DC Edit | Bright leader of industry dies tragically young
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah wrote, on the death of former chairman Cyrus Mistry: “There is never a right time for anyone to die but some deaths are just more untimely than others & to die at the age of 54 with some of his best years ahead of him is deeply tragic.” This sums up the response of many people to the news of the tragic death of Cyrus Mistry, the scion of one of India’s storied business families of Mumbai, in a road accident on Sunday.
Cyrus Mistry was one of the bright minds that the Indian industry had in recent times. The reclusive man was appointed managing director of the 154-year-old Shapoorji Pallonji Group when he was 26, in 1994. Despite his lack of experience initially in running such a large group, he increased its turnover from the construction business from $20 million to nearly $1.5 billion. Soft-spoken, Cyrus Mistry was clear in his vision and firm in executing it on the ground.
This zeal of Cyrus Mistry endeared him to Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata. Mistry became the youngest chairman of Tata Sons when he took over the mantle of the business conglomerate from Ratan Tata in 2012. As the chairman of Tata Sons, Cyrus Mistry focused on profitability and sustainability. He targeted many non-performing assets that were slowing down the growth prospects of the Tata Group. His stint on the board of Tata Sons ended abruptly because of internal differences.
Looking at the performance of Cyrus Mistry both at the Shapoorji Pallonji Group and the Tata Group, nobody would have any doubt about the contributions that the media-shy business leader could have made to the Indian economy.
The death of Cyrus Mistry also brings back the country’s focus on people’s unsafe travel practices. According to preliminary reports, Cyrus Mistry, who was sitting on the rear seat of a high-end luxury sports utility vehicle (SUV), died after his head hit the front seat when the accident occurred. It was suggested that, as he was not wearing a seatbelt, his head hit the front seat due to the impact of the accident. It is understood that rear seats do not have front-facing airbags.
The fact that the accident had occurred when the vehicle was cruising at 133 kmph — a speed at which most people with high-end vehicles drive on highways — points to faulty road design, which reportedly could have confused the driver as to which road to take.
According to National Crime Records Bureau data released recently, over 1.55 lakh people were killed in road crashes across India in 2021 — an average of 426 lives lost every day or 18 every single hour. In most cases of road accidents, the prime cause would invariably be over-speeding, unsafe travel practices or improper road designs.
If a highly-influential billionaire travelling in a high-end vehicle could become a victim of a road accident, the less one speaks of the common driver and passenger the better. It is high time the government reviews factors that are causing road accidents to fix them and spread greater awareness among people about safer road travel practices.