By S. Sivathasan –
“Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider” – Francis Bacon
Among Prime States
To a fair degree the size of the economy will be conveyed by GDP data. Its composition will indicate both
health and direction. UNIDO has ranked Japan first in industrialization, China seventh and India 43rd. Indian industry is 17.6% of GDP. Industry in Tamil Nadu is 34% of state gdp. The impression immediately created is that in TN, industry surges ahead of that in India. It is so, having registered second rank in industrialization next only to Maharastra. This change in the profile and the quickening pace of growth have also made TN the most urbanized state.TN is also the second largest economy. The state’s wealth gave the citizen a gdp per capita of Rs.72,993 in 2011/12. Comparative figures are Rs: 63,961 for Andhra, 60,458 for Gujarat and 59,763 for Karnataka – (source: Planning Commission of India)
A survey of the industrial sector will indicate how TN came to this position. It was certainly not by sudden flight. Two millennia of intellectual tradition, premium value on education resulting in the establishment of Madras University in 1857, together with state wide growth in education and the development of human resources explain this wholesome phenomenon. Business culture given a fillip to in Coimbatore by the advent of Gujaratis too made its contribution. It may also be said that the diligent selection of industrial projects by the Tamil entrepreneurs, support extended by the British before independence, initiatives of TN government thereafter account for success. Never to be missed are commitment and work ethic of the workforce.
Capitalizing on these attributes, TN thinks large, attracts large investments and implements on a large scale. This is now policy and has become a conspicuous feature in the current century.
Energy development for industrialization was a judicious priority. TN has 87%of India’s lignite deposits and installed capacity at Neyveli is 2490 MW to exploit this resource. Wind energy has 7134 MW of installed capacity though with interruptions to supply due to weather variations. In generation and supply, populism has overtaken rationality. Agriculture enjoying free electricity virtually ad lib, whatever the rigmarole to camouflage it, consumes 25% of supply. Ineptitude of those in governance at the centre and in the state of TN has evoked stunning pronouncements in delivery every year and staggering shortfalls in perpetuity. TN is continuing to loose new industrial investments and ruining her competitive edge. When matched against power development preceding industries in China, suffocation in TN and India is for sure. The recent announcement of linking the Southern grid is no guarantee.
Industrial Parks number 113 all over TN. Among the earliest is a large one in Hosur, on NH45 close to the border of Karnataka. It was established about 35 years ago, in the neglected district of Dharmapuri in the wake of naxalite eruptions in some of the adjoining states to the North. Concessions and incentives were liberal and they successfully attracted investments. The Park helping in generating wealth and employment has had a beneficial effect on social peace. The anchor project in the Park was Ashok Leyland truck factory. A second state of the art fully streamlined larger modern factory too is now in operation in the same Park. AL is the second largest factory in India supplying vehicles to all parts of India.
A more modern version is now Special Economic Zones (SEZ) with inspiration drawn from Shen Zhen. They have each attracted investments in billions of rupees. In these Zones the most conspicuous field in the last two decades has been ICT industry. The largest and very modern one is Mahindra World City (MWC) at Maraimalainagar a modern city in the making. Mahindra Group a $ 16 billion company has established this zone with a state agency of TN. Over the last 11 years it has attracted several large investments including MNCs. A second industrial zone is now planned to be established in North Chennai by Mahindra at around Rs. 40 billion, spread across more than 500 acres.
Within MWC is Mahindra’s own Mahindra Research Valley (MRV) on 125 acres at a cost of Rs. 6 billion. It was opened in 2012 and is devoted to the company’s R&D operations. Engaging around 2500 engineers, testing and development projects are carried out here.
Among one of the largest projects is an Integrated Township designed to attract multi-billion dollar investments. It is coming up in Tamil Nadu, called ONE HUB CHENNAI, 50 km to the south near Mamallapuram, on the IT Corridor. It is being developed on 1450 acres, comprising three zones: Industrial, Commercial and Residential. The last includes recreational as well, with a golf course on 150 acres. Institutional and social infrastructure too will be provided. Independent of this project, a great deal of supportive facilities have already been developed. Three Japanese Multi-National Companies are engaged in its development. Japan has her heaviest presence in TN, with 344 companies composing 30% of the number in India. Andhra Pradesh has 88 and Kerala 53.
Quite early in the foray into industry, Tamil Nadu had caught the eye of foreigners as well as industrialists from within the state and the country. Among the larger production lines are: Automobiles, Electricals, Electronics, Glass, Tyres, Textiles and Leather Products.
India has emerged as the world’s 6th largest producer of cars and commercial vehicles. Chennai has evolved into the foremost producer of automobiles in India accounting for nearly 35% of the nation’s by revenue.
Hyundai, a flagship manufacturer from S. Korea has a total investment of $ 2.7 billion with a production capacity of 680,000 vehicles. Employing a trained workforce of 9,500 the firm had a turnover of $ 5 billion in 2012. By October 2013, it had rolled out its 5 millionth car and had exported 1.9 million cars from its Chennai plant. Hyundai is the largest exporter of cars from India.
