On his 75th birthday on Friday, and the final day as Tata Group Chairman, Ratan Tata spent time visiting Tata Motors facilities in Pimpri Chinchwad and interacting with the employees rather that spending the day in Mumbai, where the media had gathered.
Around 2pm, Tata in a blue shirt, was seen emerging from the Pimpri facility in a black Tata Safari. Tata, along with other officials of the company, was seen waving from one of the cars. An employee of Engineering Research Centre (ERC) at the Pimpri facility said, “He visited the facility around 10am. Almost every employee of the company wanted to shake hands with the man they have been taking inspiration from.”
At each production block, separate places were earmarked for employees to stand.
As the car halted in front of the ERC block ,Tata was greeted with gifts, flowers and a portrait made by one of the employees. Meeting him individually was difficult given that the ERC alone has about 3,000-3,500 employees, leave alone other blocks he visited, said the employee.
The employees wished him on his birthday.
In a Twitter message titled ‘Saying Farewell’, Tata said, “My deepest appreciation and thanks for the thoughtful messages for my birthday. I am so deeply touched by the kind sentiments expressed.”
His Twitter signature read, ‘Former Chairman of Tata Group’.
Tata Group spokesperson Debasis Ray played down the visit, saying Tata visits the Pune facility at this time of the year and there was nothing unusual about it.
Around 1.30pm he had lunch in the main canteen at the Pimpri plant. ERC is one place he has been visiting occasionally, but this could probably a rare occasion when he visited the entire factory.
He then reached the Chinchwad facility where he spent time till about 3 pm. An employee said that although it was his birthday, no public functions were planned.
Around 3.15pm, Tata’s car, escorted by another vehicle, was seen entering the plush Tata Lake House opposite the Pimpri facility. Tata is known to stay at Lake House during his visit to the city. At Lake House, he was greeted by a team of employees from Taj Vivanta Blue Diamond, one of the luxury hotels of Tata’s Taj Group. They presented Tata with a cake and a bouquet.
About 14 employees of Tata Power drove all the way from Mumbai and met him.
Talking to The Indian Express, Rajan V Naidu, an employee who met Tata at his Lake House, said, “He looked tired. But was welcoming. He greeted each of us personally and wished us good luck for our future. When we asked him to give a message for the employees, he said he would do so in a few days.”
A third-generation employee of one of the companies of the Group, Milind Ubale, said, “Our boss loves people. That is what he has been doing the whole day.”
(with inputs from Aaditi Jathar Lakade)