about 1 year ago
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There is only Covid news or Sushant Singh. And the markets seem to have a mind of their own, dancing to the tune of some silent music which only it can hear.

With the weekend as on us, which in today’s time has no meaning as majority of us work from home; yet, at least the markets are closed! So, to get your mind off the pandemic, the ‘murder mystery’ of SSR and markets, here is a little but very interesting story of the an “outsider” shareholder, holding just one share in the prized mulch cow, Tata Sons.

Once upon a time, there was a king. His name was Maharawal Natwarsinhji of Chota Udaipur.  This place, Chota Udaipur was in Gujarat, formed by descendants of Prithviraj Chauhan. Natwarsinghji ruled in the 1930s and loved to live a high life though he took care of his subjects too. He was a well-respected and much-admired king.

While on a holiday in Lisbon in 1946, he died suddenly and the title passed on to his 11-year old son, Virendra Singh Chauhan. In 1947, the princely states were integrated into independent India. He went on to study at the Daly College in Indore and he blossomed into a man with an astute business sense. He grew close to the famous industrialists of that time, Naval Tata, SS Kirloskar, BM Ghia, MS Talaulicar, Navroz B Vakil, the Maharaja of Baroda, and Hasham Premji (father of Azim Premji).

At the age of 25 years, he was enlisted as a Director in National Ekco, a Tata company. This was the time when Ratan Tata, himself 25 years of age was working as an apprentice at Tata Steel. Virendrasinhji grew pretty close to Naval Tata, father of Ratan Tata. In his early 30s, he was made director of Tata Mills. He was also on various company boards along with other members of the Tata family. Soon he was recognised as a Tata insider, a trusted aide.

Sometime in the 1980s, when Tata Sons was undergoing some internal restructuring, Virendrasinhji was allotted 12-13 shares of Tata Sons. No one really knows how many shares he was exactly allotted; it’s all just folklore now. But this allotment  permanently marked the trust which the Tata’s had on Virendrasinhji and for him, it was a matter of great pride.

Then in 1998, Virendrasinhji decided to set up a garment making business in Bangalore and to raise funds, he sold all shares of Tata Sons, except one. He had the foresight to realise the immense prestige and value even one single share of Tata Sons could fetch.

Virendrasinhji passed away in 2005 and till today, 2020, that one share in his name remains on the shareholders list of Tata Sons. Apparently, the two sons of Virendrasinhji are squabbling over the ownership of this one share and since there has been no resolution yet, this one share continues to remain being held by an “outsider” in Tata Sons.

This is indeed a very fascinating story; almost giving one a glimpse into the history of India and her growth. Many of us would still have physical share certificates, owned probably by our grandfathers, where it would be a delight to see the signature of some of the stalwarts of Indian industry, like JRD Tata, G D Birla, Aditya Birla and many more.

We have come a long, long way yet, some companies like Tata Sons, remain a treasure, withstanding the changing times with great dexterity and resilience. That’s the value system of Tata’s which today’s newly minted billionaires and millionaires will take generations to achieve. Yes, you can earn money but value comes only with time.

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