Ratan Tata force behind group’s international foray

Mumbai : After two decades at the helm of one of the largest Indian conglomerates, Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata Wednesday announced the name of his successor — Cyrus P. Mistry, who will have to fill some pretty big shoes from next December.

Born on Dec 28, 1937, Ratan Naval Tata joined the Tata Group in 1962 and has been its chairman since 1991.

“His is one of the most outstanding careers of the last 20 years. He had the foresight vision to grow overseas, to grow the Indian companies, to become the most respected group outside the country and Ratan is single handedly responsible for putting Tatas and India on the global map,” said Deepak Parekh, chairman of HDFC Bank.

India Inc. captains also lauded Tata’s commitment to take the group international and it now owns brands like Tetley Tea (acquired in 2000) followed by Anglo-Dutch steel maker Corus in 2006 and Jaguar Land Rover in 2008.

Tata’s thrust towards globalisation has today led to the group earning 58 percent of its total revenue of about $48.3 billion (in the last fiscal) from overseas operations.

Not just acquisitions, Tata also made a name in building domestic capacities, like in the automobile sector, where he is known to have personally pushed for the development of cars like Indica which was launched in 1998 and the world-famous entry-level car Nano in 2009.

However, the road to the Rs.1 lakh car was not without hindrance, when Tata faced a Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee-led farmers movement which throttled his plans to set up the Nano manufacturing plant in Singur in West Bengal, which was later shifted to Gujarat.

Tata has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Cornell University and completed his advanced management programme at Harvard Business School in 1975.

He was also honoured with India’s second-highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2008 and also holds many honorary doctorates from several universities.

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