Dehra Dun, Nov 15: Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata today said he did not enter the airline business as he was not comfortable with the idea of bribing Rs 15 crore to a minister, as had been suggested by an industrialist.
He regretted that despite being a pioneer in the airline industry, the group faced enormous problems in setting up a domestic airlines in collaboration with Singapore Airlines.
"We approached three Prime Ministers also. But an individual thwarted our efforts to form the airlines," Tata said, recalling how he spurned the suggestion by a fellow industrialist.
He, however, did not name the individual.
Amid Tatas' efforts to set up a joint venture with Singapore Airlines, a fellow industrialist had said: "You are stupid people. The Minister was asking for Rs 15 crore. Why didn't you pay the money?"
Narrating the incident, Tata said, "I did not want to go to the bed knowing well that I set up an airlines by paying Rs 15 crore."
Ratan Tata's predecessor, JRD Tata, had set up the first commercial airlines of India 'Tata Airlines' in the 1930s and that was later in the 1950s taken over by the Government and turned into Air India.
Responding to questions about how he succeeded without without compromising ethics and values after delivering a lecture on 'India in 21st Century: Opportunities and Challenges' here, Tata, 72, said he did not have a methodology in this regard, but went on to narrate the entire history of how Tatas failed to re-enter the aviation business.
After taking over the reins of the group, Ratan Tata had tried at least on three occassion to pursue the aviation business and accordingly moved the government of the day in 1995, 1997 (rpt) 1997 and 2001.
The last time (2001), it was the BJP government when Tatas and Singapore Airlines withdrew as sole bidders their joint bid for Air India, citing political opposition to the sale. PTI