Best of Chennai Volume 2

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Volume 2

BEST OF CHENNAI Volume 2 First published 2016 Š Raintree Media Pvt Ltd

Editor-in-Chief Sandhya Mendonca Operations Subhalakshmi Roy - Bengaluru Capt. Seshadri Sreenivasan - Chennai

ISBN # 978-81-930248-8-1 Printed & Published by Sandhya Mendonca on behalf of Raintree Media Pvt Ltd TF 9 Business Point, 137, Brigade Road Bengaluru 560025 India

Editorial Aruna Chakravorty Sheila Kumar Surya Harikrishnan - Intern

T: +91 80 40947873

Photography S Badrinarayanan Vasu K Dinesh Shukla

Printed at: Grafiprint (P) Ltd (division of WQ Judge Press) Bengaluru

Design Jayaprakash Acharya

Digital Media Aditya Mendonca

We sincerely thank eminent artists Achuthan Kudallur, S Nandagopal & K Muralidharan for the use of their artworks in the BEST OF CHENNAI Volume 2.

Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in the BEST OF CHENNAI Volume 2. Neither Raintree Media nor Global Village Partnerships takes any responsibility for errors or omissions. While sincere efforts have been made to obtain logos and photographs from the people and companies featured in the book, some images have been sourced from the public domain. All brands, products and trademarks remain the property of their respective owners and are used here only for representation. All rights reserved No part of this publication shall be reproduced, copied, transmitted, adapted, modified in any form or by any means (except as quotes in reviews/articles). This publication shall not be stored in whole or part in any form in any retrieval system.

Subhalakshmi Roy

Capt. Seshadri Sreenivasan

Sheila Kumar


Best of Chennai Vol 2

Aditya Mendonca

S Badrinarayanan

Aruna Chakravorty

Jayaprakash Acharya

It is the land of filter kaapi and unfiltered emotions. It is a historical city and it is a living, breathing metropolis. It is Chennai! From the Madras checks that made a fashion statement to the tractors and machinery that made an economic assertion, Chennai is the land of success stories. Within this beautiful, and often underappreciated, city live a million lives, each with a tale to tell. We are delighted to present to you a collection of these narratives within the pages of this book. Some of India’s iconic companies like Sanmar, India Cements, TVS, TAFE and others, are right here in this city and their inspiring stories feature in the BEST OF CHENNAI Vol 2. However, they are not the only ones. We also present some of the startups that are charting fresh courses and challenging big names with their bright ideas. It has been seven years since we published BEST OF CHENNAI Vol 1 - seven years during which the city has faced numerous hardships and challenges. We cheered with pride as this city held its head high in the rising floodwaters. We continue to be amazed by the buoyant energy and constant drive for excellence that not only the people of Chennai but the companies of Chennai also exhibit. One of the most endearing facts about Chennai is that, while it is a manufacturing hub and has numerous IT parks and SEZs dotted across it, no story about Chennai can ever be complete without its rasikas and bibliophiles. Dance, art and theatre form the fabric of life in Chennai. We present the views of luminaries in various fields, such as Anita Ratnam, Achuthan Kudallur, S Nandagopal, K Muralidharan, Aruna Sairam, Anil Srinivasan, Karthick Iyer, Na Muthuswamy, Prasanna Ramaswamy, PC Ramakrishna, MD Muthukumaraswamy, Ashokamitran, Gautam Padmanabhan, Baradwaj Rangan and Amudhan RP. Some of Chennai’s best companies and individuals are featured in this unique business atlas that examines the aspects of leadership, innovation and inspiration. Through insightful articles, expert perspectives and beautiful visuals, this elegant book captures the economic and cultural dynamism of the city. From knowledge-driven systems to agile business models, there is so much to learn from the exceptional men and women who are truly the very best of Chennai. If you are from Chennai, you are bound to recognise the companies we have profiled and the people who built them; and if you are from elsewhere, you are bound to appreciate the remarkable achievements of Chennai and its residents. We are proud to present the BEST OF CHENNAI Vol 2 and we hope you enjoy reading this book. You can also read and share the ebook at

Sandhya Mendonca Founder, Managing Director & Editor-in-Chief Raintree Media

Sven Boermeester Founder/CEO International Group Publisher Global Village Partnerships

Best of Chennai Vol 2




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Literature u Cinema u Dance Theatre u Fine arts u Music

Fast facts u Chennai decoded u Road ahead Doing business in Tamil Nadu u Heritage tourism Sunny days for growth u Sporting Chennaiite Heroes of Chennai

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Corporate Icons

TVS Motors u Murugappa Group u MRF TAFE u Sanmar u India Cements

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ITC Grand Chola u Adyar Ananda Bhavan Triguni Foods u Flavours of Chennai


Fashion & Luxury



Hospitality & Food

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Nalli u Indian Terrain u VST

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Buildings & Spaces

Akshaya u Bhoomi & Buildings Goyal Marbles & Granites

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Transport & Logistics

Hindustan University u SBIOA

Greenways Group u Chakiat

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Startups & Technology

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Media & Entertainment

Real Image u Chennai Live

Bank Bazaar u Avaz App Vakil Search u Chargebee

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BEST OF THE WORLD Our mission is to proudly showcase the Best of every Nation, their Cities and its People to the World.

All books now available for download on your iPad with the new VIPedia app.

We are an ever growing tribe of media entrepreneurs, colleagues and friends that publish the ‘Best of the World’ and ‘Leaders in Industry’ series of books, both in print and online. Our books merit attention in today’s worldwide market where every country, city and region must compete with others for a share of the world’s skilled work force, top entrepreneurs, tourists, exports and investors.

Brand Image

Branding a Nation, a City and its People GVP brands and builds the image of the world’s most exciting economic regions to affect a change in the perception of a nation, a city and its people by the rest of the world. This helps promotes the region in terms of its investment opportunities, key industries, innovations, people, culture, tourism potential and international objectives.

Product - The Books Celebrate your success

The ‘Best of…’ publishing series produces annual maxi format book publications in over 50 territories, from Bengaluru to Belgium. These detail the success stories of people and companies making positive inroads into the commercial fibre of both mature and emerging markets. The books showcase entrepreneurial spirit; establishing powerful global networks and the creation of individual brand awareness by bridging cultures. The result is the ultimate interactive corporate gift and PR marketing tool for governments, companies, hotels and business people providing leading products and services for their region. Please join us in promoting your country as we make the Globe our Village,



Best of Chennai Vol 2


Best of Chennai Vol 2



Best of Chennai Vol 2

Best of Chennai Vol 2




The Quality of Living survey for 2016 by the international consultancy firm Mercer declared Chennai India’s safest city. The country’s fourth-largest city on the coastline of the Bay of Bengal, has been emerging as one of the cities of choice because of its relatively lower crime rate, less pollution and better education standards. The survey also rated Chennai the best city for personal safety based on four parameters: internal stability, crime rate, law enforcement and relationship with other countries.


Best of Chennai Vol 2

“Madras is the pioneer of modern India.” S Muthiah (1930), MBE, chronicler, journalist, cartographer and heritage activist

‘Ganesha’, mixed media on canvas, by Muralidharan K

Best of Chennai Vol 2



Fast facts

Location Chennai is located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal, along the SouthEastern coastline of India and is the capital of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is situated 14 m above sea level, and is 702 km away from Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of India. Spread over 178.2 sq km, it is the seventh largest Indian city, by area. Geographic coordinates Latitudinal Parallels: 13°16’N Longitudinal Meridians: 80°42’E Population A population of close to five million and a density of 14,350 people per sq km, makes Chennai the 35th most populous city in the world. Linguistic groups Tamilians make up the largest group in Chennai, followed by Telugu speakers, Urduspeaking Muslims, Malayalis, and the Hindispeaking North Indian communities. Religions 80.73 percent of the population are Hindus, 9.45 percent Muslims, 7.72 percent Christians, 1.11 percent Jains and 0.06 percent Sikhs and Buddhists. History Excavations and artifacts found in regions like Pallavaram and Tambaram have pegged the origins of the region of Madras to the prehistoric era of the Old Stone Age in around 4,000 BC. Madras, according to ancient literature, is said to be part of the region of Thondai Nadu or Thondaimandalam ruled by the King Thondaiman Ilam Tiraiyan in 2nd century BC. Historical excavations of the cave temples of Mahabalipuram and copper plates found in Tambaram, show that the region flourished under the Pallava king, Mahendravarman I from 6th century AD. Narasimhavarman I succeeded Mahendravarman I and defeated the Rashtrakuta king Pulikesin II. The Pallavas


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held sway in the region from 3rd century AD to around 9th century AD, following which the Cholas took over under Aditya I. The Pandyas came to power around 1264 with the vanquishing of the Cholas. By the mid 17th century, the Vijayanagara Empire ruled South India (comprising present day Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and parts of Maharashtra). They appointed Nayaks or chieftains who governed the provinces for them and it was the Nayak brothers, Venkatappa and Aiyappa, who were approached by the British officers, Francis Day and Andrew Cogan for a strip of land to set up a fort. In 1639, this strip of land was granted to them and Fort St. George was set up in 1640, thus establishing the East India Company in the region. Madras took its name from a village near the Fort, while Chennai is said to be a name given by the locals. From 1640, the region grew and Madras became one of the oldest and most important cities for the British, right till India became independent. In 1996, Madras was renamed Chennai. Governing body Chennai is administered by the Chennai Municipal Corporation. It is headed by a Mayor and has 200 wards, and each ward is headed by a councillor. The corporation is in charge of the civic and infrastructural requirements of the city. The government comprises the legislature (legislative council and legislative assembly), the executive, and the judiciary headed by the Madras High Court, whose jurisdiction extends across Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. Major political parties All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Indian National Congress, Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Pattali Makkal Katchi are some of the major political parties.

Pioneering industrialists Venu Srinivasan (TVS Group), KM Mammen (MRF), A Vellayan (Murugappa Group), N Sankar (Sanmar Group), Mallika Srinivasan (Amalgamations Group), MAM Ramaswamy (Chettinad Group), AC Muthiah (SPIC), N Srinivasan (India Cements), CK Ranganathan (CavinKare), Dr. Pratap Reddy (Apollo Hospitals), Kalanithi Maran (Sun TV Network), are some of Chennai’s prominent industrialists. Exports Tamil Nadu’s exports for the year 2014-15 stood at `1,80,179 crore (US $27 billion approximately) and is around 15 percent of the country’s exports. It is the second largest exporter of software by value, and its IT & ITES exports for 2014-15 was `75,000 crore (US $11.2 billion approximately). The state is also a leading exporter of leather goods, accounting for 40 percent of India’s exports in leather. Its chemical sector accounts for eight percent of the country’s exports. This apart, the state leads in exports of textile apparels, with Tirupur and Erode being the country’s largest textile exporters. It also exports automobiles and auto components, engineering goods, agro products, marine products, spices, castings, pharmaceuticals and electronic hardware. Education Tamil Nadu is one of the leading states for engineering colleges and technical education, with 553 engineering colleges. It has 20 universities with Anna University being the largest engineering university in the world; 19 government medical colleges and one dental college, 31 private medical and dental colleges and 501 polytechnic institutes. This apart, some of the premier technical and higher education research centres in the state are the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, the National Institute of Technology Tiruchirappalli and the Madras Institute of Technology. The Government has recently set up the Indian Institute of Information Technology at Srirangam near

Tiruchirappalli to further strengthen higher technical education in the state. Economic milestones A progressive state quick to identify economic opportunities, Tamil Nadu was the first state to bring an exclusive Biotech Policy in September 2000 for integrating the bioresources of the state. It was one of the first states to formulate an IT policy in 1997. With its focus on the automobile industry, Chennai is now one of the top ten global automobile manufacturing centres. It has developed numerous industry-specific parks for textiles and apparel, leather, food and biotechnology, along with IT. The Mahindra World City on the outskirts of Chennai is India’s first operational Special Economic Zone (SEZ) created with world-class infrastructure and offering Plug and Play (PnP) facilities. At the first Global Investors Meet held in 2015, it signed memoranda of understanding worth `2.42 lakh crore (US $36.3 billion approximately) with businesses across various industry verticals. Environmental issues Pollution and degradation of the environment are top concerns. As the floods of November-December 2015 showed, indiscriminate housing development on dried-up river beds of the Adyar and the Cooum rivers, and the Buckingham Canal led to blocking of channels for water to drain out. Approximately 1.8 million people were displaced by the floods. Experts say that unplanned construction was responsible for the destruction of 300 water bodies in the city. The Pallikaranai marshland which was a 50 sq km area draining water from a 250 sq km catchment area, is today a 4.3 sq km piece of land as a result of rampant illegal land-filling and garbage dumping. This apart, increasing vehicular emissions and pollution from industries in parts of the city are responsible for growing particulate matter in the air. Natural resources Chennai has three east-flowing rivers, Kosasthalayar, Cooum and Adyar, all of which flow into the Bay of Bengal. The Buckingham Canal flows parallel to the coast in the city and plays an important role in maintaining the aquatic environment. The city has numerous lakes, some of the most vital drinking water sources being the Puzhal Lake, Chembarambakkam Lake, Porur Retteri and Ambattur Lake. Other lakes like Kolathur Retteri, Chitlapakkam, Velachery, while reduced in size, serve as attractive spots for migratory birds to visit. Measures to restore breaches in many other lakes in the city are underway. The Chetpet Lake, a source of non-potable water to the city, was recently revived at a cost of `42 crore (US $6.3 million approximately), with water

sports like angling and a 16-acre eco park. The Chennai Rivers Restoration Trust has been set up to restore and protect the city’s various water bodies.

with other ethnic wear like salwars, patialas and kurtis. Western wear like jeans, trousers, shirts, skirts and dresses are also popular along with Indo-Western fusion styles.

Chennai has a long shoreline with three beaches: the 13 km long Marina Beach, that is supposed to be the second longest beach in a city in the world, Elliot’s Beach in Besant Nagar and Thiruvanmiyur Beach on the East Coast Road. Wildlife, especially avian life, is abundant in Chennai. The Nanmangalam Reserved Forest in East Tambaram is home to 50 bird species and is the only home of the Great Horned Indian Owl. The forested campus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) shelters Black Buck and Spotted Deer, apart from monkeys and reptiles like Monitor Lizards. Birds found at IIT include migrants like the Forest Wagtail, Pied-Crested Cuckoo and Golden Oriole, among many others.

Business days Most companies, schools and offices are open Monday to Friday, with holidays on Saturday and Sunday. Some private companies as well as state government offices, work half-days on Saturdays or have holidays on every alternate Saturday. Every second and fourth Saturday is a holiday for banks. Some shops are closed on Sundays. Supermarkets and ATMs are open 24x7.

The Tholkappia Poonga or Adyar Eco Park, restored recently by the state government, is home to numerous species of birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians. Birds observed by ornithologists include the Black Bittern, Blackwinged Kite, Pied Kingfisher, Yellow Wagtails, Egrets and Painted Storks. The Pallikaranai marshland, around 20 km from the city, is among the last natural wetlands of South India and supports around 377 species of plants, birds, animals and reptiles. Natural hazards Situated on the coastline of the Bay of Bengal, Chennai faces the risk of cyclones, typhoons and floods. Its low-lying areas are vulnerable to high tidal waves like the tsunami that hit the coastline in 2004. It also faces the risk of coastal erosion due to climate change. A nuclear power plant in its vicinity makes it a high risk city in case of any natural disaster. Climate Chennai is located in the tropical dry forest biome, according to the Holdridge life zones system of bioclimatic classification. Its location on the coast gives it a largely tropical warm and humid climate, with a low diurnal mean temperature and monsoon towards the end of the year. March to May are the warm months, May to June are the hottest months and December to January the coolest months. June to August sees intermittent rains; October to December is when the monsoon sets in. Temperatures: 28.8°C (average) 32°C to 38°C (summer) 20°C to 24°C (winter) Clothing Chennai is a cosmopolitan city with a strong traditional anchor. Saris for women and dhotis for men are common attire, along

Local time IST. Chennai is five-and-a-half hours ahead of GMT. Country dialling code +91 44 Internet code .in Currency Indian Rupees (`) Electricity 220 or 240 volts AC 50 HZ Major annual events January Margazhi Music & Dance Festival Mylapore Festival Mammallapuram Dance Festival Chennai Open Tennis Championship The Hindu Literary Festival Pongal April Tamil New Year Panguni Festival Arubathimoovar Festival August Madras Week The Hindu Theatre Festival Annai Velankanni Festival Buchi Babu Memorial Cricket Tournament September Go:MADras Electronic Music Festival Classic Surf and Music Festival The Park’s New Festival November Chennai International Film Festival December Margazhi Music and Dance Festival Kalakshetra Art Festival

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Chennai decoded

Commissioned in 1913, the Ripon Building is the home of the Chennai Corporation. Named after Lord Ripon, the Governor-General of British India, this all-white structure is a fine example of the neoclassical style of architecture.


t dawn, the denizens of Chennai wake up to chant the Vishnusahasranamam in homage to Lord Vishnu, decorate their thresholds with kolam (designs in rice flour or chalk), adorn the images of Gods with fragrant malli pu (jasmine), and sip piping hot degree kaapi. As the day advances, there is a palpable buzz in the city that has been built upon centuries of trade. It was from here that Indian merchants and workers, following the example of the seafaring rulers, sallied forth to neighbouring countries, establishing a vibrant two-way trade. Thus began the cosmopolitan influx to the city, strengthened by the British who used its strategic location to rule over South India. Over time, it became the automobile hub of the country and in recent times, it has become a centre for global product technology. A magnet for industry and commerce, Chennai’s mix of tradition and

modernity, offering a perfect work-life balance of short commutes and evenings filled with cultural explorations, makes it an easy home to adopt, as generations of Punjabis, Marwaris, Assamese, Bengalis and North Eastern Indians here, as well as expat Japanese, Koreans and Germans will testify. Chennapatnam The city began 377 years ago when the British built Fort St. George. Legend has it that in 1639, two Englishmen approached the Damarla Nayaks of Wandiwash and Poonamallee, Venkatappa and Aiyyappa, for the grant of a strip of land to build a fort. The brothers wanted the land to be called Chennapatnam after their father, Chenappa. Some believe that the name Chennai came from a temple in the area, the Chenna Kesava Perumal temple. Madras or Madraspatnam or Maderaspatnam, is said to take its name from the older village around the fort. As it grew to become the leading city of British India,

Kaapi calls Kaapi in all its avatars, as the ubiquitous Kumbakonam degree coffee or the proper Mylapore filter coffee or simply Madras kaapi, is an all-time favourite in this city. The frothy mix of milk and very strong decoction, filtered through a steel or copper vessel, is the measure of a host or an eatery. The emergence of the term ‘degree coffee’ dates back to the days when people used to buy milk fresh from the cow, so to speak, and the little neighbourhood coffee shops would vie to show the purity of the milk in the coffee they brewed. The lactometer test of milk at a particular temperature denoted undiluted milk, and ‘degree coffee’ became the colloquially accepted term for coffee brewed with good milk. The name stuck even after milk came to be supplied from standardised dairies.


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The Officers Training Academy (OTA) Chennai is a premier institute of the Indian Army that trains officers for the Short Service Commission. It is the only institute in India that trains women cadets.

the locals called it Chennai, while the British and the rest of the world called it Madras. The dichotomy was resolved in 1996 when the cities merged in official records, and the Damarla brothers’ wish to dedicate the city to their father came true. The Raj years Fort St. George, built in circa 1640-44, established Madras as the seat of the British empire in the South, making it an important trading port and industrial hub. By 1684, it became the capital of the Madras Presidency and included virtually all parts of South India. Most of the modern institutions in the country originated in this city: the first hospital was built in 1664 and was originally named the Government General Hospital; it has been renamed the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. The first municipality was created in 1698; the first bank to be established was the Madras Bank in 1679; the first public library was established in 1890; the first observatory in 1792, and the Guindy Engineering College was the first college to be set up outside Europe in 1794. In independent India, the Madras Presidency made way for the states of Andhra Pradesh and Madras State in 1956. Madras State became Tamil Nadu, with the city of Madras as its capital in 1968. The capital was renamed Chennai in 1996. The majestic Fort St. George continues to be the seat of the state’s legislative assembly.

Nissan. Six of the top 20 global car-makers have established their base in Chennai, accounting for 42 percent of the country’s car production, and earning the city the sobriquet of the Detroit of the South. Ever since Murugavel Janakiraman set up in 1997, startups

have found fertile soil in Chennai. Some of the notables today are Zoho Corporation, Freshdesk, Indix, Stayzilla and Bankbazaar. Tech parks like TIDEL Park line the Rajiv Gandhi Salai, also known as the IT corridor. An ecosystem of angel investors, tech incubators and a startup culture of shared experiences and support draws global

Napier Bridge was built in 1869 over the Cooum river and links Fort St. George with the Marina Beach. Seen in the background is the majestic University of Madras. Incorporated in 1857, this is one of the oldest universities in India.

Global tech city Ashok Leyland, one of the biggest Indian bus and truck manufacturers, set up facilities here in 1948 and gave the city a rich engineering base. TVS Motors, headquartered here, has fostered the automobile component market since the 1960s. The strategic location of the port gives it easy accessibility to the world, and automakers rolled into the city. American automobile manufacturer Ford set up its manufacturing facilities in Chennai in 1995. Ford was followed by Korean car-maker Hyundai, and today Chennai’s prowess helps ramp up the fortunes of the German luxury car-maker BMW, Daimler, Mitsubishi and Renault-

A joint venture of the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO) and the Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT), the TIDEL Park was set up in 2000 to foster the growth of information technology in the state.

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attention and recognition for Chennai as a global tech city.

Almost 50 tonnes of flowers are sold daily at the Koyambedu flower market.

Festivals The year starts with the harvest festival of Pongal, a four-day thanksgiving celebration to the Sun, the Earth and the Cow, while feasting on sweet rice delicacies called pongal. The month of April or Panguni sees the colourful Arubathimoovar festival, where bedecked idols of Lord Kapaleeswarar and his consort Karpagambal, along with 63 Shaivite saints, are taken in a procession around the 300-year-old Kapaleeswarar temple of Mylapore. Along with piety, there is much merrymaking with a fair and the attendant food stalls and shops. Come mid-August, and the streets are filled with Aadi festivities and processions of women are seen carrying 1,008 flower baskets for the Goddess Pachai Amman and her various forms across the city. August also marks the 11-day Christian Velankanni festival where barefoot pilgrims gather at the Annai Velankanni church at Besant Nagar on their way to the Velankanni shrine 300 km from Chennai, to mark the day when Mother Mary is supposed to have appeared in the 16th century. Vinayaka Chaturthi, the festival honouring Lord Vinayaka or Ganesh whose temples mark every street here, is celebrated with customary love and devotion for the elephant-headed God. Navarathri is the next big festival, and is celebrated with a display of bomma kolus (dolls) and preparations of different kinds of food that are offered to God during the nine day festive period. The festivals of light, Deepavali and Karthigai Deepam, are celebrated with gusto. For the city’s large Muslim population, the holy month of Ramzan is also a time for

Pondy Bazaar is one of the principal shopping districts of Chennai.

Getting hot and sultry Chennaiites love to visit the beach, even if only to stroll or jog or observe the soothing movements of the Bay of Bengal, and they have three to choose from. The Marina Beach stretches 13 km from Fort St. George in the north to Besant Nagar in the south. This is the longest natural urban beach in India and the second longest natural urban beach in the world. At dawn, the pigeons on Marina Beach are fed grain by a family from Sowcarpet. This tradition was started by Amar Chand Chajjer in 2008, and is continued by his sons Vijay Raj and Bhim Raj. Elliot’s Beach or Bessie in Besantnagar, is close to the Velankanni church and the Ashtalakshmi temple. Thiruvanmiyur Beach on the East Coast Road is popular for evening promenades or morning constitutionals.


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The historic Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore was rebuilt about 300 years ago after the earlier structure was damaged by the Portuguese in 1566 AD.

sharing with non-Muslim friends the special delicacies of Iftar (the evening meal) such as halim and dakkhani mutton biryani. Jains have as many as five temples at Sowcarpet for their festivals of strict rituals and fasting. For Christians, there are the historical churches like the San Thome Basilica and the Luz Church.

Cattle worship is part of the colourful harvest festival of Pongal in January.

The waves of the Bay of Bengal have broken on the shores of Mahabalipuram over centuries, while the stone temples stand sentinel. Located 60 km south of Chennai, this historic town was a bustling seaport during the reign of Pallavas (7th century AD) and the monolithic temples were carved during this period. With approximately 40 temples, including the largest open-air rock relief in the world, Mahabalipuram was accorded a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984.

San Thome Church or The National Shrine of St.Thomas Basilica is built over over the tomb of Apostle St.Thomas. He was one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ who came to India in 52 AD. He was martyred in 72 AD and is buried in Mylapore where the San Thome Church stands.

The Thousand Lights mosque is one of the largest in the country and is a place of worship for Shia Muslims.

