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Tata Motors: The makers of Nano do not consider Road Safety their Priority

Dear all,

I write after a long pause on this matter. After letting go off intial anger, I still wondered whether or not to blow the whistle (in a way) on Corporates that oft claim to be the Champions of people and society. Part of me perhaps was worried of becoming infamous for the wrong reasons, being mis-understood etc. 

But now I have decidede to take the risk. Here's the story that tells the tale of double standards - 

As most are aware, I have worked on driver education videos. The response of those who have viewed them, including a DCP from a city in South was very encouraging. The DCP in fact said, he had as yet not come across anything equal to what the videos offer within India. 

Naturally, encouraged by positive feedback I was and am keen for the videos to be seen by everyone who drives in India. In the process I started wondering whether the industry would be keen to sponsor distribution of the videos. In May 07 I wrote an e-mail to Tata Motors, I got two positive replies from two different offices (one in Thane and the other in Colaba, Mumbai). I send them both a DVD with the 17 videos for their perusal. And then waited, waited and waited for them to come back on this.

No communication is communication. But given that they had made me go through the trouble of sending them DVDs all the way from UK (via my parents in Pune) I thought I will ask for a feedback. So I wrote again in Jan 08. Much of me thought that there will be no communnication. Part of me imagined they will reply with a polite 'no thanks, but we have better videos, we have other plans on road safety.......'

What I got from Debashish Ray, Head - Corporate Communications, Tata Motors Limited however shocked me. While I may produce a PDF print of the communication trail, here is the reply -

Start quote

Thank you very much for your mail. 
We do appreciate the importance of drivers' education. As you will have noticed, companies choose focus areas in which they want to play a role in larger society. We have chosen health, water management, livelihood generation, environment protection, in areas adjacent to our operations, as our focus areas.
We believe that driver education is better achieved through public-private partnership between state authorities and NGOs like yourselves.
I am responding to you, because you said you will appreciate a response. 

While I have remained stunned questioning where the legacy of Sir Jamshedji has gone, I still can't make out how the company that sepnt millions making a Nano and are proud owners now of Jaguar and Land Rover do not think road safety as one amongst many of their corporate social responsibilities? And roads in India kill more than most diseases.  Equally I must say I am baffled by their wish to acquire agricultural land or a 1000 acres from an Agriculture University but claim to work on enviornment protection. 

To be fair to Tata, I also attempted to contact Maruti in this regard, they never responded (although one dealer who also has a franchise for Maruti Driving School said, they seem to want to rather use antiquated videos from Australia, although your videos seem more relevant). 

Perhaps my effort to keep everything FREE was a stupidity.

A mistake I have no regrets about.



shas3n's picture

ASJ,It is quite shocking to

It is quite shocking to know that Tata PR is being so insensitive to their social obligations. I share your frustration.
At the same time, I guess when you are on the way to do something good, such let downs are part of the journey. Probably any activist on Praja can vouch for this. But then, I hope this has not dampened your spirits even a bit on your mission to make driving safe on Indian roads. As Gandhi said, "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win".

Now how about another approach instead? Would you think Insurance companies would be interested in this? More people watching these videos directly means more profit to them so probably it is worth giving a shot. Ideally, they should be happy to give discounts on Insurance Premia for vehicle owners who watch these videos (on the lines of pass plus in UK), but at least they can take care of distributing the DVD with every automotive policy they sell.



Naveen's picture

Safe Driving Videos - No Takers ?

ASJ, Read yr report - & thanks for revealing this & about how your attempts to distribute safe driving videos were scuttled. I had seen some of the videos earlier, & had been quite impressed with the efforts put in to develop these to promote safe driving techniques. I am surprised too, that a corporate of the stature of Tatas have disowned & do not consider it part of their social obligation to promote such useful material, & have bluntly quoted "private-public" & "NGOs" as better suited, despite the fact that they have been in the business of truck /bus manufacturing for several decades now & also cars, lately. In this country, corporate social responsibilities are not binding nor is there enough public awareness & recognition for such social responsibility. As a result, most corporates choose where, when & in what manner to display their obligations, if any. I am reminded of reliance mobile – someone was mentioning that once they had your mobile account, they keep sending bills even after the connection had been terminated in an attempt to try to avoid repayment of deposits, & one has to literally fight with them to get deposit/s refunded. I had assumed that this would not be the case with the likes of Tatas, but I am now proved wrong. As shastri mentioned, please do not give up on this – it certainly is worth pursuing & someone will pick it up. However, it may be a good idea to carefully choose whom you deal with. Bajaj had been promoting safer driving earlier & when Honda first came into the country, they had also been promoting good road manners & safer driving. I would think that all car, bus & truck makers as also government transport bodies, such as traffic police would find it appealing & very useful, barring of course Tatas. Wish you good luck & hope to hear more on this later.
asj's picture

Tata or No Tata - Driver Education will continue

The generous encouragement I get every week is sufficient to help the project continue for as long as it is needed. The response of Tata and other corporates only adds to the challenge. It took me 5 minutes and a follow up email to get Crown copyright permission for translating the British Highway code. Our Government and Corporates dash around the world signing nuclear deals or buying foreign brands like Land Rovers and Tetley tea but in 60 years they seemed not to have found sufficient reasons for duplicating the British Driver Education strategies. The British Driving test can be taken in Hindi, Urdu, Bangala and Tamil and a host of other languages. What will it take (in comparison to effort in moving the world to get a nuclear deal) to get permission to copy the entire code along with the software that drives the theory testing? Probably nothing. The Government and Corporate are ready to continue to fail us for another 60 years, but the videos and NGOs are a testimony and celebration of capabalities of ordinary Indian citizens becoming the cause of change. Save Pune Traffic Movement has been great, its members donated money to make available the DVD for just Rs 10/- in Pune. 40 DVDs were recently picked up by a NGO in Punjab, 2 for each of their 20 districts. Tata or NO Tata, change will come, it will come in every area we own up to as citizens. Its time to celebrate the power of the Praja. ASJ comment guidelines

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