Ratan Tata, the man behind the salt-to-software (Tata) conglomerate is an inspiration for all of us. He is not simply a leading character in terms of successful business ventures but also as an incredible personality. Ratan Tata is the exemplary concoction of success combined with humanitarian attitude. His journey of building Tata block by block was of course not a smooth one. It was filled with risks and challenges which he faced courageously. He shows us that despite facing odds and criticism, no one can stop us from becoming a successful human being if we have the grit and determination to face it all.
In this article we will discuss Ratan Tata’s success story, how he gradually took one step at a time to reach his destination. We will also be discussing the billionaire’s philanthropic activities and some quotes that are bound to motivate every human being.
So, let’s dive into our reading journey!
Who is Ratan Tata?
Ratan Tata is an Indian industrialist or business tycoon who presided over the Tata Group as Chairman for several years (1991-2012) and even served as an interim chairman for a brief period (2016-2017) before his final retirement in January 2017. Tata Group is India’s value-based corporation that manufactures several commodities from salt, tea, automobiles to software and other services. Ratan Tata, its retired owner is even a philanthropist who has received prestigious and honorary awards for his remarkable contributions in fields relating to science, medicine and rural development.
Ratan Tata’s early life
- Ratan Tata was born on 28 December 1937 in Mumbai in a very affluent family. He was born to Sooni Tata and Naval Tata who was a noted alumnus of the Tata Group. Later, he was adopted by Ratanji Tata who was the son of founder of the Tata Group, Jamsetji Tata. His parents divorced when he was 10 years old for which he and his brother faced troubles.
- Ratan Tata was raised by his grandmother Navajbai Tata from where he imbibed the greatest principles and life lessons that shaped his incredible character. He along with his brother Noel Tata were chiefly instructed to maintain their “dignity at all costs”. Ratan Tata continues to follow her advice to this day. His grandmother also officially adopted him through J. N. Petit Parsi Orphanage. He is originally a Parsi whose first language is Gujarati.
- Ratan Tata was a student of the Campion School, Mumbai where he studied till class 8 and later shifted to Cathedral and John Connon School, Mumbai. He completed his final schooling years from Bishop Cotton School in Shimla. He was described as an introvert or rather bore the persona of quietude.
- Sooni Tata (Ratan Tata’s mother) remarried for which often Ratan Tata came across negative comments from the school boys. However, he managed to tackle them by preferring to ignore rather than fight.
- His views were often conflicting with those of his father’s. As per Naval Tata’s wishes he enrolled for a course in Mechanical Engineering. However, his grandmother realized his interest in studying architecture and advised him to speak up courageously for what he felt. As a result, he graduated with a degree from Cornell University in the field of architecture.
- Later in 1975 at the age of 38, he was even a part of a 7-week Advanced Management Program of Harvard Business School.
How Did Ratan Tata Climb the Ladder of Success?
Initially, Ratan Tata got hired at an architectural firm in Los Angeles and was “finally on his own” for the first time where he worked dedicatedly for two years. He recounts almost getting married with the love of his life during that period. However, his grandmother’s ill health brought him back to India and the affair was interrupted as his love interest was stopped from pursuing him to his country. The main reason that proved an impediment in the alliance was the Indo-China war.
As a beginner, Ratan Tata joined the Tata Group in 1962 and was soon involved in the Tata Steel division in Jamshedpur. Six months into the work and he was “trying to be useful”. He shifted between multiple departments until he was given the task of blasting furnace and shoveling limestone at Tata Steel.
Nine years later he was appointed the Director-in-Charge of NELCO (National Radio & Electronics Company Limited). Under his authority, NELCO found initial success. The National Emergency in 1975 further reversed the path of progress for which the improvements were short-lived. However, his indomitable spirit didn’t let him bog down by failures.
When JRD Tata (Ratan Tata’s grandson) stepped down from the position of chairman of the Tata industries, Ratan Tata assumed his position in 1991. Although this decision received a lot of criticism, he managed to maintain a dignified silence as he knew “work hard in silence, let success make the noise”. He was seen to be an interloper who simply doesn’t fit into the business.
People all around considered him as a mere inheritor of Tata’s legacy rather than as a youth trying to best utilize his opportunities. Moreover, he became the cause of worry since NELCO didn’t work out with him. Eventually, this position as a chairman turned out to be a major juncture in Ratan Tata’s career that built his future as the leading industrialist of India. Jamsetji Tata has sowed the seeds of the company and his grandson made sure the crops were golden by the time they were harvested. Saying it otherwise, his decision of appointing Ratan Tata turned out to be an immensely productive one.
Since Ratan Tata worked at the ground level, he was well aware of the issues faced by the workers. Therefore, experience taught him to formulate reforms that could be beneficial to them and pave the way for the company’s success. Ratan Tata successfully merged Tata Tea with Tetley (England beverage manufacturer), Tata Motors with Land Rover Jaguar (British automotive industry) and Tata Steel with Corus (Anglo-Dutch steelmaking company). This shifted Tata from being Indian-centric to being a global business. Overall, Ratan Tata held acquisition over 36 companies spanning 9 years.
