The Last Rajah

India's Ratan Tata aims to transform his once-stodgy conglomerate into a global powerhouse. But can it thrive after he steps down?

Among Asia's business titans, Ratan N. Tata stands out for his modesty. The chairman of the Tata Group—India's biggest conglomerate, with businesses ranging from software, cars, and steel to phone service, tea bags, and wristwatches—usually drives himself to the office in his $12,500 Tata Indigo Marina wagon. He prefers to spend weekends in solitude with his two dogs at a beachfront home he designed himself. And disdainful of pretense, he travels alone even on long business trips, eschewing the retinues of aides who typically coddle corporate chieftains.

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