Mumbai: On Wednesday, RK Krishna Kumar, vice chairman, Indian Hotels Corporation (IHCL) which owns the Taj group of hotels, shot off a missive to Paul White, CEO, Orient-Express (OEH). He demanded OEH apologise for a December 10 letter White wrote to the Taj group (as reported by TOI in its late edition on Thursday). White’s letter said that his company did not wish to associate with the Taj because if it did, it would erode OEH’s brand value. Krishna Kumar called the contents of the communication from White ‘‘pejorative, inaccurate and libelous’’.
A day later, Ratan Tata, chairman, Tata Group which owns IHCL, joined the war of words and came out into the open in an interview to the Times of London. Responding to critics who have panned the group’s global ambitions, he was quoted as saying, ‘‘More often than not they are people who still look at India as the land of tigers, jungles and cobras and end up making statements about vindaloo.’’
Tata was responding to allegations levelled against the group in the international media that a company which builds low-end cars would find it difficult to manage brands like Jaguar and Land Rover. The group is widely tipped to be the new owners of the brands that have been put up for sale by Ford Motors.
‘‘How a company manages products in different sectors is the key,’’ said Tata. ‘‘Toyota created Lexus, Nissan has Infiniti. No one is saying ‘how can BMW handle the Mini?’ But they’ve made a huge success of it. So why is it impossible?’’ he asked.
He added that when he first spoke of the Rs 1 lakh car, nobody believed him. ‘‘It’s amusing and ironic because nearly everyone said it could not be done,’’ he told the newspaper. ‘‘Some have been derogatory, some dismissive, yet all are entering this area themselves. It vindicates what we set out to do,’’ he added.
On arguments that the small car the group is building could turn out to be an environmental nightmare in a country where infrastructure still has a long way to go, Tata said, it will be one of the greenest vehicles around.
‘‘There are eight million two-wheelers put on the road every year, which pollute more and are more dangerous,’’ he said. ‘‘If you look at the total population, the incremental emissions will be minuscule. Why are we singled out?’’ A prototype of the car will debut at the Delhi motor show to be held in January