Ford with an investment of $ 2 billion, produces cars as well as extra engines for export. Renault-Nissan has an investment of Rs.45 billion for a production capacity of 400,000. Mitsubishi has its facility in North Chennai. BMW’s facility for assembling passenger cars is at MWC.
Equipment and Machinery
The largest manufacturer of trucks and buses in TN is Ashok Leyland. It is the second largest in India and has facilities in Hosur and Chennai. Komatsu has a facility for earth moving equipment as well as for off road trucks. Daimler is the latest to open shop at Oragadam with a production facility for trucks in the range of 7 – 49 tonnes. Trucks named ‘Bharat Benz’ are rolling out from Sept. 2012. With an investment of Rs. 44 billion, it is the third largest outside Germany. The complex on 400 acres has a test track of its own. Caterpillar makes earth moving equipment at its facility in Thiruvallur. Avadi has facilities for a wide range of military hardware including Main Battle Tanks (MBT). TAFE made in TN is the market leader in India for the farm tractor category.
Besides Chennai is Coimbatore as a magnet for several industries including household appliances, pumps, auto components, and textile machinery. This industrial centre has the oldest industrial culture and is reputed for developing and spreading its business acumen and culture.
In this segment, tyre manufacture holds an important place. Michelin ranking 2nd globally has production facilities in 18 countries and had a sales revenue of $ 28.4 billion in 2012. Enjoying AA+ rating as the only one among the first five in the world, it considered it fit to Select North Chennai in TN as the place for its Rs.40 billion factory, one of its largest outside France. The plant which started operations in 2013 will reach full production of 300,000 tyres in the current year. Other leading ones are Apollo and MRF.
It may be seen that clustered around Chennai is an array of industries, catering to the Indian and foreign markets. From sophisticated BMW to motor cycles with foreign collaboration and also bicycles are Daimler trucks and MBTs.
Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd. (BHEL) located at Trichi and Ranipet in TN contribute to BHEL India’s global play in the manufacture of electrical power equipment ranking as 7th in the world. For the year 2012/13
Trichi plant was poised to have a turnover of Rs. 170 billion and Ranipet Rs 51 billion.
Nokia had established its factory in Chennai in 2006. It was the company’s largest production facility in the world. So far Nokia has invested $ 285 million. It has 8,000 employees of whom 70% are women. Its ancillary suppliers have 20,000 workers. Nokia Chennai has produced 800 million phones. Exports have been to the tune of Rs. 121 billion.
Electronics manufacturing has become a growing industry in Tamil Nadu. A massive leap is anticipated in demand for electronics goods and consumer electronics in India itself. Personal computers too will multiply its sales. Assessing this spurt in growth, many manufacturers like Flextronics, Motorola, Foxconn, Samsung, Sony- Ericsson, Cisco, Moser Baer and Dell have made Chennai their manufacturing hub for South Asia.
Sivakasi Village and Thiruppur
Sivakasi has lived up to Nehru’s description of ‘Kutty Japan’. The village reputed to enjoy 100% employment, produces 90% of India’s fireworks and 80% of her matches. She is leader in printing and produces over 60% of India’s offset printing. She is also the leader in printing calendars and diaries.
Thiruppur is a global producer of knitwear and apparel. It is the knitwear capital of India. In three decades, this village of 10 sq. mls. has grown into a city of 550,000 people along with a daily floating population of 150,000. Turnover is to the value of Rs. 220 billion of which exports are to the tune of Rs.120 billion. A work force of 350,000 earn it for the city.
Indices of a thriving economy and of a better life are many. Words and figures do not describe them fully. To one who has read a fair amount in Tamil and in later life a little more in English, perhaps a slightly deeper understanding comes about. The inclination and the opportunity to travel across Tamil Nadu on about 20 occasions and also to 7 other states, over 40 years certainly widened my horizons and enriched my experience.
Is reading necessary? To Bacon the fullness of man is realized that way. Even in the ‘Long March’, Mao Tse Tung engaged in reading. Stacks of books were carried for him. “A day is ill spent if I don’t read 70 pages” said he. Nehru was an avid reader. Prison meant much for him. Not all are so privileged. Travel is said to extend the frontiers of knowledge. Rajaji never left the shores of India. He was never deficient. Mao went abroad only once and that was after the revolution to Moscow. His historical sense was not diminished. But those not so well placed have to plod their way.
Those conversant with Tamil literature may find in it, the pages of history opening out. They see growth, reaching the zenith then declining and later sinking into degradation. Yet there was renascence. Two millennia have seen two such. Poetry portrays the spirit and the mood even as writing reflects now. “Where wealth accumulates and men decay” seem great words from Goldsmith. They may explain the fate of our two golden ages.
If history is seen in geological ages, one can say that Tamil Nadu has gone past only a minute. Another half a minute will take her to the beginning of great times by 2050. What I am able to discern is the dross in us getting burnt out as the striving for a new order intensifies. Thereafter when some modernity is sprinkled, the ancient will sprout again with the potency lying dormant as of now. Herein I see the face of Tamil Nadu changing. Industrial face is but another perspective of the changing face.