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Corporate Dec 20, 2012

Ratan Tata's apology and prime minister's Gandhigiri

By Rajesh Pandathil

In an interesting turn of events it has now been clarified that the Financial Times interview of Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata was originally not as harsh as was made out to be.

The interview had created quite a flutter among the ruling Congress as it had flayed the much-criticised UPA inaction.

According to a report in The Economic Times, Tata has sent a signed letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh apologising for the embarrassment caused by the strong words used in the interview.

It is not clear whether Tata has denied any of the above quoted words. AFP

In the letter, he has denied using such language. According to the report, Tata has also appended a full transcript of the interview, to clear the air.

And in response, the prime minister has most politely said that "such criticism should persuade us to introspect about the path we are following".

He also noted that "people in public life should be open to constructive criticism", the report said.

It is only graceful for people of Tata and Manmohan Singh's stature to offer apologies.

But given the strong comments that were attributed to Tata in the interview and the situation in the country, discerning minds may tend to go behind these apologies and Gandhigiri.

"You may have the prime minister's office saying one thing and maybe one of the ministers having a different view. That doesn't happen in most countries," Tata was quoted as saying in the interview.

Pointing out the delay in getting clearances, he was quoted as saying, "These are things which by and large would drive investors away in most other countries and in some of those countries they are practised and they don't see investments."

According to the ET report Tata's denial has been mostly about the harsh words, such as "lashed into the prime minister", "rapped India" and "warned government of inaction", that were used in the article.

It is not clear whether Tata has denied any of the above quoted words.

Even if he has, the words will hold ground because that is the truth. A spade has to be called a spade and nothing else. And that is precisely what Tata had done.

But the turnaround in the letter has been surprising. In his letter of apology, Tata has showered eulogies on the prime minister, whose (in)actions he reportedly criticised.

"I have been one of your greatest admirers and supporters, publicly and privately," the ET report quotes from the letter.

The comments that were made in the interview were not personal, but the apology is personal.

So the nagging doubt: is Tata going out of the way to show his respect for the prime minister?

by Rajesh Pandathil

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