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When he took over India's largest corporate conglomerate in 1991, there was an outcry and caustic criticism: He was not given the post because of his professional qualities, but solely because he was the founder's grandson. But the now 75-year-old Ratan Tata taught all critics and skeptics wrong in the following years.

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Not every one of his decisions was right - but he purposefully and relentlessly expanded the traditional Indian company into an international corporation. The takeover of the traditional British car manufacturer Jaguar by the company from the former British colony was particularly symbolic. It made irrevocably clear the importance of the emerging markets for the global economy.

Dignity, duty and sheepdogs

Although Ratan Tata owns less than one percent of the entire group, he has nonetheless become India's most influential manager - even though his personal demeanor has always been modest and reserved. The British weekly “Economist” described Tata as a “born gentleman” who led an ascetic life, often spoke of “dignity” and “duty” and was happiest in the company of his two sheepdogs.

AP / Rajanish cockatoo

The company boss with his favorite project, the cheap Nano small car

In addition, Tata cultivated a radically different approach to the political class than many of the younger Indian entrepreneurs: he always kept his distance, never became dependent on New Delhi and did not shy away from publicly reprimanding the government.

Indian global player

The Tata Group is a conglomerate that includes almost everything from coffee to steel to hotels. Many of the companies are leaders in India: Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is the largest Indian software company, Tata Power is the largest private electricity company. Tata is one of the most important global players in cars, steel and tea. In the past financial year, the group had sales of 76 billion euros.

New company type

When he took over the helm in 1991, the consequences of the decades-long planned economy, which had only been abolished the year before, were still ubiquitous. Tata was practically only active domestically. 20 years later India is one of the most dynamic economies according to "The Economist" and the Tata Group is active in more than 80 countries around the world.

Just as the company took on a leading role in the development of the Indian nation shortly after it was founded in 1868, it now has a leading role in the globalization of the Indian economy.

According to the “Economist”, the group has lifted a new type of company onto the global stage: more diversified than Western corporations and probably better equipped to grow in industrialized and emerging countries.

"Second independence"

From the beginning, Ratan Tata recognized the opportunities and risks of liberalization, which in the Indian business world is referred to as “second independence”, and set about completely reorganizing the group. He focused the group on six industries that have made the most profits since 2000 - steel, vehicles, power generation, telecom, IT and hotels. Ratan Tata sold other companies in order to significantly increase the often small holdings in these six core areas.

According to the "Economist", companies must work out the right to use the Tata brand name. Tata Administrative Service (TAS) selects particularly successful managers who regularly switch from one subsidiary to another and thus can build their careers. "Stars" from the entire group are selected annually to examine individual parts of the group and make suggestions for improvement.

Celebrity purchases

Ratan Tata accelerated the globalization process dramatically: from 1995 to 2003, an average of one company was bought abroad, in 2004 there were six and from 2005 to 2006 even 20. The takeover of internationally known brands began in 2004 when Tata Tea changed the British company Tetley Group Bought 340 million euros. In 2007, Tata Steel bought Corus, Europe's second largest steel producer, for $ 9.4 billion.

The following year, Ratan Tata landed his most effective coup to date: he bought the traditional British car brand Jaguar Rover for 1.5 billion euros. In the meantime, well over half of the revenues come from foreign companies. In addition, two of the largest Tata companies - Tata Motors and Tata Communications - are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

AP / Rajanish cockatoo

The question that will be with Cyrus P. Mistry over the next few years: can he follow in the great footsteps of his predecessor?

Products for the poor

But Ratan Tata invested not only in industrialized countries, but also in other emerging countries - for example, Tata bought Daewoo's truck division in South Korea. With the Nano, Tata Motors produces the cheapest car in the world - and Ratan Tata kept repeating his mantra: that it is the company's duty to make products for the poor.

Ratan Tata also turned the corporate culture on its head. Mostly associated with secure jobs, the company is now “obsessed” with keeping customers happy and achieving international standards, according to the “Economist”. The steel group has doubled its production since 1994, while at the same time the workforce in India was more than halved to 30,000.

Ethical manager

Companions attest to Ratan Tata, who have always led India's flagship company with a great sense of responsibility. His rival Ramaswamy Seshasayee wrote on his departure that his ethics have always been the focus of all his entrepreneurial activities. Most of the company's profits flow into charitable foundations, which earned the philanthropist Tata the Rockefeller Prize for his life's work this year.

The company remains in family hands

Tata once said that social responsibility is in his genes. The group of companies, which was founded 144 years ago, had only five chairmen - and only one of them was not named Tata. Ratan N. Tata's successor, Cyrus P. Mistry, also belongs to the family in a broader sense: his sister is married to Ratan's great cousin.

According to India Today, Ratan Tata said to his successor, who was more than 30 years his junior: “You have to be yourself. You have to accept your own calling - and you should decide what you want to do. ”Under no circumstances does he want to hover like a shadow over Mistry after his departure. However, according to Ratan Tata, the two will meet for lunch every few weeks - Mistry could ask him anything he wanted. If Mistry wanted his advice, he would give it. "But you have to be your own man and you can only act so that everything you do stands up to public scrutiny."

Tata's vision for India

The now 75-year-old would like to be 20 years younger, as he recently emphasized - not to continue working, but to experience where India is still developing. Because Ratan Tata will lead the numerous charity funds in the future, to which the majority of the profits will be distributed.

And Tata already has a clear “vision” about his future work: “My most important goal is to improve the nutrition of children and the care of pregnant women, because that would change the mental and physical health of our population in the later years”, so Tata in an interview with US TV journalist Charlie Rose.