Jaguar / Land Rover & Tata

I’m writing this post in the context of hearing on the news that Lord Mandelson has placed a call, this morning, to  Bombay House, the Tata HQ in India.

I was speaking with a senior government figure, who’s involved in this matter, two evenings ago at a Whitehall pub in which he began enquiring as to what the Tatas would do if the UK Government refused to lend them the £1bn bailout they’ve requested for Jaguar / Land Rover.

To say that the Tatas have no other options would be misleading, as it wasn’t so long ago that the media reported that they had deep pockets and more importantly the intent on making the new venture a success. Let’s also not forget that within the Tata Group, there are a couple of companies which can only be described as ‘cash cows’, such as TCS, the IT firm from which they can divert resources to the benefit of Jaguar / Land Rover.

However, what I found interesting was his take on the cultural differences between the parent and child. He suggested that the Tata’s weren’t used to a culture where their plans would be stress tested and scrutinised as, in their opinion, their track record, trust, and their brand should prove to be enough of a guarantee for the UK taxpayer.

I disagree with the suggestion that the Tatas are naive and culturally backward. The Tata’s have been in the UK for more than a century and employ almost 50,000 people here in some of the most intensive and unloved sectors of the economy. As a result of their experiences here, they would understand the nervousness of the Government and therefore not take it as an affront to their heritage if certain questions were asked. After all, they understand that government money, ultimately is raised through taxation – our money.

With that comes responsibility. The Tata’s understand that, all too well.

It's Christmas… the politics of public holidays

With Christmas and Boxing Day around the corner, I was asked whether India celebrated these holidays. Questions such as: do queue’s appear at petrol stations on Christmas Eve? are the supermarkets gridlocked? do the TV channels beam old classic films like Star Wars into their living rooms, like they do in Britain? Of course, not! India has its own unique way of doing things!

We shouldn’t forget that public holidays are decreed by parliaments in democratic nations and by virtue of this simple fact, politicians are often lobbied to extend their number. Groups of every nature and interest make the case every year that a national holiday would support the promotion of their cause. Luckily, in Britain, our MPs have resisted the call, but the situation in India is wholly different.

As a result of its religious diversity, India celebrates an exceptional number of public holidays, especially if you’re a civil servant. There have been suggestions that the number be curtailed to eight, but political compulsions and votebank politics trump common sense and at times economic progress.

Being a practical person, I’d advise those on vacation to visit India during one of the major holidays to experience the huge difference in the way festivals are celebrated. As a business traveller, you’d be stumped if you didn’t check the public holiday calendar before booking your tickets.

As I predicted… Vilasrao Deshmukh resigns

As predicted on this blog several days ago, the Maharastra CM has resigned.


The Singh government is still in place but there is still no plan. Talk of more coastal security, better intelligence and lists of terrorists being sent to Pakistan have not calmed the fears of Mumbai and the rest of India.


After 9/11, Bush set up a new security department – Homeland Security – changed aircraft and airport security and launched a strike on Bin Laden. It won him a second term in office and America has not had another 9/11 incident.


Will the relentless calls for the government to act from the Mumbaikars spurn on PM Singh, or will they give confidence to the opposition to call for vote of no confidence in parliament?


I believe that unless the Government takes firm action by this weekend, its future looks very uncertain.