Bombay House, the impressively solid five-floor sandstone building of Tata Sons Ltd and the Tata Group (aggregate annual revenue: Rs.710,000 crore) sited in Homi Mody Street in the downtown central business district of Mumbai, reopened for business on July 29, after it was shut down for renovation last winter. However, with a new regime calling the shots in Bombay House, it’s doubtful that they have let restoration expert Brinda Somaya have her way.
There is a precedent. When Rallis House where your editor worked for seven years, was taken over by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) a decade ago, the interiors were ravaged by the TCS crowd led by jumped-up techie N. Chandrasekaran, now chairman of Tata Group.
Chandrasekaran’s contribution to Indian education is cancellation of the annual TCS-EducationWorld Teachers Awards green-flagged by Fakir Chand Kohli, the legendary vice chairman and CEO of TCS for over 25 years who as everybody and his dog knows, built this globally-respected IT services company from ground up. According to greedy guts Chandra, TCS couldn’t afford the Rs.5-6 lakh per year that Kohli and his successor S. Ramadorai had sanctioned for the awards, which celebrated exemplary primary and secondary school teachers across the country. But curiously, it could afford to inflate his remuneration from an already excessive Rs.4 crore to Rs.18 crore within three years of his taking charge.
In a previous avatar as editor of Business India and Businessworld I often visited with chairman J.R.D. Tata, and legal eagle and long-term Tata Sons director Nani Palkhivala in Bombay House, and came away with admiration for its understated elegance. However, under the rule of JRD’s ungrateful successor Ratan Tata (that’s another story), Bombay House had started crumbling. Now with this vulgar duo in charge, I am sure its charm has vanished forever.