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Archive for March 2008

Tata with Jaguar and Land Rover

“The Empire drives back… It took a company from a former colony to come to the rescue of a beleaguered British brand”

Thus reads a news article published yesterday. And there are two ways of looking at it. You could say Ratan Tata got hold of two of the most admired brands or that he is welcoming an ocean of troubles. This is because the element of pride that comes with Tata acquiring the two marques (Jaguar and Land Rover) cannot just overshadow the skepticism about the company’s future plans and strategies to manage those brands.

It is great to know that Tata Motors, India’s largest vehicle manufacturer, is now the proud owner of the iconic British brands-Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR). Tata Motors has bagged this US$ 2.3 billion deal from Ford Motors, on whose bottom-line were weighing these marques. What Tata Motors gets with this deal—manufacturing and assembly plants, R&D centre, hitech design centres and engineering facility all with an employee base of almost 16,000. The reason why Ford had to sell these brands is it wants focus on core brands and the domestic market where it has not been doing well.

Though owning two of the world’s most popular brands is a great achievement, the Indian auto major has several challenges ahead. Many wonder if the timing of this acquisition was right considering that Tata Motors has been working on two important projects, at home—Tata Nano, the people’s car and Tata’s joint venture with Fiat to manufacture vehicles in India and Thailand. The point here though may be that managing JLR business will have no direct impact on Tata Motors’ domestic business. Jaguar has been a loss making brand while Rover’s profits in the last 2-3 years have been making up for those losses, for Ford. Will these brands remain British? Will an Indian company which has never manufactured/marketed a luxury car be able to manage the challenges of high-end car business? It’ll be quite difficult for even Mr. Ratan Tata to answer these questions but this is what he had to say about his dream-come-true acquisition. “Our plan is to retain the image, the touch, and the feel of Jaguar and Land Rover. We will not tinker with the brands in any way… they are special global brands and whoever acquires them has a responsibility to nurture them and enable them to prosper.”

Tata had earlier failed to sell its Indica in the UK where it was rebranded as City Rover. How well Tata can manage the business of Jaguar and Land Rover depends on how it takes up the marketing activities. Tata could focus more on the Jaguar brand as Land Rover is already hot. The attention can be more on Jaguar’s current and upcoming models XF and XF while steering clear of its bereft X-type. Tata’s deep pockets can help the company look at expanding the distribution of these products to developing markets in the Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, China and the Middle East – an investment strategy unviable for Ford as it already had major issues which needed strict attention.

For all the drama that has been happening and more to be unfolded in the future, one can predict that Tata Motors definitely stages a chance of transforming the Jaguar brand, considering the group’s successful acquisition record in the recent past.

Image Courtesy: The Hindu Businessline


How does one feel while riding a bike at 11 in the night under the moonlight, when cool breeze caresses one’s face, and old melodies refreshing the ears (filled with dust on the road and workplace discussions)? A great feeling – ain’t it? Hmmm.

I have had some cherishable moments last night while going to my room. I was at Santhosh‘s place (went to drop him at home). After a brief chitchat with my aunt and sister, I had my dinner—Yummy Dal, with some pickle, papad and curd. It was 11pm and I was on my way to room. The weather was lovely with a cloudy sky and cool breeze blowing across. I switched on the Radio in my mobile and the first song I listened to was “Meri Sapno ki Rani Kab Aayegi Tu” by Kishore Kumar. It was followed by a couple of Kishore da’s melodies and then a couple of Ilayaraja’s telugu numbers. It was so pleasant and lovely to ride my bike listening to those soulful songs and enjoying the cool climate. Those few minutes were simply awesome. I’d love to have such experiences quite regularly in my life.

One of my childhood friends (Sai Krishna) got married on Saturday, 22nd of March. The muhurtham was at 10:09am. I had to go to my hometown on Friday to attend the marriage the next day. I reached home by 3:30am (early hours of Saturday) and had little time to sleep as I woke up at 8:30am. I was still feeling sleepy and very lazy. I somehow managed to get up from y bed, got ready by 9:30 and finally reached the function hall by 10. It was quite cloudy since morning and the rain gods were expected to shower their blessings for the newly wed couple anytime. Lunch began around 12 noon, and it started drizzling. At the marriage, I met some of my school and college friends, had lunch with them and was about to return home. Naveen had accompanied me on my bike, but it was raining heavily by the time we started. Giving a damn to my friend’s  request (he was suffering from fever n cold) to stay back till the rain stopped, I decided to go. It was greenery all around—cultivated land on either side of the road—and we came across through streams of water and a couple of water canals while getting drenched in the rain completely. It was after a long time that I had fun getting wet and more so because it was summer. It was great because it came on Saturday after a five-day hectic work life.

It all happened on last Sunday, a highly forgetful day for me. The week that passed by was quite interesting and delightful for me as I was in hometown on Friday (having a long weekend this way). I would be busy with my thread ceremony on Monday, with all my family members, relatives and friends around. Friday and Saturday just passed by with the gathering which brought about lot of fun and happiness in my house. Sunday was going to be even more lovely with most of my relatives expected to arrive that morning.

But it wasn’t the Sunday that I thought of. I got a call from my friend Santhosh who told me about the expiry of our colleague Raju. It was disheartening and very difficult to know that Raju, an easy going and friendly individual, whom I could ever imagine without a smile on his face, during his tenure of more than 1year in our organisation. He would always tease others and have fun at office while not showing any dissent to his work, finishing off all the tasks assigned on time. He was hospitalised for more than two weeks undergoing treatment for lung infection (respiratory failure). He was shifted from one hospital to another with the hope that he could be saved from losing his life. The doctors expressed concern and stated that his condition was so critical and that there was little hope about life. Every one of us thought it was better to go for a second opinion on this. After several phone calls and discussions, there was one doctor, an elderly medical practitioner, who was a consultant in Apollo Hospitals. After going through the reports, he spoke in a highly optimistic way claiming that the patient was not treated well and there were chances of him being saved while agreeing that he was in a critical condition. He did
mention that the treatment would be costly.

On his suggestion, Raju was admitted to Apollo and put in ICU for almost a week. Unfortunately, as it happens in corporate hospitals, no visitor was allowed to visit the patient. The doctors would tell that the patient’s condition was improving (30%, 50%, 75% and then 99% being the recovery of the patient within a week’s time, as told by the doctor). But the doctor finally announced on Sunday that Raju was no more, and it was just about 10hrs after which he was stated to have recovered 99%. It took all of us by surprise and shock. How did this happen? It was so pathetic and misfortunate to know that Raju was no onger going to be with us. It reminded me of Raju’s innocent wife and his 1yr old daughter. What was pathetic was that the patient’s attendants were told to pay the final bill and take the body. I’ve heard of, seen on TV and in movies about corporate hospitals being money minting agencies and most of the doctors who are treated as gods, the minting machines. It was my first experience witnessing those buggers who would go to any extent to ransack patients of their lives for money. If only that doctor had accepted that Raju’s condition was indeed critical and could not be saved anyway, he would have helped his family save around Rs. 2 lakhs. Now, what do we do to those filthy bastards (this is the first time in my life that I’m using this word) who care little for emotions. Does the human element in them die and do they get infected by a non-curable disease caused by money? Why do they have to be so cruel for some amount of money? Just because they work for / invest lakhs and crores in building and maintaining speciality hospitals, are doctors entitled to rob people of their lives for some thousands/lakhs of rupees? I wonder if we can identify any solution for this problem.

For all that has happened, we lost a good friend. My dear Raju, Rest in Peace…

March 2008
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