Tata Family & Group

Tata, Tea & Taj Mahal Hotel

I happened to come across an article written about Tata Family & Company. It fascinated me and intrigued me to explore more. Tata Group is one of the most famous Indian Multinational companies.

Tata
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Facts speak for themselves:

  • 11th most reputable company in the world according to a survey!
  • More than 100 operating companies in the group
  • Operates in more than 100 countries across six continents
  • Total Revenue around $103 Billion (2014)
  • Ranked as 34th top World Brand Name at a value of $21 Billion (Name Alone!).

But this article is not about Tata as a successful business. So what is so special about Tata? Read on. Its Group’s slogan is:

“Improving the quality of life of the communities we serve”

Do they live by it? We need to examine Tata’s history as well look at its founder’s life.

Jamsetji Tata

The company was founded by Jamsetji Tata in 1868. Coming from a Parsi business family he had a natural talent in business; Jamsetji made a fortune in trading cotton, tea, copper, brass etc. But this was not his motive; he had great interest in innovation, technology & its use to improve ordinary people’s lives. He desired having everything “Made in India”.

Build the Nation

Jamsetji established “Empress Textile Mills”, the first textile mills of the India in 1877. But his biggest wish was to establish a steel plant which was realised after his death by his son Dorab in 1907 when Tata Steel started production and making India the first Asian country to have its own steel plant. Today Tata Steel is among top 10 best Steelmakers.

Jamsetji 2
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Jamsetji visited many countries to gather ideas, talented people & latest technology to bring it back to India. He was a man with a specific vision. He did not believe in charity, rather advancement through grooming & education. He loved science & technology and craved to establish a science institute as well as a hydro-electric power plant.

“What advances a nation or a community is not so much to prop up its weakest and most helpless members, but to lift up the best and the most gifted, so as to make them of the greatest service to the country,”

Jamsetji eventually succeeded in establishing “Indian Institute of Science” hence providing India with plenty of engineers & scientists for generations to come.

Business & Employees Hand in Hand

Even before Western people thought of labour welfare, Tata Group introduced pensions (1877), the eight-hour working day (1912) and maternity benefits (1921) for its employees.

“In a free enterprise the community is not just another stakeholder to business, but is in fact the very purpose of its existence,”

Jamsetji cared for his employees. He ordered his sons to build a model industrial town to be carved out of the jungle for the workers. He was very specific:

“Be sure to lay wide streets planted with shady trees… Be sure that there is plenty of space for lawns & gardens. Reserve large areas for football, hockey & parks. Earmark areas for Hindu temples, Mohammedan mosques & Christian churches,”. And they did; outcome was the creation of Jamshedpur.

Taj Mahal Hotel

Let’s not forget Taj Mahal Hotel of Bombay. Jamsetji absolutely adored Bombay as it was his town of birth & living. There was only one reasonable hotel here, the ‘Watson’. But it was not up to standards; on top of it, Indians were not allowed. Not acceptable, I will build a hotel of standard, declared Jamsetji; so the Taj Mahal Hotel was born in 1903. It was the first building in the city lit with electric lamps & had lifts –people from all over the world came to see this splendour.

Taj Mahal Hotel Bombay
Taj Mahal Hotel Bombay

Soon afterwards he passed away. Jamsetji was dubbed as a Man of Steel. Tata story didn’t end here; his successors continued his work to same glory.

JRD – Father of Indian Aviation

Jehangir Tata known as JRD reined the group for nearly half a century (1938 to 1988) taking it to new heights. Tata assets rose from $100 Million to $5 Billion under his leadership. He had avid interest in aviation. JRD became the first person to qualify as pilot in India. JRD established the first airline in India, not surprising called “Tata Airlines” in 1932! It was later nationalised by the government and named as Air India. JRD was appointed as its first chairman. It doesn’t stop here; JRD established “Tata Consultancy” in 1968 to computerise the company’s paper-based records – today it is the most profitable company in the whole Tata Group, providing IT services globally, and among top 10 Global IT service company.

Jehangir Tata
Jehangir Tata

“I do not want India to be an economic superpower. I want India to be a happy country.”

JRD just like his predecessors had keen interest in people welfare. He established Asia’s first ever cancer Research & Treatment Hospital in Bombay (1941).

The Tata story goes on. They can be found everywhere, from IT to Tea; yes they own the famous British tea brand Tetley as well Jaguar & Land Rover. India owes a lot to them for sure!

Tata & Humanity in Figures

Are Tata family very Rich? Tata Group is but not so the family; they own merely 3% of Tata Group:

  • Total Group Assets are US$ 114 Billion
  • Tata Trusts & Charities Own 66% of it.
  • 30% belongs to Shareholders
  • And Tata Family Owns only 3%

Jamsetji once said:

“Money is like manure. It stinks when you pile it; it grows when you spread it.”

And this is not the reason. Read on..

Visionary Wanted

‘Ittefaqan’ (by chance), it reminds me of another family famous for Iron business in Pakistan! No point wasting time on exploring how successful they have been in business and how much they have returned to the nation from which they ‘earned’ billions; you all know. No doubt they are visionary; their business spans across continents. Mr Prime minister visited Karachi to attend an emergency meeting last week to discuss the dire law & order situation there. After lavish lunch of BBQ, Fish Finger, Malai Boti, Daal Chawal, Trifle, he commented “Food was weak [not up to standards]”!!

Don’t Give Hungry a Fish

Coming back to Tata, they don’t believe in feeding a hungry, rather empowering him:

Give hungry a fish & you feed him for a day; teach a man to catch fish and you feed him for a lifetime

Let’s look at the charitable trusts established by Tata:

  • Institute of Fundamental Research,
  • Institute of Social Sciences,
  • Institute of Science
  • National Centre for Performing Arts
  • Management Training Centre
  • Memorial Hospital
  • Football Academy
  • Cricket Academy
  • Tata Trusts
  • Ecotechnology Centre
  • Energy & Resources Institute
  • Tata Medical Centre
  • Cancer Research & Treatment Hospital

The striking point you would have noticed that “Help the Needy” type organisations are missing from the list. No disrespect to the work of Edhi & the like but these efforts will never eradicate the needy; we have to eliminate the root causes of the needs i.e. prepare the nation & provide opportunities to the nation.

And this is the Reason that inspired me…

There is another striking point; Bill Gates, Carlos Slim, Warren Buffet & other richest people have also donated most of their wealth but they did so after becoming rich; Tata planned around it from day one.

(Note: Please don’t forget, fundamentally it is the right system applied justly that ensures the opportunities are provided for the nation, but it is a separate subject).