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Millennial pens short memoir of life with Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata, who writes a note in the book I Came Upon a Lighthouse, says a shared concern for the welfare of the homeless, hungry, ill-treated and abandoned dogs and cats brought him and the author Shantanu Naidu together

By: PTI | New Delhi |
December 28, 2020 5:47:11 pm
Ratan Tata, Assam’s highest civilian award, Assam Baibhav, Himanta Biswa Sarma, indian expressTata group Chairman Ratan Tata. (Source: ratantata/Instagram)

A new book talks about an uncommon bond between a millennial and Ratan Tata, who turned 83 on Monday, giving glimpses of the legendary entrepreneur in warm light.

Tata, who writes a note in the book I Came Upon a Lighthouse, says a shared concern for the welfare of the homeless, hungry, ill-treated and abandoned dogs and cats brought him and the author Shantanu Naidu together.

It was their shared empathy for homeless dogs that sparked an unlikely friendship. In 2014, Naidu, an automobile design engineer in his early 20s, developed an innovation to save the local strays from being run over by speeding cars.

Tata, himself known for his compassion for stray dogs, took note. Impressed, he not only decided to invest in the venture, but over the years became a mentor, boss and an unexpectedly dear friend to Naidu, inspiring new ventures and learnings.

“He (Naidu) and his young friends had been bootstrapping a small start-up in Pune to feed, care for and find homes for these poor animals. He earned recognition when they made reflective collars, based solely on passion and kindness for animals.

“Knowing my love for dogs, he wrote to my office, not even expecting a response. I was impressed by what they had done and the compassion that Shantanu and the college kids had shown by investing their personal time and resources. I decided to invest in his start-up, and they received not just support but also encouragement to grow it through personal involvement,” Tata writes.

The book, published by HarperCollins India, has illustrations by Sanjana Desai.

“I told him (Tata) that when I write a book, I would write about another side of him and not just historic events or business milestones. I would write about us and our adventures together, and how I saw him, colours and shades of him unknown to the world,” says Naidu.

According to Naidu, Tata taught him things, in the best way possible: by example.

“How much you can learn from someone like Ratan Tata is less about him handing out life lessons and more about how attentively you observe and listen,” he writes in the book that will release in January.

Naidu says he wanted to show how genuine and wholesome intergenerational friendships can be.

“The thought behind this book has always been that of sharing the privilege of knowing Mr Tata personally with the larger community of his many admirers who only know him through news reports. There are shades of him other than that of a humble businessman which I have tried my best to capture in this light-hearted narrative,” he says.

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