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Road Ahead The country’s third and the world’s eighth most densely populated city, Chennai is among 20 cities selected under the Government of India’s ambitious Smart City project. Over the next five years, it will receive grants that will help tackle a slew of urban problems such as traffic (by creating a network of pedestrian and cycle-friendly streets, cycle-sharing for last-mile connectivity, implementing Smart parking management system on-street and off-street and Smart metering), water supply and drainage.

The Chennai Metro Rail will the the first metro project in India to integrate other public transport systems. This project is expected to reduce the commuting time from one end of the city to another by 75%.

Chennai Metro With 3.7 million units of vehicles on around 1,800 km of roads, Chennai has the highest vehicle density in the country: 2,093 vehicles/km of road. Despite having a diverse transportation network including buses, suburban trains and the Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) with overhead railways, only 50 percent of Chennai’s people use public transport. That is expected to change, however, with the ambitious Chennai Metro Rail project that is, at present, running on a stretch of ten km from Koyambedu, the seat of the Intercity Bus Terminus, to Alandur. The Metro Rail was the


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city’s saviour during the November-December 2015 floods, when thousands used it to reach homes and authorities extended services till late in the night. Though racked with delays, the first phase of the Metro Rail was supposed to end by 2015 but will now be completed only by 2017. The city looks forward to using the state-of-the-art railway stations, Smart Card tickets and quaint blue-coloured rakes. Being built at a cost of `14,600 crore (US $2.2 billion approximately), Phase I of the Metro covers 45 km through two corridors. The first

extends from Washermanpet in North Chennai to the Chennai Airport, the third busiest airport in the country. It covers a distance of 23.1 km and connects Mannadi, High Court, LIC, Thousand Lights, Gemini, Teynampet, Saidapet, Little Mount, Guindy, Alandur and Meenambakkam. The second corridor runs west, with a terminus at Alandur. This corridor will connect the railhead at Chennai Central Station to St.Thomas Mount and will run through Egmore, Nehru Park, Kilpauk, Anna Nagar, Koyambedu, CMBT, Arumbakkam, Vadapalani, KK Nagar and Alandur, covering a distance of 22 km. The two corridors will connect in the north at Chennai Fort. Improved feeder services to the Metro to dissuade people from bringing their private vehicles to park at the station, better integration

completed and commissioned in 2014. Covering a distance of 29.65 km, Phase I includes a bypass which prevents heavy vehicles from entering the city. The `1,400 crore (US $210 million approximately) ORR is a 62.3 km project to be built in two phases around the Chennai Metropolitan Area, connecting the Grand Southern Trunk (GST) Road or National Highway (NH) 45 from Vandalur to the Tiruvottiyur Ponneri Pancheti (TPP) Road in Minjur. The first phase, built at a cost of `1,081 crore (US $162.1 million approximately), connecting national highways NH 4, NH 45 and NH 205, ensured that vehicles bound to Mumbai, Pune or Bengaluru, or the interiors of Tamil Nadu and towards Andhra Pradesh, were able to circumvent the city to their destinations. With 70 percent of Phase II connecting Nemilicherry on NH 205 to Minjur already constructed, the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2016. Another ambitious plan to improve public transport by weaning users away from cars and to complement the Metro is the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), proposed along seven corridors in the city. With funds recently sanctioned by the Tamil Nadu Infrastructure Development Board (TNIDB) for project feasibility study, the city could see dedicated bus lanes, high quality stations and coaches, high speed buses and stepless boarding stretching through Rajiv Gandhi Salai (Old Mahabalipuram Road or OMR), Sardar Patel Road, GST Road in South Chennai and Koyambedu, Ambattur, Poonamalee and Madhavaram in West Chennai, in the future. Plans are under discussion to provide dedicated cycling tracks on roads for a city that records 0.75 lakh cycle trips a day as against 0.19 lakh car trips, as a 2008 study by Wilbur Smith Associates showed. Plans on paper include bicycle tracks along the East Coast Road and on the tracks along the Cooum River. Industrial clusters OneHub Chennai is billed as a next generation industrial township. Located on 1,500 acres on OMR, it is meant to boost the growth of Japanese and other international businesses, and create employment for more than 2,00,000 people. The project has come up through an MoU between the Tamil Nadu Industries Department, a leading business space provider, Ascendas and a Japanese consortium comprising Mizuho Corporate Bank and programme management contractor and investment partner, JGC Corporation. The government is planning to develop a state-of-the-art IT-ITES SEZ at Taramani on 26.64 acres of land, while another is planned at Kanagam village in Mambalam-Guindy taluka. The SEZ will have an Integrated International Convention Centre with the capacity to seat 1,500 delegates. The State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu (SIPCOT) is also planning to develop the ChennaiRanipet region, with expansion in the existing industrial complexes of Oragadam and Irungattukottai in Sriperumpudur. A biopark with an additional lab space of 6.13 lakh sq ft for biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, nanotechnology, at a cost of `150 crore (US $22.5 million approximately), is planned for Taramani.

with the MRTS railway stations and better pedestrian subways with commercial space are planned to improve the Metro experience as well as ease the traffic congestion in the city. Phase II of the Metro with three more corridors, from Madhavaram to Siruseri, Nerkundram to Light House and Madhavaram to Perumbakkam, will truly bring public transport to the Chennaiite’s doorstep. Easing the gridlock The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) initiated the Outer Ring Road (ORR) project in 2010, the first phase of which was

Vertical mantra The growing demand for housing in the expanding metropolis has seen high-rises replace genteel old bungalows. Even in the new townships and residential complexes, the preference is for multistoreyed buildings, though plots for individual bungalows are also in demand. The Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB), along with the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), is responsible for the construction and development of housing for the lower and middle income groups of society. Following the floods in the city, the state government has taken up the task of resettling more than 10,000 slum-dwellers living on the affected Adyar river banks, in housing tenements in Okkiam Thoraipakkam and Perumbakkam on the OMR.

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Doing business in Tamil Nadu Tamil Nadu ranks high among the industrialised states in the country. It has a robust manufacturing sector and is a stronghold in automobiles and auto parts, textiles, electronic hardware, leather products, light and heavy engineering and fabrication, with a growing capability in software and IT enabled services.

Farming is a major activity in Tamil Nadu and 70% of the state’s population is engaged in agriculture and allied activities.


ith the second-highest contribution of 8.4 percent to the country’s GDP, and a GSDP of `532 thousand crore (US $80 billion approximately) in 2013-14 (at 2004-05 constant prices), Tamil Nadu has a well-developed infrastructure of roads and rails, three major ports, 23 minor ports, and seven airports. The FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) inflow in 2014-15 was `25.2 thousand crore (US $3.8 billion approximately), seven percent of the country’s total FDI, making it third in the country in FDI rankings. During the Global Investors Meet in September 2015, the state government signed 98 agreements with companies for investment commitments up to `2.42 lakh crore (US $36.3 billion approximately) across sectors. Agriculture Farming is a major activity, with paddy being the chief crop, followed by pulses, oilseeds, sugarcane, cotton and coconuts. The state stands first in vegetable productivity; first in banana production and leads in the productivity of maize, groundnut and oilseeds; second in sugarcane and third in rice and sunflower in the country. It is the third-largest producer of tea and coffee, and a major producer of turmeric, millets and pulses. It is also among the top three states in dairy and poultry products. Manufacturing Tamil Nadu has 17 percent of the factories in the country, the highest


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in any state. It is a leader in the manufacturing sector, especially in cement, leather and heavy engineering, and Coimbatore, a major maufacturing hub about 500 km from Chennai, supplies over twothirds of India’s motors and pumps. With 2,500 chemical and petrochemical factories, led by Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd (CPCL), the state is a petrochemical hub. It is in the process of developing a major Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region (PCPIR), in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam. The state is fifth in the country in heavy electrical machinery and has some of the biggest public and private sector companies like Ashok Leyland, BHEL, Mitsubishi and Toshiba. It is also a major player in the pharmaceutical industry. Automobiles Tamil Nadu is in the driving seat of India’s automobiles industry, and was even known as the Detroit of India, when the Detroit auto industry was thriving. It accounts for 21 percent of India’s automobile exports and is the export hub for passenger vehicles, accounting for 70 percent of India’s overall exports. Companies that have set up facilities here include Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Daimler, RenaultNissan and BMW, taking the state’s installed capacity in vehicle production to 20 percent of the country’s total. The sector accounts for 11 percent, the largest cumulative FDI inflows from 2000-2012.

Tamil Nadu drives India’s automobiles industry and has about 20% of India’s total installed capacity of vehicle production.

It manufactures over seven percent of total auto components of the country and is the headquarters of MRF, the largest tyre manufacturer in the country. Technology The state contributes 10 percent of the country’s software exports and is the fourth largest software exporter in the country. Its 22 IT parks and 28 IT SEZs have got giants like TCS, Wipro, Tech Mahindra among many others, to set up facilities here. It is planning another IT investment region near Chennai on 1,600 sq km of land with an investment of `11.3 thousand crore (US $1.7 billion approximately). With 23 electronic hardware technological parks in the SEZs of Sriperumbudur, Oragadam and Mahindra World City, the state accounts for 18 percent of the country’s electronics output. Textiles A powerhouse in textiles that goes back to ancient times, Tamil Nadu, the home of the Kanjeevaram silk, has a spinning industry that accounts for 40 percent of the country’s total capacity, and exports accounting for 19 percent of the country’s exports. Tirupur is the country’s largest knitting sector, and manufactures 90 percent of India’s total cotton knitwear exports. Power A highly industrialised state, Tamil Nadu used to struggle with power shortage. However, it has used its wind power potential

to its advantage and has wind energy installations of 7,349 MW, 40 percent of the country’s total capacity. It has also subsidised solar power installations and uses solar energy for lighting street lights in villages. Adani and Welspun plan to set up solar power plants here, and are expected to add 1,250 MW of solar power, taking the state’s total solar energy to 1,500 MW. The state has two nuclear power projects at Kalpakkam and Kudankulam, and has recently commissioned a TNEB-NTPC project at Vallur, Mettur Thermal project, North Chennai Thermal Power station and other hydel projects. The state’s installed capacity has reached 20,000 MW and it is expected to be a power surplus state by 2016. Special Economic Zones: Tamil Nadu had an SEZ policy in 2003 much before the country adopted one in 2005, and is the SEZ capital of the country, with 39 of the country’s 199 functional SEZs located here. The State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu (SIPCOT) and Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT) have developed SEZs in Chennai, Tiruchirappalli, Madurai, Salem, Tirunelveli, Hosur and Coimbatore, among others. Private players in building SEZ have included Srei Infrastructure’s Attivo that has acquired an SEZ in Nanguneri. With industries like agro and food, pharmaceuticals, IT and electronics gaining with SEZs, the state is planning a bio-

pharmaceutical SEZ over 365 hectares in Krishnagiri district. Industrial corridorS The state is in the process of developing numerous industrial corridors along the Chennai-Bengaluru, ChennaiTiruchirappalli and CoimbatoreMadurai routes. Heavy engineering industrial parks are proposed in Tiruvallur, while two industrial corridors are to come up in the Coimbatore-Salem and Madurai-Thoothukudi regions for precision tools, ship-building, warehousing and logistics. There is an upcoming food park in Thoothukudi and Dindigul, and the National Ministry of Food Processing has sanctioned three cold chain projects for the state. Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO) is also in the process of establishing an integrated aerospace and logistics park for the aerospace industry. An aerospace park has been planned at the Perambalur SEZ. On the anvil are 234 IT parks, six upcoming textile and two apparel parks. Services sector The services sector which includes tourism, hotels and restaurants, transport and communication, real estate, banking and insurance, is a major contributor to the state economy at 63 percent. The state is the leader in domestic tourist inflow and second in foreign tourist inflow, and has planned investments of `11.3

thousand crore (US $1.7 billion approximately) for the growth of this sector. Law The judicial system of Tamil Nadu is based on Indian law, with trials conducted in the local language of Tamil as well as English. The law is applicable to all its citizens and foreigners. The Madras High Court is known for its progressive judgements in public interest litigations that have had a far-reaching impact on the nation. Investment facilitators: The state government has dedicated websites to help facilitate investors in the state.

• www.investingintamilnadu. com

• • • • • • tamilnadu.php

• • • • • • •

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Heritage tourism The focus in the tourism sector in Tamil Nadu is on the heritage sites, and the aim is to improve infrastructure in a state that is known as the Land of Temples.

Tharangambadi in Tamil means ‘the town of the singing waves’ and is commonly known by its earlier name of Tranquebar. Located on the Coromandel Coast along the Bay of Bengal, this town is about 290 km from Chennai and has Dutch, Danish and British colonial influences, with an old fort, temples and other historic buildings apart from the beach, to entice visitors. It is also one of the places chosen for improvement of infrastructure by the CII’s Task Force for Heritage Tourism.


ough estimates suggest around 33,000 ancient Hindu temples dot the state. These temples are integral to the culture and heritage of the state and its people. Many of these temples are several thousand years old and several are nationally and internationally recognised monuments, owing to the elaborate intricacy of sculpture, architecture, art and engineering of these structures. “We are blessed with a rich store of heritage sites which have not really been marketed properly, due to lack of infrastructure around these areas, specially in Thanjavur, Chidambaram and other temple districts. This year, our focus is to increase the tourism potential of these areas through increased attention and infrastructure. Tamil Nadu is ranked second in tourism for India and CII is pushing to make it number one, especially for heritage sites,” says Ramesh Kymal, Chairman, CII - Tamil Nadu.


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The 17th century Dansburg fort is a remnant of Tranquebar’s past as a Danish settlement. Having been ruled by the Cholas and the Pandyas, it was the domain of the king of Thanjavur in the 15th century. A bustling trading port that drew Arabs and Portuguese traders, the Danish East India Company built the fort after signing a treaty with the king to promote the trade of pepper. Soon, the Danes took over the town, and after losing it to the British, got it back for a while before the British bought it from them.

Unlike most temples in South India, the main deity in the Meenakshi Amman Temple of Madurai is a goddess, and not Lord Shiva. Meenakshi, meaning the fish-eyed goddess, is an avatar of Lord Shiva’s consort, Parvati. The fish-shape is considered to be the perfect shape for eyes, and the epitome of beauty in Tamil literature. The gopuram (steeple) features prominently in the background of the state emblem of Tamil Nadu. The temple is believed to have been built in the 6th century BC by survivors of Kumari Kandam, an ancient Tamil civilisation. However, the present structure was built between 1623 and 1655.

The Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur is the world’s first complete granite temple, and at 216 ft, it has among the tallest vimanams (temple towers) in the world. Most of the Great Living Chola Temples, which are UNESCO World Heritage Monuments, are located in and around Thanjavur, formerly Tanjore.

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Sunny days for growth Partnering the Tamil Nadu government in organising the hugely successful Global Investors Meet (GIM) in November 2015, CII is riding the momentum to fuel its vision of sustainable growth.

The Tamil Nadu government, led by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, organised a spectacularly effective Global Investors Meet in November 2015. The CII partnered the state government in this event and is looking forward to the next Global Investors Meet in 2017.


amesh Kymal, Chairman, CII - Tamil Nadu & Chairman, Gamesa Wind Turbines, expounds on the dramatic improvement in the availability of power, the focus on heritage and medical tourism, the impetus being given to skill-generation and on envisaging the 2017 edition of the GIM. Q: What does CII aim to achieve in this region? A: Our vision is to fuel sustainable growth - that is the Tamil Nadu CII’s theme for this year. Our focus areas will be skill development and entrepreneurship, sustainable infrastructure development, sustainable manufacturing, sustainable energy, and nurturing heritage and local ecology. The textiles, leather and manufacturing sectors have been the traditional growth drivers of Tamil Nadu. However, the contribution of the IT/ITES sector to the state’s GDP has been steadily increasing from 2009-10, and now this sector contributes more than 60 percent of the total GDP. IT exports from the state have been growing at a CAGR of 18 percent over the last six years. In comparison, the manufacturing sector contributes 24 percent to the GDP and has been growing at a rate of eight percent. With the recent focus on ‘Make in India’, as also the increasing competition from states like Gujarat and Maharashtra, what are the measures being taken by Tamil Nadu to boost the manufacturing sector? What more needs to be done? What has been the CII’s role in encouraging this sector? Tamil Nadu was very strong in the industrial sector from Day One and is becoming stronger; I am talking about the last 15 years or so. There are other sectors like the textile sector and automobile sector, which have been strong based on factors like the entrepreneurial nature of people of Tamil Nadu plus the fact that there are big automobile and


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ancillary industries in and around Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore, especially the foundry and forge units. CII is making sure that ease of doing business is improved further, that we truly encourage the single-window concept which has been implemented. There was a bit of a crisis with the power situation a couple of years ago but since then, a lot has been done to ease this, including seeing to transmission and availability of power, whether it is self-generation or buying from outside the state, to ensure that power cuts are not there. Today, industries do not have to suffer from power cuts and are able to perform competitively. CII is pushing for even better power availability. CII is going down to the grassroots to ensure that skill development percolates down to the lowest level, because employability, not just educational qualifications, is very important. To further encourage the manufacturing sector, especially the engineering sector, CII supports industries that have started adopting colleges and ITIs for in-house training and skill development of students. Apart from that, CII has Centres of Excellence which impart specialised training in logistics, quality control, renewable energy and other sectors. For example, CII is involved in improving logistics and inventory control and processes in the Tirupur textile cluster, and the participating industries have benefitted immensely. Some of them have benefitted up to the tune of `2 crore (US $300,000 approximately) from these Centres of Excellence. It has become a kind of movement in Tirupur and now they are more confident of reaching the `1 lakh crore (US $15 billion approximately) export target that they had set for themselves. About 60 percent of the state’s industrial production is concentrated within 150 km of Chennai. What measures are needed to ensure the spread of industrialisation beyond the capital? Have the CII’s

outreach activities helped? Much of the automobile sector is concentrated in and around Chennai, and it is true that all the major ones are located in a radius of 150-200 km from the city. But that is not the only industry we have. We have textile as a major industry and a very big employer too, because a lot of things are done manually. We have the foundry and forge industry as well. CII is pushing for a defence cluster in the Madurai-Thoothukudi industrial corridor; the government announced this at the last GIM. In fact, the State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu (SIPCOT) is going to be the nodal agency; they have already earmarked `10 crore (US $1.5 million approximately) as seed money and have started the acquisition of land along the corridor. Already, there are one or two industries which supply niche defence and aerospacerelated products from Madurai. We want to make that a kind of nucleus for expanding defence production from that area. The Madurai-Thoothukudi industrial corridor will be very significant and impactful for Tamil Nadu because that is an area which has been traditionally neglected where growth of industry is concerned. Tamil Nadu has 40 percent of the country’s wind energy generation capacity and contributes 28 percent to India’s total renewable energy capacity. However, the

state is experiencing an energy deficit, with the demand-supply gap around 17.5 percent. What are the main causes for this and what measures are needed to bridge this gap? What has been the CII’s role in advocating use of renewable energy in the state? We do not have coal in Tamil Nadu, we only have lignite, and hardly any hydropower. So we are dependent on coal imports from outside and within the country to run our thermal power plants. In 1994-1995, the government decided to opt for renewable energy and there were large investments in wind power; we have very good wind power and it used to be a very well-ranked utility at that time. We became number one in wind energy and at one time, 52 percent of India’s installations were all in Tamil Nadu; it is only now that it has come down to 40 percent. It came down because transmission got choked and could not keep up with the rapid installation of wind power. During the best wind seasons, machines were idle, they were not allowed to run because power could not be evacuated. That brought down investor sentiments in this sector, which resulted in a deficit in Tamil Nadu. Industrial growth was happening at a hectic pace but thermal power plants were not installed during that period, and we were not able to evacuate power from the existing renewable energy installations when we needed it most, that is, during the summer months.

The transmission infrastructure has been corrected and this year, there has been no shortage. In fact, last year too, there were no power cuts, and the situation has dramatically turned around. Shortage or deficit of power is an old story. Tamil Nadu ranks first in India, whether it is wind or solar power; the latter has also picked up to such an extent that both energies combined have put us at on top and we can easily hold this position. Tamil Nadu accounts for the largest number of MSMEs in the country, at 15 percent. How has CII encouraged SMEs and MSMEs in the state? The first industrial estate in India came up in Guindy in Chennai. Tamil Nadu realised at that time itself that what would drive big industry was small industry, and the support for that was given through SIPCOT. After that came the Ambattur Industrial Estate in Chennai; then SIPCOT broadened its reach to Sriperumbudur and all around Chennai to support the big industries. The success was duplicated in other places like Coimbatore and Tiruchirappalli. This led to the fabrication cluster of SMEs supplying to BHEL, all supported by the government through SIPCOT or the Tamil Nadu Small Industries Development Corporation (TANSIDCO). This in turn, gave the impetus for growth to the MSME sector at that time. That growth is still continuing and is the backbone and strength of the industrial sector in Tamil Nadu.

Tamil Nadu ranks first in India in renewable energy, comprising wind and solar power. The availability of renewable energy and cheap power has turned the state from an energy-deficit to an energy-surplus state, and industry is the major beneficiary, followed by agriculture.

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What were the measures taken to help the MSME enterprises after the recent floods? We were affected badly in the floods. Big industries were affected but small industries were affected more as they were not fully insured. That is when the CII set up flood rehabilitation and relief under R Seshasayee, former President, CII & Chairman, Infosys Ltd. The first thing we rushed into was relief, not only for the MSMEs but for all the floodaffected people. Then came the rehabilitation part, to put these industries back on their feet. We built up a corpus and ensured that they were able to get easy finance from the banks to tide over the crisis. We became a kind of bridge between the big industries and the small ones, to extend whatever possible help we could, to these tiny and medium and small industries. So the rehabilitation process was more important than the relief that we did at the time. Relief, of course, everybody did and they were hogging the headlines for it, too. But we worked quietly on the relief and the rehabilitation side and even now, are continuing to make sure that they are back to functioning fully. Let us talk about various other industry sectors in Tamil Nadu. Cotton: Traditionally, there was a lot of

The textile industry in Madurai has 3,000 units which employ more than 50,000 people, and generates an annual turnover of `1,500-2,000 crore (US $222 million - $296 million approximately). About 20 percent of the output is exported. The sector is growing at a steady rate of 10-20 percent a year.

cotton cultivation in Tamil Nadu and that is how the Coimbatore spinning mills came up. With backward and upward integration, there came the spinning mills, the yarn manufacturers and that led to the growth of the textile industry in one particular belt - Coimbatore, Dindigul, Karur, Tirupur and Erode. That belt has grown very strong

because of local expertise and raw material. The people there are very entrepreneurial, too. Electronics: We have isolated clusters of hardware for electronics that CII is now trying to bring together, especially in the Vellore area and in the Hosur belt. These belts have good electronic industries but not

Tamil Nadu is the third largest manufacturer of electronic hardware in India, contributing 14.6% to the national output in 2012-13, and the leading exporter of electronic goods from the country. The total investment in the electronic hardware industry in the state is `4,780 crore (US $711 million approximately), and this sector employs more than 40,000 workers. The state has 23 Electronic Hardware Technological Parks located in Sriperumbudur, Oragadam and Mahindra World City.


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enough of the support infrastructure they need for growth. This is where CII comes in. We plan to have an electronic manufacturing cluster in Vellore and the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) will be the hub to nurture and seed that. Medical tourism: Chennai has superior medical infrastructure and people from all over India and the world come here for Allopathic (mainstream medicine) treatments. We are extending medical tourism to places like Madurai which also have excellent medical facilities. CII is pushing for the international connectivity of Madurai and Tiruchirappalli to improve not only the export of traditional items like garments and textiles but also medical tourism. The Tamil Nadu government has waived off short-term and long-term crop loans to small and micro farmers, incurring an additional expenditure of `5,780 crore (US $860 million approximately). The government is also granting a subsidy of `1,607 crore (US $240 million approximately) as well as providing a hundred units of free electricity to households. What impact will these two measures have on the state’s economy in the near future? It will have only a marginal impact because the state’s economy is so healthy it is not going to be affected or dented by five or six thousand crore rupees. That can be easily

“Investor sentiment is strong in Tamil Nadu,” says Ramesh Kymal, Chairman, CII - Tamil Nadu & Chairman, Gamesa Wind Turbines

made up by the extra productivity it will bring. The more important thing is that this has encouraged people who were affected by adverse weather conditions like drought or flood in the agricultural sector, to continue to remain in that sector instead of migrating to other sectors. This is what is happening in other states.

I think the Chief Minister’s move is very welcome and very well-timed. It will not affect the economy adversely. I think the agricultural predominance of Tamil Nadu has been strengthened even more.

