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BW Businessworld

Editor's Letter: Maharajah Comes Home

In this issue, we have looked at all aspects of the deal and our editorial commentary brings in perspectives and international comparisons that hopefully open up new perspectives from which to view the return of Air India to the Tatas.

Photo Credit :

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“Welcome back, Air India,” was Ratan Tata’s first reaction on social media as soon as the big deal was made official. The development, speculated on for days and expected for months, has finally occurred. Air India’s disinvestment is now complete and the Tata Group, who quoted an enterprise value of Rs 18,000 crore for the national carrier, is the winner. The handover of Air India to the Tatas is expected to conclude by year-end. This milestone officially marks a new journey for Air India, even as it is rightly being termed a ‘homecoming’. It is also the next big step for the Tata Group, who have airline brands such as Vistara and AirAsia India in their ‘hangar’, but have Air India in their heart

Ever since the disinvestment in the aviation sector was first announced, there have been no dearth of comments about the Tatas’ aggressive bid being an outcome of deep emotional connections. The Tatas and Air India share a nine-decade-old history that has had a deep imprint on the soul of the salt-to-software conglomerate. The story of J. R. D. Tata and Air India is inspiring, and a matter of pride, for all Indians. That was a different world, and we were fighting a different battle. Air India, though, was winning on several parameters at that time, be it customer service, being innovative in identity, flaunting the royalty symbolic of India and hence its overall performance. The Indian government had taken over this operation in 1953 and the rest is a story we have read too many times.

Ratan Tata summed up the deal perfectly from the company standpoint. He said that while it will take “considerable effort to rebuild Air India”, this deal will also “provide a very strong opportunity to the Tata Group’s presence in the aviation sector”. He also reminded us that the Air India under J. R. D. Tata was among the “most prestigious airlines” and that “J. R. D. Tata would have been overjoyed if he was in our midst today.”

I join the sentiment of many who solemnly believe that the Tata Group will reclaim Air India’s lost legacy, while it continues to spread its wings. The other thing I firmly believe this deal shows is that the government has indeed made the right decision in opening up select industries to the private sector. This will stop the incessant bleeding of the taxpayers’ money, and direct it towards nation-building and social upliftment.

In this issue, we have looked at all aspects of the deal and our editorial commentary brings in perspectives and international comparisons that hopefully open up new perspectives from which to view the return of Air India to the Tatas. I also had the pleasure of interviewing Union Minister of Power, New & Renewable Energy, R. K. Singh, for this issue. We discussed in great detail his plans and vision for steering India’s transition towards green energy. This is another case in point on why India’s future promises to be brighter for us and those who will follow us.