torsdag 11 mars 2010

Complementary article on Jamshedji Tata on Founder's Day

Dear Yezad

What amazes me and many foreigners with the Parsi success in India is how closeknit the families seem to be and how this is instrumental to their success. It seems there is a formula at work which both encourages cooperation but also creative freedom and independence. I believe Parsi culture has a lot to teach the world about how to create a successful and thriving family life.


2010/3/11 yazed kapadia

As one who lived and worked in Jamshedpur for almost 30 years I can say that this a well written article. There are very few Companies,worldwide, which survive for 100 years. Fewer still which achieve glory at that age. Tata Steel is not the only instituition nurtured by Jamsetji which falls in this category. The Indian Institute of Science, at age over 100, is still the premier institute of its kind (even after the birth of the Indian Institutes of Technology!) in India,as is the The Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai.

Everybody knows what a great man Jamsetji was. But if you wish to know how TRULY great he was please read J.N.Tata, a chronicle of his life by Frank Harris. This is a tribute to Jamsetji paid by a British lecturer from the London School of Economics. The book was written in the early 20s (at the height of British rule in India and remains unsurpassed, by far, than anything written since.The book cannot be bought in any book store but could be asked for from the Corporate Communications Department of Tata Steel in Jamshedpur.

On Thu, Mar 11, 2010 at 3:39 PM, Zaneta Garratt wrote:

Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2010 12:58:46 -0800
Subject: [zoroastrians] Complementary article on Jamshedji Tata on Founder's Day

The following article by Suhel Seth, complementing Jamshedji
Tata and the Tata philosophy of honesty and caring for employees, was sent
to me by Ardeshir Damania, whose family was from Navsari, India where the
founder of the Tata Industries, Jamshedji Nusserwanji Tata was born.

Maneck Bhujwala
Steel Frame of Standards: Blog by Suhel Seth

Given the kind of factionalism that India is witnessing today, and the
general air of intolerance that sweeps our land, there are very few things
we can truly be proud of. One of them happens to be the fact that Tata Steel
celebrated its 100th Founder's Day on March 3 in Jamshedpur: a town where it
all began. But this is not about fêting that birth or even remembering the
founder, Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, who was born on this day, March 3, in
1839, but instead about celebrating a way of life that is not just
inspirational but one which has withstood the cynical realities of our
times. Realities where material wealth and balance sheets are more about
income and expenditure rather than about investment in either
nation-building or, for that matter, about engaging with societies with
which corporations coexist.

I believe it could only have been a Navsari priest who would have had the
gall and the spirit to set up a steel plant where no one thought it
possible. And to do that in the face of all odds. Without the support of the
government of the day or the generosity of fellow industrialists.

In many ways, Tata Steel represents the birth of Indian industry. It was not
only India's first steel plant, but also, more importantly, the country's
first real investment in what we now refer to as core infrastructure. But
then again, that alone is not reason enough to celebrate.

The reasons for celebration have more to do with Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata's
vision than with what he eventually set up in terms of factories and
companies. A vision which saw the birth of an endowment; a vision that later
gave birth to the Indian Institute of Sciences and the Tata Institute of
Social Sciences, not to mention Air India. The seeds of this expansion were
sown in Jamshedpur. It was the heartbeat of the Tata empire. But in these
hundred years, a lot has changed.

India today is a trillion-dollar economy; we are busy conquering the world;
our filmstars get mobbed in Eastern Europe; there is a buzz about India.
There is a confidence that has suddenly begun to embrace riches, at times
ignoring the cultural anchors that helped India get here. The namaste has
been replaced almost everywhere by Western greetings except in five-star
hotels where it is the new byword for servility and not greeting.

The people we celebrate have also changed dramatically. There are 'rich'
lists galore. Not one 'give' list. People are entering billion-dollar clubs
and talking about exploring the world in their new-found vehicles of
unabashed wealth. There was a time when we watched cricketers play: today we
watch them being sold. There was a time when Members of Parliament were
found in Parliament; today they strike deals in fancy restaurants in luxury
hotels. The India of today may be likened to a dragon and is no longer the
stodgy elephant that it was when we were growing up. But in all this rush
towards unbridled prosperity, we seem to have lost our moorings. As more and
more factories take shape, so do old-age homes.. We don't have the time to
take care of our parents any more.

The irony is that more and more of these so-called Indian icons are talking
about corporate social responsibility and value organisations. Companies
which are headed by those who fight their shareholders and don't want to
retire, win awards from prime ministers and then promptly advertise those
wins in every national newspaper so that they too can get public
recognition. The irony is that while we have produced more billionaires in
the last two years than any other country, even today, 77 per cent of our
population subsists on less than Rs 20 a day! The fact that today India is a
net importer of food is a signal to the changing paradigm of our gross
domestic product drivers. Agriculture is no longer the bulwark. Nor, for
that matter, is industry.

If this is the reality of today's India, then why do we need to celebrate? I
guess the fact that one way of life, the Tata way of life, has remained
unchanged is a reason for hope.. And for celebration. It is a signal to
those young men and women who will inherit tomorrow's India that you can be
honest and make a mark. Not all is lost at the altar of greed as is made out
to be. For me personally, Jamshedpur is not about a steel plant or a company
but is instead a Lighthouse, which beams signals of progress and values that
have been unspoilt by the machinations that one normally associates with big
business. For me the luminosity that emerges from the blast furnaces pales
in comparison to the tears of joy that glisten on the face of tribal girls
who have now entered the mainstream of life by getting an education
sponsored by Tata Steel. For me this is more than the million of tons of
steel that the company produces. The fact that the Tatas today can see
beyond the borders of this country is not a planned step that will help them
globalize. It will be perhaps a step in business diplomacy that India
deserves and none better than the Tatas to help fly that flag.

But this all began with the belief that Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata had. The
belief that business without a heartbeat was no business at all. The belief
that steel plants had to nestle alongside parks and fountains because the
purpose of business was not just the creation of wealth but instead the
guaranteeing of happiness. It is this happiness that you can witness on the
faces of all who have come in contact with the Tatas. He talked about
corporate social values and not just responsibility, which could be
construed either as burdensome or as a duty that needed to be performed. It
was a philosophy that he propounded which today has become the DNA of all
that the Tatas do.

In many ways, March 3 is not the celebration of someone's birth. It is
indeed a tribute to someone's vision. To Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata's
nationalism and his overarching care and compassion for his fellow human
beings, no matter in which country they lived. It is important to celebrate
a way of life that India so desperately needs to adopt. We can't keep
talking about inclusive growth and doing nothing about it. But more than
anything else, it is a celebration of civility and of the triumph of greater
good over petty gains. It helps set standards. The Tatas are following those
even to this day, though the lessons are for the others to learn as well.

In a strange way, Jamshedpur has many stories to tell the world. But the
story that must be told, and one which will endure is of compassion and
care. Of promises and progress. Where real wealth is the wealth that can be
shared by all segments of society. Where profits are not just
currency-denominated but joy-driven. That will be the true lesson we will
learn from March 3.

"Marsh Asia - Broker of the Year 2007, 2008 & 2009"

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