From 1857 at least until 1947?a period of ninety years?Britain did everything possible to downgrade India. When Jamshedji Tata wanted to start a steel mill in India, the British laughed at him. The Chief Commissioner for the Indian Railways, Sir Frederick Upcott told a British engineer Charles Page Perin: ?Do you mean to say that Tatas propose to make steel rails to British specifications? Why, I will undertake to eat every pound of steel they succeed in making.?
On February 16, 1912, the first ingot of steel rolled on the lines of the Sakeha Plant amidst much rejoicing. During World War I, Tata exported 1,500 miles of steel rails to Mesopotamia. Dorab Tata commented dryly that if Sir Frederick had carried out his undertaking, he would have had ?some slight indigestion?.
Now Tatas have bought over Corus. According to media reports Corus will give that added boost to the group that currently employs over 2.5 lakh people and has a market capitalisation of Rs 2.49 crore as on January 31.
With Corus under its wing, the Tata Group turnover, according to estimates will touch Rs 1.5 lakh crore. Poor Sir Frederick must be turning in his grave.
India is on the move. And nobody can stop it. The British tried their level best. Prior to 1857, according to Dialogue (July-September 2006) the British colonial emphasis was on the consolidation of the empire, the denigration of the Indians and running down of Indian culture. India was only a ?geographic entity?, ?an imaginary state?, Brahmins were ?an ants? nest of lies and impostures?, Hindus were ?liars? and Macaulay who introduced English as the administrative language of India (would now surely be regretting it) proposed to pay over one lakh rupees to a 32-year-old German scholar, Max Mueller for translating Rig Veda in such a manner that it would destroy the belief of the Hindus in the Vedic religion.
Monier Williams, another Sanskrit scholar, was to remark that ?Brahmanism must die out and Christianity, in the end inevitably sap its foundations?. Indian science was laughed at.
According to Michel Danino, convenor of the International Forum for India'sHeritage, of a list of 3,473 science texts from 12,244 science manuscripts found in 400 repositories in Kerala, no more than seven per cent are in print even today. And yet there were times when Indian science was laughed at, Indian entrepreneurship berated. Tatas have shown that they too can fight?and fight effectively. The question is asked: ?Why must a home-grown company like Tata Steel seek to acquire?at a fairly high price?concern like Corus which has four times its own capacity?? The answer is simple. India has to show its face to the world which is increasingly globalised. India should be able to control the world steel market. We must encourage and support Indians and NRIs to capture European companies and show the latter that Indians make better managers and technologists.
Look at China. It has now become the largest steel producer in the world, followed by Japan. It is time Asia takes over the world. We must capture the world just as Europe once did. According to a NASSCOM study, even if India aims at 20 per cent of the total size of the Engineering Services Outsourcing (known as ESO) market by 2020, the volume of the business can be in the range of $ 60 billion which is no small amount.
True, buying up Corus may not help produce more employment in India but capturing ESO will. What the Corus purchase will do is to arouse a healthy respect for India. And that should be a priority. We should develop our killer instinct. We command respect only when we show our fighting spirit, not when we go begging to countries as we once did for financial aid, inviting scorn and derision from even petty states like Belgium and Holland.
It is disgusting to see India pleading with countries big and small for their support to its claim to Permanent Membership of the Security Council. Permanent Membership brings us no glory. The United States behaves like a bully. In what way has Permanent Membership of France or China prevented the Americans to continue their criminal activity in Iraq? We must treat the Council with contempt. Only then will we gain respect. It is a matter of pride that we are not lagging behind in technology either.
The highly-successful launch of the PSLV-C7 on January 10, 2007 into a 635-km high polar Sun Synchronous Orbit is yet another feather in India'scap, more especially because of the complex technology involved in the launch of multiple satellites, which included a recoverable space capsule. The launch was perfect, so was the recovery of an autonomous capsule on earth. Of course the whole project cost India millions. But it was worth it. Indeed, ISRO is thinking of sending a man to the moon. And no western power is belittling us any longer. Of course, in many ways India is way behind many western and even some Asian countries. Progress is not going to be attained overnight.
It may well be argued that what we will spend on our ISRO experiments can well be spent on improving our roads, developing our slums, upgrading our education system and a score of other needs. But remember China. Its test of a ?satellite killer? weapon earlier in January this year has become an eye-opener. So far only the Americans and to a lesser extent the Russians had this capacity. India cannot afford to lag behind. So India has a job cut out for it. And Indian leadership, if one such exists, must tell its countrymen that it should unite for a larger purpose instead of wasting time on caste wars and political mud-slinging, at each other. We don'thave much time. And such time that we have should not be wasted.
In this the media has a heavy responsibility. In restoring India'sself-respect and prodding the young to rise to great heights is a role that only the media can play, whether it is the print or the electronic media. We have had enough of Page Three vulgarity. India is on the threshold of rising to great heights and it is the media'sresponsibilities to tell the country'syouth that it has a major role to play in making India truly a great country.
India is more than a sum of its constituent communities of which there are over 4,653 at last count. We have to think of what binds us, not what separates us, and the lesson must be learnt as much by ULFA or the Maoists as by the NDA and UPA. Therein lies India? great and mighty future.