Tamil Nadu is the largest banana producing state in the country, and grows about 28 percent of the banana produce of India. There are several varieties of this nutritious fruit, from those that are relished in desserts to some which are delicious when cooked and several that are eaten in their natural form. The fruit varieties include Dwarf Cavendish, Grand Naine, Rasthali, Robusta, Poovan, Nendran, Red Banana, Karpooravalli, Co.1, Matti, Sannachenkadali, Udayam, Chakkia, Neypoovan, Vayal vazhai, Monthan and Ash Monthan. The popular varieties of bananas suitable for hilly areas are Namarai, Ladan, Virupakshi, Manoranjitham (Santhana vazhai) and Sirumalai. A banana revolution is under way in the state, and banana festivals are often held to create brand value around the fruit. The events include exhibitions and conferences with a focus on improving cultivation methods, supply chains and cold-storage facilities. A direct outcome of this initiative is the recent adoption of the Thai technology of solar dehydration of the fruit by the banana farmers from Thottiam, Tiruchirappalli. Such exposure to advanced farming techniques enables farmers to reap benefits.

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Sporting Chennaiite With world-class players in a range of sports from chess, tennis, squash and cricket, Chennai is one of the top sporting cities in the country. Patronised by several corporates, sports thrive in the tropical climate here.

A jubiliant R Ashwin celebrates the fall of a wicket against New Zealand with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and teammates Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina during a warm-up match at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in the lead up to the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011.

Cricket The Madras Cricket Club, established in 1846, laid the foundation for the game in the city. It was instrumental in creating and maintaining the Chepauk cricket grounds where the MA Chidambaram stadium stands today. In 1934, the stadium held its first Test match between Douglas Jardine’s England and CK Nayudu’s India. It witnessed the first-ever Indian Test victory in 1952 and the second Test tie in the history of cricket in 1986-87, between India and Australia. Its capacity crowd of 50,000 did the country proud when it cheered winners Pakistan against India in a Test match in 1999. Legends linked with the stadium include Sunil Gavaskar who hit his 30th Test 100 to break Sir Donald Bradman’s 29-century record in 1983-84. Virender Sehwag got his highest score of 319 runs while Sachin Tendulkar scored his highest runs at any venue, 876 in nine Tests, on this hallowed turf. The city’s rapturous cricket fans treat

Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni, who captained the Chennai Super Kings (currently suspended from the Indian Premier League or IPL) as its own, at par with homespun heroes like K Srikkanth, R Ashwin, L Balaji, Murali Vijay and Dinesh Karthik, among others. Played with professional finesse, club cricket is patronised by corporates like India Cements, MRF Ltd and the Sanmar Group, all of who own cricket teams and sponsor cricket matches and grounds, like the IIT-Sanmar cricket ground in the IIT campus. Pace bowlers are trained here through the MRF Pace Foundation. The annual Buchi Babu Memorial Tournament is a national-level event organised by the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association. Chess Chess caught the popular imagination when local Manuel Aaron became the first Indian to play Grandmaster Bobby Fischer in 1962. Aaron went on to become the country’s first International Master, winning the National Championship nine times between 1959 and 1981. Chennai resident and India’s first Grandmaster, Viswanathan Anand, has been the World Champion five times from 2000 and 2012. The state government invested `30.6 crore (US $4.6 million) for the Anand-Carlsen World Chess Championship finale in 2013. There are chess associations in the 33 districts of Tamil Nadu and 50 coaching centres in Chennai. This state has nurtured 12 Grandmasters including the first female Grandmaster, S Vijayalakshmi, and child prodigies like Aravindh Chithambaram who won the Chennai Open International Grandmaster Tournament in 2013 at the age of 14.

The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium is one of the largest stadiums in the city and can seat 40,000 people. It has been upgraded by the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) with new synthetic athletic tracks, football turf and refurbished floodlights and also has facilities for judo, weightlifting, table tennis, boxing, chess, carrom, beach volleyball, throwball and kabaddi.


Best of Chennai Vol 2

Tennis Chennai is the tennis capital of India and even before it hosted the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tournament, several local players broke into the tennis circuit starting from the 1950s. Ramanathan Krishnan was the first Asian to win the Wimbledon Boys

Singles in 1954; the Amritraj brothers, Vijay, Ashok and Anand were regulars in Grand Slam events in the 1970s and 80s; Ramesh Krishnan reached three Grand Slam quarter-finals, and the sensational duo of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes smashed records, winning six ATP doubles titles in 1997 and three Grand Slam doubles titles, and was ranked the world No 1 men’s doubles team in 1999. Some of the sought after tennis academies in the city include the Ramesh Krishnan Tennis Academy and the BritanniaAmritraj Tennis Academy, which trained Leander Paes in his early years. Hockey & Football The Chennaiyin FC team owned by businesswoman Vita Dani, Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan and cricketer MS Dhoni, and coached by the formidable Marco Materazzi, was the winner of the Indian Super League, 2015, against Goa, with league top scorer Joe Mendoza scoring the final goal in the 90th minute. Football enthusiasts throng the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium for ISL matches played in the city while hockey fans flock to the Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey stadium that twice hosted the Champions Trophy in 1996 and 2005. Racing The Madras Motor Sports Club (MMSC) is the oldest motor sports club in India and the city recently celebrated the silver jubilee of the Madras Motor Racing Track (MMRT) near Sriperumbudur by hosting the latest edition of the country’s biggest motorbike racing under the MMSC-FMSCI Indian National Racing Championship. Both Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok, India’s leading Formula One racers hail from Chennai and have raced on these tracks to international renown. MRF with the MMSC, runs the MRF Challenge, an open wheel motorsport event that plays across India and the Middle East. Young Armaan Ibrahim and Aditya Patel are leaving their mark on international racing, following in the footsteps of their

illustrious fathers and national champions Akbar Ibrahim and Kamlesh Patel. Derby Local turf enthusiasts got a boost in 2016 when, after a gap of 11 years, the Madras Race Club held the Indian Turf Invitation Cup, with a trophy value of `4.4 crore, (US $660 thousand approximately) attracting racers from across the country. The Madras Race Club located at Guindy, is one of the oldest clubs in the country, dating back to 1837. It has more than 600 horses, three stands and is one of the best racing tracks in the country. Squash The Squash Rackets Federation of India is based in Chennai, as is the Indian Squash Academy which is the brainchild of World Squash Federation president N Ramachandran. The game’s poster women from the city, Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal, the latter being the first Indian woman to break into the world top ten, struck gold at the doubles event in the Commonwealth Games of 2014. Water sports Chennai’s fine surf and sea ensures smooth sailing for the India International Regatta (IIR), a sailing event that, since 2009, has drawn more than 100 sailors from across the world. Two young women, Varsha Gautam and Aishwarya Nedunchezhiyan from the Tamil Nadu Sailing Association, made history in the last Asian Games at Incheon, Korea, by winning a bronze medal, the country’s first ever medal in sailing won by women. Kovalam, an idyllic bay to the south of the city, has become a hotspot for surfing and scuba diving; local fishermen trained in these sports now impart their skills and earn a new livelihood. Other sports Table tennis player and Arjuna awardee Sharath Kamal, who won the country’s first singles gold at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006, and India’s only Arjuna awardee for carrom and twice World Champion, Maria Irudayam, both live in Chennai.

Grandmasters Viswanathan Anand and Magnus Carlsen during the World Chess Championship 2013 in Chennai.

With glamour entering the league circuit, football has gone up in popularity. Seen here is Brazilian Elano Blumer playing for the victorious Chennayin FC in the Indian Super League 2015.

Stanislas Wawrinka playing at the Chennai Open in the SDAT Tennis stadium. India’s sole ATP event has attracted international stars like Rafael Nadal, Boris Becker, Carlos Moya and Richard Krajicek since its inception in 1996.

The MMRT near Sriperumbudur is often abuzz with speeding cars and has been the training ground for Indian F1 racers Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok.

Best of Chennai Vol 2



Heroes of Chennai We salute the spirit of the city of Chennai and its countless denizens who braved several odds to help others in the time of the unprecedented floods during November - December 2015.

On December 1st 2015, around 370mm (14 inches approximately) of rain lashed Chennai. The city had not seen a wetter day in December for the past 100 years. In the month of November, Chennai reported 1,218 mm (47 inches approximately) of rain, more than 300 percent of the normal rainfall that is expected for the month. People whose homes were flooded, lost their belongings and a large part of their lives.


s the city geared up for the festival of lights, Deepavali (Diwali) in November 2015, it began to rain on November 8 and continued to rain for a whole week. It started to rain again on November 23, and by the end of the month, the Chembarambakkam reservoir, one of the city’s main water sources, had almost reached peak capacity. On December 1, the downpour became torrential and water was released from the reservoir after it had exceeded the capacity. By midnight, an area of about 4 km around the River Adyar, which flows through the heart of Chennai, was submerged. Thus began the nightmare of Chennai, with relentless rain for 48 hours and the flooding from the reservoir. The rains let up around December 4 and the flood waters started to recede but not


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before taking 421 lives and causing a loss of `14,668 crore (US $2.2 billion approximately). The year 2015 will be remembered and chronicled by the weatherman and the historian alike as the Year of the Flood. The residents though, will remember it as the Year of the People. The rain did not just come down, it stayed down. The city that would cry for rain year after year, for once, cried for the deluge to stop. No one was spared, not the rich, not the poor, not the middle class. The rising waters made no distinction between huts and tenements or bungalows and high-rises. They rose with a hauteur that mocked the notion of safe habitats, and engulfed everything in their wake. Those

The tarmac and runways of the Chennai International Airport were flooded on December 1 and the airport remained closed till December 6, leading to the cancellation of 119 flights. Around 30 aircraft were submerged during this period. The Airports Authority of India carried out rescue operations along with the Indian Air Force and evacuated almost 1,500 passengers and 2,000 airport staff. Photo: Indian Air Force

who considered themselves fortunate for having escaped inundation were still left without food, water and power for over 30 hours. People whose homes were flooded lost their belongings and a large part of their lives. There were pitiful instances of cries for help from the old and the infirm, the differently abled, pregnant mothers and little ones. In many areas, the flood waters rose beyond fifteen feet and that too, in a matter of hours. The water surged like torrents through narrow streets and bylanes with the force of rapids.

of relief work they performed. Younus was responsible for saving more than 2,000 people in distress. Imran, a Class XII student, who worked non-stop for over six days, made the ultimate sacrifice. He died of infection caused by intrusion of sewage into his system. Unnamed fishermen from the kuppams (fishing hamlets) along the coast pressed their boats into service, bringing out thousands of people from areas under water, resisting strong currents. Many of them had already lost their homes and belongings but this did not deter them from saving the lives of

those in danger. Several NGOs and private organisations played an active part, gathering food, drinking water, clothing and medicines, and distributing them swiftly. Residents in every area formed private groups and reached out to the less fortunate who were housed in temporary shelters, providing them with warm clothes, blankets, food for the adults and milk for the infants. The Natural Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Navy, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard played a vital role in the rescue operations

and the distribution of food and relief materials. A team of ex-Service officers formed a group that monitored over 2,500 volunteers who in turn, had absolutely no hesitation in risking life and limb to save lives. In this stupendous effort, it is difficult to point out individual heroes, although there were hundreds of them. What stood out as a lesson for all humanity was the eagerness to help, to invite complete strangers into their homes, share the frugal supplies available and reach out to the community in distress.

Communication broke down completely. Even where there was power, there was no connectivity. The local administration and government agencies were overwhelmed and unable to cope with such an unprecedented situation. Most of the staff of civic agencies also fell victim to the floods. Amidst this, it was the power of the people that came to the fore. Putting considerations of their personal safety aside, fighting weariness and sleep, heedless of hunger and thirst, the city teemed with volunteers coming together to save lives. Some of them were in organised groups and others worked by themselves, braving hardship to rescue people they did not know and most probably would never meet again. Some names came to the fore by the sheer dint of the enormity

The relief operations were bolstered by efforts from NGOs, private organisations and individuals, who tirelessly collected and distributed food, drinking water, clothing, medicines and other essentials. Photo: Bhumi Relief Centre

Best of Chennai Vol 2



This indeed was Chennai at its best, standing up and standing together in misfortune and distress. It would be impossible to name or even count the number of volunteers, who exemplified a marvellous collective energy and action to help friends and strangers alike. Many of the heroes are unsung, unknown, unheralded and now mostly forgotten, but here are some stellar examples.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. The Natural Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Navy, Army, Air Force and Coast Guard played a vital role in the relief and rescue operations during the floods in Chennai in 2015.

Siddharth, the star of several Tamil, Telugu and Hindi films, began trending during the floods. The actor became the face of volunteerism in Chennai, tweeting from @Actor_Siddharth to spread information about the floods and to coordinate relief efforts. Rendered homeless, albeit temporarily, when his swanky home was flooded, (his office, studios and cars were also damaged), Siddharth joined the relief efforts across the city. Using Twitter to mobilise volunteers, Siddharth and Balaji Patturaj, the radio jockey popularly known as RJ Balaji, managed to get food and other materials collected and delivered to the victims of the flood. After the floods, Siddharth and Balaji set up the Chennai Micro Fund to offer long-term relief and rehabilitation to victims who had lost their livelihood in the floods.


Best of Chennai Vol 2

Bhumi, Chennai’s largest independent volunteer organisation with 10,000 volunteers in 200 centres across India, has been helping educate underprivileged kids since 2006. Pitching in for flood relief work, it set up a relief centre to collect aid pouring in from its branches in Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai. Its network of 5,000 volunteers in the flood-hit city helped reach relief material to communities in Chennai, Chidambaram, Kanchipuram, Panruti, Puducherry, Tindivanam, Tiruvallur and Virudhachalam.

Coming to the aid of schools that were amongst the worst affected institutions in the floods was the volunteer group TNFES (Tamil Nadu Floods – Education Supplies). Many schools had their doors and windows swept off along with benches and desks. Those that were still standing were used as relief centres and their toilets and pantries were left in a mess. Since its hundred days of formation in March 2016, TNFES has reached out to 37 schools across Chennai, Kanchipuram, Tiruvallur and Cuddalore districts. Its assistance includes cleaning the school premises, reconstructing bathrooms and kitchens, providing stationary and sports equipment, books and drinking water facilities.

Photo: Suchandra Das

“We have an open group on Facebook that anybody can join,” says Sridhar Venkataraman, a member. TNFES volunteers surveyed the schools, collected inputs, inspired confidence in the headmasters and drew up a clear chart of requirements for sponsors. Soon, corporates reached out with sponsorships; TNFES has associated with agencies like Rejuvenate India Movement and Milaap, to route funds for rehabilitation.

Like a modern-day Noah, Shravan Krishnan came to the rescue of hundreds of animals who were caught in the swirling waters of the flood. Dogs, cats, snakes, slender lorises, jackals, monkeys, deer, lizards and rats from the Nanmangalam forest and IIT Madras campus were swept on to the streets of the city and into homes of panic-stricken residents. Krishnan, who runs Hotel for Dogs, a dog boarding house in Chennai and Bengaluru, and his team, worked with the Fire and Forest departments for over 36 hours to evacuate and rescue animals and people. Attending to nearly 400 calls, putting people on boats and building makeshift rafts for animals, the team used Krishnan’s house on the East Coast Road as a station for relief material. This 25-year-old says the floods brought to mind an old-timer’s description of Chennai, as a city for fishermen with only boats to be seen. “I saw something similar during the floods,” he says. Thanks to his relief work during the floods and subsequent to his social media popularity, he has been able to get many supporters for issues like environmental degradation, civic apathy and animal rights.

Best of Chennai Vol 2




The Cooum River, which is an integral part of Chennai’s geography, also has a strong historical connect with the cultural fabric of the city. In 1812, the library of the College of Fort St. George, known as the Madras Literary Society, was started near the river. The oldest bookstore of India, Higginbothams, is situated on the banks of the river. The Cooum also has a strong association with Tamil cinema - Elphinstone, Gaiety, Warwick, Chitra, Casino and several of the oldest theatres of Chennai all began on the banks of the river.


Best of Chennai Vol 2

“Yaadhum oore yaavarum kelir.” (To us all towns are one, all men our kin.) Kaniyan Poongunranar (Sangam period, circa 3rd century BC - 4th century AD), Tamil philosopher

‘Musicians’, welded copper, brass and enamels, by S Nandagopal

Best of Chennai Vol 2



Diverse & defiant


Tamil, the local language, has an unbroken link with its rich literary heritage, and its writers employ lyricism, introspection, observation, experimentation and provocation to enliven literature. Novels, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, plays, travelogues, letters and literary discussions engage readers in both physical and digital worlds.

Tamil literature has an enormous readership, ranging from the classic to the contemporary.


peaking about the language, renowned poet and translator, AK Ramanujan, said, “Tamil is the only language of contemporary India that is recognisably continuous with a classical past”. Tamil literature dates back to 2000 years from the Sangam era when poets distilled topics of akam and puram (subjective and objective issues) to give birth to beautiful, secular poems of love and longing, valour and heroism with astonishing nuances and taut imagery. The 3rd century saw the birth of the evergreen classic Thirukkural by Thiruvalluvar, with its 1330 verses on ethics, society and love. Five of the great Tamil classics, Silappadikaram by Ilango Adigal, Manimekalai by Chithalai Chathanar, Seevaga Sinthamani by Thiruthaka Devar, Valayapathi (attributed to an unnamed Jain monk) and Kundalakesi by Naguthanar were written during this period. Kamba Ramayanam has 10,000 songs and 45,000 lines that fuse lyricism and Tamil sensitivities in a retelling of the epic Ramayana. Written by the poet Kamban in the 12th century, it is sung in Tamil households on auspicious festivals. The first novel in Tamil Prathapa Mudaliar Charithram written by Mayuram Vedanayagam Pillai was published in 1867 marking a landmark entry of prose into the literary scene. Among pioneering novelists in the 20th century was Kalki Krishnamurthy, whose novel Alai Osai on India’s freedom struggle won him the Sahitya Akademi award posthumously in 1956. Akilan and Jayakanthan received the Jnanpith awards in 1975 and 2002 respectively while authors like Ashokamitran, Na Parthasarathy, Mouni, La Sa Ra and Sundara Ramaswamy wrote significant novels on society, inequality and


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humanity. Writers like CS Lakshmi ‘Ambai’, Sivasankari, Krithika and Rajam Krishna found recognition and popularity in the 1980s with their insights into the lives and conflicts of women. Tamil novels became the basis for powerful movies, and several films adapted from Jayakanthan’s novels have won national awards. Writers like Imayam, Cho Dharmam, KA Gunasekaran have written incisive and defiant short stories, poems and novels exploring caste hierarchies and exploitation. Women writers have played a significant role in writing about the Dalit life. Sivakami’s Pazhiyana Kazhidalum in 1989 was the first Dalit novel and Bama’s Karukku in 1992 was the first Dalit autobiography in Tamil. Both books left indelible marks on Dalit literature. Kutty Revathi, Malathi Maithri, Sugartharani, Perundevi and Leena Manimekalai are acknowledged as eminent writers and poets with their works being translated into numerous languages for international renown. “Tamil women writers have always been very forthcoming, revolutionary and provocative in their writings. Dalit women writers wrote not just about atrocities, but about their lives, that were underrepresented in literature. Their poems have been exceptionally good,’’ says MD Muthukumaraswamy, academic, writer and folklorist. Tamil literature’s evolved short story culture has more variety than any other Indian writing; ranging from realistic to experimental, it has humour, social commentary, fantasy and romance. Writers who contributed to this rich heritage include Ashokamitran, S Ramakrishnan, Charu Nivedita, G Murugan and Laxmi Manivannan,

An essential event in the Chennai bibliophile’s calendar, The Hindu Lit for Life invites distinguished authors and speakers across genres, and from across the world. Dr Nirmala Lakshman, festival director, is seen here in conversation with musician Sanjay Subrahmanyan at The Hindu Lit for Life 2016.

among many others. “The trend today for most novelists is to write long books of more than 800 pages, but writers like Pudumaipitthan and KP Rajagopalan are models of brevity,” says Ashokamitran. The Tamil literary scene is energised by dedicated readers who frequent a wide network of reading clubs and literary meets, and in recent years, have taken to social media. Small but enthusiastic publishers like Uyirmai, Kalachuvadu, Adayalam, Kilakku, Karuppa Pradigal and Vidiyal bring out literary magazines, while bigger magazines like Ananda Vikatan, Kalki, Kungumam, often serialise short stories and novels for a city which has a reading library in almost every street. The Wallajah Room at the Taj Connemara has been hosting the monthly meetings of the Madras Book Club for the past two decades while newer book clubs keep popping up online. The monthly meetings held by the publishing house Naveena Virutcham often attract such a large number of readers that it has to host them in a spacious marriage hall in

the city. Literary discussions are the highlight of the Chennai Book Fair, the second largest book fair in the country which is in its 39th year. Stories are released in blogs and debates are initiated online, playing out on social media. Popular author B Jeyamohan is among writers who use the internet for literary discussions and interaction with readers. His seminal book, Vishnupuram has an enthusiastic fan following and

the Vishnupuram Ilakkiya Vattam (Vishnupuram Literary Circle) has instituted the Vishnupuram award to promote Tamil fiction and honour Tamil writers. Writers like Perumal Murugan and Sahitya Akademi winner Joe D’cruz also use social media to engage with readers. Driven by a desire for an ideal society, and with a passion for ideas and words, Tamil literature continually explores new literary forms.

Chennai has a reading library in almost every street, and has a long-standing tradition of literary discussions that are held in venues that range from five star hotels to marriage halls.

“The Chennai literary scene is much like the city- a blend of tradition and modernity. It is also the only city where a book launch can get a good audience without cheese and cocktails being served!”, says Gautam Padmanabhan, CEO of Chennai-based publishing company Westland. The blend of tradition and modernity is also seen in the books of Chennai-based writers who write in English. Among established novelists are Timeri Murari who is also a screenwriter and playwright, Tishani Doshi, Gopalakrishna Gandhi, Sreekumar Varma, K Srilatha and Nandini Krishnan. New voices include Meena Kandasamy, the Dalit poet and activist who writes boldly on caste and social exclusion, and Kuzhali Manickavel with her satirical and surreal poems and short story collection, Insects are like you and me except some of them have wings. It is only natural that writers are drawn to write about the history of this important city, and respected historians include S Muthiah, V Sriram, Pradeep Chakravarthy, Chitra Madhavan and AR Venkatachalapathy. Travel writer Biswanath Ghosh brought cosmopolitan enquiry into Chennai with his book on the city, Tamarind City. The Hindu’s film critic (and our guest writer) Baradwaj Rangan won the National Award for film criticism with his publication, Conversations with Mani Ratnam. Books on environment by Nanditha Krishna and on marriage by psychologist and marriage counsellor Dr. Vijay Nagaswami have also been popular across India. Chennai’s Tamil writing reaches newer audiences through translations in English. Novelists like Ashokamitran, Sivasankari, Indira Parthasarthy and Na Muthuswami excite interest. Two anthologies of translations of Tamil pulp fiction published by Blaft publications have done exceptionally well. Bookstores like Higginbothams that commenced business in 1844, Starmark, Landmark, Odyssey and Giggles, staunchly hold their own against online stores.

Best of Chennai Vol 2



Money (and Mani) matters


Kollywood, as Tamil cinema is known, is witnessing a change of guard with younger stars on the ascendant. These are interesting times for the industry here as moviemakers and big stars try to get on top of the game of making a hit film.

