Unforgettable words of wisdom from industrialist, investor, and philanthropist Ratan Tata on his 83rd birthday

People across the world look up to Ratan Tata in all his avatars - be it businessman, investor, philanthropist, or leader. On his 83rd birthday, we present some of his words of wisdom to live by.
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If there is one thing that sets Ratan Tata apart from other industrialists and investors around the world, it is the value he places on kindness and empathy while conducting business.

His charm as a leader transcends generations. A lot of these values were imbibed from his grandmother who raised him, he shared in an exclusive interview with YourStory Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma.

A recipient of two of India's highest civilian honours, including the Padma Vibhushan (2008) and the Padma Bhushan (2000), Ratan Tata took up his first job of managing blast furnace and shovel limestone at Tata Steel in 1961.

He eventually assumed responsibility as the group’s chairman at 21, grew its profit by 50 times in the next two and half decades of leadership, and even introduced a retirement age.

Ratan Tata has limited his interactions with the media, but YourStory has been blessed with several thought-provoking yet freewheeling conversations in the last few years.

On Ratan Tata's 83rd birthday, we put together 14 quotes that embody the principles, values, and ethics of the Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons and Chairman of the Tata Trusts.

On tiding over crisis

“We are in an arena we are not familiar with. What normally happens when you have an issue like this is the human body starts to react by trying to find solutions. And probably some of the most interesting solutions have been found at moments of distinct difficulty.”

“When everything seems to be gone by the board, we tend to be more innovative and more creative to find solutions.”

“The bottom line is that we should not lose hope and be desolate, but unite with those finding solutions to end this crisis. Some of the world’s best innovations tend to emerge when we’re in crisis.”

On humanity above all else

“We must ask ourselves, can we make a difference? Can we be innovative and creative and not just look at the money value of what we've done but the contribution it has made to our humanity and our human population in India? So we should be humble; at the same time, attentive to the needs, looking for opportunities.”

“I really wish the young people of India become the economic powerhouse, driven by creativity and ethical behaviour.

“If you overlook the ethics of the company you chair, more often than not, at some point in the future, you pay a price for it.”

“I have tried to treat all people equally. Whether it’s a poor person on the street or a kid selling magazines as against a millionaire or a billionaire, I talk to them and treat them all the same way. I'm aware that I do that, and I do that not for show, but because of the feeling that I think everyone deserves recognition as a human being.”

“When we are not doing it for ourselves, we are doing it for the enjoyment of doing something that hasn’t been done before, but more importantly, meeting the needs of the country or the planet as such.”

"Some people excel in seeing or causing misery. I get euphoric in seeing somebody's happiness."

“Doing the right thing may be the more difficult option, but it’s still the better option.”

“Companies are known to buy out other companies just to bury them in a drawer. That has always bothered me. So, if you can live with feeling happy about another company or another person's prosperity, then that would be the closest definition of happiness.”

On the spirited Indian youth

“I have always enjoyed the company of spirited and enthusiastic youth of the country. Their energy is truly infectious, and they make me feel like I haven’t aged at all.”

“I dream of an India that would be an equal opportunity country – a country where we diminish the disparity between the rich and the poor and, most importantly, give an opportunity to anyone to succeed as long as they have the willingness and endurance to do so.”

“The needs of the country are going to differ and change, and the creativity needs to adapt itself to meet those needs in the way no other segment (than the startup community) can.”
Edited by Teja Lele