An eye-opening portrait of global capitalism spanning 150 years, told through the history of the Tata corporation.
Nearly a century old, the grand façade of Bombay House is hard to miss in the historic business district of Mumbai. This is the iconic global headquarters of the Tata Group, a multinational corporation that produces everything from salt to software. After getting their start in the cotton and opium trades, the Tatas, a Parsi family from Navsari, Gujarat, ascended to commanding heights in the Indian economy by the time of independence in 1947. Over the course of its 150-year history Tata spun textiles, forged steel, generated hydroelectric power, and took to the skies. It also faced challenges from restive workers fighting for their rights and political leaders who sought to curb its power.
In this sweeping history, Mircea Raianu tracks the fortunes of a family-run business that was born during the high noon of the British Empire and went on to capture the world’s attention with the headline-making acquisition of luxury car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover. The growth of Tata was a complex process shaped by world historical forces: the eclipse of imperial free trade, the intertwined rise of nationalism and the developmental state, and finally the return of globalization and market liberalization. Today Tata is the leading light of one of the world’s major economies, selling steel, chemicals, food, financial services, and nearly everything else, while operating philanthropic institutions that channel expert knowledge in fields such as engineering and medicine.
Based on painstaking research in the company’s archive, Tata elucidates how a titan of industry was created and what lessons its story may hold for the future of global capitalism.