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Even after retirement, Tata remains as busy as before

Last updated on: March 12, 2013 11:32 IST

Even after retirement, Tata remains as busy as before

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Dev Chatterjee in Mumbai

On January 28 this year, a month after his retirement, Ratan Tata tweeted: "Life has been wonderfully pleasant. There's been more time to be at home, play with my dogs, and catch up on smaller things that I never found time to do earlier."

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Image: Ratan Tata.
Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters.
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Even after retirement, Tata remains as busy as before

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Nearly a month and a half later, the former chairman of Tata Sons seems to be catching up on much bigger things, too.

He has been jet-setting to New Delhi regularly, meeting policy makers - Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh among them, ostensibly to discuss the airline venture to be launched by AirAsia in financial collaboration with the Tatas.

It's not a coincidence that AirAsia promoter Tony Fernandes has repeatedly gone public with his desire to have Tata as the the joint venture's non-executive chairman. The man himself, though, has been silent on this.

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Image: Ratan Tata.
Photographs: Reuters.
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Even after retirement, Tata remains as busy as before

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The day the Foreign Investment Promotion Board gave the venture its go-ahead, Tata, now chairman emeritus of Tata Group, tweeted the nod showed the government's true investor-friendly stance.

It was an unusual show of elation by a man known to be reticent.

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Image: Ratan Tata.
Photographs: Reuters.
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Even after retirement, Tata remains as busy as before

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Last week, in a publicised move, he met Raj Thackeray, head of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena.

As photographers took Tata's pictures admiring the pugs in the Thackeray household, many wondered what could be the real reason for the meeting. It was, however, labelled just a courtesy visit.

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Image: Ratan Tata at Raj Thackeray's residence.
Photographs: Sahil Salvi.
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Even after retirement, Tata remains as busy as before

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Many expected Tata to look jet-lagged (on the contrary, he was raring to go), as he had just landed from Geneva, where he'd gone to meet some old friends. He displayed a special interest in Ferrari's first-ever hybrid, costing $1 million.

When asked if he would buy one, he joked he did not have the money for the super car.

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Image: Ratan Tata and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne (L) inspects the new LaFerrari hybrid car.
Photographs: Denis Balibouse/Reuters.
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Even after retirement, Tata remains as busy as before

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"Unlike JRD Tata, who retired much later in life, Ratan is in very good health. This will help the Tata group, as the new chairman is still learning the ropes. It can't get better," said a Tata watcher.

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Image: Ratan Tata with JRD Tata.
Photographs: Courtesy, Outlook Business.
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Even after retirement, Tata remains as busy as before

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"By going that extra mile to help the group, he has shown what a true leader should be," a former Tata official said.

After the aviation foray, the Tatas are said to be planning an investment in banking. Insiders expect the experience of Ratan Tata, who has earlier served on the board of the Reserve Bank of India, to come in handy.

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Image: Deepak Parekh, Chairman, HDFC, Mukesh Ambani, chairman, RIL with Ratan Tata.
Photographs: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images.
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Even after retirement, Tata remains as busy as before

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Insiders say Tata's room at Tata Group's Bombay House headquarters remains empty, though he has moved to a new office at Elphinstone building.

This is despite Tata telling everyone he will not come back to his old office.

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Photographs: Wikimedia Commons.
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Even after retirement, Tata remains as busy as before

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It's obvious watching seagulls on the Arabian Sea, 40 metres from his Colaba apartment, will not make Tata content.

Unlike JRD, who had handed over the reins of Tata Sons, as well as the trusts, to his successor in 1991, Ratan has retained control of the latter.

Since there's no retirement age at these trusts, which together control 66 per cent of Tata Sons, as a custodian, he will have to keep a close watch on the group's proceedings.

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Image: Ratan Tata with Cyrus Mistry, Chairman, Tata Group.
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters.
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Tata has already said, as days go by, he would focus his attention on "specific areas where value can be added to enhance the quality of life of rural citizens".

He laid out at least part of his action plan at a recent interview with American television journalist Charlie Rose.

Clearly, Ratan Tata's is a list long enough - even for people much younger and at the prime of working life.



Image: Ratan Tata.
Photographs: Rediff Archives.
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