On 31 October of this year, the Asian-UK business, political and social elite will come together in London to salute an individual who has made an enormous, positive impact on the bi-lateral commercial relationship between the UK and India. He almost needs no introduction. Ratan Tata’s professional achievements are astounding, but what Asia House seeks to highlight with this award are the links between economic success, professional excellence, accompanied by moral leadership and service to society. Last year’s honourees were Lord Green, Vikram Singh Mehta and Jack Ma.
After becoming the Chairman of Tata Sons in 1991, revenues have grown twelve-fold. However, the social impact of high-profile acquisitions such as Tetley (2000), Corus Group (2007) and Jaguar Land Rover (2008) cannot be overstated. Tata Group employs 395,000 people around the world, with 30,000 employees in the UK. This reach extends beyond manufacturing jobs that were saved by Tata Group acquisitions. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) was identified by The Telegraph as one of Britain’s Top Employers for 2011, with respondents to their survey praising the can-do attitude of TCS as well as their ethical approach to client services and to employees’ career development. In India, the launch of the Nano, a passenger car retailing for under $3,000, has democratised the auto market, making a reliable, weatherproof vehicle a possibility for India’s growing middle class. The Nano could revolutionise life in India, much like Ford’s Model T did over a century ago in the US. Add to this the fact that more than two-thirds of Tata Group is held in charitable trusts, and it is clear that Ratan Tata is no ordinary entrepreneur.
This annual awards dinner highlights the enormous social impact of commercial enterprise which, at its best, promotes values of leadership and service that can be felt far beyond the boardroom. ‘The concept of the “Servant Leader” needs widespread recognition and adoption among the global business community’, says Roddy Gow, CEO of Asia House. ‘We are not only saluting this successful man and his company, but also recognising his values as a business leader. Tremendous opportunities for social change are created by commercial enterprise through these shared values. India and indeed the world need more business leaders like Ratan Tata.’
Along with this event and the Asian Business Leaders Awards Dinner, plans for the annual two-day corporate forum, the Asian Business Leaders Summit (ABLS), are in the pipeline. This year’s event will focus on Asian financial markets and their prospects for 2012. It will also address the double jeopardy or double dividend of the vast, young work-force in the Middle East and Asia, which requires education, training and employment. According to the International Labour Organisation, almost half of people aged 15-24 throughout pan-Asia are unemployed. (Quite something to consider, when 60 per cent of the population of India is under the age of 25). The conference will address and discuss the need and potential for the business sector to transform Asia by providing educational and training opportunities for both young men and women.
With the great need for education in the developing world and the UK’s position as a global leader in education, surely there is a unique opportunity for the young of Great Britain to engage with their counterparts in Asia? This vision is all in a day’s work at Asia House – building a shared future between the people of Great Britain and the people of the 40 countries of Asia.