While the Tatas have been invited with red carpet by most states, Tamil Nadu seems indifferent. I remember the intense competition from several states to get the Tata Nano project after it was thrown out of Singur. Despite the claim of Chennai as the Detroit of the east, the state did not evince any interest in bidding for the Nano project.
Tatas’ Rs 3000 crore titanium project at Tuticorin was another victim of such neglect. As early as in 2002, the Tatas decided to set up this project in south Tamil Nadu which was lagging behind the northern parts of the state in terms of industrial investment. Tatas’ set up the company and appointed a brilliant metallurgist, S Asokan, as Managing Director. After a decade of persistence, Tatas abandoned the project and wound up the company due to the difficulty of land acquisition. A powerful local entrepreneur with strong political connections successfully thwarted Tatas’ efforts on land acquisition.
Yet another opportunity was lost when Air Asia was scouting for locating its hub in the south. Chennai airport was among its preferences. But an indifferent state admi-
nistration failed to exert and let Bengaluru International Airport grab the offer.
J Jayalalithaa, in her first term as the Chief Minister, was so effective in attracting prestigious projects like Sterlite (Vedanta), DuPont and Ford (which triggered Hyundai to follow suit). One notices such aggression missing in her subsequent ten years.