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14 July 2007

100 years of trust

I held a document in my hands today and a "Wow" escaped me. It wasn't anything unique. In fact it is a routine, mundane document -an annual report of an Indian Company. It was in a corner of the cover, the small black print which read- 100th Annual Report 2006-2007- that caught my eye and the company, one I admire greatly. Tata Steel.

Tata Steel is from the TATA stable of whose founder I spoke earlier in the context of nation building. Companies more than a 100 years old is nothing new for the group. I think they have others too, including the Taj Hotel, but TISCO the steel company operates out of Bihar, one of the states in India that has been historically and culturally rich but which lost out to modernity and not reputed for the best governance. I have always wondered at the oasis in this desert that is Tata Steel which has survived and thrived.

It holds the unique distinction of not having a single labour strike for last 75 years. Jamshedpur is a city that has nurtured many engineers and third generation of Indians who owe life, income, education and health to Tata Steel and is today setting new benchmarks in town planning and amenities. In one of their advertisements some years ago, TISCO underlined this concern for stakeholders when their tag line was, "We also make steel".

But make no mistake, they make steel and how. The buy of Corus is the latest in a long list of steel making history marked by technology, innovation and remarkable management.

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