Do you have a Chennai plan?

It is said that when someone starts a business in Silicon Valley these days and hits the circuit on Sand Hill Road (a.k.a. the abode of the VCs), the first question the entrepreneurial team is asked is “Do you have an India plan?”, to find out if they have really thought thru their business strategy thoroughly, factoring India in their grand scheme of things. It is possible that increasingly the question may get refined to “Do you have a Chennai plan?” and why not? Forget the TCSes and CTSes of the world, who established their bases in Chennai, but obviously due to being Indian companies who just made sensible decisions long back, taking into account the nature of their businesses and the place where they would get the best talent. Instead, ask Joseph Sigelman of Office Tiger why he chose Chennai and he would sum it up with “if OfficeTiger had to start all over again, the choice would be Chennai“.

So, consider this list, which is itself only a partial list of all the companies/ organizations that call Chennai their home or have a significant part of their operations in the city or have plans to scale up their headcount in Madras, thereby giving it their thumbs-up and whose goods and services are being consumed/used not just nationally, but internationally too.

IT – TCS, CTS, Polaris, HCL Tech, Satyam, Xansa, Hexaware, Covansys, Infosys, Wipro and numerous big, medium and small software companies
ITES/BPO/BackOffice/CRM Products – World Bank, Office Tiger, SCOPE/Stanchart, e-Serve/Citigroup, Sundaram Business Services/SF, ProLease, Servion and many such companies
Internet – Sify, Bharat Matrimony, Sulekha and a few other consumer (and business) Internet companies
Auto/Bike/Truck/Bus/Coach/Military vehicles manufacturing and auto ancillaries – Hyundai, Ford, BMW, TVS Group, Ashok Leyland, Integral Coach Factory (ICF) @ Perambur, Heavy Vehicles and Battle Tanks Factory @ Avadi, MRF, Dunlop etc.
Other manufacturing/engineering/construction/farm equipment/cycles – Saint Gobain Glass, Easun Engineering, L & T, TAFE, TI etc.
Electronics – Flextronics, Nokia, Dell, JTS Technology etc.

In spite of having many things to its credit – kickstarting the first corporate hospital chain, “Retail Mecca“, technically brilliant movie (and animation) industry, healthcare capital of India (or even Asia), best educational system as well as the most number of students enrolled in science, engineering and medical courses and not only the safest Indian metro but also the least polluted one, ensuring an overall superior standard of living with robust public infrastructure and the finest transport facilities, Chennai suffers from poor perception from people outside Thamizh Naadu, just because it stands its ground on refusing to be assimilated like the rest of India on the language issue. When realization finally dawns on people who come here and experience things firsthand, they make Chennai their home, learn Thamizh (in the process discovering what a rich and easy language it is) and become fully naturalized Chennaivasis, who simply cannot imagine going back. Because Chennai (and Thamizhnaadu) not only do not suffer from xenophobia, but actually put someone on a pedestal if they have the talent. Ask Sivaji, I mean, Shivaji Rao Gaekwad :-).

15 Comments so far

  1. I love MTC (unregistered) on April 27th, 2007 @ 4:52 am


    We appreciate the love you have for our city. But post after post you don’t need to swear your allegiance. It is boring.. you don’t have to keep reiterating the perception problem etc etc

  2. Maruthu (unregistered) on April 27th, 2007 @ 9:36 am

    Thennavan i love to accept this.. may be that is the truth..

    when it comes to reallity.. not many ppl in the above list say that their home chennai.. For example when you say Satyam.. they doesn’t say their home chennai.. but Hyderabad… take TCS.. they say Mumbai… Infosys Bangalore.. even though their strongest work force is from chennai…

    when they are giving some interview they may be telling like that…

    to people to accept is different context… but my point is even people does not accept Chennai.. they canot deny it..

  3. Govar (unregistered) on April 27th, 2007 @ 10:04 am

    I agree on most of the things written, but most certainly not on the 3/4 closing lines. Many people (and an increasing number) do come down to the city and see that the quality of life is a shade better than say Calcutta or Mumbai, but MOST of them certainly do not consider themselves chennaivaasis or plan to settle down here. I’m not commenting whether they have to or don’t have to – it’s just they don’t, and that is the reality.

  4. Chintan (unregistered) on April 27th, 2007 @ 12:27 pm

    To know about honesty, Simplicity and humanity.

    You need to know about Indian Culture at

    Love you….

  5. Chennaiiite (unregistered) on April 27th, 2007 @ 11:40 pm

    “Chennai is not what it seems to be. Chennai’s Perception is totally wrong” – how many blog posts are going to be posted on this by this author? Is this what they call ‘Aracha maava thiruppi araikkaradhu’ or ‘Same old wine in a new bottle’? If you have nothing new to say, then dont say it.


  6. Dr.M (unregistered) on April 28th, 2007 @ 12:39 am

    Thennavan, i love all your blogs…Though some say that the facts are repeated i simply love to read them any number of times..Keep up the good work….

  7. I love MTC (unregistered) on April 28th, 2007 @ 2:27 am


    Can you please tell me what is lovely to keep reading the same bunch of facts? Honestly haven’t we read the same words in some many articles and blogs before. I don’t see anything poetic or value added in this article. (Though i have to say i like Thennavan’s blogs selectively. Not on this occassion. I think this is one too many. )

  8. SN (unregistered) on April 28th, 2007 @ 11:54 am

    I LOVE MTC, I see nothing wrong in Thennavan restating his case for Chennai in so many ways. Some of his posts may have harped on the same subject, but none of them had the same content. And he is perfectly within his rights to choose what he wants to talk about. Although I am hoping he will come up with new things in May.

