break out into open conflict. Expressing surprise that the company had functioned for so long without one, Tata commented: Few addressed him with the full pomposity of the name with which he was born; he was simply 'JRD' to the world, and Jeh to his friends.
JRD was India's most well known industrialist, widely respected for his enormous contribution to the development of Indian industry and aviation in particular. Because laws put people in the position of saying: This does not involve moral turpitude To what extent have you achieved what you set out to achieve in industry? I must confess that I've been very frustrated. When I was young I was an angry young man: Now I'm an angry old man because of all the opportunities that have been missed.
This has been your biggest frustration?TATA GROUP : Ratan tata Family members, collection, Jamsetji Tata to ratan tata know all you want
And even on things that were not business. I was the first in India 35 years ago to sound the alarm on the population. I made a speech. I was wrapped on the knuckles, whom do you think by? His words will always ring in my ears: A large population is the greatest source of strength of any nation.
Didn't you argue with him? You don't argue with Jawaharlal. He didn't want to discuss it. But the interesting thing was I was a good friend of his. He knew I admired him. But he knew I disagreed with all his economic policies, and I even didn't agree with his foreign policy.
Tata family - Wikipedia
I felt that Krishna Menon and others like that were pro-Soviet. So I never was able thereafter to discuss economic matters. He and Mrs Gandhi later developed this similar little polite way of telling me to shut up. Jawaharlal, when I started to bring up the subject of economic policy, would turn around and look out of the window.
Mrs Gandhi did something else.
Doodling I didn't mind so much. She started picking up envelopes, cutting open the envelopes and pulling out letters. It was a polite indication that she was bored. That's not very polite A. Once she got angry I was talking, she was picking up envelopes, and Russi Mody whispered loudly to me: Rajiv would have been different. But now I am an old man of 82, Rajiv is a young man: Ratan Tata see him quite frequently. But I've never had that opportunity. All these years since freedom, no one in the Government of India, any of the prime ministers, ever came to me, or sent for me, and said, J, what do you think?
The only time I was not frustrated, funnily enough, was with T. He was in many ways a terrible man, very authoritarian. But he was the only one who ignored this socialism thing and did what he thought was right. He almost instructed Tata Steel to put in another million tonnes, double capacity, in Birla are the two great personalities in Indian business.
What did you think of him? We never got together in anything. Except that I recognised that this was a thinking man and a man of vision. He was so different from you. How did you see him in his role, his genius? I don't think that I'm anyone to criticise his system or his approach to business life.
Ta-ta: How Ratan rebuilt the house that JRD left him - Firstpost
But we know the ethical standards of some people or some groups or some communities are different from others. Birla became almost as big as Tata.
The Congress party needed funds, and we'd do it openly. But those who paid more, who paid beyond the need, got the rewards. And we were not among those. Jawaharlal would look out of the window.
Mrs Gandhi doodled, or cut open envelopes and pulled out letters. Would you put Reliance Industries in the same category? I don't know enough about it. He Dhirubhai Ambani has tremendous drive, tremendous capability, tremendous novelty of ideas. But I don't know enough. It seems that too much has been done too quickly.
And my view has been the same that the Government ultimately acted upon, on this question of converting non-convertible debentures. Things of that kind, I felt, were wrong.
Who is Ratan Tata and how ‘real’ a Tata is he?
But I have no particular views. What would you like to do now? I'm 82, I'm still group chairman. I'll help the group to stay united and to follow Jamsbedji Tata's ideals. Do you see the group breaking up? There are only two or three Tatas There's no family really. But I don't see the group breaking up at all. It's something that's worth it, to make a Tata product. Your companies have strong, independent chairmen.