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For far too long, industry in India has always treated threats from political parties with a great deal of caution. When political parties carry out or even threaten agitations, generally industrial houses have taken a conciliatory and more cautious ” safety first ” approach which meant pacifying them- virtually at any cost.

In this context the move by the giant Tata group to seriously consider pulling out of the Singur facility- in India’s eastern state of West Bengal is being eagerly followed by industry at large. This plant was to roll out the much written about Nano car- the first to be priced at Rs. 100,000. This product – scheduled to be launched in October 2008 was likely to change the face of the automotive industry in India for ever.

After work was hampered and the plant shut for the last 5 days, it appears the Tatas have decided to say that they had had enough. See their media release here. They would pull out of Singur although they have already invested Rs. 1500 crores. (Rs. 1 crore being Rs. 10 million).

This Tata experience in Singur is being closely watched by business. On the one hand, states are promising all kinds of facilities to industry to set up plants. On the other political interests have come in the way- and not for the first time- in making these projects a success.

If, as they say they would do- the Tatas walk away from Singur, it would certainly be a first worth emulating. It will give a strong message to political parties that industry will not be held to ransom by politicians seeking to further their own agendas.

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This is Post No: 275 of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.