Starring the winsome pair of Dulquer Salmaan and Nithya Menen, O Kadhal Kanmani explores the theme of live-in relationships, which is still fairly rare in India. It is written, produced and directed by Mani Ratnam (inset) whose films usually have a strong point of view ranging from sociological to political themes, and charting individual journeys. Mani directs, produces and writes screenplays for films. The winner of several industry awards, he is the recipient of the Padma Shri from the Government of India.


hen it comes to Indian cinema, Bollywood is currently in the most envious position, simply because the economics are so sound and strong. Filmmakers have reaped the benefits of the multiplex model, which means that thanks to increased ticket prices in urban areas, it has become possible to make movies meant for specific audiences, rather than the old model of a one-size-fits-all movie that would have to earn back its investment from every part of the country. The business has become highly corporatised and is being treated like any other. In comparison, Kollywood suffers in both these areas. There are just not enough multiplexes to sustain an alternative movie culture, though there has been the freak success of a relatively non-mainstream film like Kaaka Muttai. Worse, the government has capped ticket prices at `120 (US $1.80 approximately) throughout the state. In comparison, tickets can cost up to 10 times that amount in a multiplex in Bengaluru or Mumbai, and thus a movie would need fewer footfalls to make money for its makers. Moviemaking is not a professionally run business in Kollywood, and is more like a mom-and-pop store. Compounding the problem are stars who demand remuneration utterly incommensurate with the business prospects of their films. When a producer runs out of funds, the stars


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move on to the next one. Many such ultra-expensive, star-driven films have been flopping, and things have become dire for the industry. Even television channels have stopped buying films because they cost too much, and the channels would rather invest in the ever-popular reality shows that cost just a fraction of a film. Current box-office report cards should make stars afraid, very afraid. The two blockbusters of the year are Kanchana - 2 and Kaaka Muttai. The former is a horror comedy. The latter is the story of two children from the slums who dream of tasting pizza. Neither of them featured a star. Or, to use a trade cliché, ‘content is king’. Shankar’s I, which featured an established star, Vikram, did do well, but it was also a very expensive film, and given the murky accounting in Kollywood, it is not clear if the returns on investment point to profits for the distributors who bought the film at high prices. Established stars have found the going rough with the much-touted Lingaa starring Rajinikanth and Uttama Villain by Kamal Haasan both flopping. Suriya’s Massu did not do well. Ajith’s Yennai Arindhaal barely broke even, though it did very well overseas. Instead, younger stars like Dhanush (with a hat trick of hits in Velai Illa Pattadhari, Anegan and Maari) and Sivakarthikeyan (Kakki Sattai, Maan Karate)

ALTERNATIVE CINEMA Amudhan RP, an activist filmmaker says, “We have three types of alternative cinema in Tamil Nadu: feature, documentary and short fiction. They showcase original stories as well as adaptations and they also influence mainstream cinema. Socio-economic issues have played a role in the rise of alternative films; these span the film society movement, the emergence of Dalit movements, the destruction of environment and natural resources, the recent caste and communal conflicts, and economic and gender issues. Digital technology has democratised the filmmaking process by making low cost equipment accessible to everyone and help filmmakers cross geographical borders to reach markets without the help of big companies. The Kodaikanal rap video is a classic example of the democratisation of the media in terms of politics, technology and dissemination. (Tamil rapper and singer Sofia Ashraf’s 2015 music video Kodaikanal Won’t brought worldwide attention to the mercury pollution caused by a thermometer factory owned by Hindustan Unilever in the hill station of Kodaikanal in Tamil Nadu. In March 2016, the company agreed to compensate nearly 600 employees.) The Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association, the Kanchanai Film Society, the Konangal Film Society, Nizhal, Pathiyam, the Tamizh Studio and Marupakkam are involved in the promotion of alternative cinema. Filmmakers who have made a mark in this niche include Southamini, Arunmozhi, Swarnavel, RV Ramani, Amshan Kumar, B Lenin, RR Srinivasan, Ravi Subramiyan, Bharati Krishnakumar, Shekar Dattatri, Leena Manimekalai, Prasanna Ramasamy, Rohini, Someetharan, Maga Tamizh Prabhagaran, Kombai S Anwar and Geeta Ilangovan.”

Amudhan RP makes, screens and disseminates films. He has 19 films to his credit including two trilogies on caste and nuclear radiation.

mega-success of Kaaka Muttai has demolished industry wisdom that films with ‘art-house’ subjects and no stars and made on a microbudget will not succeed. Ostensibly about two slum kids yearning to taste pizza, the film really is about the problems of globalisation, something right out of the newspapers, something that would have made for a good documentary. Its success should inspire more filmmakers to stop relying on stars and budgets, and focus on content instead. For, unlike Bollywood, where the studio system makes it possible for the losses of one film to be offset by profits from another, Kollywood is dependent on independent producers, who borrow money at high interests from financiers. And, until this system changes, not much can change – for the driving force behind any ‘business’ is the money. Mired in financial problems, the Kollywood business model is in need of restructuring. Still, there are filmmakers like Mani Ratnam who view cinema as art and manage to make commercial sense of it, too. After a huge flop with Kadal, Mani Ratnam returned with a young-love story, O Kadhal Kanmani, which made everyone, including the distributors, smile. Hence the punch line in the industry: ‘Money matters, and Mani matters.’ - By Baradwaj Rangan Directed by Ramesh Aravind, Uttama Villain is written by Kamal Haasan, who is also the protagonist. The film is one of Kamal’s experiments within the mainstream format, and is comparable to Fellini’s 8-1/2, a very personal story of an industry insider.

have been consistently successful. It has been easier for moviemakers to recover costs of these films, as the younger stars do not overcharge. Industry veterans suggest that their films work because they are not overpriced – though once these younger stars become established stars, they will hike their salaries and their films will become overpriced. There have been films from time to time that have become hits despite not having stars, but there have always been compensatory factors like hit songs or a theme that connects across audiences. The

Baradwaj Rangan is a national award winning film critic, and currently, a Senior Deputy Editor at The Hindu. His writings on cinema, music, art, books, travel and humour have been published in various national magazines. He is the author of the book Conversations with Mani Ratnam, published by Penguin in 2012.

Best of Chennai Vol 2



Timeless grace


As the crucible of the classical dance form of Bharatanatyam, Chennai has given birth to a legion of legendary exponents of this traditional style. Refreshingly, the city is also open to new ideas and forms of expression in dance.


o trace the genesis of Bharatanatyam in Tamil Nadu, we need to go back in history and imagine.Tamil is the world’s oldest living language, and we have texts dating back to 400 BC that talk of grammar and syntax. This tells us how ancient the language is, and it is in this ancient classical literature that dance is found to be featured.

independent wealthy dancers who offered donations to the temples. These were the early feminists who owned money and land, were educated and lived independently. They became the crucibles of all classical and fine arts. Thus, dance as an art form was relevant and had a very strong presence in the ancient Tamil mind and literature.

Even before Kamban, with his great poems, and Thiruvalluvar, with his pithy couplets, we had the Sangam poetry of 7th century BC and 4th century AD. These poems can be divided into those of love or war. The love poems had no presence of god, only man and woman and the erotic proclamations of love for one another. All these poems had imagery of dances. The heroines of two of the greatest classics of Tamil literature, Silappadikaram and Manimekalai, are court dancers.

In those days, what we now know as Bharatanatyam, was called sadir. The traditional performance was called sadir katcheri or chinna melam. The word Bharatanatyam, or the dance of Bharat, was coined during the Indian Independence Movement. The British were determined on branding devadasis (temple dancers) as prostitutes and banning their dance, but many prominent citizens stood up to fight such a move.

Even today, there are inscriptions in the temples of Thanjavur of

Notable among them was a lawyer, E Krishna Iyer. In 1933, he wore


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The movies that showcased the dance and created legends were Kumari Kamala and Vanjikottai Valiban. The latter featured a 17-minute dance competition between Vyjayanthimala and Padmini. The other films in this genre were Tillana Mohanambal and Salangai Oli, starring Kamal Haasan and Jaya Prada. Despite Chennai’s love for the traditional dawada coffee and saris, there is space for modernism, philosophy and ideas. When I came here 25 years ago, I began my own dance presentations, and experimented with martial arts and folk influenced by fashion and colour, and all of this was accepted by the city. I started The Other Dance Festival in 1998. This was the country’s only alternative and contemporary dance festival and went on for eight years. People of Chennai are not instant in their praise. They take time to accept something new. They will show patience and will give you the benefit of the doubt. They will come once and twice and if you have what they call charakka, they will come back to stay! Even today, despite naysayers, corporate event managers call up and say they want a classical dance presentation. If dance wants to have an entertainment quotient, then it is trouble. Ideally, great dance should speak to people 5-10 percent above their level. It has to elevate them even if a bit. Something should move inside them, and they should be touched by the form, perhaps shed a tear. - By Dr. Anita Ratnam

“For me, dance is a way of life, a calling,” says Dr. Anita Ratnam, a Chennai-based dancer, choreographer, transcultural collaborator, writer and cultural activist. Photo: Briana Blasko

a female dancer’s attire, and, along with two other female dancers from Madurai, performed before the British at the Music Academy, Chennai, to prove to them that the dance form was divine and should be preserved. Since then, Chennai has played a pivotal role in the preservation and promotion of Bharatanatyam. It was here that the first strands of modernism in Bharatanatyam were introduced when Rukmini Devi reimagined the dance form in her institution, Kalakshetra. I had the privilege of studying here. Rukmini Devi made the dance form gender-neutral where techniques, lines and precision started taking precedence over poetic imagination. All the greats of Bharatanatyam like Yamini Krishnamurthy, Mrinalini Sarabhai and Malavika Sarukkai, came to Kalakshetra to hone their skills. Rabindranath Tagore took Bharatanatyam dancers to Shantiniketan. Jawaharlal Nehru would take dancers on his tours worldwide to showcase its rich heritage. Uday Shankar came to Kalakshetra to finetune his dance and used it for his seminal film, Kalpana. Padma Subrahmanyam introduced the modern element of the solo dancer as an actor. It was Kalakshetra’s dancers on whose bodies Chandralekha framed her post-modern exploration of Bharatanatyam. Chennai was also a centre for movies, so Bharatanatyam enriched cinema as much as cinema played a role in popularising it among the masses. Many great classical dance gurus choreographed Bharatanatyam dances for movies. The first man to get credit in this new field was Valluvar Ramaiya Pillai.

An accomplished Bharatanatyam dancer, Vyjayanthimala Bali became hugely popular, first in South Indian films and later, in Hindi films to which she introduced semi-classical dance. Once regarded as a superstar, she gave up acting to focus on dance. She has been awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi award for her contribution to Bharatanatyam, apart from the Padma Shri and several other awards for dance and acting. She was a Parliamentarian from 1993 to 1999.

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Pulsating energy


With contemporary explorations of society and politics creating an ensemble of humour and farce, and adaptations of Indian novels, theatre in Chennai is an energetic amalgamation of folk, modernity and social discourses.

Prasanna Ramaswamy draws attention to exploitation with Draupadi’s disrobing in Shakti-k-Koothu. Photo: Mohan Das Vadakara


yal (literature), Isai (music) and Natagam (drama) present the confluence of arts in the Sangam literature of 2,000 years ago.

Natagam’s ancient folk form, Therukoothu, with its elaborate costumes and repertoire, and performances from epics like the Mahabharata and Ramayana such as Draupadi Vastrapaharanam, Karna Moksham and Prahalada Charithram continue to not only attract viewers but also influence modern dramaturgy in Tamil Nadu. The first amateur Tamil theatre group in Chennai was set up by Pammal Sambanda Mudaliar, the founding father of Tamil theatre, in 1891. The Suguna Vilas Sabha, staged its first play, Pushpavalli, in 1893. Sankardas Swamigal was the pioneer who set up a more formal ‘boys company’ - the Samarasa Sanmarga Nataka Sabha to train young boys to present mythological stories. The TKS brothers ‘Avvai’ TK Shanmugam, Sankaran, Muthuswami and Bhagwati in this group, changed the tide of mythologies and inspired the freedom movement with nationalistic plays like Kumastavin Penn, Kadarin Vetri and Desa Bhakti. The Tamil Sabha theatre saw packed houses every weekend with plays by SV Sahasranamam, RS Manohar, Poornam Vishwanathan, K Balachander, who went on to do films later, and Cho Ramaswamy. Today, Crazy Mohan, YG Mahendran, S Ve Shekher and Kathadi Ramamurthy continue the tradition of social commentary


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and comedies, though the heady days of the sabha theatres yielded to television in the late 1980s. Therukoothu metabolises the parallel Tamil theatre movement. “I was inspired when I first saw Therukoothu. This was Tamil theatre for me. I realised that we needed to train our actors in this form. The old style of acting was not enough,” says Sangeet Natak Akademi winner, writer and director Na Muthuswamy, who revived the folk art in the 1960s and gave it respectability. Therukoothu’s format of kattiyakaran (sutradhar), the use of traditional thudumbu drums for music and actors trained in kalari, the martial art of Kerala, imbue his discourses on social inequality and politics with a raw physicality and a very Indian narrative. At his home-cum-auditorium in Virugambakkam, diehard fans who include film actors, gather for ticketless performances of his plays like Suvarottigal, England, and Narkalikarar. The performances by his 31-year-old group, the Koothu-p-pattarai, are like master classes in theatre. A vibrant open-air theatre of protest, insight and social awakening is fostered by the Chennai Kalai Kuzhu, under poet-convener Pralayan Chandrashekharan. At Spaces, a performance arena on Elliot’s Beach dedicated to the city by the late danseuse Chandralekha, Sangeet Natak Akademi winner Prasanna Ramaswamy showcased

The country’s oldest English theatre company, The Madras Players perform Water, an English translation of Komal Swaminathan’s ‘Thaneer Thaneer’.

Shakti-k-Koothu. The show, which has had a successful tour of France, uses dance with couplets from Thirukkural of the Sangam era, poems of nationalist poet Subramania Bharathi and her own lyrics to explore the continued disrobing of Draupadi through wars, exploitation of nature, and crimes against women. English theatre has had an emphatic presence in the city since 1955 when the country’s oldest English theatre company, The Madras Players, was formed here. Pioneering in its approach to Indian writing, The Madras Players led the country in staging Girish Karnad’s Hayavadana and Yayati in the 1960s. It was the first to adapt novels, too, with Aruna Ganesh Ram staging RK Narayan’s Swami and Friends. Bestselling author Chetan Bhagat’s novel Five Point Someone was first dramatised and presented by Nikhila Kesavan and, along with adaptations of Manu Joseph’s Serious Men and Pakistani author Shandana Minhas’ Tunnel Vision, has found country-wide acclaim. Regional Indian writing also finds easy dialogue in the English translations of Madras Players. It recently produced well-known Tamil novelist Komal Swaminathan’s much-acclaimed novel, Thaneer Thaneer (Water), which had already been adapted into a national award winning movie. PC Ramakrishna, a longstanding member of

The Madras Players and the director of Water, says: “With Water, we went to mofussil areas as well as sabha audiences, so that epitomises our thrust in theatre work today. Not too many groups are able to access or feel comfortable with Indian writing the way we do”. This English theatre tradition fosters young groups like Crea Shakti, ASAP, Stray Factory, Evam, StageFright, Boardwalkers and Masquerade which experiment with formats and genres to bring in discerning crowds. Short plays of 10 minutes, standup acts, musicals and comedies, pantomimes and heady collaborations for staging Agatha Christie, Shakespeare or the Orwellian Animal Farm keep the adrenaline pumping in theatres like Music Academy, Museum Theatre, Sir Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall, Alliance Francaise, Rani Seethai Hall and Sivagami Pethachi, almost every fortnight. The arena of theatre in Chennai pulsates with energy; apart from a stream of Hindi plays coming down from different cities, theatre workshops are a regular feature in schools and colleges. Patronage for theatre is evolving across different audience segments from the youth and the elite to corporate houses, all providing the much-needed elixir for continued curtain calls and standing ovations.

Sangeet Natak Akademi winner, writer and director Na Muthuswamy revived the folk art of Therukoothu in the 1960s. Performances by his 31-year-old group, the Koothup-pattarai, are very popular.

Best of Chennai Vol 2



Soulful lines

Fine Arts

Tradition and innovation mark the art scene in the city as it absorbs the Madras Art movement of the Sixties to find its moorings in contemporary issues of introspection, abstraction and challenging artistic spaces.

‘The Triumph of Labour’ is an impressive bronze sculpture that commands attention at the northern end of the Marina Beach and is the focal point of May Day celebrations in Chennai. Debi Prasad Roy Choudhury, the Principal of the Madras School of Arts and Crafts (Tamil Nadu Government College of Fine Arts), cast this sculpture in 1959, and another of Mahatma Gandhi which is also located on the same beach. This seemed to have set the trend for sculptures on this beach, and over the years, statues of Tamil litterateurs and major politicians were erected along this beach. Roy Choudhury’s sculptures are installed in several other cities, the most prominent being in New Delhi of Gandhi’s Dandi march. He became the Founder-Chairman of the Lalit Kala Akademi and received several awards including India’s third highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan, and the MBE from the British Government.


he wellspring for art that was created by the Pallavas and the Cholas from the 7th to the 12th centuries continues to nourish the city’s art movement. The Pallava king Narasimhavarman I is credited with commissioning the stunning rock-cut temples and sculptures of Mahabalipuram, 56 km from Chennai. The Cholas carried forward the temple architecture legacy, which reached its zenith with the Brihadeeswarar temple in Thanjavur in 1009 AD. Bronze sculptures depicting a prodigiously large collection of idols of gods and goddesses in sensuous form and perfect poise mark the Chola era from the 8th to 12th centuries. The most popular of these is the Nataraja idol, the dancing Shiva with flaming hair, a raised left leg and right leg on the demon dwarf of ignorance. A large Chola bronze collection shares pride of place with stone sculptures of many eras at the National Art Gallery at the Government Museum at Egmore, itself a fine piece of architecture, built in 1906 in the Indo-Saracenic style. The Madras School of Art, now called the Government College of Fine Arts, was established in 1850 and was India’s first-ever art institution. It was in the 1960s, under the Principal, the redoubtable KCS Panikar, that the Madras Art Movement was launched to inspire students of arts to find their own unique vocabulary that would be ‘Indian in spirit, but worldwide contemporary’. His radical pictorial compositions with words and symbols led the movement that was backed by the figurative and abstract images, lines and symbols, colours and landscapes of artists like AP Santhanaraj, L Munuswamy, M Reddappa Naidu, K Ramanujam, V Viswanadhan and others.


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The artists’ commune of Cholamandal Artists Village on the East Coast Road (ECR), created by Panikar, produced an intellectual atmosphere that stirred ideas and images in sculptures, printmaking and paintings. Artist K Muralidharan, who studied under these great masters, believes that the uniqueness of Chennai art is its “roots in the tradition, the folklore and mythologies of the region’’. His richly textured murals of gods and goddesses such as, Meenakshi, Andal, Kamadhenu and Hanuman are vividly coloured, witty and contemporary interpretations of Indian heritage. Artists RB Bhaskaran, Alphonso Arul Doss, M Senathipathi, SG Vasudev, KM Adimoolam, Rajavelu and C Douglas consolidated the movement in the 1980s with innovative use of mixed media and printmaking. The integration of modern art with the tradition of sculptures is seen in the beaten metal works of sculptors like PV Janakiram, Kanayi Kunhiraman, Vidyashankar Sthapathi and C Dakshinamoorthy. Internationally renowned sculptor S Nandagopal (who is also KCS Panikar’s son), took this frontal sculpture movement forward by adding complex narratives to popular mythologies, enamelling intense colours of blue and green onto copper and brass amalgamations to make huge artworks as signature statements. “The Government College of Fine Arts had a wonderful curriculum and the students were required to spend some time in the craft studios. It was here that I learnt from sculptors who used these studios to anneal their sculptures,” he says.

K Muralidharan, who reinterprets mythology with wit, innocence and vivid colours, is seen here with ‘Iravath’, his depiction of the mythical white elephant.

bring art collectors, connoisseurs and artists together by holding regular art exhibitions, discussions, workshops and facilitating a newly opening up art market. The IIT Alumni Centre offers its members an artistic getaway with regular exhibits in its precincts. Cholamandal Artists Village, along with a museum on the Madras Art Movement, showcases emerging and established artists.

The Bee Keeper, a 23-foot sculpture at the Hyatt Regency is an example of S Nandagopal’s work that displays complex narratives, enamelling intense colours of blue and green onto copper and brass amalgamations.

The Lalit Kala Academy, set up in 1978, took the city’s art legacy forward. Under the present regional secretary and artist, RM Palaniappan, it is leading the country in sculptures and printmaking. Younger artists like Benitha Perciyal, BO Shailesh and Balasubramaniam bring their unique sensitivities of introspection to art, and are challenging notions of artistic space and expression. Several art galleries liven up the art scene of Chennai. Artworld Gallery, Sumukha Art Gallery, Apparao Studios and Forum Art Gallery

The city’s largest art festival, Art Chennai, has, through three annual editions since 2011, connected art to the layperson. Contemporary and modern art and photographs installed on the city’s beaches at Marina and Besant Nagar are a visual and joyful treat. The 2014 edition saw art curated on the walls of IIT and Stella Maris College. Permanent art installations mark the entrance to the Phoenix Market City, one of the largest malls here. Railway stations and derelict walls turned canvases for high art in the ‘Conquer the Concrete’ programme with the GoetheInstitut Chennai flying in artists from USA, Germany and Spain to collaborate with local artists in beautifying the city’s public spaces. Sanjay Tulsyan, convener of Art Chennai, attributes the growth of the festival to the aesthetic consciousness of the Chennaiite. “Our younger artists are inspired by the world and the art trends abroad. With good support from the corporates and the government, the city could soon become a strong art centre in the country,” he says.

Achuthan Kudallur is one of the most valued Indian abstractionists and took to painting non-representational work out of “an inner necessity”. He says, “Colour, I thought, should not be sacrificed on representational elements. I found colour spreads by its own logic, like a river finding its way to the sea.”

Best of Chennai Vol 2



Perfect symphony


Carnatic music regards the definitive work Sangita Ratnakara written in the 13th century by Saranga Deva, with its treatise on swaras, ragas, prabandhas, tala vadhyas and gamakas, as its fountainhead, as does the Hindustani classical form of music. Carnatic music came into its own under the patronage of the Nayaks and the Maratha kings of Thanjavur which became its leading centre by the 17th century.

‘‘Chennai has a high bar for music and the average musician from here is able to do well in any part of the world, as everybody strives to reach that high level,’’ says violinist and vocalist Karthick Iyer of Indosoul. Speaking of his music, Iyer says it is not fusion. “Indosoul is my way of going deep into the commonality of the different genres of music. The audience in Chennai is very discerning and very conscious of Carnatic music. Music resonates with them, it is in their culture and I find a special connect with the city when I play here.”


n the 18th century, there emerged from the town of Thiruvarur the musical trinity of Syama Sastry, Thyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar who changed the landscape of Carnatic music. Thyagaraja’s 700 compositions on Lord Rama in Telugu, especially the Pancharatna Kritis, Syama Sastry’s poetic oeuvres on the goddesses and Dikshitar’s compositions of structured ragas in Sanskrit, brought in new musical formats such as the varnam, kriti, padam, javali, tillana and swarajati. Swathi Thirunal, the king of Travancore, enriched the musical tradition with his compositions. Subbaraya Sastri, Gopalakrishna Bharati, Patnam Subramanya Iyer, Mysore Vasudevachar, Koteeswara Iyer were among the many composers who added to the richness of music. The first ever sabha in the city, Tondaimandalam sabha, came about in the 1880s, thanks to the patronage of rich migrant businessmen and several Indian lawyers who had a flourishing practice at the Madras High Court. Artists from across the state congregated in Madras. The Tamil Isai movement of 1941 led to Tamil’s emergence as the language of music composition with the rise of the Tamil film industry. Its early composers and singers like Papanasam Sivan composed Tamil songs in Carnatic music, some of which have entered the portals of sabhas today. The compositions of Muthaiah Bhagavatar and Subramania Bharathi entered the homes and hearts of the rasikas (connoisseurs).


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Among the musical greats after the 1930s were Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Musiri Subramania Iyer, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, the Alathur Brothers, GN Balasubramaniam and Madurai Mani Iyer. This mantle of excellence was spread further by legends like M Balamuralikrishna, TN Seshagopalan, Maharajapuram Santhanam who inspire the current generation of singers like TM Krishna, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Abhishek Raghuram and Sikkil Gurucharan, among others. Female vocalists such as MS Subbulakshmi, DK Pattammal and ML Vasanthakumari, broke through the male bastion in the early 1950s, often using playback singing in Tamil movies to increase their audience. Singer and actor Subbulakshmi, called the Queen of Music by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, was the first Indian musician ever to be awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1998. These women inspired other singers like KB Sundarambal, NC Vasanthakokilam, T Brinda, T Muktha, and a later generation of singers like Sudha Raghunathan, Aruna Sairam, Nithyasree Mahadevan and Bombay Jayashri, whose lullaby in Ang Lee’s film Life of Pi was nominated for an Oscar. Instrumental

The violin attained solo status in Carnatic instrumental from the Western music genre, some say due to the efforts of Muthuswami

the middle of the season is one of its highlights.

the season of sabhas The city’s Margazhi music season, from December to January, has entered the annals of world music history. Several sabhas organise kutcheris (classical concerts) that start from 7 in the morning. Started in 1927, the winter cultural festival features devotional music, classical vocal and instrumental, lecture-demonstrations, a nascent segment of Hindustani classical music, apart from dance and theatre performances, all of which draw rasikas from across the globe. The prestigious Music Academy’s two-week programme in

Pianist Anil Srinivasan says Chennai is “a city framed by the idea of music.” An audience invested in learning, understanding and studying music adds to the city’s euphoric reception of good music. Srinivasan, who found a welcoming audience to his introduction of piano to Carnatic classical, says, “Music is not an entertainment option but something people know and listen to very carefully.’’ His piano collaborations with film musicians, Carnatic musicians and fusion artists have influenced the younger generation to take to the piano.