Other important decisions made by him include making the Tata Consultancy Services public. Additionally, the New York Stock Exchange also featured Tata Motors. These two actions particularly brought great fame and global recognition to the Tata company.
One of his reforms includes setting a retirement age for senior office holders. As a result, young talents with promising potential were hired and innovation was always encouraged. He successfully maintained the traditional integrity of his conglomerate and opted for the long road to success.
In 2008, Ratan Tata introduced the most compact and affordable car “Nano”, keeping nuclear families in mind. He wanted the average Indian consumerist who adjusted anyhow in a scooter to opt for an affordable car that would keep them safe on slippery roads. His launch of Indica-the modern car, also turned out to be a successful venture with Tata Motors.
As per the IIFL Wealth Hurun India Rich List 2021, Ratan Tata’s wealth ranks at 433rd position with Rs 3,500 crore. In 2020 it was at 198th rank with a total of Rs 6000 crore (Economic Times).
Philanthropic work conducted by Tata Group
Ratan Tata owns less than 1% of the Tata Group revenue. More than 2/3rd of the colossal company is vested in philanthropic causes that involve charitable trusts. Around 60-65% of the profits garnered by the Tata company is donated for noble causes. The revenue and profits are colossal just like his heart’s size. Despite earning loads of money, he is not the richest man because of his huge donations.
Ratan Tata even has a history of personal services rendered. For example, during the attacks of 26/11 in 2008 he actively engaged in providing relief to those in need and visited the family of the victims as a humanitarian gesture. Moreover, he stood outside the Taj Hotel and made sure due assistance was provided to the victims. In 2020, he remembers the “wanton destruction” caused by the terrorists and the “brave who helped conquer the enemy” in his Twitter handle.
Not simply Ratan Tata but his preceding generation has also contributed towards nation-building. Ratan Tata took the big leap when he globalized his business and made several important acquisitions. Sir Dorabji Tata Trust was setup up which initiated the tradition of philanthropy.
Ratan Tata has not only made large donations but he has also introduced important facilities like educational scholarship or providing support to talented underprivileged individuals. Thus, he made education an easily accessible privilege for anyone with the right potential.
Ratan Tata has provided aid to the challenged areas with lack of water supply. He supported the University of New South Wales Faculty of Engineering in their scientific experiments to provide improved water for those rural areas.
Awards and recognitions received by Ratan Tata
In 2000, the government of India awarded Ratan Tata with the Padma Bhushan because of his high order distinguished service. In 2006 again, he received the Maharashtra Bhusan award which is the highest civilian honor of Maharashtra.
In 2008, he was granted the second highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan. Moreover in 2021, Ratan Tata got the highest honor of Assam, Assam Bhaibhav, for his remarkable contribution towards cancer care in the state.
Ratan Tata started receiving honorary awards from prestigious universities since 2001 and is continuing to receive the same. The most recent “Honorary Doctorate of Literature” or “DLitt” was granted to him by the HSNC University which is based in Mumbai.
He also received honorary doctorates from worldwide universities in three fields namely business administration, technology and science. The universities from where he was conferred with the degrees include Ohio State University, Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok and University of Warwick respectively.
Motivational quotes by Ratan Tata
- “Ups and downs in life are very important to keep us going because a straight line, even in an ECG. means we are not alive.”
- “Apart from values and ethics which I have tried to live by, the legacy I would like to leave behind is a very simple one – that I have always stood up for what I consider to be the right thing, and I have tried to be as fair and equitable as I could be.”
- “None can destroy iron, but its rust can. Likewise, none can destroy a person, but his own mindset can.”
- “If there are challenges thrown across, then some interesting, innovative solutions are found. Without challenges, the tendency is to go on the same way.”
- “I don’t believe in taking right decisions. I take decisions and make them right”
- “Challenges need to be given to an organization.”
- “My most visible goal is to do something in nutrition to children in India, and pregnant mothers. Because that would change the mental and physical health of our population in years to come.”
- “If you want to walk fast, walk alone. But if you want to walk far, walk together.”
- “One hundred years from now, I expect the Tatas to be much bigger, of course, than it is now. More importantly, I hope the Group comes to be regarded as being the best in India, best in the manner in which we operate, best in the products we deliver, and best in our value system and ethics.”
The Final Thought!
Several billionaires will be born on this earth but the one that do leave a lasting impact are people like the phenomenal industrialist Mr. Ratan Tata. We will remember him not just as a billionaire but one that chose to be of service to education, medicine, people and the nation as a whole. He will be a pervading presence in nation’s list of “the philanthropic billionaire”. Ratan Tata is a legend and one existing personality we all must know about.
Hopefully, you liked Ratan Tata’s success story and the several facts describing him, his chief positions and the humanitarian bolstering of noble causes.