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Posts Tagged ‘Tata nano

Post-colonial angst

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Post-colonial angst (brought up during a conversation by GreatBong ): Defined as the post-modern flip-side of colonial hangover; an inability to shed the smug sense of superiority from the colonial days of the British Empire. And this TimesOnline article by Kevin Eason about Tata’s bid for Jaguar and LandRover takeovers (briefly mentioned in the previous post) is but one example.

It must have taken Mr Eason an incredible amount of will-power to steer clear of Soministic tendencies [1], but that doesn’t stop him from indulgence in pointless nostalgia for symbolisms of the British Empire (someone tell him we have turned a new century) and criticisms of Tata that are at best dubious.

For example, he says:

The disposal of Jaguar and Land Rover by Ford is just another sign that the sun has not only set on the British Empire but the lights have gone out as well. Ford may have been an American multinational company, but its long history and substantial presence here always made it feel as though the two charismatic brands had stayed within our grasp. But Ford’s hopeless inability to manage Jaguar, in particular, has served to underline that the world is looking to the East for its salvation.

Translation: we can be comfortable with foreign ownership, as long as it is American, but going East is a far too much ! The next passage is far more staggering in its alienation from reality:

At least under Ford the two Midlands-based companies could be promised an interchange of high-technology, design ideas and talent with their parent business. But what will Tata bring except for size? Precious little, probably,

Strange statement to make, given that Ford possibly has the worst record for technology innovation in recent times. Further, a global company like Tata with its involvement in seven business sectors (not to mention neat 100 products) has ‘precious little’ to offer ? This is bordering on churlishness. But he keeps harping on the technology issue :

If Tata is buying the badges in a postimperialist bout of muscle-flex-ing, they could be making a huge mistake. Meanwhile, the factory workers in Solihull and Birmingham must be wondering what brilliant ideas will come from a manufacturer whose only headline-grabbing vehicle is a car that comes at the price of about four iPhones.

This is simply hitting blow the timing belt. If the author cannot merit the necessity of technical nuance in producing a cheap car, he could at least refrain from indulging in meaningless comparisons. The only way four iPhones could help in transporting you is if you called a taxi with one of them!!

Lest anyone accuse me of narrow nationalism or double standards on crying-wolf etc, the reason this article pissed me off was the total lack of logic or reasonable arguments. I care little for who owns Jaguar and Land Rovers (personally I wouldn’t touch either of the cars with a barge pole) and Tata’s ownership will not find me in a chest-thumping mode [2]. There are enough sound financial reasons for Tata to steer clear off this deal. Yet sadly, the article is based solely on prejudices and exposes the inability of its British author to stomach a new reality.

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[1]: Which is not to say Somini Sengupta isn’t picking up the mantle herself to churn out more drivel.

[2]: However, the symbolisms cannot be avoided. An Indian owning flagship British companies, Tata owning some of the most expensive, as well as the cheapest car etc.

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Written by BongoP'o'ndit

January 11, 2008 at 8:05 pm

This Nano doesn’t shuffle

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But it can carry you from point A to point B. The Tata Nano.

The much anticipated Nano (a name I don’t really care for much) was unveiled today amidst much fan-fare. Touted by Tata as ‘the people’s car’, it is the world’s cheapest automobile. Additionally, if you are so inclined to think such manners, it is an ‘environmental nightmare’ (even though there seems to be evidence to the contrary) and an assertion of India’s growing economic might [1].

Speaking of global might, it is possible that in addition to the cheapest car, Tata will also own some of the most expensive brands if their bid to buy Jaguar and LandRover goes through. Talk about a spectrum.

[1]: Check the link – even while talking about cars, there is a sly dig at the recent cricket controversies. 🙂

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Jaguar’s potential sale to Tata, however, hasn’t made everyone happy. US car dealers apparently think it will dilute the brand value (of Jagaurs).

“I don’t believe the U.S. public is ready for ownership out of India of a luxury car make,” Ken Gorin, chairman of the Jaguar Business Operations Council, told the Wall Street Journal. “And I believe it would severely throw a tremendous cast of doubt over the viability of the brand.” (link)

Hmmm…..I can imagine the before and after scenes. Pre-takeover:

Customer: I want to buy a luxury car.

Dealer (showing a Jaguar): How about this one. It will break down often, cost you high maintainence, and is generally unreliable. But ….oooooh look……. it is a Jaguar, the Brits make it and Ford owns it.

Customer: hmmmm…..

Dealer: it is enormously expensive and a great status symbol.

Customer: Yay-diddly-doo – thats the one I want then. Where do I sign?

Post Tata takeover of the brands:

Customer: I want to buy a luxury car.
Dealer (showing a Jaguar): How about this one. It will break down often, cost you high maintainence, and is generally unreliable. But ….oooooh….. look it is a Jaguar, the Brits make it and errrr…an Indian company called TATA owns it.

Customer: hmmmm…..

Dealer: it is enormously expensi-

Customer (interrupting): ….wait did you say – India ? Dammit – I don’t know how to drive an elephant.!! And I really wanted something faster……..

Dealer: ….but sir, its still a car, in fact the same car as before – not an eleph-

Customer (interrupting again): and do I have to wear one of them turbans ? I can’t do that – everyone’ll think I am Osama !!!

Dealer: sigh ! forget about it.

PS – here is an even worse piece on Tata’s takeover bid: dripping with post-colonial angst. Will rant about it separately.

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Written by BongoP'o'ndit

January 11, 2008 at 1:14 am