SHERNAAZ ENGINEER's blog on the Parsi community

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why the New Tata CEO Matters So Much to Parsis

Ratan N. Tata, Chairman, Indian Hotels Ltd. at the Company's 109th AGM on Aug 5 in Mumbai
Understandably, everybody is all agog. The countdown to Ratan Tata’s retirement has officially begun with the appointment of a committee to select his successor. Like all good things, his winning inning at the helm of the Tata Group must inevitably come to an end. While admiring his grace in letting go by meticulously adhering to his own guideline of stepping off at 75, there’s the inevitable twinge that comes with the end of an era.
Under his leadership, the Tata Group has prospered. He has, with understated sagacity and admirable work ethic, exalted not just Brand Tata but Brand India in business circles around the world.
But, above all, and perhaps without his realizing it, he has reinforced Brand Parsi better than anyone in recent times. Ratan Tata, for all his low profile modesty, is the best known Parsi on the planet.
For a community that is so small in numbers, such an illustrious Brand Ambassador is an irreplaceable asset. One is not being parochial by basking in the Parsiness of his personality! That sense of fair play, that adherence to ethics, that gumption in venturing into realms just a little out of reach (Jaguar, Corus), that determination to excel, that humility… all of this and more is just, well, deeply embedded in the DNA.
These are values that have been instilled in us by our forefathers and we gratefully acknowledge the debt and depth of this lineage by living up to it as best as we can. Many Parsis do this in their own simple sphere of activity; Ratan Tata has epitomized and exemplified it on a global panoramic platform to justifiable acclaim.
He is as aapro as they come – perhaps, a wee bit more than most other celebrated Sons of the Sudreh.
The heads of the House of Tatas have been admired and adored by the community down the ages. For JRD Tata, this realization dawned in the dusk of his years. He then confessed that he never quite understood why the Parsis had consistently showered so much love upon him when he had never done anything tangible for the community.
However, for most Parsis, our ethos and identity is in many ways synonymous with the House of Tatas. All the way from Jamsetji, who remains a hero even amongst GenNext, to the reigning Ratan, Parsis feel incredibly proprietary about the House of Tatas. Most of us have personal histories that are intertwined with the Tata empire – may the sun never set upon it.
And this goes way beyond the multi-billion valuation of the Group. It’s not about wealth but about a shared vision and values, generation after generation. While the new heir will (and must) be picked on merit, many in the community (and beyond) are rooting for both a Parsi and a Tata.
For well over a century, ‘Tata’ and ‘Parsi’ have been two sides of the same coin – it’s the currency millions across the world have faith in. We are willing to bank on it yet again!

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