Bodacious Tata

AFP reports that India’s Tata Group, its largest conglomerate, is set not only to buy out Ford’s Land Rover and Jaguar divisions, but also to produce the world’s cheapest car, which at $2,500 “could revolutionise car costs worldwide.”

Two points should be made here.

The New York Times piece on the same subject,mentions the Jaguar buyout and Tata’s CEO’s taste for luxury goods, but nothing about the inexpensive car. What this says about the priorities and interests of the American press is an exercise left to the reader.

Second, it heralds the growing Indianization of world business and culture. Everyone and his brother-in-law is talking about China, but in my view, the growth of India might be a more important global development. In terms of culture and business, Indian firms are better run and managed, and with 350 million English speakers, India stands to be a generator of content for the rest of the English-speaking world. This is particularly so because of India’s well-developed entertainment industry. Bollywood might soon take over Hollywood.

We assume that the growth of India means that it will be become more “westernized” or “Americanized.” but as Tata’s purchase suggests, perhaps the shoe is on the other foot, and we will become more Indianized. I don’t know precisely what that will mean, but at the very least, it should make biryanis easier to get. And not a moment too soon!

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.