Ratan Tata: Wikis

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Ratan Naval Tata
Born December 28, 1937 (1937-12-28) (age 72)
Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India
Residence Mumbai, India
Nationality India
Ethnicity Parsi (Zoroastrian)
Citizenship India
Alma mater Cornell University
Harvard University
Occupation Chairman of Tata Group
Home town Mumbai, India
Religion Zoroastrianism
Spouse(s) Never married
Children 2 Girls (adopted)

Ratan Naval Tata (born December 28, 1937, in Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India) is the present Chairman of the Tata Group, India's largest conglomerate founded by Jamsedji Tata and consolidated and expanded by later generations of his family. He is also the chairman of major Tata companies such as Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Power, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Tea, Tata Chemicals, The Indian Hotels Company and Tata Teleservices.


Early life

Ratan Tata was born into the wealthy and famous Tata family of Bombay. He was born to Soonoo and Naval Hormusji Tata. Ratan is the great grandson of Tata group founder Jamsedji Tata. Ratan's childhood was troubled, his parents separating in the mid-1940s, when he was about seven and his younger brother Jimmy was five. His mother moved out and both Ratan and his brother were raised by their grandmother Lady Navajbai.

Early career

Ratan Tata completed his BSc degree in architecture with structural engineering from Cornell University in 1962, and the Advanced Management Program from Harvard Business School in 1975.[1] He joined the Tata Group in December 1962, after turning down a job with IBM on the advice of JRD Tata. He was first sent to Jamshedpur to work at Tata Steel. He worked on the floor along with other blue-collar employees, shoveling limestone and handling the blast furnaces.[2] Ratan Tata, a shy man, rarely features in the society glossies, has lived for years in a book-crammed, dog-filled bachelor flat in Mumbai's Colaba district and is considered to be a gentleman extraordinaire.[3][4]


In 1971, Ratan was appointed the Director-in-Charge of The National Radio & Electronics Company Limited (Nelco), a company that was in dire financial difficulty. Ratan suggested that the company invest in developing high-technology products, rather than in consumer electronics. J.R.D. was reluctant due to the historical financial performance of Nelco which had never even paid regular dividends. Further, Nelco had 2% market share in the consumer electronics market and a loss margin of 40% of sales when Ratan took over. Nonetheless, J. R. D. followed Ratan's suggestions.

From 1972 to 1975, Nelco eventually grew to have a market share of 20%, and recovered its losses. In 1975 however, India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency, which led to an economic recession. This was followed by union problems in 1977, so even after demand improved, production did not keep up. Finally, the Tatas confronted the unions and, following a strike, a lockout was imposed for seven months. Ratan continued to believe in the fundamental soundness of Nelco, but the venture did not survive.

In 1977, Ratan was entrusted with Empress Mills, a textile mill controlled by the Tatas. When he took charge of the company, it was one of the few sick units in the Tata group. Ratan managed to turn it around and even declared a dividend. However, competition from less labour-intensive enterprises had made a number of companies unviable, including those like the Empress which had large labour contingents and had spent too little on modernisation. On Ratan's insistence, some investment was made, but it did not suffice. As the market for coarse and medium cotton cloth (which was all that the Empress produced) turned adverse, the Empress began to accumulate heavier losses. Bombay House, the Tata headquarters, was unwilling to divert funds from other group companies into an undertaking which would need to be nursed for a long time. So, some Tata directors, chiefly Nani Palkhivala, took the line that the Tatas should liquidate the mill, which was finally closed down in 1986. Ratan was severely disappointed with the decision, and in a later interview with the Hindustan Times would claim that the Empress had needed just Rs 50 lakhs to turn it around.

In 1981, Ratan was named director of Tata Industries, the Group's other holding company, where he became responsible for transforming it into the Group's strategy think-tank and a promoter of new ventures in high-technology businesses.

In 1991, he took over as group chairman from J.R.D. Tata, pushing out the old guard and ushering in younger managers. Since then, he has been instrumental in reshaping the fortunes of the Tata Group, which today has the largest market capitalization of any business house on the Indian Stock Market.

Under Ratan's guidance, Tata Consultancy Services went public and Tata Motors was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1998, Tata Motors introduced his brainchild, the Tata Indica.

