Mr. B. Muthuraman, Former Vice – Chairman, Tata Steel

Dimensions Team: You mentioned about equality, but we see state and central governments providing subsidies which are misused by a significant amount of population and due to this, efforts of the business society are not utilized fully. What is your say on this?

Mr. Muthuraman: You are looking at this issue from a narrow time frame when you should actually be looking at it from a longer one. Subsidies are bad only from a short time window. From current time frame it may seem like even reservation is a bad thing. Nobody likes the reservation system because people will think that you are lifting non-merit fellows and not the merit ones. But then what is merit? Merit is not an isolated phenomenon; it is governed by social circumstances. If someone’s social background is not good, who are we to say that he/she cannot go to IIT just because he/she cannot pass? This kind of situation on inequality cannot be corrected overnight, it will take long time, and we all need to contribute.

Dimensions Team: You also mentioned that Mr.Ratan Tata said industries do not realize the damage caused to the environment and to the displaced. He wanted a holistic development of the society. But then, when one company makes profit, isn’t it at the cost of another company?

Mr. Muthuraman: What Mr. Tata is saying is, when you open any company at any place, you think that you are creating jobs for that place but you are also polluting the environment, you are also uprooting the people and changing their lifestyles etc. And merely compensating them with money is not sufficient; you have to become part and parcel of their livelihood. This is also exactly what CSR is all about. At the end of the day, a company which is more efficient will succeed, and the ones who are not efficient will not. You cannot have a situation where all the companies are making similar profits. Mr. Tata is saying that you are taking too much from the society, and you must give them back through environmental protection, social protection etc. And these things should be part and parcel of a company’s ethos.

Dimensions Team
: Regarding CSR activities again, Mr. Tata has said that it should not be done for publicity. But we wonder, if people are not aware about what you are doing, how would they be benefitted? It may also inspire others to doing something good for the society, isn’t it?

Mr. MuthuramanSharing, what you are doing for the purpose of creating knowledge or awareness is not a bad thing; and no one is against it. But purely using this as a marketing gimmick should not be done. In fact I myself have gone to Mr. Tata once and asked him, “We are doing so many things but not publicizing it. Why?” His response was, “We should do it because it is the right thing to do and not for publicity.” The TATA group is structured in a way that Tata Sons, which is the holding company of all the Tata companies, is owned by philanthropy of trust and not by the Tatas or any individuals. Two third of Tata Sons is with the Tata Trust, whose job is to do CSR. There is no other company in this world which is structured in this manner.

Leave a Reply