Harish Bhat, Managing Director, Tata Global Beverages, discusses his book Tata Log, comprising eight stories about various Tata companies, with Shweta Amit. We carry an exclusive excerpt from the book:
Since The Whale Shark is an integral part of the rich biodiversity of this area and Tata Chemicals has historically played a role of community developer, we strongly felt the need to intervene and contribute whatever we could to save this species.
So we got moving, and we moved fast. To save the whale shark, we knew we had to increase awareness significantly among everyone in the region, most importantly among the fishermen. We had to build in people of Okhamandal and Gujarat pride in the fact that this giant fish is a visitor to our seas, and change the mind-set that saw it as an animal fit only for slaughter.
I also remember a brief meeting with Mr.Ratan Tata, who displayed keen interest immediately and strongly encouraged us to take, forward the project. "These are endangered creatures; we must do this", he said.
We needed a powerful new brand ambassador who would help us promote the whale shark. After some discussion, we chose an unconventional but apt ambassador for the project: Morari Bapu, a highly revered religious leader in Gujarat. Fishermen and the general public would listen to him; his emotional connect and credibility were very high.
Morari Bapu's simple but powerful messages on the whale shark are recalled fondly even today. "The whale shark is like a guest to our shores. Atithi devo bhava (Guests are like God)", he exhorted his audiences.
"These sharks come to Gujarat to breed, so we are like their parents. Each of them is like our daughter who has come back to her parent's home, to give birth to her child. We should protect our daughter, take care of her. Isn't that what we do in our homes?"
This was heartfelt communication, worthy of a standing ovation.
(See: "The Tatas are inspirational; I had to write the full story": Harish Bhat)