The rift in Tata Sons, the holding company for the Tata Group, beat other competitors for media headlines during the past ten days or so. It promises to be the most riveting serial going forward into the coming weeks and months. On October 25 came the jaw-dropping, front-page broadsheet story, also repeated in the major national TV channels, that 44 year-old Cyrus Mistry, who had been appointed Chairman of the Group in 2012, in succession to 75 year-old Ratan Tata, had been sacked.
The Tata brand has long been a byword for financial probity, business enterprise and good causes, from science, technology and cancer treatment and research. There has scarcely been a whiff of scandal in over a century of the business life to sully the Tata name. Ratan Tata is back in harness for the next four months until the Tata board appoints a permanent successor to the fallen Mistry. That said, Mr Mistry decided that his departure would not be conducted in silence. He fired salvoes at Ratan Tata, alleging that he, Mr Mistry, had been cabined, cribbed and confined during his tenure by Tata’s wire-pulling activities behind the scenes. Mr Mistry has assembled a formidable legal team to contest his dismissal in the courts, Mr Tata has done likewise. Much linen, dirty and clean, will be washed in the public sphere. Such is the name of the game.
Bhattacharyya’s take on Mistry
Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, the Labour peer of the panel set to select the new chairman was the soul of tact. ’No one likes what’s happened – Cyrus himself wasn’t a bad chap,’ he said, talking to The Telegraph’s UK Correspondent. The founder of the Warwick Manufacturing Group.
Has worked closely with the Tata Group and was instrumental in Tata Motors’ acquisition of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), and was a member of the committee which appointed Mistry as chairman. Professor Bhattacharyya attributed Mistry’s sacking to ‘lack of performance,’ adding, ‘Ratan Tata is an icon. His main interest was to make sure the values of the Tatas are maintained…I am sure that will happen.’
‘The Tatas are not the sort who dump people, cause huge unemployment,’ they sweat it out.’ This was an oblique reference to the problems of Tata Steel UK, whose workforce Mistry was trying to downsize, while looking for an eventual buyer of the company. Continuing, Professor Bhattachayya expressed optimism over the future of Tata Steel UK under new leadership.
Tata Sons announced the elevation of TCS (Software) N. Chandrasekaran and JLR CEO Ralf Speth to the Tata board, raising the number of directors to 12. It should be understood the Mistry’s ouster was voted by a majority on the board with two abstentions. TCS and JLR are two stellar Tata companies, with Chandasekaran’s name doing the rounds as a possible chairman. Time will tell (Telegraph October 26)
One is apt to forget the one-time bitter struggle between the Ambani brothers, Mukesh and Anil, before good sense prevailed and peace between them was restored. On taking over Tatas two decades earlier, Ratan Tata had quite a struggle to ease out ageing satraps like Rusi Modi and Darbara Seth, and bring an age limit to senior positions in the company, taking the led by stepping down himself on reaching his cut-off year.
Bit between the teeth, Pakistan continues to foment trouble along the Line of Control in Kashmir causing hurt to innocents in the area and much grierf to its own soldiers. A Sikh jawan of the BSF was killed by Pakistan fire and his body mutilated by jihadi terrorists. This provoked deep outrage across India. An Indian Army riposte destroyed four Pakistani outpost, resulting in the deaths of 15 Pakistan Rangers. Firing on the border resulted in seven civilian deaths. India replied with a heavy barrage of fire, which it claimed demolished 14 Pakistani border posts. The tit-for-tat cycle is in ascending mode (October 30, Hindu October 31, TV and press reports, November1,2 )
Pakistan spy ring, diplomat expelled
A Pakistan diplomat in Delhi, believed to be an agent of the country’s Inter Services Intelligence directorate was expelled earlier in the week. An Indian diplomat in Islamabad was declared persona non grata and told to leave Pakistan. People alleged to members of the espionage network have been arrested in Rajasthan.
Schjools set ablaze
Meanwhile, in Kashmir, jihadi thugs have burned yet another school in the state bringing the number of schools destroyed to around 36.The separatist Hurriyat leadership prefers a population to be illiterate and under their thumb, bowing to their every whim. (Hindu October 28)
A recent front-page headline in the Telegraph read: ‘No war, no peace,’ in India-Pakistan relations. Like most Indian newspapers and the public, the realization has yet to dawn that Pakistan has been in a state of undeclared war with India for decades without, going through the formality of a declaration as required under International law. Such declarations have long fallen into disuse. Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan initiated the Second World War with sudden attacks on the Soviet Russia and the United States, respectively, in June and December 1941. The present conflict with Pakistan will be a long haul.
Jihadis killed in jail break
Eight members of the jihadi Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, were killed by the police after a jail break and an attempted run for freedom. Long list of terror cases were pending against them. They were quickly tracked and shot down. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Congress party have made allegations of foul play against the State authorities (Hindu, Times of India November 1)
BrahMos range to be extended
The range of India’s supersonic BrahMos cruise missile, a joint India-Russia venture, is to be extended from its present 290 km to 600 km, following talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the recent BRICS Summit in Goa. India’s accession to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) removed the only hurdle to the deal. President Putin referred to the subject during a press conference with the Russian media in Goa.
‘Extending the range will significantly enhance the stand-off capability and the operational radius in striking targets. Combined with its speed and accuracy it is a major force multiplier,’ said an Indian military officer.
The Russian Sputnik news agency (October 28) posed the question, ‘Why the BrahMos is bad news for India’s enemies?’ It is land-launched for the Indian Army and sea-launched for the Navy and is currently undergoing tests for placement on the Sukhoi 30MKI aircraft for use by the Indian Air Force. It could later be fired from the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft India and Russia hope to manufacture jointly.
Andhra, Telangana top economic reformers
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, cheek by jowl Telugu-speaking states in southern India, have overtaken Gujarat as the country’s top economic reformers, according to a report by the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion in India and the World Bank. These reforms related to single window clearances, tax reforms, labour and environment reforms, dispute resolution and issuance of permits. Last year not a single State had achieved 75 per cent of the listed reforms, this year had gone up to 90 per cent, said Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Apart from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Gujarat, who ranked first, second and third respectively the successes now included Chhatisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Uttarkhand Maharashtra and Odisha, she said.(Business Line November 1)
Tata Motors surge
October brought good cheer to Tata Motors whose domestic sales passenger vehicles sales grew over 28 per cent, the highest figure in the last four years, said Mayank Parekh, President Passenger Vehicle Business at Tata Motors. ‘The breadth of the upturn in manufacturing should assist in its sustainability,’ said Polyana De Lima, economist at Markit (Hindu November 2)
Manufacturing in 22-month high
Encouraging industrial activity – at a 22-month high - has been reported by Nikkei India Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index. A Nikkei release attributed the good passenger performance to ‘stronger contributions from three of its five sub-component new orders, output and stocks of purchases.’ The data for October provide ‘positive news’ for the Indian economy (Business Line November 2)
Rafale milestone in Indo-French ties
The new French Ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler believes that the $8.7 billion Rafale deal for the Indian Air Force will prove a milestone in Indo-French defence ties, and ‘take our technological and industrial cooperation to an unprecedented level over the next few years,’ he said. (Business Line November 2)
India-New Zealand relations in renewal
Food processing, dairy and agriculture were high on the agenda of the extensive talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and New Zealand Premier John Key. Their discussions also included cyber and maritime security and deepening ties based on shared democratic values and the ‘Commonwealth heritage and sporting links.’ New Zealand was supportive of India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. (Business Line October 27).