Talking with ratan tata ✨

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 that was bigger than us all and on giving back, which has been entwined in the TATA DNA since the very beginning.
With Jamshedpur for instance, we realised that while our workers were thriving, the surrounding villages were still suffering. It became our goal to uplift their quality of life as well… things like these came naturally to us.
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.
That’s what my life has been about — work became a lifestyle. I was either always at Bombay House or travelling, 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 really change and adjust to my lifestyle and that didn’t sit right with me.
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. In fact, 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.
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 a period of 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.”“I had a happy childhood, but as my brother and I got older, we faced a fair bit of ragging and personal discomfort because of our parent’s divorce, which in those days wasn’t as common as it is today. But my grandmother brought us up in every way. Soon after when my mother remarried, the boys at school started saying all kinds of things about us — constantly and aggressively. But our grandmother taught us to retain dignity at all costs, a value that’s stayed with me until today. It involved walking away from these situations, which otherwise we would have fought back against.
I still remember, after WW2, she took my brother and I for summer holidays to London. It was there that the values were really hammered in. She’d tell us, ‘don’t say this’ or ‘keep quiet about that’ and that’s where, ‘dignity above everything else’ really embedded in our minds.
And she’s always been there for us. It’s difficult now to say who’s right or wrong. I wanted to learn to play the violin, my father insisted on the piano. I wanted to go to college in the US, he insisted on the UK. I wanted to be an architect, he insisted on me becoming an engineer. If it weren’t for my grandmother, I wouldn’t have ended up at Cornell University in the US. It was because of her that even though I enrolled for mechanical engineering, I switched majors and graduated with a degree in architecture. My father was quite upset and there was a fair bit of rancour, but I was finally my own, independent person in college, and it was my grandmother who taught me that courage to speak up can also be soft and dignified.
After college, I landed a job at an architecture firm in LA, where I worked for two years. It was a great time — the weather was beautiful, I had my own car and I loved my job. It was in LA that I fell in love and almost got married. But at the same time I had made the decision to move back at least temporarily since I had been away from my grandmother who wasn’t keeping too well for almost 7 years. So I came back to visit her and thought that the person I wanted to marry would come to India with me, but because of the 1962 Indo-China war her parent’s weren’t okay with her making the move anymore, and the relationship fell apart.”