Thursday, November 26, 2009

This is why Tata is a Respected name in India....

Meeting with H N Srinivas – Senior Executive Vice President, Taj Group of Hotels

He narrated the 26th November 2008 terror attack on Taj Mumbai and there were some important points.

A. Terrorist entry

1. They entered from the Leopold Colaba hotel entrance and also from the northern entrance – spraying indiscriminate bullets on the Taj security personnel and guests in general.

2. Though Taj had a reasonable security – they were surely not equipped to deal with terrorists who were spraying 6 bullets per trigger.

3. The strategy of the terrorists was to throw chunks of RDX in an open area that will explode and burn – creating chaos so that the guests and staff run helter skelter so that the terrorists could kill them. The idea was to create maximum casualties.

4. There were several critical gatherings and functions happening in the hotel on that day – a Bohra wedding, global meet of Unilever CEOs and Board members and 2 other corporate meetings were being held in the hotel – besides the usual crowd.

5. The firing and chaos began at about 8.30 p.m. and the staff including employees on casual and contract basis displayed exemplary presence of mind, courage and sacrifice to protect the guests who were in various halls and conference rooms.

B. Stories of Staff Heroics

1. A young lady guest relation executive with the HLL gathering stopped any of the members going out and volunteered 3 times to go out and get stuff such as ice cubes for whiskey of the guests when the situation outside the hall was very explosives and she could have been easily the target of the bullets

2. Thomas George a captain escorted 54 guests from a backdoor staircase and when he was going down last he was shot by the terrorists

3. There were 500 emails from various guests narrating heroics of the staff and thanking them for saving their lives

4. In a subsequent function, Ratan Tata broke down in full public view and sobbed saying – “the company belongs to these people”. The wife of Thomas George who laid his life saving others said, she and the kids were proud of the man and that she did not know that for 25 years she lived with a man who was so courageous and brave

5. The episode happened on 26th November, a significant part of the hotel was burnt down and destroyed – the hotel was re-opened on 21st December and all the employees of the hotel were paraded in front of the guests

6. It was clearly a saga of extra-ordinary heroics by ordinary people for their organisation and in a way for their country. The sense of duty and service was unprecedented

7. The young lady who protected and looked after the HLL guests was a management trainee and we often speak of juniority and seniority in the organisation. She had no instructions from any supervisor to do what she did

a. She took just 3 minutes to rescue the entire team through the kitchen

b. Cars were organised outside the hotel as per seniority of the members

c. In the peak of the crisis, she stepped out and got the right wine glass for the guest

8. People who exhibited courage included janitors, waiters, directors, artisans and captains – all level of people

C. The Tata Gesture

1. All category of employees including those who had completed even 1 day as casuals were treated on duty during the time the hotel was closed

2. Relief and assistance to all those who were injured and killed

3. The relief and assistance was extended to all those who died at the railway station, surroundings including the “Pav-Bhaji” vendor and the pan shop owners

4. During the time the hotel was closed, the salaries were sent my money order

5. A psychiatric cell was established in collaboration with Tata Institute of Social Sciences to counsel those who needed such help

6. The thoughts and anxieties going on people’s mind was constantly tracked and where needed psychological help provided

7. Employee outreach centers were opened where all help, food, water, sanitation, first aid and counseling was provided. 1600 employees were covered by this facility

8. Every employee was assigned to one mentor and it was that person’s responsibility to act as a “single window” clearance for any help that the person required

9. Ratan Tata personally visited the families of all the 80 employees who in some manner – either through injury or getting killed – were affected.

10. The dependents of the employees were flown from outside Mumbai to Mumbai and taken care off in terms of ensuring mental assurance and peace. They were all accommodated in Hotel President for 3 weeks

11. Ratan Tata himself asked the families and dependents – as to what they wanted him to do.

12. In a record time of 20 days, a new trust was created by the Tatas for the purpose of relief of employees.

13. What is unique is that even the other people, the railway employees, the police staff, the pedestrians who had nothing to do with Tatas were covered by compensation. Each one of them was provided subsistence allowance of Rs. 10K per month for all these people for 6 months.