On January 31, 2007, under the chairmanship of Ratan Tata, Tata Sons successfully acquired Corus Group, an Anglo-Dutch steel and aluminium producer. With the acquisition, Ratan Tata became a celebrated personality in Indian corporate business culture. The merger created the fifth largest steel producing entity in the world.

On March 26, 2008, Tata Motors, under Ratan Tata, bought Jaguar & Land Rover from Ford Motor Company. The two iconic British brands, Jaguar and Land Rover, were acquired for £1.15 billion ($2.3 billion).

Tata Nano car, 2008

Ratan Tata's dream was to manufacture a car costing Rs 100,000 (1998: approx. US$2,200; today US$2,000 US$2,528). He realized his dream by launching the car in New Delhi Auto Expo on January 10, 2008. Three models of the Tata Nano were announced, and Ratan Tata delivered on his commitment to developing a car costing only 1 lakh rupees, adding that "a promise is a promise," referring to his earlier promise to deliver this car at the said cost. However, the price of the car has since been raised. Recently when his plant for Nano production in Singur, West Bengal, was obstructed by Mamta Banerjee, his decision of going out of the state was warmly welcomed by the Indian corporate media and the English-speaking middle class. Banerjee criticised Ratan Tata for forcing people out of their land in collusion with the Left Front government in the state, which is headed by Budhadeb Bhattacharjee.

On October 7, 2008, after a controversial stay in West Bengal, Ratan Tata and his team shifted their Rs 1-lakh car Nano project to Sanand near Ahmedabad at an investment of Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20 billion), declaring that efforts will be made to roll out the world's cheapest car from a make-shift plant to meet the deadline. The Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi granted him huge subsidy for building the facility, including free land. Praising Modi for speedy allocation of about 1,100 acres (4.5 km2) of centrally located land, Ratan Tata said that the company had a great deal of urgency in having a new location and was driven by the reputation of the state.

The car was launched on March 23, 2009, amid much fanfare with advance bookings that preceded its launch by months.

Personal life

Mr. Ratan Tata has a metallic blue Maserati and Ferrari California but prefers to drive himself in an old model Mercedes sedan much like JRD who seldom used a chauffeur and drove his own Fiat to and from work.[5] He sometimes likes to fly his private jet himself. He has an outdated Falcon Jet, which is no longer used for commercial aviation.[6] He has never been married.[7]

He likes to wear Hermès ties and matching handkerchiefs. [1]

Ratan Tata is largely an employee Chairman / CEO of the group and most his own holding in Tata Sons., the holding company of the group, is a result of inherited family shareholding. His share is or a little less than 1%, valuing his personal holding at approximately US$ 1 Billion, if encashed.[citation needed] About 66% of the equity capital of Tata Sons is held by philanthropic trusts endowed by members of the original Jameshedji family and the largest share is with the Shapoorji Pallonji Mistry family aligned originally to Jamshetji's brother in law. The biggest two of the owning trusts are the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and the Sir Ratan Tata Trust (different Ratan Tata), which were created by the families of the sons of Jamshedji Tata. Ratan Tata is on the board of trustees of the Sir Ratan Tata Trust, and is the chairman of the board of trustees of the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust.. Sir Ratan Tata is also best known for the face behind changing India's automotive industry into global climate change era.


  • "Question the unquestionable"
  • "A promise is a promise" [8]

Awards and Recognition

Ratan Tata serves in senior capacities in various organisations in India and he is a member of the Prime Minister's Council on Trade and Industry. Tata is on the board of governors of the East-West Center, the advisory board of RAND's Center for Asia Pacific Policy and serves on the programme board of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's India AIDS initiative.[9]

Ratan Tata's foreign affiliations include membership of the international advisory boards of the Mitsubishi Corporation, the American International Group, JP Morgan Chase and Booz Allen Hamilton. He is also a member of the board of trustees of the RAND Corporation, University of Southern California and of his alma mater, Cornell University.[10][11] He also serves as a board member on the Republic of South Africa's International Investment Council and is an Asia-Pacific advisory committee member for the New York Stock Exchange.