Dikshitar’s brother, Baluswami Dikshitar. Violin virtuosos include Lalgudi Jayaraman, Papa Venkatramaiah, Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan and Dr. L Subramaniam, who currently lives in Bengaluru. U Srinivas was known by his instrument, the mandolin, which he introduced into the Carnatic classical scene. TR Mahalingam and N Ramani took the flute to Carnatic’s centre-stage, while percussion experts, Palghat TS Mani Iyer for the mridangam and Vikku Vinayakram for the ghatam, have become household names among music lovers. Tamil film music

Tamil cinema continues to be at the forefront of the city’s DNA of music, with its music directors pushing the boundaries of sound. CR Subburaman, KV Mahadevan, MS Viswanathan and Ilayaraja, though trained

Music also brings forth heightened passions and raging debates. After the devastating floods in late 2015, several senior musicians and dancers withdrew from the Margazhi season, declaring that it wasn’t the time for a cultural festival. The city had anguished debates on whether the sabhas served as a festivity or a healing touch for the city. In the end, the season continued with its events, though on a low key, with most sabhas giving away their collections for flood relief. The class-and-mass debate in Carnatic music was brought forth by vocalist and iconoclast TM Krishna who questioned the ‘elitist’ hold of the higher classes on Carnatic music. Some years ago, Krishna relinquished the Margazhi season, choosing instead to sing for free in the fishing villages of Besant Nagar. The Urur Olcott Kuppam Margazhi Vizha which began in 2014, is a path-breaking festival on Elliot’s Beach featuring musicians and dancers, to include all sections of society in the ecstasy of music.

‘‘Music is an unspoken statement of cultural refinement of a family in Chennai. It is understood that one will be exposed to music lessons from childhood,’’ says multi-genre Carnatic singer and Padma Shri awardee Aruna Sairam. Having sung Muthuswami Dikshitar and Thyagaraja compositions to rock music with the contemporary Carnatic progressive rock band Agam at a sold-out fusion rock concert in Chennai, Sairam, who moved from Mumbai to the city, has found the city receptive to Marathi Abhangs, songs in praise of Lord Vithoba. ‘‘It is not the language but the spirit of the songs that explores the ecstasy of living with God, that the city understood and embraced,’’ she says.

in classical Carnatic, brought folk, Western classical and symphonic orchestration to films. AR Rahman, the Mozart of Madras, swayed the nation with his fusion music of string sounds, mellifluous timbres and layered soundscapes, and won an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire in 2009. Young film musicians like Santhosh Narayan, Sean Roldan, Girishh Gopalakrishnan, Harris Jayaraj, Navin Iyer, GV Prakash Kumar, Yuvan Shankar Raja and Anirudh Ravichander, today offer jazz, funk, hip hop and rap, mixed with local folk traditions of koothu, to have the world swaying to hits like Naka muka that plays at Delhi dance parties or Kolaveri that had Auckland audiences doing a flash dance. Wired into the latest in world music, Chennai draws excellent musicians. The city has a large number of excellent music studios

TM Krishna, who is regarded as a maverick in classical music circles, believes that an artist should break down barriers to allow everyone to be touched by an art form, irrespective of caste, class or gender.

and technicians, and produces some of the best musical collaborations in the country. The music education on offer here has a variety ranging from standard to innovative; AR Rahman’s KM College of Music and Technology offers courses in instrumental music, audio engineering and electronic music production; Anil Srinivasan’s Rhapsody is a musical education venture that uses music as a holistic tool for children to encourage self-expression, to learn to interpret the world and to understand maths, science and linguistics; and the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music follows the traditional gurukula form of education to teach various genres of world music. Western music & rock

The Madras Musical Association is 116 years old and its 90-plus choir has seen generations of music lovers swing to classical, gospel, jazz, country and Western world music. The city also has an engaging rock scene with indie groups like Skrat, Grey Shack, F16, Junkyard Groove bringing powerful vocals and raw styles to their rock concerts.

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Corporate Icons

With major auto companies setting up manufacturing units in Chennai, allied industries have grown around the city. The four-wheeler industry in Chennai is the base of 30 percent of India’s automobile sector and 35 percent of its automobile component industry. Chennai has now also emerged as the electronics manufacturing services hub of India. Some factors that have worked in favour of Chennai include its airport infrastructure, the presence of a port and the availability of a workforce. Chennai employs the second-largest number of people in India. It is also home to Asia’s largest IT Park, SIPCOT.


Best of Chennai Vol 2

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.� Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German and later, American theoretical physicist & Nobel prize-winner

Untitled acrylic on canvas, by Achuthan Kudallur

Best of Chennai Vol 2


Corporate Icons

A peppy ride Featured prominently in the top ten two-wheeler manufacturers of the world, the TVS Motor Company (TVSM) has over 28 million customers in 60 countries. It is the flagship company of the TVS Group, a conglomerate with interests in automobiles, aviation, education, electronics, energy, finance, housing, insurance, investment, logistics, service and textiles.

Venu Srinivasan (centre), Chairman, TVS Motor Company, has channeled the growth story of the company by adopting a work ethos that enables it to manufacture world-class products. He is seen here along with President and CEO KN Radhakrishnan (left), and Joint Managing Director Sudarshan Venu (right), at the launch of TVS Apache RTR 200 and TVS Victor in Chennai in 2016.


ounded in 1911 by TV Sundaram Iyengar who started Southern Roadways Limited in Madurai, the TVS Motor Company has an annual production capacity of 3.5 million two-wheelers (motorcycles, scooters and mopeds) and 1.2 lakh three-wheelers (autorickshaws). Established as Sundaram Clayton, in collaboration with Clayton Dewandre Holdings, UK, TVSM manufactured India’s first moped, the TVS 50 at Hosur in 1980. This was followed by a joint venture with Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) called TVS Suzuki to manufacture motorcycles. Subsequently, TVS bought out Suzuki’s stake, and the TVS Motor Company came into being in 2001. While the Group derives its name from the initials of the founder, the company interprets the letters as ‘Trust, Value, and Service,’ verily its guiding principles, and strongly endorsed by Venu Srinivasan, Chairman, TVSM, who places a premium on excellence. True to the TVS way of life, TVSM has recorded several firsts with its impressive ensemble of products. It was the first Indian company to deploy a catalytic converter in a 100cc motorcycle and it is the only two-wheeler company to have received the prestigious Deming Prize and has been recently ranked the number one company in the JD Power Customer Service Satisfaction Survey. The motorcycle profile of TVSM includes TVS Sport and TVS Star


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City+ in the economy segment, TVS Victor and TVS Phoenix in the executive segment and TVS Apache RTR series in the performance segment. The TVS Scooty Pep+, TVS Scooty Zest 110, TVS Wego

Innovation Apart from making two-wheelers that are easy to ride, fuelefficient and deliver optimum performance, TVS Motor Company focuses on clean and green technology. It has secured a patent for air-injection systems to improve fuel efficiency. It developed the first indigenous four-stroke, 100cc motorcycle in India, the TVS Victor in 2001, for which the company was honoured with a National Award from the Technology Development Board, Government of India. The TVS Apache RTR 200 4V, launched in 2016, has India’s first oil-cooled chamber construct with RAM-air assisted cooling, which reduces the engine’s temperature by 10℃ without compromising on power. It is also the first Indian company to launch the dual-channel ABS (anti-lock braking system which ensures that the wheels continue to rotate while braking, to avoid skidding and accidents) in the TVS Apache RTR 180.

TVS Motor Company manufactures motorcycles, scooters, mopeds and three-wheelers and has three state-of-the-art manufacturing plants in India, in Hosur (Tamil Nadu), Mysuru (Karnataka), Nalagarh (Himachal Pradesh) and one in Karawang, Indonesia.

and TVS Jupiter constitute the scooter segment, while the TVS XL Super, TVS XL Super Heavy Duty and TVS XL100 form the mopeds segment. In 2007, the company forayed into the three-wheeler market with TVS King, India’s first twostroke 200cc autorickshaw, which is available in petrol, CNG, LPG and diesel versions. The company has a strong dealer network of more than 800 authorised main dealerships and 3,000 touch points in India. It

has a wholly-owned subsidiary in Indonesia, the PT TVS Motor Company, which manufactures the new generation bebeks (step-through two-wheelers), TVS Neo, Dazz and Rockz, specifically for the Indonesian and ASEAN markets. TVS Motor Company has a 33-year-old symbiotic relationship with motor sports, which began with the introduction of its 50cc mopeds in the arena of road racing. TVS Racing was established in 1987 to improve the performance of

The peppy TVS Sport uses cricketer and youth icon Virat Kohli to connect with youngsters. TVS Sport received The Most Appealing Premium Motorcycle award from JD Power Asia Pacific in 2015.

its bikes. Over the years, it has provided valuable data, design inputs, development of reliable motorcycle models, excellent vehicle dynamics and handling. The true evidence of it is seen in products like the new TVS Apache RTR 200 4V. TVS Racing has used race track experiences to enhance the performance and handling capabilities of the TVS Apache series of motorcycles.

rally in the world, where it partnered with French and Spanish manufacturer Sherco. The team recently signed their first woman rider, Shreya Sunder Iyer. TVS Racing also supports the Alisha Abdullah Racing Academy with bikes and technical assistance; the academy’s 18 women riders will exclusively race for TVS Racing for the first year.

In early 2015, TVS Racing became the first Indian factory team to take part in the Dakar rally, the longest and toughest

The company is actively involved in working for the betterment of the society, and the Srinivasan Services Trust (SST) discharges the company’s social responsibilities and is focused on economic development, healthcare, education, infrastructure development and environment. The Trust works with other corporate, government and non-government bodies to achieve these objectives.

Awards • The TVS Motor Company’s strong passion for quality and innovation has won it several prominent awards, including the prestigious Deming Award. It is the only two-wheeler manufacturer in the world to have won this award which is given by the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) to recognise organisations that have successfully implemented TQM in their daily operations. • Named as the Two-wheeler Manufacturer of the Year in the NDTV Car and Bike Awards, 2015 • TVS Wego and TVS Apache RTR 180 claimed top spots in the JD Power India Initial Quality Study (IQS) 2016. TVS Scooty Zest and TVS Star City+ topped the charts in their respective segments in the JD Power India Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (2W APEAL) study 2016. • Awarded the highest rating in customer service satisfaction (CSI) in the two-wheeler industry as per the inaugural survey conducted by JD Power India 2016 • Named the Most Trusted Brand in the Two-Wheeler Category in the Economic Times Most Trusted Brand Survey, 2012 • Chairman Venu Srinivasan was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2012. The University of Warwick, UK, conferred upon him an honorary Doctorate of Science degree. He has won many other laurels, including The JRD Tata Corporate Award, The Star of Asia Award by Business Week, The Jamshedji Tata Lifetime Quality Achievement Award, and the Emerging Corporate Giant Award by The Economic Times and the Harvard Business School Association of India. • TVS Racing bagged several accolades at the FMSCI 2015 awards. Apart from winning eight championships across all forms of two-wheeler motorsport events like Supercross, rallies and road racing, the company won a special award for the support and promotion of motorsports in India and the award for National Champion Manufacturer of the year for Group B 165cc in 2016.

In the near future, TVS Motor Company aims to cement its place in the top five two-wheeler players in the world while working its way to the top slot in India. With a presence in more than 60 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, the company is steadily working towards expanding its global footprint.

Tel: +91 43 4427 6780 BSE: 532343 | NSE: TVSMOTOR

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Path to success The Murugappa Group is one of India’s leading business conglomerates, with 28 businesses, nine of which are listed on the NSE and the BSE. It is India’s second-largest producer of phosphatic fertilisers, the second-largest maker of cycles and one of the top five sugar companies. Its companies cut across sectors like abrasives, financial services, auto components, cycles, engineering and metal products, fertilisers, sugar and bio-products, making the Group an industry leader par excellence.

TI Cycles is a Murugappa Group company with the flagship cycle brands of BSA, Hercules, Montra and Mach City, and a manufacturing capacity of three million bicycles per annum.


ased in Chennai, the Murugappa Group, with a turnover of `29,470 crore (US $4.4 billion approximately) is the market leader in several segments across agriculture, engineering and financial services including abrasives, auto components, cycles, sugar, farm inputs, fertilisers, plantations, bio-products and nutraceuticals. It has a 32,000-strong employee force spread across 13 states in the country and across six continents.

The history of the Group has roots in Burma (present-day Myanmar) back in 1900 when it was a British province. Fourteen-yearold Murugappa Chettiar, who had accompanied his uncle as

an apprentice, set up his own flourishing banking practice, and diversified into textiles, rubber plantations and stock-broking, opening branches in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Vietnam. When winds of change began to blow, the family, with great foresight, strategically moved its operations to India in the 1930s. It set up a sandpaper plant, a steel safe-making factory and soon entered manufacturing, too. Murugappa Chettiar’s business acumen led to the colonial British government bestowing the title of Dewan Bahadur on him. By 1950, the family set up a factory to manufacture cycles, and acquired a rubber plantation, laying the foundation for an ambitious

With plantations in the picturesque Anamallais and the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu, the mountains of Sakleshpur in Karnataka, and on the banks of the Brahmaputra in Assam, Murugappa produces CTC, Orthodox, Organic and Green teas.


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CUMI, a Murugappa Group company, pioneered the manufacture of coated and bonded abrasives in India and manufactures over 20,000 different varieties of abrasives, refractory products and electro-minerals in ten locations across the country. It exports to 43 countries across North America, Europe, Australia, South Africa and Asia.

Innovation TI Cycles was the first to introduce MTB (mountain bikes or all-terrain bikes), geared bikes, the first Shox model, the first girls’ bike, the first kids’ bike, the first light roadster and the first carbon-frame bike in India. TPI’s (Tube Products of India) application specialist engineers work with cutting-edge technology to build precision tubes with multi-engineering applications to enhance fuel efficiency, reduce weight and increase safety parameters for the auto industry. EID Parry leverages technology, right from improving soil health for better yields to packaging pure sugar in factories. Path-breaking research into bio-products for organic agriculture at EID Parry has led to the discovery and extraction of Azadirachtin (AZA) for use in bio-pesticides; this has been recognised by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

dream of being a professionally-run, largest family business in South India.

Shanthi Gears, Tube Investments of India Ltd and Wendt (India) Ltd.

After the death of Dewan Bahadur AM Murugappa Chettiar, his three sons, AMM Murugappa Chettiar, AMM Vellayan Chettiar and AMM Arunachalam Chettiar carried forward their father’s legacy. The fourth generation of the family steers the Group, and A Vellayan and MM Murugappan have been the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman of the Group respectively from 2006.

The Murugappa Group was the first to take India onto the path of industrialisation through joint ventures. TI Cycles was one of the first companies set up in the country, in 1949, to make bicycles in alliance with a UK major. In 1954, the company tied up with Carborundum Inc of the US and Universal Grinding Wheel Co Ltd of the UK to start the Carborundum Universal Ltd (CUMI), which manufactures abrasives, electro minerals and industrial ceramics. The other international companies that Murugappa is allied with include Groupe Chimique Tunisien, Foskor, Mitsui Sumitomo, Morgan Crucible and Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM).

Today, the 115-year-old Murugappa Group is one of the country’s largest diversified business houses, with flagship companies like Cholamandalam Investment and Finance Company, Carborundum Universal Ltd, Cholamandalam MS General Insurance Company Ltd, Coromandel International Ltd, Coromandel Engineering Company Ltd, EID Parry (India) Ltd, Parry Agro Industries Ltd,

The Group leads in all its business verticals: Coromandel International is the secondlargest producer of phosphatic fertilisers in

Awards • Wendt India Ltd was conferred the Silver Award in the India Green Manufacturing Challenge for Green Manufacturing by the International Research Institute for Manufacturing in 2014. • Coromandel International Ltd was awarded in the Green Business, Sustainable Business Practices and Best Rural Outreach categories during the Global Sustainability Conference organised by the World CSR Congress in 2013. • Cholamandalam MS General Insurance’s ‘in-time claims settlement’ received the Best Insurance Company award from the Union Labour Ministry in 2011. • Cholamandalam MS Risk Services Ltd (CMSRSL) was awarded the Risk Manager of the Year at the 11th Asia Insurance Industry Awards in 2007. • The Murugappa Group was conferred the IMD Distinguished Family Business Award by The Management Development Institute (IMD) of Lausanne, Switzerland in 2001.

A Vellayan is the Chairman of the Murugappa Group. His strong business fundamentals and respect for traditional culture are combined with a belief in the Arthashastra (an ancient Sanskrit treatise) principles of wealth generation that says, ‘If no man you transact with loses, you shall never lose’.

the country, TI cycles is the second-largest maker of cycles and EID Parry is one of the top five sugar companies in India. The Group has manufacturing bases across the world: in China and Russia for abrasives, in France for industrial class chains and in South Africa for fertiliser inputs. As part of its onward journey, the Group is concentrating on farm mechanisation and nutraceuticals. The Group views corporate social responsibility not as a social obligation but as fulfillment of corporate dharma. From its inception, it has been investing a significant portion of its profit after tax in social activities. The AMM Foundation was formed in 1953 to institutionalise this approach and runs four high schools, a polytechnic, four free hospitals and a rural research centre for the rural and urban poor. The TI school in Ambattur was the first to be awarded an ISO 9001 certification.

Tel: +91 44 2530 6789/6222 Coromandel International BSE: 506395 | NSE: COROMANDEL EID Parry (India) BSE: 500125 | NSE: EIDPARRY

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Tyres with muscle One of the top 20 tyre companies in the world and the country’s leading one, MRF Tyres has made it to the Forbes India list of super 50 companies 2015 and won the Brandz Top 50 award for being one of the country’s most valuable brands. The leading tyre brand in India for close to three decades, it serves the entire spectrum of the market’s diverse segments with the widest range of tyres in the country. The MRF Pace Foundation and MRF Motorsports have made the company synonymous with high performance and speed in both business and sporting arenas.

Gaurav Gill, an Indian rally driver with Team MRF, won the International Rally of Whangarei in New Zealand in 2016. This is the opening round of the 2016 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship series which includes events in Australia, Malaysia, Japan & China, and attracts racers from around the region and Europe.


eadquartered in Chennai, the Madras Rubber Factory began life in 1946 as a toy balloon manufacturing unit started by KM Mammen Mappillai. It entered into tread rubber manufacturing in 1952 and soon became the only Indian-owned company to manufacture superior, cushion-backed tread rubber. Renamed MRF Ltd in 1980, its Muscleman logo can be seen in over 80 countries to which it exports tyres. With a turnover of over `1,500 crore (US $224 million approximately), it has demonstrated global competence, consistent sales growth and superior returns on equity. Its range of tyres are made for passenger cars, two-wheelers, heavy-duty trucks, buses, tractors, all-terrain vehicles, and even go-kart and rally cars. MRF has been leading the country’s tyre industry in innovations and expertise. It set up India’s first tyre export office in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1964, was the first Indian tyre company to export to the USA in 1967 and the first, in 1973, to develop nylon tyres for passenger cars. It was also the first company to introduce radial tyres in India and the only Indian company to supply tyres to the Indian Air Force fighter jet plane, the Sukhoi 30 MKI. As the only company to develop Formula 3 car tyres, world-class rally tyres for tarmac and dirt, Motocross tyres and CIK-FIA Karting tyres, MRF is intricately linked with motorsports. MRF launched its first-ever


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F3 car in 1997 and is associated with the MRF Challenge Formula 2000 open-wheel motorsports event held annually since 2010 by the Madras Motor Sports Club. MRF’s rally team has won the Asia Pacific Rally Championship seven times since 2001. The company passed into the competent hands of the second generation, after the death of KM Mammen Mappillai in 2003. His

Innovation MRF was the first to introduce nylon tyres in India. Its Muscleflex conveyor belts are produced at one of the most advanced stateof-the-art facilities that include manufacturing techniques right from mixing and calendering to the rolling out of the finished product. It has the most advanced pre-cured retreading system in India. In keeping with its track record in innovation, MRF recently launched India’s first radial tyres for motorcycles, with advanced tread patterns and precision rounded profiles. MRF is also the only Indian tyre company to manufacture tyres for the Indian Air Force fighter jet–the Sukhoi 30 MKI.

Awards • MRF won the JD Power Asia Pacific Award for Customer Satisfaction in 2016, having won it eleven times previously since 2001. • It is the only tyre company to be listed in the prestigious Super 50 List of Indian firms published by Forbes India in 2015. • Received the Global Marketing Excellence Award and was recognised as one of the 100 Most Influential Market Leaders at the World Marketing Congress, 2015 • The only Indian company to win the silver prize in the Ford World Excellence Awards, 2013 • Received the CAPEXIL award in acknowledgement of its export performance in 2009 • Voted the Most Trusted Tyre Company in India by TNS Global in the 2007 • KM Mammen Mappillai was the first South Indian industrialist to be awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1993.

sons, Chairman KM Mammen and Managing Director Arun Mammen, successfully steered MRF Tyres into the two-billion dollar league by 2011. They expanded capacities to 4.5 crore tyres per year through nine plants and a workforce of more than 15,000 people. Today, the company is the leader in the passenger car tyres segment, with a 21 percent share, and a network of 4,500 dealers and over 500 tyres and service franchisees in the country. Globally, it has offices in Dubai,

Vietnam and Australia. MRF’s association with sports such as cricket, racing and rallying, especially the setting up of the MRF Pace Foundation in 1987, has made the company a byword for speed, agility and consistent high-performance. MRF was the main sponsor of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and the ICC T20 Cricket World Cup 2016. One of the unique creations of the company is the MRF Pace Foundation, a training academy for pace bowlers. Set

KM Mammen Mappillai (left), founder of MRF Ltd, was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1993 in recognition of his contribution to Indian industry. His impeccable acumen for business guided MRF to its many accomplishments, which have been further enhanced by his successor KM Mammen (right), the current chairman.

up under the vision of the late Ravi Mammen, the institution had the Australian pace legend, Dennis Lillee serving as FounderDirector. The Foundation boasts of world-class facilities such as concrete wickets, artificial turf, a state-of-the-art gymnasium and a swimming pool. Physical fitness is complemented with yoga and meditation. The MRF Pace Foundation has been home to a number of young men from various social and economic backgrounds, who have made their careers and their fortunes from the training and discipline imparted to them. In 1997, the Foundation went international, with players

from Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, England and the West Indies. Indian players who coached at the Foundation include Javagal Srinath, Irfan Pathan, Venkatesh Prasad, RP Singh, Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth. Some of the biggest names in international pace bowling like Shoaib Akhtar, Lance Klusener, Heath Streak and Dion Nash have made regular use of the unique facilities available at the Foundation. Batsmen of the class of Sachin Tendulkar, Navjot Singh Sidhu and VVS Laxman have all used the facility too, and many quality bowlers have honed their skills here. For the future, the company looks to leverage its existing capabilities in the domestic tyre industry and use it as a springboard to conquer global markets. It seeks to expand its product line-up, innovate with better tyres for the twowheeler, passenger car and truck segments, and add to the existing capacities in its plants. It is also exploring acquisitions abroad, in order to cut costs, improve profitability and double turnover in the next few years. The journey ahead holds exciting promise for MRF’s continued growth and success, as it seeks to go well beyond traditional boundaries.

The MRF Pace Foundation was started in 1987 as a coaching clinic to train fast bowlers from various countries; several of its trainees have gone on to play for their respective national teams. Iconic Indian cricketer and former captain Sachin Tendulkar and former international Australian pace bowler Glenn McGrath, who were once trainees at the academy, are now part of its larger training team, and McGrath has been the Foundation’s director from 2012.

Tel: +91 44 2829 2777 BSE: 500290 | NSE: MRF

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Farmers’ friend As the world’s second largest sub 100-HP tractor manufacturer, Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited (TAFE) is the flagship company of the Amalgamations Group, a prominent light engineering conglomerate. India’s second largest tractor manufacturing company and the world’s third largest tractor manufacturer (by volume), TAFE has six manufacturing plants in India, at Chennai, Madurai, Doddaballapur, Bhopal, Alwar and Parwanoo, and one each in Turkey and China, selling over 1,70,000 tractors annually in 85 countries.

Built on years of close association and partnership with all its stakeholders, TAFE’s philosophy of cultivating the world has resulted in a growth that is both steady and inclusive.


AFE has a turnover of `9,300 crore (US $1.4 billion approximately), and its product line extends beyond tractors and farm equipment to diesel engines and gensets, agro engines, engineering plastics, hydraulic pumps and cylinders, gears and transmission components, batteries, vehicle sales and plantations. It has an over 1,000-strong dealer network that sells its tractors throughout the world which includes the Americas, Eastern Europe, Africa and South Asia.

was founded in 1945 by S Anantharamakrishnan, following a successful foray into diesel engine manufacturing with Simpson & Company. The Founder-Chairman’s interest in the Green Revolution and his visionary aim to help the farming community of the country through mechanisation led to the establishment of TAFE in 1960, in collaboration with AGCO Corporation USA, one of the world’s largest manufacturers, designers and distributors of agricultural equipment.

