“Modi as Prime Minister now is offering India, the Indian people, a new India. We need to give him that opportunity to offer that new India. He is able, capable and innovative enough to look at India afresh and I for one am optimistic that with his leadership, India will be that new India which he has promised,” Tata said in the first detailed interview since he came back from retirement last year.
Tata has known Modi since he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. When Tata Motors decided to exit West Bengal after their then flagship project Nano failed to take off due to widespread disturbances at Singur, Modi had offered land in Gujarat — within three days — to set up the factory.
“I have seen him and will never forget the way he found solutions for a company that was looking for a home. He invited me to move the factory to Gujarat and I said we would come if we had a home and he said, ‘I will get you the land you want in three days’. And then he delivered that. On the third morning he said, ‘here is the land that I promised’. And that just does not happen in India,” Tata said.
Talking about the idea of ‘New India’, Tata said such a vision needs everybody to rally around the direction that the leaders are giving and he hoped that young people would be motivated to do that.
Tata also said all Indians should be “proud” of their country. “We as a country or the citizens of a country need to get back that pride that we should have that we are Indians, not that we are Punjabis or Parsis or Tamils, but that we are Indians first, that we have a country that we belong to and we should be proud of. We seem to be losing that somewhere,” he said.
When asked, what he would choose if PM Modi requested him to lead one nation-altering mission, Tata replied that such a thing ought to be free from political baggage. “Far too often, you have a good idea that is squelched because of political or sociological things. It just cannot be done or it is too difficult to be done or it is too risky to be done as such with public funds and those might be the very things that are necessary to pull a country out of a particular morass,” Tata replied, though he declined to name a specific sector.