Philip Chacko, Christabelle Noronha, Sujata Agrawal
Few men have the courage to realise millions of dreams with their own. Ratan Tata is certainly one of them. If his company, Tata Motors, made history by acquiring an upmarket automobile brand, Jaguar Land Rover, it also made it possible for the majority of middle-class Indians to afford a four-wheeler with its Nano, the 'people's' car.
A lot has been written about the world's cheapest car. But a lot was still left to be told from the time the idea was tabled to after Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group, unveiled the first Nano at the Auto Expo in 2008. This slim volume, then, is not so much about the car per se as it's about the evolution of an 'innovation' that became a 'revolution' in the auto industry.
Ratan Tata thought about the Nano while getting bored in a board meeting, this authorised biography of the car reveals. Problems soon followed. From the politicisation of its manufacturing unit in Singur to people doubting the car's success in the competitive Indian automobile market (with chairman of the board of Suzuki Motor Corporation making West Bengal politicos appear a lesser evil), this book gives the perspective of the people who were at the receiving end of all controversies. Everyone from the car's engineers to its initial buyers make up the character list of this success story.
But it's the trivia on the car that takes the cake. For example, the company mulled over various names like Mint, Mycar, ICar, Atom etc before finalising Nano. The choice of options gives a peek into the care that has gone into the making of this little wonder. Nano, then, is truly a "promise" made — and delivered — to India and its people.
SP Kohli is a Delhi-based writer and an automobile enthusiast.
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