How Ratan Tata kept his promise
A promise is a promise.” This is what Ratan Tata said when everyone around him was sceptical about his promise of delivering a car for just `100,000. Small Wonder, the making of Nano, written by Philip Chacko, Christabelle Norohona and Sujata Agarwal, describes the journey undertaken to achieve the feat.
The book starts by giving an insight into how Ratan Tata conceptualised the idea that the company should start working on a car that would be a replacement to the scooter for the middle class and emerge as a safer and affordable means of personal mobility. It tells us how a core team was formed with Girish Wagh as head of the Nano project and how each development was measured and reviewed by the chairman himself. The whole idea was to have technically and ergonomically the best and optimum design without sacrificing safety norms.
The book also focuses on the biggest challenge that the team faced — price control. As a result, Nano became a product with some unique features — engine at the rear of the car, a single piece dashboard, separate size tyres for front and back and many more novel ideas.
The later half of the book takes the reader through the roughest patch that the Nano project faced — from Singur in West Bengal to Sanand in Gujarat. The Tata group had chosen Singur to fuel ‘industrial revolution’ in the belt and generate employment for the local population. It was, however, taken off-guard when the move boiled into a political battle.
When the lives of the employees were endangered, Ratan Tata decided to shift the plant from Singur. The shifting of the Nano plant from West Bengal to Gujarat was a tough call on part of the Tata group as it had already made huge investments in terms of manufacturing facility, vendor base and delivery schedule.
The book also provides an insight into how the Gujarat Government supported the whole project and appreciates Chief Minster Narendra Modi for running the State like a “professional chief executive” of a company.
The book is written in a lucid language and is worth reading, as it gives an insight into an automobile revolution in the country. Though I believe the book could have done more justice to readers by shortening the last two chapters, which seemed repetitive, it has been quite successful in communicating its core message — “if you want something very badly, the whole world conspires with you to achieve it”.