By V.S. Arunachalam and Gopal R. Rao
Tata is a household name in India. Starting well over a century ago, the Tatas began their foray into industry, and the brand represents more than a diversified conglomerate. The Tatas are well-respected, having endeared themselves in every walk of Indian life. Their businesses are all-pervasive, from building automobiles and generating electric power to making steel and building supercomputers. Their charitable trusts and endowments are as extensive as their businesses. They have founded and funded outstanding educational institutions and human welfare organizations, and they have supported research on alleviating human suffering. The incumbent of the Tata Group is Ratan Naval Tata, a Cornell University graduate in architecture. In the 20 years since he took over the mantle, he has set the Tata industries on a steep growth trajectory, increasing the revenue of the Tata industries 12-fold, making automobiles—the famed Nano—available at very affordable prices in India, and introducing efficient steelmaking. The business empire he heads, the Tata Group, has over 90 companies with footholds in 80 countries.
In the midst of his busy globe-trotting schedule, we managed to steal an hour of his time at the Tatas’ “Bombay House” headquarters in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), India, for him to tell us how he sees the global energy challenges and the opportunities they create. A condensed version of the interview now appears in the first Energy Quarterly section of the September 2010 issue of MRS Bulletin. The interview reveals the breadth of Ratan Tata's knowledge on energy and materials, in line with the vast business interests of the Tatas.
Chair, Energy Quarterly Organizing Committee
Gopal R. Rao
Web Science Editor, Materials Research Society