  • On the occasion of India's 50th Republic Day on 26 January 2000, Ratan Tata was honoured with the Padma Bhushan, the third highest decoration that may be awarded to a civilian.[9]
  • In February 2004, Ratan Tata was conferred the title of honorary economic advisor to Hangzhou city in the Zhejiang province of China.[12]
  • On August 30, 2005, it was announced that Ratan Tata was elected to the Board of Trustees of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, one of the leading research universities in the United States.
  • In 2006 he received the FIRST Award for Responsible Capitalism.[13]
  • In March 2006 Tata was honoured by Cornell University as the 26th Robert S. Hatfield Fellow in Economic Education, considered the highest honor the university awards to distinguished individuals from the corporate sector.[14]
  • He was one of the recipients of the NASSCOM Global Leadership Awards 2008, given at a ceremony on February 14th, 2008 in Mumbai. Ratan Tata accepted the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy in 2007 on behalf of the Tata family.[15][16]
  • He was listed among the 25 most powerful people in business named by Fortune magazine in November 2007.
  • In May 2008 Mr Tata made it to the Time magazine's 2008 list of the World's 100 most influential people. Tata was hailed for unveiling his tiny Rs. one lakh car 'Nano'.[17]
  • On 26 January 2008, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian decoration.[9]
  • On 29 August 2008, the Government of Singapore conferred honorary citizenship on Ratan Tata, in recognition of his abiding business relationship with the island nation and his contribution to the growth of high-tech sectors in Singapore. Ratan Tata is the first Indian to receive this honour.[18]
  • After the 26 November 2008 Mumbai attacks, Forbes opined Ratan Tata be brought into politics, calling him India's most respected business leader.[19]
  • In 2009 he was appointed an honorary Knight Commander of the British Empire[20].
  • He has also been conferred an honorary doctorate in business administration by the Ohio State University, an honorary doctorate in technology by the Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, an honorary doctorate in science by the University of Warwick, and an honorary fellowship by the London School of Economics.[9]


  1. ^ Sharma, Subramaniam (2006-10-18). "India's Tata Takes Leap With $7.6 Billion Corus Bid (Update1)". Bloomberg. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aQkYaQuODjtU&refer=home. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  2. ^ Times of India Article: Man of the Year? Its Ratan Tata
  3. ^ "Faces of Enterprise: Ratan Tata". http://www.rediff.com/money/2008/jan/02tata.htm. 
  4. ^ "profile Tata". http://people.forbes.com/profile/ratan-n-tata/2766. 
  5. ^ India Today Power List 2009
  6. ^ India Today Power List 2005
  7. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/04/business/worldbusiness/04tata.html?_r=1&sq=tata&st=cse&adxnnl=1&scp=7&adxnnlx=1238497443-4R16x3p9Aj5a8CErvf45bw
  8. ^ India Today 2005 Power List
  9. ^ a b c d "Chairman Profile, Interviews and Press Articles". Tata Group Website. http://indica.co.za/0_about_us/management/chairmans_chamber/media_articles_interviews.htm. 
  10. ^ Board of Trustees, University of Southern California, Accessed April 13, 2008.
  11. ^ Ratan Tata Joins USC Board of Trustees, USC News, August 30, 2005.
  12. ^ "Ratan is honorary economic advisor of east China city resolve". Financial Express. February 12, 2004. http://www.tata.com/company/Media/inside.aspx?artid=ESnPtlGXDJM=. 
  13. ^ "The FIRST International Award for Responsible Capitalism". http://www.firstmagazine.com/Awards/Year.aspx?Year=2006. 
  14. ^ "26th Robert S. Hatfield Fellow in Economic Education - Announcement". http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/March06/Tata.Hatfield.prewrite.html. 
  15. ^ "Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, 2007". http://www.carnegiemedals.org/news/2007.html. 
  16. ^ "Tata: Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, 2007". http://www.carnegiemedalspittsburgh.org/tata.html. 
  17. ^ "Ratan Tata on Time's most influential list". http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1733748_1733758_1735108,00.html. 
  18. ^ "Singapore honour for Ratan Tata". The Hindu. August 30, 2008. http://www.tata.com/aboutus/articles/inside.aspx?artid=9f2wIWtlTAY=. 
  19. ^ "India's Obama Moment?". Forbes. 2008-12-03. http://www.forbes.com/2008/12/02/ratan-tata-government-oped-cx_rm_1203meredith.html. Retrieved 2009-01-01. 
  20. ^ http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/about-the-fco/what-we-do/honours/honorary-awards-2009 UK Foreign Office

External links

Chairmen of the Tata Group

Jamsetji TataDorabji TataNowroji SaklatwalaJ. R. D. TataRatan Tata

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