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Drive ahead, the road is well-laid...

It appears amazing: Renault Motors’ Indian operations launching its compact car Kwid in the entry segment with 98 per cent indigenous content. That is, except for some electronic chips, the entire value will be built by Indian vendors. Chairman and CEO of Renault-Nissan combine, Carlos Ghosn, expressed optimism over mass production at the Oragadam facility near Chennai. An estimate points to a potential of the Renault market expanding to a million cars. Already its associate Nissan has emerged the second largest exporter of cars (after Hyundai) crossing the landmark of exporting its 500,000th car.

Jayalalithaa, who has assumed charge as chief minister again on 23 May 2015 has reasons to feel gratified over these twin events. In 1995, when

India was still a fledgling producer of automobiles she made a bold move to offer attractive terms for the mass manufacture of cars in Tamil Nadu. The then US Ambassador, Frank Weisner, was quite impressed and persuaded Ford Motors to set up its plant in Tamil Nadu. The Korean giant Hyundai Motors quickly followed, which even raced ahead of Ford to release its famous Santro car. These two global manufacturers fortified the image of Tamil Nadu as the Detroit of India. A large number of component manufacturers surfaced thanks to the state’s policy of a liberal tax regime.

 Look at the present strengths: with the older units of Ashok Leyland, TVS Motors and Eicher Enfield growing along with BMW, Renault Nissan, Daimler and Yamaha in the automobile sector, supported by a vast number of vendors of giant size such as MRF, Apollo Tyres, Michelin, Saint Gobain and component manufacturers of industrial houses like Amalgamations, Rane, TVS, Murugappa, the Hyundai associates, etc. The effectiveness of this spread was best exemplified by Renault procuring over 60 per cent of its needs from vendors in Tamil Nadu.

The slowdown of the economy, post the global meltdown of 2008, needs to be reversed in quick time. With Jayalalithaa at the helm one can expect  new dynamism to be imparted. This is essential to meet the ambitious targets set by her for the Vision 2023 for Tamil Nadu. We suggest focused attention on the following :

1.    To make the TN Global Investors’ Meet a major event to showcase the achievements of the state and to attract large investments.

2.    Like in automobile, Tamil Nadu could achieve pre-eminence in electronics and telecom.

Given Jayalalithaa’s articulation, she can easily impress large companies in Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan and China to set up production facilities in Tamil Nadu. A short visit by her to these countries during June-July would help. TN can leverage the large social welfare spending on fans, mixies, grinders, laptops, etc.,  to scale up production of these in the state in collaboration with large multinationals in these countries.

3. Jayalalithaa could set up a high power committee with special powers to work for quick clearance of large sized power plants entrusting it with responsibility for getting the clearances, tieing-up for finances and arranging for fuel linkages in quick time. This can cover solar and wind energies as well.

4.    The long coastline provides for development of a large number of minor ports as in Gujarat (there are 41 such ports in Gujarat; most of them flourishing). Such ports can help develop the hinterland quickly.

5.    The state leads in social indices – health and education. The just released results of the tenth grade exams point to a continuing spectacular record: 10.60 lakh taking the exams with 92.90 per cent passes. A similar exhilarating record is also seen in the 12th grade results. The state also has the largest number of engineering and medical colleges, polytechnics and other professional colleges. There is need to focus on upgrading constantly the quality and skills.

6.    The state should further focus on the ease of doing business with more simplified and automated systems.

The time has come for Tamil Nadu parties to stop harping on differences and political animosities and focus on building on the state’s  immense strengths.


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