TAFE’s parent company, the `16,700 crore (US $2.5 billion approximately) Amalgamations Group, headquartered in Chennai,

TAFE started by manufacturing and marketing Massey Ferguson tractors and other farm equipment. The leadership of TAFE passed


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on to the Founder’s son, A Sivasailam, and subsequently to the third generation of the family when Mallika Srinivasan, daughter of Sivasailam, took over as Chairman and CEO after his death in 2011. Prior to this, the ‘Tractor Queen’ as Mallika Srinivasan is popularly known, was part of the senior leadership of TAFE for 25 years. A Wharton alumna, she steered the company from a turnover of `85 crore (US $12.7 million approximately) when she joined as a manager in 1986, to the present `9,300 crore (US $1.4 billion approximately). TAFE’s pioneering R&D has seen product innovation that match global standards and its facilities are recognised by the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, Government of India, as centres of excellence. The annual production of tractors has increased from 4,000 in 1985 to the present 1,70,000, and the company has diversified into different businesses. All its tractor plants are certified under ISO 9001 and 14001 for being environment-friendly in

operations. Many plants have also won the TPM Excellence Award from the Japan Institute of Plant Management for Total Quality Management. The acquisition of Eicher tractors, diesel engines and gears and transmissions businesses in 2005 through the wholly-owned subsidiary TAFE Motors and Tractors Limited (TMTL), elevated the company to the second position in India. It currently holds 24 percent market share of the Indian tractor industry and is a leading tractor exporter. TAFE’s CSR charter focuses on the area of healthcare, education, care for the differently-abled, promotion and propagation of traditional art forms and the preservation of Indian heritage. One of its unique initiatives is the JRehab Centre set up in 1980 in Madurai, to empower orthopedically challenged women. The centre engages them in the production of wiring harnesses, battery cables and toolkit bags for tractors. This unit is run as a regular business and has its targets and plans, both of which have been consistently

Awards • TAFE’s ‘Be a #FarmDost’ initiative received the Marketer of the Year award for a Social Impact campaign from Direct Marketing Association of India (DMAi) in 2016. • Awarded the Champion of Champions in the Corporate Collaterals Award held by Public Relations Council of India in 2016 • Received the first prize in the Safety Category under Large Industries at the CII National Level Kaizen Competition 2015 • TAFE Engineering Plastics and Tool Room Division, Maraimalai Nagar, TAFE Doddaballapur Plant and TAFE Madurai Operations won the TPM Excellence award in 2015. • Awarded as the Star Performer– Large Enterprise (Agricultural Tractors) by Engineering Exports Promotion Council, India in 2015 for outstanding contribution to Engineering Exports for the year 2012-13 • TAFE Chairman & CEO Mallika Srinivasan was conferred the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2014 for her contribution to Trade & Industry. She was voted Woman Leader of the Year by Forbes India in 2011, ranked Second among India’s Most Powerful Women in Business by Fortune India in 2012, received the Asian Business Leadership Forum’s ABLF Woman of Power Award, and was included in the Forbes Asia list of Top 50 Asian Power Businesswomen in 2012.

Founder-Chairman S Anantharamakrishnan’s vision of mechanising agriculture in the country has been enhanced by his successors A Sivasailam & Mallika Srinivasan, the current Chairman & CEO. Popularly known as the ‘Tractor Queen’, she has steered TAFE’s steady growth from 2011.

achieved. TAFE won the National Award for the Best Employer for People with Disabilities in 2000, and the State Best Employer Award in the same year. Going forward, TAFE intends to consolidate its position in the tractor market as a leader

and as the first choice of the farming community. Along with its collaborator AGCO, it is developing a ‘world tractor’ for the global farming community. Its growth plans include expanding into international markets, with inroads being made into Africa.

Innovation TAFE has been a pioneer in agri-innovation and introducing relevant technologies for the farming community. It was the first to bring out a tractor with oil-immersed brakes, the first to introduce Direct Injection Technology and the first to introduce the 75-HP tractor in India. It was also the first to provide both air-cooled and water-cooled engines, to offer a three-year extended warranty for tractors, to have fingertip actuation, and the first in the industry to have an adaptive agri-research centre, JFarm, for providing farm advisory services.

Tel: + 91 44 6691 9000 / 2826 0224

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Steadfast growth With interests in chemicals, engineering, shipping and metals across the world, the Sanmar Group is one of Chennai’s leading business conglomerates. With 15 major companies, the group has manufacturing plants in Germany, USA, Mexico and Egypt.

SETL manufactures a wide range of critical process equipment, including mechanical seals, rupture disks and explosion vents, and enhances industrial efficiency by providing roundthe-clock maintenance across the country.


tarting with a single business, the Sanmar Group has grown into a `6,489 crore (US $1 billion approximately) conglomerate. Its 40-year-old flagship company, Chemplast Sanmar, is India’s largest PVC resin plant, and with a capacity of 2,92,000 tonnes, the largest chemical project in Tamil Nadu. The story of Sanmar starts with SNN Sankaralinga Iyer, the patriarch and the family’s first industrialist whose interests extended to banking, corporate farming, shipping, cement and rubber. He set up the Indo Commercial Bank as well as the first cement plant in Tirunelveli in the 1930s. His son KS Narayanan showed his prowess in business when, at the age of 19, he owned and ran a printing ink company in 1940. As the commercial interests of the family expanded, Narayanan went to Denmark and returned to help set up India Cements Ltd in 1947 and Chemplast in 1965. In 1997 his son, N Sankar, formally brought Chemplast into the Sanmar Group.

Innovation Chemplast Sanmar pioneered the industry’s first Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) system where not a drop of liquid effluent goes into the environment, either through land or sea. It has achieved one hundred percent ZLD in all its plants, with all liquid effluents treated and reused. In keeping with its environmental concerns, the Group ensures that none of its plants near the coast uses any groundwater, using desalinated seawater instead.


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Inspired by his family’s entrepreneurial spirit, N Sankar, the current Chairman of the Sanmar Group, acquired a Masters in Chemical Engineering in the USA. After a brief stint in Chemplast, he bought an industrial chemical plant in 1972. The 26-year-old had a dream to set up a technology-based company which was realised in 1976 when he set up Duramettalic India Ltd, in collaboration with a Michigan firm. He soon moved, via acquisitions and alliances, into engineering and shipping. The Sanmar Group was formally incorporated in 1991; the name an amalgam of N Sankar and his brother, N Kumar. Today the Sanmar Group includes 15 major companies. Under the guidance of N Sankar, Chemplast Sanmar became one of the largest PVC manufacturers in India, with a net worth of `2,000 crore (US $299 million approximately), and an aggregate capacity of 2,92,000 tonnes from its plants in Mettur, Cuddalore, Panrutti and Vedaranyam in Tamil Nadu, and Karaikal in Puducherry. Apart from PVC, Chemplast has interests in caustic soda, chlorochemicals, refrigerant gas and industrial salt. Sanmar’s first company, Duramettalic is now Sanmar Engineering Technologies Ltd (SETL), a well-integrated group of companies with foundries in India and the USA. Sanmar Shipping Ltd (SSL) started operations in 1994 and is a leader in the field of clean petroleum products and dry bulk cargo, operating a fleet of six ships. Sanmar’s many foreign alliances include world leaders from the US like Cabot Corporation in chemicals, Flowserve, BS&B Safety

The Chemplast Sanmar plant in Mettur has undergone a major change in production process at a cost of `80 lakh (US $120,000 approximately). It has ceased using mercury cell and switched to the more environment-friendly membrane cell, and reuses waste generated during production.

Awards • The Sanmar Group won the award for Institutional Building by the Employer Branding Institute in 2012. • The Mettur plant of Chemplast was awarded the Safety Appreciation Award from the National Safety Council in 2012. • The Group was awarded Organisation with Innovative HR Practices by the Employer Branding Institute at the Sixth Employer Branding Awards (Southern Regional Round), 2011. • Chemplast Karaikal plant was placed first for seven consecutive years since 2002 for Industrial Garden, Government of Pondicherry, 2011. • Chemplast won two awards at the Seventh National Awards for Excellence in Water Management, organised by CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) in 2010.

N Sankar, Chairman, Sanmar Group, believes in combining integrity with excellence.

Systems, Xomox, and Tyco Corporation in engineering. It was one of the earliest private companies to opt for separate ownership and management, and in 2005, formed a corporate board with external directors. Reputed for its environmental concerns, Sanmar has invested hugely in technology. It installed an Uninterrupted Power Supply system in Mettur to eliminate the possibility of gas leaks. In Vedaranyam, the Group has partnered with the Bombay Natural History Society to set up a study centre for the bird sanctuary on its coastline. At Karaikal, it turned the tsunami-hit area into 16 acres of green belt; its industrial garden there has been adjudged one of the best in the country. Its social responsibilities include running health centres and schools in villages around its plant sites. The Group has long batted for cricket, and has managed a local team for the last 50 years, grooming cricketers like L Balaji, S Badrinath, Murali Vijay, Dinesh Karthik and R Ashwin. The Jolly Rovers team has won more than 62 titles in cricket competitions. Sanmar sponsors school and college level cricket through the annual Sanmar Cup tournament.

The 50-year-old Jolly Rovers cricket club, sponsored by the Sanmar Group, has made winning a habit with more than 62 titles to their credit, including the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association’s (TNCA) First Division League title which it has won 18 times. Many national and state cricketers have honed their skills with the Rovers, including L Balaji, Dinesh Karthik, R Ashwin, S Badrinath and M Vijay. The Rovers home arena, the IIT-Sanmar cricket ground has top-notch training facilities with 12 pitches and six centre wickets. Many of India’s national cricket team members such as Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh have attended camps and trials here.

With the fourth-generation scion, Vijay Sankar joining the group, Sanmar is all set to take the dreams of its patriarch ahead. Its strong functioning in chemicals, with a twolakh tonne PVC plant in Egypt, puts it in the league of global leaders.

Tel: +91 44 2812 8500

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Concrete innings The third-largest cement company in the country and the largest in South India with a market share of 28 percent, The India Cements Ltd is a strategically integrated company which owns the flagship brand Coromandel King, as also captive power plants, shipping and coal mines.

India Cements is one of the leading cement manufacturers in India and produces 15.5 million tonnes of cement per annum and employs over 7,500 people. The Group has 8 cement plants located in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana & Rajasthan, and a grinding unit each in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.


eadquartered in Chennai, the company has a turnover of more than `4,700 crore (US $703 million approximately), and an installed capacity of 15.5 million tonnes in ten plants across the country. The story of India Cements began close to the hour of India’s freedom and stands testimony to the nation’s dreams of industrialisation and self-sufficiency as shared by its pioneer founders, SNN Sankaralinga Iyer and TS Narayanaswami. The bankers-turned-businessmen established the company in 1946 and set up its first cement plant in 1949, with an installed capacity of one lakh tonnes at Sankarnagar, Thalaiyuthu of the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. It was one of the earliest companies post-independence to go public with an oversubscribed Initial Public Offering (IPO), and has only grown in

popularity since, with more than one lakh shareholders. Growth in the company’s capacities came rapidly under the stewardship of the present Vice-Chairman and Managing Director N Srinivasan, son of TS Narayanaswami, who took over the reins in 1989. Expansion of existing capacities, installation of new plants and acquisition of other cement companies saw India Cements raise yearly production capacities from 1.3 million tonnes in 1989 to the present 15.5 million tonnes. Its plants are spread across Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, along with a subsidiary in Rajasthan, Trinetra Cement Ltd. Together, the plants manufacture well-known brands like Sankar Super Power, Coromandel King and Raasi Gold that are distributed through its 10,000 stockists nationwide. It has two grinding units, one each in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh,

Innovation Seeking synergy in its core business, India Cements has gone into coal mining, shipping and captive power plants. This ensures that its energy requirements and other supply chain inputs are met alongside its strategic interests of being a pan-Indian player in the cement industry. The company mines coal in Indonesia, owns three bulk carriers in its shipping division and its captive power plants include renewable energies with two windfarms, 9.9 MW at Palladam and 8.75 MW at Thevarkulam in Tamil Nadu. It operates a gas-based power plant in Ramanathapuram under the Coromandel Electric Company and has power plants in Sankarnagar in Tamil Nadu, Vishnupuram in Telangana, Vijjeswaram in Andhra Pradesh and Banswara in Rajasthan.


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exporters, money-changing services, share and forex broking, and also has a travel division with IATA accreditation. The company has a strong love for sport: the CSK Super Cup, initiated in 2013, is a multisports corporate tournament featuring tennis, table tennis, badminton, snooker, chess and Twenty20 cricket. The Vice-Chairman and Managing Director N Srinivasan was the President of the Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI) from 2011 to 2015, the Chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC) from 2014 to 2015, and is the President of the TN Cricket Association since 2002. India Post brought out a commemorative postage stamp on the birth centenary of TS Narayanaswami, the co-founder of India Cements.

and is also into ready-mix concrete with a subsidiary, Trishul Concrete Products commissioning eight plants since 1999. India Cements’ financial services company, India Cements Capital Ltd (ICCL), set up in 1985, has 26 branches and is one of the leading South Indian companies offering risk management services for importers and

The owner of the IPL franchisee Chennai Super Kings (currently on a two-year suspension), India Cements’ love for cricket started from 1964 when it sponsored numerous employees who represented the state as well as the nation in cricket. Wellknown cricketers who are employed with the company include Rahul Dravid, MS Dhoni, R Ashwin and Dinesh Karthik. Twelve teams owned by the company are engaged in state and city-level cricket tournaments. India Cements’ team, Chennai Super Kings, won the IPL twice in 2010 and 2011, and the Champions League in 2010.

N Srinivasan, Vice-Chairman & Managing Director of India Cements, has steered the rapid growth and development of the company through mergers, acquisitions, greenfield and brownfield expansions. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Entrepreneur Award by TIECON in 2009.

Its corporate social responsibility extends to long term community development in 150 villages offering employment-oriented skill training programmes for women and youth. India Cements’ Educational Trust, started by founder TS Narayanaswami, runs the Sankar Polytechnic College at Sankarnagar, while the India Cements Educational Society, set up in 1994, runs schools, colleges and polytechnics educating more than 6,000 students across the state. It also offers infrastructural support and organises sports camps and summer camps for 350 schools near its cement plants. Constructing water tanks and borewells, concretising roads, building bus shelters and running street lights are a part of civic responsibility in these areas for the company. With developmental and construction activities set to take off in South India, especially in the city of Amaravati, the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, India Cements is looking at a future with improved market share, better business strategies and reduced costs. The company has forward integrated into infrastructure development through the India Cements Infrastructures Ltd (ICIL) started in 2014 to leverage its expertise in setting up captive power projects and waste water treatment plants in its cement plants. A new real estate business, setting up a gated community over 2.5 acres of land at Coimbatore, is another diversification to consolidate the company’s strengths in the construction business.

Several landmark projects have been built using cement from India Cements, such as the UB City, the biggest luxury commercial property in Bengaluru (seen above), the 4 million sq ft ICICI office in Hyderabad which is India’s largest captive office building and the 18th largest in the world in terms of floor area in a single building, the Infosys campus in Mysuru which is the world’s biggest corporate training facility for IT professionals and the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad that has a capacity of 33,000 spectators and is regarded as the best in India.

Tel: +91 44 2852 1526 BSE: 530005 | NSE: INDIACEM

Best of Chennai Vol 2



Hospitality & Food

Chennai has, for quite some time now, graduated beyond spicy, traditional South Indian offerings in simple no-nonsense surroundings. The gastronomical map of the city has transformed from breakfast staples, street food and meals on leaves to a variety of international cuisine in plush fine-dining restaurants and uber-chic cafes. Along with the masala dosa, sambhar idli, Ambur biryani and Chettinad chicken, one can relish world cuisine and fusion cuisine at affordable prices. The latest trend seems to be the blossoming of bistros and theme-based restaurants. Pop-up experiences, workshops and classes are a regular over the weekends. Economic development, coupled with a growing expat population and food-aware youngsters, seem to be driving the tectonic shift in the Chennai food scene.


Best of Chennai Vol 2

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Virginia Woolf (1882 -1941), British author & journalist

‘Krishna’, mixed media on canvas, by Muralidharan K

Best of Chennai Vol 2


Hospitality & Food

Palatial hospitality Celebrating the monumental history of Chennai, the ITC Grand Chola Hotel’s majestic architecture pays tribute to the imperial Chola dynasty of South India. Seamlessly integrating heritage with modernity, it is the world’s largest Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified Platinum Green hotel, and its sustainable practices in energy, water and waste management make it an embodiment of ‘Responsible Luxury’.

The grandeur of the Chola Empire manifests itself through the uniquely carved and textured exterior of the ITC Grand Chola.


his modern icon of Chennai extends across eight acres, and is one of the biggest hotels in the country, with 522 rooms, 78 serviced residences and 9,294 sq mt of banquet and convention space. Visitors are awed by the colossal scale of the the ITC Grand Chola with its towering facades. The 432 pillars in the hotel are inscribed with elephant motifs, the Chola symbol of strength and prosperity. Much like a traditional temple, the hotel has entry points in all four directions, and its curved driveway leads to four exclusive wings catering to different categories of guests. The grandest entry point is the Chola, the main entrance in the west. The sunflower motif on the portico is reminiscent of the traditional kolam, and leads to Sangam, the palatial lobby. The columns here are inspired by the Chola temples of Thanjavur. The visual leitmotifs throughout the hotel include carved elephants raising their trunks in veneration, the chakra (the wheel of life), the four-petal clover and intricate fretwork on panels and columns.

The Grand Stairway is bejewelled with a copper and bronze Chariot of Victory drawn by two magnificent horses, inspired by the Darasuram temple and the Narayanaswami temple in Kumbakonam. The Grand Staircase is also embellished with a chakra. From the Vallavan in the north stretches an expanse of 4,380 sq ft, welcoming world leaders and global icons to the ultra-luxurious ITC One rooms and suites. The luxuriously appointed rooms and suites are an epitome of regal living, with their high ceilings, ornate chandeliers and customised art. The state-of–the-art facilities include an iPad interface for controlling the in-room features of air conditioning, lights, multi-media and entertainment consoles. The Grand Presidential Suite or the Raja Raja Chola suite spreads over 407 sq mt, with six bays overlooking the pristine swimming pool ‘Marina’ and the Madras Race Course. The suite has a bullet-proof private VIP lounge with an exclusive entrance, porch, foyer, elevator and business centre. The interiors are in soothing

Innovation ITC Grand Chola practices green business ethics and responsible luxury in all aspects. All its electrical energy requirements come from renewable energy sources, efficient fixtures reduce the building’s water use by 35 percent compared to internationally benchmarked luxury hotel standards, and hundred percent of the hotel’s waste is recycled. It reduces the carbon footprint of its well-travelled guests through menus that feature locally produced ingredients, uses reusable materials for décor and stationery, and minimises food wastage at events.


Best of Chennai Vol 2

A grand experiential confluence of regal riches and modern luxury is served up at the Grand Presidential suite or the Raja Raja Chola suite, the Presidential suite Karikalan, and the 14 Chola suites.

Anil Chadha, Area Manager South - ITC Hotels & General Manager, ITC Grand Chola, says, “ITC Grand Chola is ITC’s tribute to Tamil Nadu and an iconic asset for Chennai; an ornate, palatial tribute to one of Southern India’s greatest empires, the imperial Cholas. The hotel epitomises ITC’s commitment to triple bottomline benchmarks and complements ITC Hotels’ exemplary achievement as the greenest luxury hotel chain in the world. We are committed to offering world-class hospitality to guests from across the world.”

The Sangam Lobby is a pristine expanse of pastel-hued Traventine Romano Classico marble interspersed with symmetrically arranged pillars and finished in elegant white stucco, reminiscent of the temples of South India. The carvings are by traditional sculptors from Mahabalipuram on the outskirts of Chennai. The spectacular pair of bronze and copper horses signify the valour and pride of the Chola kings.

hues of chocolate brown, cream and beige, embellished with elegant, fine handcrafted fabrics and spectacular artifacts. The bedroom is adorned with a blue and green peacock overlaid on a gold-textured wall. Nine acclaimed food and beverage destinations complement the regal splendour of the building. Options for local and international cuisine include Madras Pavilion, Café Mercara Express, the gourmet shop Nutmeg and Peshawri, which is the city’s foremost exploration of foods of the North-West frontier.

Asian, serving authentic fare from Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia; the Royal Vega, where the cuisine is inspired by the science of Ayurveda; and Ottimo Cucina Italiana, which dishes up authentic flavours of Italy. Tranquebar and The Cheroot Malt & Cigar Lounge are quiet havens for pre-dinner aperitifs or to relax after a meal.

Among the signature restaurants are Pan

The convention facilities in the hotel are geared for premium events and product launches. Apart from the health club and the swimming pool, guests can unwind at the multi–award winning Kaya Kalp The Royal Spa.

Cafe Mercara Express

Pan Asian

AWARDS • The ITC Grand Chola was awarded the Best Five Star Deluxe Hotel by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Department, 2015. • Received the World Responsible Tourism Award for Best City Hotel in 2014 • Awarded the Best Business Hotel by Lonely Planet in 2014 • Received the Pinnacle of Luxury Seal at the Global Seven Star Luxury Awards in 2014

Royal Vega

Tel: +91 44 2220 0000

Best of Chennai Vol 2


Hospitality & Food

A recipe for success Long synonymous with the city of Chennai, Adyar Ananda Bhavan (AAB) Sweets and Snacks is South India’s largest selling chain of confectioners, with a hundred branches across the country and one in Kuwait. Its restaurant brand A2B has branches in New Delhi and Karnataka, apart from several cities in Tamil Nadu.

A pioneer in the manufacture of Indian sweets, AAB has spread the taste of goodness in Chennai since 1978. Its array of goodies is vast, ranging from the South Indian ghee-infused Mysore Pak to East India’s rosogulla and West India’s kaju katli and motichoor laddus.


ack in 1950, KS Thirupathi Raja, a hotel worker in Mumbai, decided to move back to his farm in Rajapalayam, near the historic temple town of Madurai, and start Guru Sweets. Here, he introduced Southern palates to Bengali sweets and the tangy North Indian street food, chaat. After a few setbacks, during which he moved to Bengaluru, he then came to Chennai and started a small store in Washermanpet in 1978. This business did well enough for him to open a second store in 1988. Located in the upmarket locality of Adyar, the store was an instant and roaring success and put the company’s fortunes on an upswing. The chain was soon named Adyar Ananda Bhavan. In 2004, the company started restaurants under the brand name A2B. Together, AAB and A2B have a turnover of `600 crore (US $90 million approximately) and employ 10,000 people. It has 30 branches in Bengaluru, two in Delhi, five in Coimbatore, and one each in Mysuru, Puducherry, Salem, Erode, Karur, Namakkal, Madurai and Nellore, apart from those dotting the highways across Tamil Nadu. “We have an unique offering to customers; we give them everything under one roof: restaurants, sweet shops, bakeries and ice creams. This apart, the large number of branches in the city and other parts of the country have made it an easily recognised brand,” says Managing Director KT Srinivasa Raja, son of KS Thirupathi Raja,


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who, along with his brother, KT Venkatesan, took over the reins of the company after their father’s death in 2001. Quality and trust are at the heart of the AAB ethos, and have helped the company retain its customers for close to four decades. The classic AAB sweets and savouries are produced at a centralised, state-ofthe-art, air-conditioned kitchen spread over more than two lakh sq ft of land in Ambattur, a suburb in North Chennai. Around 1,000 workers work around the clock on more than 700 different types of food items, including restaurant menus and bulk party and event orders. “We do not compromise on the quality of food, and this accounts for the fact that we have the highest volumes of sales and turnover

Innovation In sync with the global appetite for local produce, Health to Happiness is a new recipe introduced in A2B restaurants. It offers millet-based, low glycaemic dishes made of finger millet (ragi), pearl millet (bajra), foxtail millet (thinai) and minor millets (samai, varagu and varai).

in South India,” says Srinivasa Raja. Milk is sourced from dairies owned by the company while other raw materials have strict quality control mechanisms. All products for sale are barcoded, with production time, date and shelf life details. AAB distributes its own food products, taking its specialities like bitter gourd chips, butter murrukku and special Mysore Pak across the world. It has also started the production and sale of milk and curds under the A2B brand. Its brand diversification now extends to the hospitality sector with the AAB Residency label. Four hotels were launched in 2010, one in Chennai and three in Bengaluru. Located in prime areas and backed by a brand that spells customer care and efficiency, the AAB Residency has 200 rooms today, including 11 rooms in Perambur, Chennai and a total of 189 rooms in hotels at Nagawara, Magadi and Marathahalli in Bengaluru. Called into action during the floods of November-December 2015, AAB supplied close to two lakh meals to the floodaffected, despite its own kitchen in Ambattur being flooded. The company has a CSR focus on environment and healthcare, and has planted close to one lakh trees in and around Chennai. Donations for healthcare include ambulances to local mosques. AAB aims to increase its global footprint. Its first branch

KT Srinivasa Raja (left) and KT Venkatesan carry on the sweet tradition of their late father KS Thirupathi Raja.