14. A 4 year old granddaughter of a vendor got 4 bullets in her and only one was removed in the Government hospital. She was taken to Bombay hospital and several lacs were spent by the Tatas on her to fully recover her

15. New hand carts were provided to several vendors who lost their carts

16. Tata will take responsibility of life education of 46 children of the victims of the terror

17. This was the most trying period in the life of the organisation. Senior managers including Ratan Tata were visiting funeral to funeral over the 3 days that were most horrible

18. The settlement for every deceased member ranged from Rs. 36 to 85 lacs in addition to the following benefits:

a. Full last salary for life for the family and dependents

b. Complete responsibility of education of children and dependents – anywhere in the world

c. Full Medical facility for the whole family and dependents for rest of their life

d. All loans and advances were waived off – irrespective of the amount

e. Counselor for life for each person

D. Epilogue

1. How was such passion created among the employees? How and why did they behave the way they did?

2. The organisation is clear that it is not something that someone can take credit for. It is not some training and development that created such behaviour. If someone suggests that – everyone laughs

3. It has to do with the DNA of the organisation, with the way Tata culture exists and above all with the situation that prevailed that time. The organisation has always been telling that customers and guests are #1 priority

4. The hotel business was started by Jamshedji Tata when he was insulted in one of the British hotels and not allowed to stay there.

5. He created several institutions which later became icons of progress, culture and modernity. IISc is one such institute. He was told by the rulers that time that he can acquire land for IISc to the extent he could fence the same. He could afford fencing only 400 acres.

6. When the HR function hesitatingly made a very rich proposal to Ratan – he said – do you think we are doing enough?

7. The whole approach was that the organisation would spend several hundred crore in re-building the property – why not spend equally on the employees who gave their life?
Minuted by Dileep Ranjekar


Suree said...

i was in tears while reading this.. so touching,...

Renu said...

Suree; he is a realicon..I have always respected Tatas a lot,asmy husband worked in Tata bearings and I saw the facilities provided by themto employees.

Suree said...


I am not sure abt that though i have worked with tata consultancy services for about 1 year.The facilities are not so good ... may be they excluded software from their list... :)

But i liked the way the employees used their presence of mind or their heroic behavior.

Rush said...

truly touching post Renu.Tata brand is looked enviously throughout the world and i take pride in it.

Renu said...

Rush: I also felt like sharing it.

Suree: even my son was in TCS for some 4-5 years ;).
That timei in 80's they were better in comparison to other manufacturing companies...their retirement policies were very good and in those time we worried more about retirement than present package:) all that thinking has changed completley.

Shruti SriHarsha said...

BRILLIANT POST! I love to re-read it, its so touching...

Anonymous said...

Reliability the opposite of TATA(hindi).
I like TATA because the name says: Yes, I can trust And buy any TATA product.

Sparkling said...

No doubt Tata is a force to reckon with! The article was so touching.

Bedazzled said...

have heard a lot of stories about the ethics of the tatas.. its truly impressive !

PNA said...

Wow! My respect for this man has just increased 100 fold. Words are just not enought to express our gratitude.. it is too little...

Good Night Renu:)

Renu said...

PNA: Thats wy Iposted it:)
good day:)

sparkling; yesteryear bussunessmen were not like today's,they earned but with a conscience and thats why we never hear about their vulgar displays of wealth oropulent residences.

Hobo:seeing you after a long time :)

Shruti sriharsha: we need morelike him.

Renu said...

Bedazzled: people like tats show us that earning and doing business is possible with ethics.

J P Joshi said...

Thank you for sharing. I always respected the house of Tatas for what they have done for India. My respect has gone up manifold after reading this. Yes, my vision too blurred on reading this. Thank you Ratan Tata and you Renu for sharing this touching piece.

manju said...

Renu- Such a detailed report! Very impressive.

Yes, the Tatas are certainly to be lauded for their attitude. I have always admired the way Ratan Tata behaves and speaks in such a dignified manner. In fact I often think that we need some one like him in Indian politics- he would definitely improve its quality!

Renu said...

Manju: we need to spread the good of people...Tatas are my favourite bussiness tycoons,so I couldnt stop myself from sharing it.....we need more of them in every sphere of life.

JP Joshi:The way we try to bring out the bad in society, we must share the good brings hope that all is not lost.

radha said...

The Tatas are a respected group of companies. And very honest in their dealings. This post reinforces the image that they are already known for. Great post.

Sandhya said...

' The relief and assistance was extended to all those who died at the railway station, surroundings including the “Pav-Bhaji” vendor and the pan shop owners' These points were the best. He is not connected directly to these people, still he helped them.

'The whole approach was that the organisation would spend several hundred crore in re-building the property – why not spend equally on the employees who gave their life?' This thought of Tata was the best.

Thanks for sharing this, Renu.

Manasa said...

Very touchy... brought tears...

thx for sharing..

Renu said...

Manasa: They are really good people.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Anonymous said...

You have really great taste on catch article titles, even when you are not interested in this topic you push to read it

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