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In Britain, Tata is now a colonist, a gentleman

business Updated: Mar 30, 2008 21:26 IST
Vijay Dutt
Vijay Dutt
Hindustan Times

Call it reverse colonisation, or the turning of a cycle. Ratan Tata has become a household name in Britain after the latest takeover of Jaguar and Land Rover by his group, which coming about a year of Tata Steel acquiring Corus, the former British Steel, is inspiring reports that his group is a sort of East India Company in reverse gear.

The Tatas are perceived as increasingly doing to British businesses and corporate culture what once the East India Company did in India.

The Sunday Times

newspaper puts the Tata group chairman at the top of a list of "colonists" – calling him an inheritor of wealth but a visionary in his own right.

At the turn of the Millennium, Tata sent a message to British people when Tata Tea acquired the Tetley brand, putting a formal Indian stamp on a brand that was associated with Indian tea in the British market since 1856. After he outsmarted Brazil's CSN for Corus and grabbed iconic Jaguar, the buzz is now out in the streets of London on a man who has done to business what a World Cup victory does in cricket. Quite often, commuters in the underground rail and buses turn round to ask about him. Mainstream media has not stopped talking about him., and in a radical change of an approach, they are full of praise. Indian business success stories have in the past not acquired the critical mass that Tata has brought forth.

The British, usually known for their understatement – which critics might say is a reluctance to accept game-changing news from a former colony – are seeing the other side. It helps perhaps that Tata is doing it all with what old Englishmen would call a straight bat.

"The reason for regard for him is his not retrenching workers and sticking to the ethos and British business culture," a City banker told

Hindustan Times

. "Also the stress on quality and standards is another virtue which has made us really proud of their business style."

Tata Tea’s Anthem of apathy
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