Popular page Humans of Bombay is engaged with a series that discuss chairman emeritus of Tata Group Ratan Tata’s untold stories. On the third and the final episode, the 82-year-old spoke up about his marriage life and about a time when he considered the idea of Nano.
Ratan Tata on Nepotism
Ratan Tata, at the beginning of the third series, said when he was made chairman of the Tata group, he was criticized for nepotism, despite, his focus was on creating something bigger than us all and on giving back to society.
“Ever since, my life has been for and about growing the company. When I was appointed Chairman, it was widely believed that it was my surname that got me the position, but my focus was on creating something bigger than us all and on giving back, which has been entwined in the TATA DNA since the very beginning.”
Later he provided the example of Jamshedpur, where his company’s workers were shining but the rest of the neighboring villages were grieving. So it became Ratan Tata’s goal to improve their quality of life.
“With Jamshedpur for instance, we realized that while our workers were thriving, the surrounding villages were still suffering. It became our goal to uplift their quality of life as well as… things like these came naturally to us,”
The whole concept of Nano
Continuing the interview with Humans of Bombay, Ratan Tata also revealed the incident that inspired him to build the Tata Nano. He narrated a story for how he once saw a family of four on a single bike in the heavy Bombay rains. After witnessing that, he wanted more for these families who were risking their lives due to the lack of an alternative. That inspired him to create the Nano, an affordable car that could be purchased by most Indian families.
“Even with the Nano – I remember seeing a family of 4 on a motorbike in the heavy Bombay rain — I knew I wanted to do more for these families who were risking their lives for lack of an alternative. By the time we launched the Nano, our costs were higher, but I had made a promise, and we delivered on that promise… Looking back, I’m still proud of the car and the decision to go ahead with it.”
Marriage life vs Business Lifestyle
Speaking on marriage, Mr. TATA revealed how he was close for being getting married but had to move on because of his busy lifestyle.
“That’s what my life has been about — work became a lifestyle. I was either always at Bombay House or traveling, I guess that’s why even though on the personal front I came close to marriage with 2-3 different partners, but I couldn’t go through with it because they would have to change and adjust to my lifestyle and that didn’t sit right with me.”
Life after retirement
On being asked about his life after retirement, Ratan Tata spoke up about how he has kept himself away from the company business and focused on social works.
“Now that I’m retired, that lifestyle has changed again. People often ask if I’m truly ‘retired’ — and to that I say — there’s no doubt about it. I’m enjoying the separation from the company — I don’t look at newspapers and worry about the bad stuff anymore. But let me tell you, retirement isn’t about playing golf, or lying on a beach, reading whilst sipping on a cocktail. Never before has the urge to do more, been greater. From affordable cancer treatment to looking into making the lives in rural India easier — I’m looking forward to this chapter of making it happen at the Tata Trusts. I’m trying to enjoy myself, to be honest — I’m spending time with friends — old and new, across all age groups, who I’m constantly learning from.
Before signing off, the 82-year-old shared a piece of advice and tells how not to take ‘right advice’. He said that the right advice may change over a period, however, a person should always have a desire to do the right thing.
“At 82, I’m still learning, so when you ask me to give a piece of advice, I feel like the ‘right advice’ changes over some time — but the one thing that remains unchanged is the desire to do the right thing. So I’ll say this — leave the advice aside and do what is the right thing, even if it isn’t the easiest thing to do. When you look back at your life, that’s what’s going to matter the most. Doing the right thing.”