The outgoing head of the Tata business empire, on Friday, warned that a lack of government support was preventing Indian industry from competing with China and lashed out at a ‘venal’ business environment.
In interviews published ahead of his retirement as Chairman this month, Ratan 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.
Mr. Tata told the Financial Times that his group planned to look to other emerging markets for expansion and accused Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of forcing it to look abroad by failing to address complaints about bureaucracy.
He said investors were being deterred from India and complained that it still took the better part of a decade to gain clearance for major projects.
“Different agencies in the government have almost contradictory interpretations of the law, or interpretations of what should be done,” he told the London-based newspaper.
“These are things which, by and large, would drive investors away in most other countries,” he added.
Mr. Tata contrasted the Indian government’s attitude towards its industrial sector with that China, where Tata recently opened a Jaguar Land Rover factory.
“There’s a great, marked difference (in) government support,’’ he said. “If we had the same kind of encouragement to industry... I think India could compete definitely with China.”
In a separate interview published in a financial daily, Mr. Tata said his successor Cyrus Mistry would face a major struggle in not compromising the group's ethical standards.
“They (Mr. Mistry and his fellow executives) will have to make decisions and, when they do this, they will be constantly faced with the question: do you compromise, do you give in?’’ said Mr. Tata, who stands down on December 28 when he turns 75.
“You can call it by another name, but in playing this game of appeasing or surrendering to a venal system, the soft option, the easy way out is a compromise.”
With annual sales of the ‘Nano’ lagging below the 100,000 mark, Mr. Tata said there should be a rethink on how it was marketed.
“The Nano is meant to be an affordable car for the family, a vehicle that delivers outstanding value for money,’’ he said.
“Unfortunately, it has come to be perceived as a low-priced car and various stigmas have been attached to it... I think that is the wrong way to go,’’ he added.