Awards • Adyar Ananda Bhavan (Chennai) received the Times Food Award for Best South Indian (Tiffin) in 2016. • KT Srinivasa Raja received the King of Sweets Award, by the Indian American Business Promotion Council in 2011. • The states of Connecticut and New Jersey, and the City of New York have all commended the company.

outside India was opened in September 2015 in Kuwait. It has also planned inroads into North India with branches under the A2B brand to be opened in Hyderabad, Mumbai and Ahmedabad. “We are successful

due to our customers who are the driving force behind our organisation. Their changing demands lead us to offer a wide range of products with better quality and best services,” says Srinivasa Raja.

Tel: +91 44 4233 3333

Best of Chennai Vol 2


Hospitality & Food

The taste of love From serving tasty, hot meals up in the air to giving the taste of authentic home food to people with their feet on the ground, the youthful Triguni Food and its vintage creator Radha Daga, are capturing taste buds as well as the convenience food market.


egun in 2010, Triguni’s flagship brand Eze Eats rolled out from select retail outlets in Chennai in late 2011 and has since been adding to the varieties of Indian dishes. From Iyer puliyogare to Hyderabadi biryani and rava khichdi, these ready-to-eat foods aim for the real taste. Eze Eats attracts customers with its ease of preparation. The product comes in a food-grade plastic tub and all it needs is the addition of boiling water and steeping for eight minutes for the meal to be ready. Daga’s first venture into business was as a specialty apparel exporter, and after two decades of success in this area, she decided to take her interest in making tasty food, to the processed food business. She set about renovating the building that housed the garment business, setting up labs and kitchens where sewing and embroidery machines used to hum. After a year of R&D,

Innovation Triguni has indigenously developed proprietary technology with valuable inputs from food technologists. It uses advanced dehydration technology to ensure that the food retains the same flavour and shelf-life in each batch. It develops instant foods with no preservatives and which are non-oily and non-greasy. In February 2016, Triguni launched the world’s first dehydrated medhu vada with sambhar called Rasa Vada in select retail outlets.

Triguni Food Private Limited rolled out instant versions of the various specialties for which Chennai is famed. The sheer simplicity of this meal attracted IndiGo, the popular low-cost airline, to become a major customer in 2012. Radha Daga continues to receive appreciative messages from grateful fliers who call or mail the minute they land, just to tell her how much they loved their hearty meal on board. Soon, enquiries came flooding in for distribution to various parts of India and to key international markets. The company also sealed its relationship with several institutions. It began doing business with Go Air (through Café Coffee Day), Air Costa, Fun Cinemas and other companies. Its products are also available in hypermarkets like Big Bazaar and the supermarket chains Waitrose and Nilgiris in Chennai. Its website is e-commerce enabled and offers delivery to both domestic and international customers. A select range of products is also available on Big in Bengaluru and Chennai. Its product range is in two categories: Indian cereals and pulses-based popular cuisine and mithai (Indian desserts). All its products are vegetarian and pander to pan-Indian tastes: Hyderabadi biryani, bisibele bhath, rava khichdi, poha, pongal, tamarind rice, rava upma, dal chawal, kadhi chawal, sambar and cheese rice, and sabudana khichdi and tamarind rice for the Jains. The mithai range has rava kesari, rice kheer and moong dal halwa. Most of them are available in singleserve and big-serve packs. For the budget-conscious, the company has launched six of its popular flavours in

Radha Daga, Managing Director, Triguni Foods, says, “We are constantly excited about bringing in new products. Sometimes, it’s just a gut feeling that tells us which food to pick and which recipe will work.”

pouches that are less expensive than its tubs; the quantities in these are equal to its big serves. Triguni promises a full flavour shelf-life of six to eight months for Eze Eats and its soaring popularity indicates that the company seems set for the long haul.


• Radha Daga was awarded as the Woman of the Year by the Ladies FICCI Chennai Chapter in 2015.

• Triguni Food received the Start up of the Year award from TiECON in 2014.

Triguni’s professional and experienced R&D team comprises food safety auditors, micro-biologists, food chemists and professional chefs.


Best of Chennai Vol 2

+91 44 2680 1772/73/2096

Flavours of Chennai Chennai is a vibrant cornucopia of food. We present here some of the all-time favourite dishes that make the local cuisine remarkable.

Idlis are steamed rice cakes, and served with piping hot sambhar (also nutritious as its made with dal and vegetables) and flavoursome coconut chutney.

Khara Pongal is a comfort food. Rice and dal (lentils) are cooked together and tempered with cumin, pepper, ginger and ghee to conjure up a quick and nutritious meal.

Steaming hot idlis as soft as malli pu (jasmine flowers) are served with lip-smacking accompaniments of chilli powder with gingelly oil, mint, coconut, coriander and tomato chutneys, dosas, pongal (a dish of rice and lentils) and a crisp vada with aromatic sambhar are great to kickstart the morning, crowned with a dollop of ghee (clarified butter). The traditional South Indian yelai sappadu (meals served on plantain leaves) comprise chapatti, kootu (dal and vegetables), sambhar and rasam, poriyal (cooked dry vegetable), keerai (greens), papad, curds and pickle. They are equally appetising when served in a contemporary style.

A cook from the Nawab of Arcot’s kitchen is said to have returned to his hometown Ambur and replicated the Arcot Biryani. Over time, the popularity of Ambur biryani has reached almost epic proportions.

Chettinad meen kozhumbu is a spicy curry that has fish cooked in tamarind and tomato and tastes best with boiled rice.

Spicy, marinated meat dishes from the Chettinad region such as the pichu potta kozhi (shredded chicken) or meen kozhumbu (fish gravy), served with idiyappam (string hoppers), parottahs or just plain rice are delicious, cooked with abundant measures of turmeric, garlic, ginger and red chillies. More robust fare is the kotthu parottah (minced flatbread) with spicy chicken or mutton gravy from the carts on the streets - kai yendi bhavan, literally translated to mean ‘service as you reach your hand out’. Ambur and Dindigul biryani with onion pachadi (raita) and yennai kathirikai (fried brinjal) have gained popularity, too.

Best of Chennai Vol 2



Fashion & Luxury

Chennai has a robust textile and handloom industry and is well known for its Kanjeevaram silk sarees and jewellery. The city contributes to 40 percent of retail gold sales in India. Thyagaraya Nagar, commonly referred to as T Nagar, accounts for about 70-80 percent of the gold sold in the city. It is the largest shopping district of India, generating more than twice the revenue of Connaught Place in New Delhi and Linking Road in Mumbai. Street shopping is not the only retail hallmark of the city; it is teeming with high-end options as well. Set up during the British Raj in 1863, Spencer Plaza in Anna Salai is the oldest shopping mall in India. Today, Chennai is a shopping and fashion hub with some of the largest shopping malls, top fashion labels and some exciting, young designers. It also has its own Fashion Week. According to the 2012 Cushman & Wakefield report Main Streets Across the World, Khader Nawaz Khan Road at Nungambakkam ranked tenth in the list of Top 10 Global Highest Retail Rental Growth Markets.


Best of Chennai Vol 2

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” Rachel Zoe (1971), American designer & writer

‘Kama’, welded copper, brass and enamel, by S Nandagopal

Best of Chennai Vol 2


Fashion & Luxury

A lustrous tradition The house of Nalli in Chennai has been proudly keeping the tradition of Indian silk alive for nearly nine decades, and has evolved from being a sari retailer to a leading manufacturer and exporter of fabrics, apparel and home furnishings. It has 25 showrooms across India, is present in the US and Singapore and its online store serves customers across the world.

A visit to Nalli is a deeply satisfying experience, and if a shopper were to be dazzled by the various hues of silks ranging from vibrant to subtle, the courteous and knowledgeable staff are at hand to help. They help each customer make an informed choice from the vast collection that spans traditional motifs, diamond kicha work, zaris and tissue pallus. Indeed, many a customer is known to turn to their favourite Nalli staffer for recommendations for wedding venues, caterers and decorators too.


tarting off with a single small store in Chennai in 1928, Nalli now has a turnover of `700 crore (US $104 million approximately) from its traditional silks and the contemporary lines, Nalli Next and Nalli Jewellery. Silk has always spelt elegance, and traditional Indian silks have exquisite zari (fine gold or silver thread) embroidery enhancing their lustre. The fame of Nalli’s silks, sourced from the founder Nalli Chinnaswami Chetti’s hometown Kanchipuram (also known as Kanjeevaram), soon began to spread. It was sought after as a fabric fit for royalty, after Nalli’s Kanjeevaram silks were gifted to King George V and Queen Elizabeth II. Chinnaswami Chetti designed a special border for the silk he offered King George V on his coronation. Known as Durbar Pet, this exclusive design is available to customers on request. A leading businessman of Chennai, VAK Raghu, purchased a Kanjeevaram silk sari from Nalli and gifted it to Queen Elizabeth II at her coronation. Other eminent patrons of Nalli silks have included the legendary Carnatic singer MS Subbulakshmi and the first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad.


Best of Chennai Vol 2

The company achieved a landmark status with its flagship store that spreads across an acre in T Nagar, Chennai. Under the able stewardship of the founder’s grandson Dr. Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti, it has gained a large and loyal clientele. Having authored several books on management, Kuppuswami Chetti has made Nalli as much known for its customer service as for its silks. The company has incorporated

Innovation A handwoven Kanjeevaram silk sari takes anywhere between 12 to 20 days to be woven, and is rightly revered as a timeless treasure. Nalli’s silks stand out for their uncompromising quality. The company keeps a tight rein on each stage of the process, paying attention to sourcing of the raw materials and the productive operation of the company’s looms. The company also partners with silk co-operatives to nurture the timehonoured craft of hand-woven silk, and supplies the weavers with the best of silks and zaris to retain the Nalli quality.

Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti, Chairman of Nalli Silks, says, “Our customers and quality are the prime focus, and we have worked to build a brand that can be trusted. Each generation brings changes in the way the company conducts its business but the needs and trust of our customers continue to be paramount.”

technology to manage the design and documentation process, a move that has increased efficiency and put it ahead of its competitors. Ramanathan K Nalli, Kuppuswami Chetti’s son, expanded the business to encompass manufacturing and export of home furnishings, fabric and apparel. Along with keeping tradition alive, the company’s marketing strategies ensure that the brand stays relevant to the changing market. Its diverse product offerings extend from traditional silks to contemporary saris, jewellery, home furnishings and a collection of kurtas under the private label Etnische by Nalli. The younger generations have expanded the family business by adding new verticals. Lavanya R Nalli reached out to urban women with Nalli Next in 2009, comprising a contemporary apparel line as well as readyto-wear menswear, and a home furnishing collection called Next Living. Nalli Next has stores in Chennai, Bengaluru and Mumbai.

Nalli Jewellers, launched by Niranth Nalli in 2012, perfectly pairs luxurious silk with exquisitely crafted jewellery. The line includes a mix of ethnic and contemporary designs in gold, silver, platinum and diamonds. As with the saris, quality and craftsmanship shine through in this jewellery collection too. While its online retail has given the brand a global presence, Nalli’s determined expansion plans have led to new showrooms in Ahmedabad, Coimbatore and Kanchipuram. It plans to open at least five stores each year. Kuppuswami Chetti is an active member of industry forums and a patron of the arts, especially when it comes to supporting the music sabhas and book fairs. The company’s corporate social responsibility ensures that along with its growth, it is actively involved in the lives of generations of weavers who patiently weave its trademark silks.

Awards • Nalli Kuppuswami Chetti received the Lifetime Achievement award from TieCON Chennai in 2015. • He was the recipient of the Kalaimamani Award for Supporting The Arts from the Government of Tamil Nadu in 2013. • He received the Padma Shri for his work in trade and commerce from the Government of India in 2003.

Nalli has been weaving the story of Indian silk for close to nine decades.

Tel: +91 44 2434 4115 / 4260 4567

Best of Chennai Vol 2


Fashion & Luxury

Styling success Transcending the traditional concepts of men’s casual wear, the Chennai-based Indian Terrain has carved a significant niche for itself in the `15,000 crore (US $2.2 billion approximately) menswear industry in the country. Capturing eight percent of the men’s premium casual and smart casual apparel segment, it clocked in a turnover of more than `500 crore (US $75.2 million approximately) in 2015-16.

Randeep Hooda, who is known for his intense portrayals in Hindi cinema, looks dapper in the Indian Terrain Spring-Summer 2016 collection.


adras, as this city was known earlier, took the world of fashion by storm as far back as the 17th century with a trendsetting light cotton fabric, the eponymous Madras Check. Discovered around 1626 by the prospecting traders of the British East India Company, the undyed fabric became popular in Europe. The city of the cloth’s origin became familiar to Americans in 1718, after the Governor of Madras, Elihu Yale, donated a trove of books to the Collegiate School of Connecticut, which was renamed Yale University in his honour. The Madras Check fabric soon reached leading fashion houses in the US and became an integral part of American sportswear. It continues to be synonymous with smart and casual clothing. It seemed only fitting then that Madras (Chennai) should be the headquarters for yet another bold new style statement. Modelled on American sportswear, Indian Terrain Fashions adapted the distinctive casual style to the Indian mindset when it began operations in the city in 2000, making shirts and trousers for men. “The purpose for setting up the brand was to design and provide world-class work wear and smart casual apparel to men in India,” says


Best of Chennai Vol 2

the founder, Venky Rajgopal, whose experience in exporting garments from India has given him the requisite insight. His timing was perfect as with economic liberalisation Indians were beginning to get more access to Western fashion and almost instantly took to the new brand of casual chic that they could wear to work as well as for a night out.

Innovation Positioning itself at the forefront of innovation, Indian Terrain is known as a pioneer of the iconic khaki, which was born as a uniform for the British Indian Army and has since then worked its way up, from being conservative to preppy to fashionable. The brand introduces new products with details, designs, colours and fits every season, all melded with the key factors of comfort and quality. Its design team has been recognised for the classic Brooklyn fit, a slim, flattering fit for khakis that enjoys widespread appeal.

The company opened its first store on TTK Road in Chennai in September 2000 and the second in Bengaluru the same year. It began distribution through LFOs (large format outlets) and MBOs (multi-brand outlets) in 2001. Having consolidated distribution by 2006, Indian Terrain became an established brand across the country, its range including T-shirts, shorts, sweaters, jackets and denims. Fifteen years on, Indian Terrain is a premium menswear brand with 125 EBOs (exclusive brand outlets) and more than 160 LFOs; it is present in over 800 MBOs and growing fast. It was quick to adapt to e-commerce, and apart from its own website, it sells through five other online retailers: Myntra, Flipkart, Snapdeal, and Jabong. With a line of shirts made of linen and premium cotton, slim-fit chinos, graphic T-shirts and polos, casual denims and sweatshirts, Indian Terrain has kept itself abreast of the latest trends. An eye for detail and quality, along with its India-centric marketing, has helped the company ward off competition by older and established market players many of which are international brands. It has now entered the casual apparel space for 6-14 year-old boys with Indian Terrain Boy. A strong and committed management team that has helmed its operations since inception is one of the brand’s success factors. With a wellestablished supply chain that allows for agility, flexibility and efficiency to support the design

Venky Rajgopal, Chairman & Managing Director, Indian Terrain, opened the market for casual chic menswear in India.

team, Indian Terrain has a robust distribution network of over a thousand points of sale across the country. The company employs a large number of women and encourages their professional development with on-site child care and transport facilities.

Indian Terrain has 125 exclusive brand outlets across India.

Awards • Indian Terrain was awarded the Best Emerging Brand by the Lulu Fashion Week Awards in 2016. • Declared the Most Admired RMG Manufacturer at the InFashion Honours in 2013 • Named the Most Trusted Apparel Brand by The Economic Times in 2011

Inspired by a desire to be the top three among sportswear brands for men in India by 2020, Indian Terrain plans to enhance its retail presence and expand access to consumers through physical stores and e-commerce. It intends to expand its EBO footprint by opening stores in a hundred more towns and develop the boy’s apparel segment too. It also plans to foray into accessories and footwear segments, to become a complete lifestyle brand. Says Rajgopal, “Indian Terrain’s success is entirely attributable to the leadership team which has singularly nurtured and driven the dream of building a world-class brand. The constant awareness of innovation in the world of apparel and design, and the push to stay ahead of the competition has made us virtually unbeatable.”

Tel: +91 44 4227 9100 Indian Terrain’s innovative designs are comfortable yet stylish and have made the range of smart casual clothing a firm favourite with men.


Best of Chennai Vol 2


Fashion & Luxury

On the high road Wheels, big and small, are always in favour in the Detroit of India, not surprisingly, since Chennai can boast of the highest vehicle density in the country. Quite appropriately then, this city is an important centre for the VST Group that offers customers in South India unparalleled access to multiple automobile brands, ranging from super luxury sedans and SUVs to two-wheelers and commercial vehicles.

The Jaguar F-Type Coupe and Convertible are the brand’s most powerful cars, reaching top speeds of 320 km per hour and 310 km per hour respectively. VST Grandeur in Chennai sells these as well as other iconic Jaguar and Land Rover automobiles. World-class after-sales service is provided by the 19,000 sq ft workshop, which has 10 working bays. Welltrained mechanics operate the latest equipment, including an advanced body shop and paint booth, to ensure that its demanding clientele gets the service they expect.


he VST Group, which was founded in 1911, today employs 3,300 people in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, and provides a livelihood to an additional 4,000 people via a wide network of suppliers, vendors and franchise agents. One of South India’s premier businesses, it is headquartered in Bengaluru and had a turnover of `3,500 crore (US $525 million approximately) in 2016 from its four main verticals of manufacturing, automobile franchises, parts and lubricants distribution and financial services. The manufacturing arm of the Group, VST Tillers & Tractors, is publicly listed with over 65 percent market share in the country. The Group’s links to automobiles in this city goes back to 1942 when it’s founder Vellore Singaravelu Thiruvengadaswamy (VST) Mudaliar acquired a showroom on Mount Road, anticipating the extension of the family’s business interests to Tamil Nadu. His sons VT Padmanaban, VT Krishnamoorthy and VT Velu started the automobile franchise business with the Austin and Studebaker cars. VST Motors was founded in 1949 and became the mainstay of the Group as the


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automobile sector in India saw unprecedented growth, nearly half a century after inception. Over the last 65 years, it has opened dealerships with nine multinational manufacturers across a diversified portfolio spanning passenger cars, luxury vehicles, two-wheelers, trucks and buses. It boasts marquee names such as Mercedes Benz, Jaguar Land Rover, Tata Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Volkswagen, Ford, Ducati, Honda and Bajaj. VST Motors has now extended its network to cover half the state of Tamil Nadu and operates out of nearly 45 physical touchpoints to service customers. It is one of India’s leading Tata Motors commercial and passenger vehicle dealers. In 1956, it established India Garage in Chennai as the authorised dealer for Mahindra & Mahindra vehicles and began by selling the Mahindra Jeep. Having diversified into distributing the complete range

century-old property on Mount Road. When Mercedes had a tie-up with Tata Motors, from the 1950s to the late 90s, this was the same heritage building that was used. The Group takes pride in the fact that these two showrooms symbolise its continuous evolution towards modernity, while remaining steadfast to the core founding values. It also has a state-of-the-art after-sales facility in Perungudi.

The VST Group’s founder, Vellore Singaravelu Thiruvengadaswamy (VST) Mudaliar, used to distribute kerosene on a bicycle in 1911. During the 1920s and 30s, he managed multiple petroleum pumps and became a supplier to the British army.

of M&M’s passenger and utility vehicles, India Garage is its largest distributor in Tamil Nadu. In 1996, Chennai Ford was among the earliest dealers to be signed up by Ford Motors during its initial venture into India and has since distinguished itself as a leading dealer. VST Grandeur was launched in 2011 and retails luxury vehicle brands from the Tata Group - the iconic Jaguar and Land Rover - across Tamil Nadu. It has an after-sales service centre in the Guindy Industrial Estate and a sales, service and spare parts facility in Coimbatore. In 2015, the VST group added Titanium Motors, dealing in Mercedes Benz passenger vehicles. It has two showrooms in Chennai: a modern structure at the heart of Chennai’s IT hub located at Thoraipakkam and an iconic,

The VST Group’s vision, built on a century of trust, is one of sustained growth that delivers excellence with innovation. The bonds and values passed on by generations have enabled the large family to stay close and be actively involved in the business. Says Arun Vellore Surendra, Managing Director, VST Group, who is leading the fourth generation of the family in the business, “The transparency and openness that the family believes in, as well as the decision-taking that is encouraged down the organisational structure, makes leaders out of ordinary people. It is this belief, instilled in every employee, that makes them all entrepreneurs in their own way and truly drives the VST Group forward every day.” The VST Group has a tradition of service to the community, having established the Smt. Kamala Bai Educational Institution in Bengaluru in 1931, the Unammal Maternity Home in 1948, the VST Mudaliar Trust which has offered scholarships to over 2,350 technical and medical students since its inception in 1963, the Association for People with Disability which reaches out to 10,000 deserving individuals every year and the VP Thirumurthy Family Memorial Trust which in 2007, instituted a scholarship to aid VST Group employees’ girl children with education expenses. The Group’s future diversification plans

Arun Vellore Surendra, Managing Director, VST Group, says, “VST has carefully positioned itself to capture the opportunities that arise with a burgeoning population and the rise of consumer aspirations and wealth acquisition.”

AWARDS • The VST Group has received multiple accolades from Tata Motors, including Outstanding Market Share for Intermediate Trucks in 2016, Best Performance in Retail for Passenger Vehicle Parts for four consecutive years from 2012-2016, Excellence Award Winner for Commercial Vehicles Sales in 2015, Highest Selling Dealer of Buses in South India in 2014, Best Dealer for Passenger Car Sales for three consecutive years from 2011-14, National Award for ACE sales for six consecutive years from 2006-12, and National Award for being the Highest Selling Dealer for six consecutive years from 2006-12. • Awarded first place in India for Best Infrastructure by Mercedes Benz in 2015 • Awarded first place in India for Best Marketing Initiatives by Jaguar Land Rover in 2015 and 2014

include the development of commercial and residential real estate in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, expanding its financial services arm into micro and rural financing, acquisition in the aerospace component manufacturing industry and the setting up of an international school in South India.

Titanium Motors was felicitated as the dealership with the Best Facilities across India by Mercedes Benz at the Auto Expo, 2016. Its heritage building on Mount Road is featured in the book ‘The Winning- a history of Mercedes Benz in India’ by Adil Jal Darukhanawala.

Tel: +91 44 2860 2485/86/87

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Buildings & Spaces

The only Indian city to be rated in the Forbes list of Top 10 Fastest Growing Cities in the World, Chennai is India’s fourth-largest city in terms of space. Nungambakkam, Boat Club, Poes Garden and East Coast Road are Chennai’s elite addresses. The Boat Club Road in Alwarpet is a serene street, away from the noise and pollution of the city. The houses here come with an exclusive and opulent tag, and the cost of land here ranges from `23,000-`27,000 (US $345-$405 approximately) per square foot.


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“Anything created by human beings is already in the great book of nature.” Antonio Gaudi (1852-1926), Spanish Catalan architect

‘Hanuman’, mixed media on canvas, by Muralidharan K

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Buildings & Spaces

Committed to perfection With over 155 buildings in Tamil Nadu, Akshaya Homes has in its sight a target of increasing its turnover to `1,000 crore (US $151 million approximately) this year, even as it goes about building the tallest tower in the state, the 132-metre tall ABOV, in Kazhipattur on Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) in Chennai. This does not seem a difficult task for a company that entered the Limca Book of Records in 2014, for selling 1021 units within three days after the launch of the building project ‘Today’.

Located at Thaiyur on OMR, the record-breaking mini-city ‘Today’ is spread over 20.7 acres and has 2134 homes.


ounded in 1995 by T Chitty Babu, a qualified civil engineer, the company is headquartered in Chennai and has offices in Coimbatore, Tiruchirappalli and Salem. With a turnover of `255 crore (US $38.5 million approximately), the company is valued at over `2,600 crore (US $392.6 approximately) and has built 11.15 million sq ft of property. The company’s name in Sanskrit stands for ‘endless pursuit’, and that is the path it has chosen for itself over the last two decades. With a CRISIL DA 3+ rating and Integrated ISO 9001:2008 for quality, ISO 14001:2004 for environmental conservation and OHSAS 18001:2007 for health management systems certifications, Akshaya is also one of just two companies in the country to win the SA 8000:2008 certification, the global social accountability standard for creating employee friendly workplaces. It boasts of a professional team of 230 people. “We have grown into one of the most respected real estate companies in the state and are reputed for our transparent business practices and innovation,” says Chitty Babu, Chairman & Managing Director. “We build only green buildings for a cleaner and greener


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tomorrow with 15 certified/pre-certified projects and four Platinum, six Gold, three Silver and two Green Certified IGBC Green Projects.” Akshaya’s core values are transparency, clear titles and ethical business practices. These have earned it both the respect of the real estate industry and more than 4000 delighted customers. Chitty Babu is actively involved in various industry forums; he is the Chairman of CII Smart City and member of the CII National Committee on Real

Innovation Akshaya is the only real estate developer to achieve CRISIL Star ratings for all ongoing projects. It is one of the two realty players in India to get the SA 8000:2008 global standard for social accountability. Every Akshaya home is disabled-friendly and elder-friendly, and every home comes with a ten-year maintenance package.

