Tata, who will step down as Chairman of Tata group on Dec 28, said he had a great affinity with eastern Indian because it has not partaken in the growth and prosperity of the rest of the country. "If there is something that I could do to be involved with in eastern India, I would welcome that. You see, I lived in Jamshedpur for six years, very close to Kolkata and I used to be in Kolkata of and on.
"Bengali people are very nice people. So I have an affinity, don't speak the language, that part of the country and to see something happen there would be quite a thrill for me," he said. Building the cancer hospital in Kolkata, in itself, Tata said has been a thrill for him because lives can be saved in that part of the country. "It is something that I feel very proud that I have been able to do," he said.
Speaking about Singur, where Tata Motors set up a factory to manufacture the world's cheapest car but had to quit in the wake of protests over land acquisition a few years ago, Tata said, "It was a great disappointment, because we went to West Bengal, in a leap of faith thinking that part of the country was being ignored industrially."
"I had a great regard for Buddhadeb Bhattacharya (the then Chief Minister). I thought he was really trying to industrialise West Bengal and I thought the plant we had could have created eventually 7000-8000 jobs." He said he was enamoured by what they would do. It was not just another factory, it was not not just another plant.
"It was a new product that had never been done in India and we are taking to a place that has been ignored industrially for a long period of time. So I felt very good." Tata said when the protests took place he was a little confused and confounded initially, whether it was a real problem or not. It just escalated and escalated and he figured this was not the place where they could be.
"So it was a great disappointment for me on all those grounds and I think Buddhadeb would have liked me to have stayed there and offered the plant protection. But you can't run a plant on police protection. There has to be a police protection. There has to be a removal of the hostilities one way or another. So it was a disappointment for me," he said.