According to a leading British daily, the outgoing head of the Tata business empire had warned that a lack of government support was preventing Indian industry from competing with China and lashed out at a "venal" business environment. The daily also said that Mr. Tata criticised what he called a lack of coherence in government policy and said the Mumbai-based group's ethical standards had cost it business. (Read More)
Here is the full text of the statement and excerpts from the interview:
Tata Sons clarifies that in Mr. Ratan N. Tata’s interview with the Financial Times, he spoke about coherence in implementation of government policy as a need rather than “lashes into the PM”, “rapping India”, “warning government of inaction” or “venal business environment”, as has been reported in the Financial Times and other media.
These are terms used by the publications and not by Mr. Tata, in any manner.
Mr. Tata has always supported the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, even when there was mass criticism of him and the last thing he would wish to do is to be a critic of the Prime Minister, as has been reported.
For record, the relevant portions of the interview are:
Q: When you look at your…I wanted to ask you about Globalisation in the west your moments, India’s most global company. When we last met you said that you felt that in the future the way that India was being governed made it very difficult to grow business here and therefore you felt that Tata and Indian companies should look abroad. Is it still the same way?
Ans: Yes it is still
Q: Tell me why and how you think that way?
Ans: Sometimes the issue is that different agencies of the government, different constituencies in the government, have almost contradictory interpretations of the law or different interpretations of what should be done. By that I mean there are differences between the centre and the state in some cases. So you have a central policy that is announced, on paper sounds very exciting but at the state level is very difficult to operate. Singur would be one such example. In other cases, it’s that constituencies or government may have made it a personality issue. You may have the Prime Minister’s office saying one thing and maybe one of the Ministers having a different view. That doesn’t happen in most countries. So you wouldn’t have a eight year or seven year wait to get all the clearances for a steel plant or as in the case of the airlines four or five years without any decision. These are the things that by and large would drive investors away in most other countries, if they were practised. And some of the countries they are practised and they don’t see investment. And at the time we started to look and invest overseas, India had become a country which had foreign exchange reserves. You could actually make those moves which earlier you couldn’t because you didn’t have foreign exchange. So, we exploited them in that sense and both invested in or acquired companies overseas.
Q: Is it your sense that it is getting more difficult to do business in India? I mean
I suppose people are going to be interested in the way you feel whether it is India or industrialised world or maybe emerging markets or Africa. Things in India are worst it used to be in terms of growth, corruption and the way the government works?
Ans: You know, I have always been bullish about India’s potential. I still am and I feel India is a country that really has an enormous amount of potential and has the human capital to succeed. But if you sit down and say will it succeed? You see imbalances; you see energy availability is not enough to keep pace with the high rate of growth. Then you see more recently you have got issues of land and land acquisition for projects. You have issues on state issues, one state versus the other in terms of dealing on sales tax and issues of this nature. You may have a given policy. I will give you another instance; For example the defence sector has been thrown open to the private sector. But it is still very difficult to establish a business in that sector and you can go round the cabin and somebody saying you should see so and so, so and so, so and so and you come back to the same and it does not happen.
Tata Sons is surprised that reputed media entities have sensationalised the observations, without taking into cognizance the tone, tenor and context of the interview.