Salt To Software? or Salt To Sky?
Salt to Software is the term used by many to describe the diversity of the business that Tatas have undertaken till now. That diversity emerged from the Tata’s seminal and enduring urge to keep societal needs at the center of the business. I would like to take this phrase to much higher heights. For me the phrase takes the form of ‘Salt to Software to Sky’ in more sense than one.
Let me tell you , I am very close to this phrase. In fact, I am part of it.
My first job after my graduation from IIT Bombay was in Tata Chemicals-Mithapur located in the place where no industrialist in 1940s and 50s would have ventured to establish the business, that too for harvesting the salt and producing myriads of chemicals from it
But Tatas not only symbolize the organized entrepreneurship but also societal commitment. The place they selected, Okhamandal on tip of Sourashtra, is capable of producing the salt most sustainably and efficiently due to combination of solar evaporation and high speed wind at the ground level. Salt, a raw material for key chemicals that are so useful to the society. The journey that I started with Tatas proved to be lifelong learning of grammar of integrity and professionalism. I applied it worldwide particularly when I served United Nations for two decades.
From Salt and Steel , Tatas travelled and culminated their entrepreneurship into Software in 1990s and beginning of 21st century into software business mainly through the Tata Consultancy Services. And now they fly into the Sky by acquiring the largest aviation business in India by acquiring Air India- a government own giant .
The skyward ambition of Tatas started in 1932 when JRD Tata launched an aviation business as Tata Airlines. In 1947-48 it became Air India and later it became fully owned government company in 1953. The sinusoidal journey of Air India continued and in 2022 Tatas became owner again!
Is it home-coming of Tatas aviation industry? Not really. Tatas aviation-DNA has already initiated business of aviation through kicking off , 7 years back, through a commercial company Vistara and later AirAsia. The professionalism of these two companies have now culminated into acquiring Air India. Tatas did not wait for Air India to serve aviation.
The day Tata Sons brought home Air India with mega hopes of transformation , I welcomed to my home Nixon- Electric Vehicle manufactured by Tatas. That is another reason why I call it ‘Salt to Sky’ journey of Tatas. Apart from Aviation business Tatas is also mastering EV (Electrical Vehicle) entrepreneurship. That contributes to the mitigation of climate change, the most dreaded challenge to our planet from the sky. Climate change is threatening very existence of life on our planet. That challenge is certainly related to the atmosphere of our planet. From ground level contributions to Climate challenge through Tata Power Company (Hydroelectricity) and now EV, Tata is proving again that it is social business company.
Some say, ‘Tata Empire’ is expanding! Except for ‘Maharaja’ of Air India there is nothing that compares remotely with the word, empire and Tatas. The application of the term is not only conceptually wrong but historically incorrect. Tata is most trusted and admired group of companies which is set to walk on path of sustainable business by deploying the technology, innovation and exceptional courage. Right from Tata Steel and Tata Chemicals to Tata Consultancy and Air India, it has been responsive and sensitives to the communities and environment, be it is Eastern Ghats or Western Ghats of India.
Tatas have ensured that whatever comes back to them also goes back to communities and ecosystem many times.