  9. sachin (unregistered) on April 29th, 2007 @ 4:46 am

    I really respect tamil and more so because this is its geography

    But Thennavan, Why this subtle obligation that one must speak and learn tamil if you have to live in chennai? Its almost put forward like a moral code if one has to be a chennaite.

    I really question the average chennaites ability to integrate seamlessly with the rest of the country i.e. Im not so sure that many people here are equipped with skills to live or get jobs in any part outside TN.

    Rajnikanth is an aberration.. i dont think one could make a list longer than 5 about non tamilians or even non south indians that made it big in public life in Tamil Nadu.

  10. thennavan (unregistered) on April 29th, 2007 @ 3:41 pm

    Sachin, Rajni is not an aberration. Within the film industry itself, there are several examples starting from MGR and TMS all the way down to Khushboo and Simran. Even Savithri and Saroja Devi did not come from Thamizh Naadu and did quite well for themselves (of course, all of these, including singers like SPB, Jesudas and Unni Menon had to perform in Thamizh only but the point is that what their original mother-tongue is of least concern to Thamizh people). You can’t say the same for anyone from the South having succeeded in attracting a mass audience and adulation in the North since even everything from their attempts to speak Hindi to adopting North Indian ways of behavior will be ridiculed. The point is that the saying “vandhaarai vaazhavaikkum Thamizhagam” (Tamil Nadu welcomes anyone with open arms and helps them lead a good life in the state) is not just words but always translates into action too.

    Even in other walks of life, like in the Police Department, Bureaucracy (Collectors) etc. many eminent non-Tamilians have found their place in the sun in this welcoming state and have always been recognized for their efforts.

  11. sachin (unregistered) on April 30th, 2007 @ 2:33 am

    P Chidambaram, APJ Abdul kalam, Cariappa, Sridevi, Madhavan, Aishwarya Rai, Ramadorai of TCS, AR Rahman, Daya Maran, Mani Ratnam, Dr Kurien of Amul, PV Narasimha Rao, Narayana Murthy to mention a small list of eminent south Indians that have made their mark outside their homebase in south India… And these i would imagine are in the league of RajniKanth and above and not in the league of Kushboo..

    I dont mean to fight you thennavan, but your arguments and statements seem to stem more out of passion than fact.

  12. thennavan (unregistered) on April 30th, 2007 @ 2:48 am

    Sachin, when I wrote that comment, it was not as though I was not aware of the kind of people that would be quoted from the other point of view, but my point is once again one of mass appeal since that is the real battle for popularity that is usually tough to win. While SI women had no problem being popular in Bollywood, SI heroes were never accepted and unlike Rajni here, no SI actor could ever hope to get to similar levels of popularity as an Amitabh or a Shah Rukh.

    Mr. Murthy is an all-India figure and even an international one no doubt, but his profession is not dependent on mass appeal to succeed. At least initially, all he had to do was just execute well on his overseas projects which formed the bread and butter of the company and that in turn made him popular, but in any case he has not had to shift out of his SI homebase to create a name “up North”. MR and ARR are popular in the North but they have not “stormed the bastille” so to speak in terms of busting some other NI person to achive numero uno status over there (once again as a comparison on how Rajni’s popularity exceeds even that of a “native” person like Kamal’s for example). Also the politicians have got to their respective positions based on the support of a few who in turn, enjoy popularity with the masses. It is not as though Mr. Maran stood in an election in the North against a local and won hands down.

    My point is that Tamilnadu and Chennai are stellar examples of the kind of openness with which the “masses” elevate people to higher positions regardless of where they come from.

  13. sachin (unregistered) on April 30th, 2007 @ 11:56 am

    Anyways, cheers mate. I know Chennai has alot of positives and i vouch for them myself..but on this one lets agree to disagree. Its good that you present the other side of the argument with such enthu.

  14. jillu (unregistered) on May 5th, 2007 @ 9:49 am

    Goundamani: Ayyo intha CHENNAIITE yaaravathu permanenta aap (off) pannungappa. Vaai Kaalvaai maathiri naaruthu.
    Senthil: ANNe, avaru enna pannuvaru. pozhuthu kettavanga ille, athula avarum oru aaLuthaNNe. Mannichu UtturungaNNe.
    Goundamani: Dei Parangitthalaya….
    Senthil: Ennaya KooptingaNNe…
    Goundamani: Unna illada karivaaya! Antha theechatti thalayan CHENNAIITE thaan appadi koopitten. Kaiyirinthu yethayaavathu ezhuthi vekka ivangilaala eppudiRRa mudiyun?

  15. Sai (unregistered) on May 12th, 2007 @ 3:02 am

    Hey thennavan,
    Nice post, I understand that your heart is close to Chennai and you want it to grow and want to remind people that its growing. It is natural for any of the metro cities in India to Grow. Personally speaking I wouldnt want to “live” in any of them. Mumbai is a dirty dump so is Delhi, Calcutta, Bangalore or Chennai. People might argue that they are metro cities. I think people from smaller cities are much better off than people in these giants. First of all the cost of living is unaffordable in some of these cities, per capita income isnt that great and apart from a few elite societies, jobs and universities these cities do not count for much. The beauty of India lies in its villages and suburbs, calm, soothing wonderful life awaits in the beautiful hills all over India. I cant imagine that we are fighting about which Metro is great. I love my country not for its metroes but for its wonderful scenic hills, villages and countryside. I only hope that we do not lose these with this increasing industrialization. I think the first thing that cities should do is to implement massive pollution control. Cleaning programs, maybe even programs to impart civic sense to the so called civilized city dwellers. I hope our country doesnt become a big garbage dump for the big companies from the so called developed world.AMEN!

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