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Trail-blazing Tamil Nadu

The first ever Global Investors Meet in Tamil Nadu (9 and 10 September 2015) is expected to be a celebratory event that would see a slew of companies, national and international, make a beeline to the city. The GIM secretariat has been burning the proverbial midnight oil to attract investments. It looks like Rs 100,000 crore of business opportunities have already been lined up, making one believe that the meet would be a game changer in the business landscape of Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu, the third most developed Indian state, is the undisputed leader in the automobile space, a front-runner in the textile sector, is home to several industries including steel, copper, energy, cement, oil and gas, heavy vehicles, railway coaches, paper and ICT. Global companies have large operations here.

In this special issue our team chronicles the romantic story of Tamil Nadu. In Big Picture, we document the rise and rise of Tamil Nadu as an economic powerhouse.  We capture the state’s over-arching ambition contained in its bold and beautiful vision  document.

In Clusters, we write about industry clusters: Ranipet and Hosur that set the pattern for industrial area development; Sriperumbudur, Maraimalai Nagar and Oragadam which have emerged as hotbeds of India’s automobile boom; OMR and Siruseri that ignited our IT revolution; Tuticorin which has transited from a fishing and salt village to a vibrant port city; Tiruchi the hub of education and combustion engineering; Madurai which draws inspiration from its millennia of fame for teeming

tourists; Karur with its booming bed spreads and linen exports nurtured by its own banks; Coimbatore, the Manchester of India alongside its twin Tirupur which is changing the contours of our exports.   Then there is Perundurai, Gummidipoondi and Manali, all itching to make the grade.  Clearly the growth in the state is secular. While Chennai, because of its positioning, is the leader by a large distance, the others strive to catch up. In fact, some of them may turn out to be the surprise packs.

In Leaders Talk you will read the famous intellectual R Seshasayee outlining his vision of a digital, urbanised and skills-rich Tamil Nadu; finance czar R Thyagarajan articulating the potential for financial services; industry magnate Venu Srinivasan discussing the sunny future of the automobile industry and glass king B Santhanam speaking eloquently on social development initiatives.

In Talking Heads you have policy makers R Kannan, C V Sankar, T Prabhakara Rao, Rajeev Ranjan, D Sabitha, S Krishnan, K Phanindra Reddy, Rajesh Lakhoni, J Radhakrishnan and M Velmurugan speaking to us of the heady winds of change in various arms of the

administration.

The last section, Prized Initiatives, provides testimonials on why investments flow into trail-blazing Tamil Nadu.  Somewhere in between we have thrown in a soft piece by historian Karthik Bhatt on how business in Chennai evolved.

The great thing about Tamil Nadu is that it has always been endowed with progressive leadership. Succession of chief ministers from O P Ramaswamy Reddiyar to J Jayalalithaa, (through P S Kumaraswamy Raja, C Rajagopalachari, K Kamaraj, M Bhaktavatsalam, C N Annadurai, M Karunanidhi, M G Ramachandran and O Pannerselvam), aided by a devoted and hardworking civil service, have kept the state in the forefront of development.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, in particular, has been exceptional. Her initiatives helped the state catch up with developed economies. Like: heralding the era of mega investments that saw Sterlite Industries, DuPont, Ford Motors and Hyundai Motors choose Tamil Nadu. It was she who mandated rainwater harvesting and fast-tracked the Veeranam project; both were like manna for a water-starved city. Decided on the fourth large lake to spare water for the metro. Power outages are now a thing of the past thanks to handsome additions made to power capacity and the new focus on non-conventional energy.

Her Amma Canteens, along with M G Ramachandran’s mid-day meal scheme, are widely adapted by other states.  In an era of mounting health care costs, the chief minister’s comprehensive health insurance scheme hasn’t come a day too soon. The focus on maintenance of temples, heritage sites and beaches have made Tamil Nadu the most visited tourist destination, both domestic and foreign.

Tamil Nadu has a history to be proud of and which it can showcase with élan. Under an adroit leadership, an enabling environment and prescient industrialists it has in it to become a top economy.

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