Rolling in gold but still poverty-stricken


July 3, 2007

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IN 1865, Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata – a one-time opium trader and scion of a sparkling line of Parsee priests, Zoroastrians who had fled to western India from persecution in Iran – attended a lecture in Manchester given by Thomas Carlyle.

Carlyle, a cantankerous Scot, was known for his historical and philosophical essays, but he also put his mind to the budding field of political economy.

“The nation which has the steel will have the gold,” Carlyle told the lecture hall, and burnt a deep impression on the visiting Indian merchant.

Jamsetji Tata took Carlyle’s idea and, after opening up textile mills, he in time emerged as India’s mightiest industrialist.

Today, the company he founded is a goliath. Tata Group is the world’s fifth largest steelmaker and sees itself as a symbol of the re-emergence of the Indian economy.

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