Monday, August 19, 2019


The millennial generation in India, of which I am a part, is well aware of the Tata Group. We consume everything, from cars to tea supplied to us by this business empire. Every Indian must have at least once used one of their products or services. And Tata does own a software company. This is one rare achievement by any business owner, not just in India but across the whole world. From Tata Steel to Tata Tea, the common man's life is touched by the Tata Group. Shapoorji Pallonji Group is well known in Mumbai and among the business people in the construction and real-estate sector. Although, in Kerala, where I am from, Tata is more of a household name than Mistry, apart from Rohinton Mistry, the novelist.

Ratan Naval Tata is the chairman emeritus of the Tata Group. Cyrus Mistry is the second son of Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry, a legendary construction and real estate businessman. The story I am going to tell you revolves around these two personalities. The Shapoorji Pallonji Group is divided between the two sons of Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry. The group owns 18 per cent shares in Tata group. Naturally, Cyrus Mistry is in the director board of Tata Sons, the main company in the Tata Group. There is a lot of history of the growth of India's industrial and economic sector attached with these names.

In 2012, Cyrus Mistry was nominated as the new chairman of Tata Sons on the retirement of Ratan Tata. This retirement is also the tip of an iceberg. Deep-seated in this event lies the many changes that affected not just the Tata group but the Indian economy in general. After taking the post of the chairman though, the relationship between Ratan Tata and Cyrus Mistry strained to an irreparable extent. The clash between these titans is a chapter that could keep you mulling over some serious multilayered discourses for the rest of your life. It will haunt you for certain. Here is a book that reveals it all in a highly readable, lucid, clear, and well-thought-out language.

Tata Vs Mistry: The Battle for India's Greatest Business Empire by Deepali Gupta is a well-researched monogram on the historic rift between Ratan Tata and Cyrus Mistry. The gap that formed between the two stalwarts attracted various changes to the market in India, as did their association in 2012.

Deepali Gupta's book foregrounds the complex events that led to the fall out in the Tata Sons company. In the process of telling the story, the author weaves in the interesting accounts of the industrial and commercial growth of India. The reader can take glimpses of the many multinational and national success stories of various business owners, their failures, the unending court cases that some of these failures give rise to.

Tata Vs Mistry is a book that offers a satisfying account of some of the large enterprises in contemporary India, their history and current state. Due to this reason, this book is a must-read for any student of Commerce, Management, and entrepreneurship. Anyone dreaming for establishing a start-up should certainly go through this fast-paced, research-oriented nonfiction.

For anyone pursuing a career in general writing or academic writing, I would certainly recommend this book. Tata Vs Mistry tells us how to handle investigative writing, keeping it interesting for the common reader while providing all the necessary facts and information needed to pin the story to reality. The absence of any fictional element in the book did not make it dull for my tastes. Let me remind you, I mostly love reading fiction. This shows the author's uncanny skill in writing readable non-fiction. I have read only one other nonfiction writer who kept my attention to the end cover-Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone.

Published by Juggernaut Books in 2019, Tata Vs Mistry is priced at Rs 599 and gleams at the reader with its pragmatic yet sensational hardcover dust jacket design. The layout of the book is reader-friendly as is typeset. You can read this book on a bus or train. The words in the pages stand out as does the charts and other details. The final pages contain an Appendix and a References part. The latter is a treat for any researcher into the contemporary trends in the entrepreneurial culture in India. As I completed reading the book, one thing that nagged at me was that I was compartmentalizing this book into the business section alone. I felt that this book has a wider cultural perspective to offer. To argue that a student of Cultural Studies would certainly be able to glean ideas of significance as well as a student of behavioural and organizational psychology is not at all irrelevant.

Tata Vs Mistry is Deepali Gupta's debut book. She was the former senior assistant editor at the Economic Times. Many of the articles and inside information on the Tata/Mistry controversy comes from her previous work milieu, I presume. She has been a financial journalist for fifteen years and has worked with many national and international media.

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