Estate & Housing 2015-16, member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and, the Chairman of Code of Conduct (COC), Consumer Grievance Redressal Forum (CGRF) and Best Practice at the Confederation of the Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI). He has held several key positions in CREDAI including that of National Secretary, President – Tamil Nadu and President – Chennai. He is also an Executive Committee Member of Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), and former Convenor of the Infrastructure Panel of CII Chennai. The company has built up a reputation for integrity, trust and strength by dint of dedication and commitment. “We care about everything we do, we care about our customers and their satisfaction, our people, their well-being and their development, about the local society where we live and work; we take pride in superlative performance and recognise and celebrate success,” says Chitty Babu. Several exquisite projects bear the Akshaya stamp of quality in building practices. Cine actors Surya and Mohanlal and director Priyadharshan are some celebrity residents. Hatsun Agro Products, the largest private sector Indian dairy is headquartered in an Akshaya building, and several other leading companies like Apple, Reliance Jio, TMB, Café Coffee Day and Ezone have also chosen Akshaya’s real estate space.

With a belief that the educated customer is not a threat but a customer for life, the company has launched a consumer awareness initiative, Akshaya Home Facts which educates customers about their rights and the nitty gritties of real estate transactions. Akshaya’s initiative in educating the customer predates the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 and the company is justifiably proud of being an industry leader in this area. It has distributed over six lakh copies of this informative book to help customers make informed decisions. Akshaya Cares is the CSR wing of the company and focuses on development initiatives towards helping the lower socioeconomic sections and empowering the under-privileged. Its activities include fundraising for a school for physically challenged children, blood donation camps, distribution of saplings and educational seminars in colleges on green buildings. It conducts the Akshaya Kidwise campaign to create safety awareness among children as well as other campaigns for road safety and disaster management.

ABOV will be the tallest tower in Tamil Nadu and is Akshaya’s most magnificent creation, with 31 super premium 6800 sq ft homes and 32 pools. It offers a superlative experience for those who want an extraordinary lifestyle.

The company is on the cusp of a largescale expansion with projects in some of the major markets in South India. It has premium residential and commercial projects in Coimbatore, Tiruchirappalli and Madurai, in addition to Chennai. The company has also added a new vertical of facility management services. Akshaya Facility Management Services provides utility and maintenance solutions for all its residential and commercial properties and are offered to buildings built by others as well. The services include property maintenance, repair work, painting, interior solutions, household professional services, utility bill payment, pest control and lease/rent and resale.

T Chitty Babu, Chairman & Managing Director, says that Akshaya Homes has a fanatical commitment to values and a no-compromise approach to business.

Awards • Akshaya received the Vishwakarma Award for Best Professionally Managed Company from Construction Industry Development Council in 2015. Its previous awards were in the Best Project category, for Domaine and Adena in 2012 and for Adora in 2011. • Entered the Limca Book of Records in 2014 for record-breaking sales of 1021 units priced between 20 to 45 lakh in OMR, Kelambakkam in three days of the launch of its Today project • Received India’s Most Transparent Developer Award from NDTV in 2013 • Received the Highest Transparency award in real estate business in India for 2010 from CNBC/CRISIL • Received the Best Legal Systems Award from CNBC/CRISIL for an unprecedented four years in a row, in 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2010 • Awarded Outstanding Builder by the Builder’s Association of India in 2007 • Received the Trail Blazers of Tamil Nadu award from Bennett & Coleman in 2007

Tel: +91 44 2496 8811 / 4200 8811

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Buildings & Spaces

Luxurious living Having completed over three lakh sq feet of construction in more than 30 projects and with 15 ongoing ones, Bhoomi & Buildings Pvt Ltd is well on its way to joining the league of the top ten construction companies in the city with its exquisite, high-end apartments and villas.

Located in the Boat Club area, the ‘smart’ villas in The Residence are completely automated. From locks to blinds, everything can be controlled by a mobile phone or a tablet.


he company was set up by Sundar Arumugam in 2005, and over the past decade, has grown from developing Directorate of Town and Country Planning (DTCP) approved plots on the East Coast Road (ECR) to building resplendent apartments and commercial ventures in the city.

A self-made man who has worked hard to succeed in the tough world of real estate development, Arumugam wears his success lightly and believes that it is an eye for detail that has led to the growth of Bhoomi & Buildings. “For us, every sale is a new relationship, and

every new relationship leads to a new sale. That is the kind of growth that matters in the end,” he says. Bhoomi & Buildings carried its reputation of comprehensive plot development for gated communities on the ECR, with roads and parks, solar lights, clubhouses and swimming pools, to a discerning clientele that in turn, opened doors for its residences and offices. Reflecting the distinctive character of the city where people prefer high-rises with their individual space, the company brought in the

Innovation Innovation for Bhoomi & Buildings is not just about the use of the latest materials but also about bringing the latest in technology to its projects. Its villament project, The Residence in the Boat Club area, is an ambitious project of duplex villas of 6,000 sq ft that are completely automated. From garages to curtains and blinds, doors and locks, everything can be controlled through an iPad or a mobile phone. A high level of greenery in the house is maintained through duct irrigation of plants which are controlled by sensors and dependent on ambient temperature. This sold-out project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2016.


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Located in Nugambakkam, One Rutland Gate is a combination of elegance and ease. The 14 apartments are characterised by cutting-edge design, which incorporates style with comfort.

Sundar Arumugam, Managing Director, Bhoomi and Buildings, says, “We are proud of and thankful for the creative collaborations that help us enrich the lives of our customers.”

The spacious interiors of Oyster offer the privacy of an individual house with the conveniences of a modern apartment. Located on the scenic ECR, each of the 22 apartments have balconies that face the beach.

Situated in the bustling IT corridor, White Rose offers state-of-the-art living, convenience and security.

unique concept of boutique apartments. These are single flats on a floor, often in a duplex setting. These ultra-luxurious, furnished dwellings include everything from a kitchenette to a home theatre. “The buildings have only one apartment per floor and all that we expect our customers to do is carry their groceries and clothes when they enter their flat. From curtains to picture frames, carpets to upholstery, furniture to electronics, everything else is already in place,’’ says Arumugam. Bhoomi & Buildings projects dot all the celebrated addresses in the city: One Rutland Gate in Nungambakkam, Qubed in Adyar, Hive in Besant Nagar, Oyster in ECR and White Rose in OMR, apart from The Residence at Boat Club. Each address is the embodiment of plush living with exquisite interiors, personal swimming pools and landscaped gardens, and offer true value for money. The DTCP approved gated community plots on the ECR, The Grove at Kovalam, recently completed its second phase of selling 85 plots and is all set for the third phase. The company’s ideology is ruled by customer satisfaction, and Arumugam makes it a point to

meet each of its 1,500 customers. Ethical transactions have earned Bhoomi much goodwill and the company counts as its biggest strength, the 36-member dedicated team which is ready to work to customers’ unique specifications and is always available for consultations. The company’s strategy of selecting the right properties ensured that its projects were not affected in the devastating floods that hit Chennai in late 2015. Known as a company that cares, its team worked through days and nights during the floods, to reach out to affected people in the city. Arumugam looks back at the past decade with satisfaction and expects the future to be equally fulfilling. The company will continue to focus on Chennai with its growing demand for fine living apartments and gated communities. Says Arumugam, “The most important thing is that we have a great team which thoroughly enjoys what it does and will continue to do it to its fullest ability. To be successful in real estate, you must consistently put your clients’ needs first, because a home is not just a place, it is a feeling.”

Tel: +91 72999 72999

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Buildings & Spaces

At the heart of the stone Integrating import, processing and distribution of many kinds of Italian and Indian marble and granite stones, Goyal Marble & Granite (GMG) is among the top dealers of natural, engineered and special stone in South India. It has over one lakh sq ft of warehouse space and 75,000 sq ft of retail showroom spaces across cities like Chennai, Delhi and Kishangarh in Rajasthan. The Group has also diversified into real estate, venture investments and finance.

GMG’s astonishing range of marble flooring and surface finishes lends class to most of the marquee real estate businesses in the city.


et up by the late Bhanwarlal Goyal in 1982, GMG has four showrooms and stockyards covering over one lakh sq ft area in Kolathur, Madhavaram, Neelangarai and Nerkundram in Chennai, and is counted as one of the leading lights in the marble and granite industry in the city. The Group was among the first in the city to import marbles and prides itself on providing impeccable quality with unparalleled service, starting from the processing of marble blocks to turnkey project management. The Founder’s sons run the company today and make it a point to personally select every slab of natural stone from across 27 countries in the world. Whether it is the luxurious Italian white Statuario marble, the classic Bottochinno or Dyna waiting to be picked up by clients, GMG has the satisfaction of knowing that the slab has passed stringent tests not just on the resistance, grain attributes and other standards of stone, but also in the important aspects of aesthetics and durability.


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The company sources its marble, granite, onyx, limestone, slate, travertine, sandstone and quartz from countries like Italy, Spain,

Innovation GMG is the sole company in Tamil Nadu with a license to import marbles. It also owns a gangsaw marble processing unit with a capacity of 1.5 lakh sq ft per month. The design centre at Neelankarai has a display of flooring pattern with intricate designs and wall cladding (wet and dry fixing, along with edge moulding and bevelling), making it the ideal place for architects to give shape to their dream buildings. The integrated facility houses a gantry crane, automatic cutting machines and polishing units, and a 5,000 sq ft. showroom and model house.

Greece, Turkey, Oman, Egypt, Vietnam, Australia and Brazil, besides some of the best mines in Rajasthan and South India. At its 30,000 sq ft stockyard and showroom in Neelankarai, the best for imported marble in India, a design centre fulfils wishes for extraordinary desired finishes for the marble, from gold plating to Swarovski crystal inlays. Apart from the quality, it is the ethical practices followed by the company that makes it stand out. “We show you what you will get for the price you pay, so there are no surprises once you receive the product,” says Vikash Goyal, Director.

and Anil Goyal. The third generation of the family who work in the company are all professionally qualified with IIT and MBA degrees, and have had stints in other industries like banking, software, consulting and social media. “We are probably the only family business in this industry in the city to have such a professional background,” says Vikash, who is an IIT Delhi alumnus and worked in Citibank before joining the family business. His elder brother Vivek is an alumnus of IIT Madras, while younger brother Vishal holds an MBA degree in International Business Management.

With the mission of making every building beautiful with innovative and sustainable use of stone, the company envisions itself as the largest natural stone company in South India by 2020 and has plans to set up the country’s first integrated processing plant for all types of natural stones here in Chennai.

The Group supports numerous social activities, and Sitaram Goyal is the treasurer of the Agarwal Samaj of Chennai which runs the Kola Saraswati Agarwal Samaj hospital in Vepery, a senior citizens’ home in Red Hills, two schools and the Agrasen College in Madhavaram.

Along with Sitaram Goyal, who is the Chairman & Managing Director, the company is headed by his brothers Pawan, Santosh

As a founding member of the Tamil Nadu Marble and Granite Dealers Association, he has ensured that there is a spirit of

Sitaram Goyal, CMD, says that the driving force of the company is to deliver exceptional experiences to their customers.

Vikash Goyal, Director

collaboration, instead of competition among the dealers. For example, if a dealer does not have a product, he is able to source it from others in the city instead of leaving the client to seek a dealer from outside the city. Its success as one of the first families in the business of natural stone in Chennai has encouraged GMG to diversify. It entered the real estate sector in 2011 and now builds high-end villa projects in the city. Sitaram Goyal says, “Our entire team has a single agenda – to make sure that we deliver more than what we promise to our clients. This is our differentiator in the market and the chief reason for customers to choose us time and again.”

Tel: +91 98431 88007

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Tamil Nadu in general and Chennai in particular, have the enviable reputation of being leaders in the field of education. The city is home to some of the best universities and colleges in the country. It is especially known for its institutions in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) is India’s sixth-highest entrant in the latest BRICS ranking and was rated the best engineering college in India by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India in 2016. Chennai’s affinity towards education and knowledge is also reaffirmed by its state-of-the-art libraries, most importantly the Connemara Public Library and Anna Centenary Library. One of the largest libraries in Asia, the Anna Centenary Library was built at a cost of `170 crore (US $25 million approximately) in 2010. It is visited by more than 20,000 people in a month and has a capacity to store more than one million books. Equipped with an auditorium, amphitheatre and meeting halls, the place sets new benchmarks for library infrastructure in India. The United Nations recognises the Connemara Public Library as a depository library. It is also one amongst the four National Depository Libraries, that store copies of all books, newspapers and magazines printed in India.


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“Karka kasatarak karpavai katrapin. Nirka adharkuth thaka.� (Let a man learn thoroughly whatever he may learn, and let his conduct be worthy of his learning.) Thiruvalluvar (circa 2nd century BC), Tamil poet & philosopher

Untitled oil on canvas, by Achuthan Kudallur

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Soaring high Ranked second among private engineering institutions in Chennai by the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India in 2016, the Hindustan Institute of Technology and Science (HITS) is highly sought after by aeronautics and automobile engineering students from India and abroad, an institution which consistently wins awards as well as plaudits from around the world. Conscious that the progress of a nation depends on the education provided to its youth, the university ensures that its 8,000 students and 400 faculty are standard-bearers of high quality professional education.

Graduates in Aeronautics and Aerospace from Hindustan University are placed in reputed international and domestic aviation organisations, such as, SAAB Boeing, Air India, Airbus, HAL & NAL, among others.


art of the Hindustan Group of Institutions (HGI), HITS was established as the Hindustan College of Engineering in 1985, offering four-year aeronautics and automobile engineering courses. Acknowledging its superior approach to education, qualified faculty,


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excellent infrastructure and co-curricular activities, the University Grants Commission granted it the Deemed University status in 2008. HITS has expanded its curriculum over the years to offer courses in

Innovation More than 400 scholars are pursuing their research programmes in emerging areas in the University. Eight Centres of Excellence have been established focusing on cutting edge research. Many patents have been registered as well. The Hindustan Group has set up two Technology Business Incubators (TBI): the Hindustan Technology Business Incubator (HTBI) and the Hindustan Entrepreneurship and Innovation Centre (HEIC). These stimulate the growth of technology-based enterprises with the help of technical mentors and infrastructure available at the educational and research institutions at HITS. The HTBI draws support from institutions like NEN (National Entrepreneurship Network), MMA (Madras Management Association), CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) and TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs), for mentoring the students.

a wide spectrum of disciplines ranging from engineering and technology, humanities, management, defence studies, architecture, fashion, arts and design. Its forté, however, lies in the core engineering studies of wheels and wings, automobile and aeronautic engineering. The Hindustan Group of Institutions owes its origins to Dr. KCG Verghese who set up the Hindustan Institute of Engineering Technology (HIET) in 1968, offering a course in aircraft maintenance. Those were the days when very few government institutes offered such advanced courses. HIET today offers engineering courses in aircraft maintenance, electronics and communication, and diploma courses in automobile, computer, mechanical, civil, electrical and electronics. With over 42,000 students trained to date, HIET is widely recognised as a premier technical institution in Asia and Africa. HGI has ten educational organisations: the Hindustan Institute of Engineering & Technology, the Hindustan Institute of Technology & Science, the KCG College of Technology, the Hindustan College of Arts

& Science, Hindustan International Schools, Orient Flight Academies and the Hindustan Community College with over 15,000 students and more than 2,000 staff including professors and non-teaching personnel. Inspired by Dr. Verghese’s vision of making every person a success and no person a failure, the Group strives to uphold its glorious legacy as the hub of aeronautics and automobile engineering.

(maintenance, repair and overhaul) facilities across the world.

Aeronautics HITS is the only institution in the country with a fleet of 40 aircraft at the disposal of its students, and the university’s verdant 150-acre campus is dotted with several aircraft including Cessna, Harvard, MIG and Boeing 737. There are well appointed, stateof-the-art aeronautic labs equipped with simulators for the young evolving engineers. The TIFAC-CORE, a Centre of Relevance and Excellence in aircraft maintenance engineering, was formed in partnership with the Government of India.

Presentation of papers on the latest research and participation in international meets are a part of the education process. One of the students, Jayashree Sridhar, presented papers at the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) meeting held in Washington, USA (2010 to 2012). The Hindustan Mars Rover team contested in the finals of the Rover Challenge in 2014 and 2015, organised by the Mars Society, USA at NASA’s Desert Research Centre, Utah. The students won second place in the Global Design Challenge (SGDC) Aircraft Design Competition conducted by Spirit Aero Systems, USA in 2012. Students also participated in the Global Aero Design Competition held at Lakeland, Florida, USA in 2015 and the same year, also won the Best Sheepherder Award at the International Aerial Robotics Competition - IARC MISSION 7 at Beijing.

Graduates in aircraft maintenance engineering are routinely recruited by Singapore Airlines for their MRO

Apart from teaching students to build a plane, the Group teaches them to fly, too. The Orient Flight School (OFS) at Puducherry

Hindustan University sets the benchmark in higher education for the rest of the nation. Talented youth emerging out of private institutions like HITS have transformed the economic landscape of our country.

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and Mysuru has, for over three decades now, offered a wide range of courses in aviation. It manages one of the largest and most versatile fleet of 13 aircraft in the country: five Cessna 152s, five Cessna 172s, a Piper Seneca III, a Beechcraft King Air C90A and a Beechjet 400. The first operator of the Alsim flight simulator in India, it allows students to practice procedures on any airfield in the Asia – Pacific region in real time.The simulations of the Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru, and the Chennai International Airport are popular with the young pilots. Automobiles The automobile engineering department has the distinction of winning numerous awards in inter-college competitions in the design and fabrication of vehicles for motorsports, both nationally and internationally. Prof. K. Kamalakannan, Head of Automobile Engineering, received the prestigious SAE Ralph R Teetor Educational Award as a Top Engineering Educator, at the 2015 SAE World Congress held at Detroit, Michigan, USA. HITS has partnered with prominent automobile companies like Volkswagen, Hyundai and Toyota to set up training centres in campus. It is the sole knowledge partner of Volkswagen in Tamil Nadu and students are taught by teachers trained specially by the German automobile giant. The institute has the distinction of seeing its alumni employed by many Volkswagen dealerships across the world. Basic education The norm for an educational institution is to start with a school, then grow into a college and end up as an university. In a rather unusual move, the Hindustan Group set about a reverse integration and entered the areas of primary and secondary school education. HGI set up Hindustan International Schools in two campuses, at Guindy and Karapakkam in Chennai. These schools aim to be different from the rote-learning based approach of regular schools, and focus on skill improvement, hands-on and outcome-based education.

By encouraging myriad interests ranging from sports to NCC, HITS provides an atmosphere of holistic development and allows its students to become well-rounded individuals.


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The Hindustan First Grade College was established in Mysuru in 2015, and is affiliated to the University of Mysore. It aims at fulfilling the educational needs and moulding the overall personality of aspiring young minds in today’s competitive world. It has received invitations to set up campuses from neighbouring countries and the Middle East, and is in the process of obtaining government approvals.

Dr. Elizabeth Verghese, who took on the mantle of the Chairperson of HGI and the Chancellor of HITS after the demise of her husband Dr. KCG Verghese, is a pioneer among woman chancellors in private sector education in India.

Dr. Anand Jacob Verghese, Pro-Chancellor, HITS & CEO, HGI says, “National security rests on four pillars – the Armed Forces, the designers, the manufacturers and on the academic community, which contributes towards the creation of the human resources required by the other three pillars.”

Ashok Verghese, Director, HGI, says, “HITS strives to uphold its glorious legacy as a hub of aeronautics and automobile engineering education. Alongside mastering aeronautics and advanced aerospace technology, we are committed to societal development.”

Awards • HITS was rated the No. 2 Private Engineering Institute in Chennai in 2016 by the Ministry of Human Resources, Government of India. • Awarded the Best University Promoting Research by ASSOCHAM in 2015 • Adjudged the Best Private University in India for Quality Education & Employability by the Peacock Feather Awards for Excellence in Education in India for the year 2015 • Received the Excellence in Education Award from Competition Success Review in 2015 • Dr. Elizabeth Verghese received the Indo-Australian Award for Meritorious Service from the Australian High Commission to India in Chennai in 2014. • Dr. Anand Jacob Verghese, Pro Chancellor has been honoured with the IET Ratna Award, the highest award from Institute of Engineering & Technology, Chennai Local Network for his commendable contributions in the field of engineering education. • Ashok Verghese received the Worldwide Achievers’ Award in the India Education Excellence Forum in 2014.

Exciting new courses started by HITS include an MBA in Defence Management. A Credit-Based Choice (CBCS) programme has been offered to afford a greater choice of subjects to students, the emphasis being on holistic education, keeping the priority of the students based on their choices. For example, a student might choose to study photography along with engineering. Apart from academics, there are excellent sports and recreational facilities for students with cricket, basketball, tennis and horseriding available within the campus. Its Eagles Football Club has won accolades in local and state matches. Students are active in campus wings of organisations such as Y’s Men International, Round Table India, Rotary International, National Cadet Corps (NCC), National Service Scheme (NSS) and Youth Red Cross (YRC). As part of the National Service Scheme, HITS has adopted schools in eight villages surrounding its campuses in Padur, Padappai and Guindy in Chennai. Close to a hundred students across these schools are given free education and scholarships worth `1.5 crore (US $234,146 approximately) annually.

Global brand The Hindustan brand travels globally, and Ashok Verghese, Director, HGI, talks with pride about the 50,000 alumni who have made the institutions famous across the world. “We have students setting up institutions or workshops in remote areas of Africa and they name it ‘Hindustan’,” he says. Alumni also return to the campus to recruit students for their companies as well as for their own entrepreneurial startups. Dr. Elizabeth Verghese, Chairperson, HGI, says the University has been ahead of the curve. “Our students were ready for globalisation and the ensuing technological boom in the country because we had prepared them well. Today, the Hindustan Group is internationally known as a leading institute in aeronautics and automobile engineering. It is one of the foremost institutions which is contributing to the privatisation of education in India.”

Tel: +91 44 2234 1389 / 2508

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Uniting to educate In a rare and remarkable achievement, the State Bank of India Officers’ Association (SBIOA) has set up an educational trust that runs nine schools in South India: three in Chennai, two each in Madurai and Tiruchirappalli, and one each in Coimbatore and Ernakulam. The SBOA School and Junior College and the SBOA Matriculation and Higher Secondary School in Chennai are rated among the best schools in the country for academic excellence and infrastructure. These schools equip their students with the skills and the confidence to face the real world of challenges and opportunities.


he CBSE-affiliated SBOA School and Junior College was the first to be set up in 1979 at Anna Nagar (West) on a 6.2 acre campus. Inspired by the successful schools managed by the Auto Workers’ Union in Singapore, EAG Moses, the then General Secretary and Correspondent of the SBIOA Educational Trust, proposed a school primarily to accommodate the children of bank officers who were frequently transferred. “We asked the State Bank of India (SBI) to set up a school for our officers’ children but the bank declined. The Innovation CARS (Centre for Applied Research and Studies) offers handson training in high-end robotics and computer-aided design. It is guided by Dr. Arun Raaza, an alumnus of SBOA Coimbatore and an innovator. CARS helps students develop robotics and mobile applications in areas such as fire-fighting robots, mobile controlled combat robots, electronics, sensor integrations and beam steering antennas. The centre has designed an energy saving device for ATMs that has been used by the SBI. The Trust is in the process of applying for its first patent for an automatic control system for power conservation and multi usage that was recently developed by CARS with the SBOA Model Matriculation and Higher Secondary School.


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leaders at that time had no option but to start our own school,” says Dr. Thomas Franco Rajendra Dev, General Secretary, SBIOA Chennai Circle and Secretary and Correspondent of the SBIOA Educational Trust. The Trust’s leadership in education inspired confidence amongst local residents who sought enrolment for their children in the school. Rising public demand soon led to the setting up of a second school in Chennai. The SBOA Matriculation and Higher Secondary School, set up in the same campus in 1983, achieved the distinction of a 100 percent pass percentage of the very first batch of students in 1985.

“Our USP is our teaching staff who are absolutely committed to the cause of education and never hesitate to go the extra mile to give back to society as much or maybe more than what they have received. This makes all the difference,” says Dr. Thomas Franco Rajendra Dev, General Secretary, SBIOA Chennai Circle and Secretary and Correspondent, SBIOA Educational Trust.

This school got its own campus in 1994 in Anna Nagar in two locations, the Main (12 grounds) and the Annexe (24 grounds). The SBIOA Model Matriculation and Higher Secondary School came up soon after in Mogappair West, on 12.75 grounds. Besides these three schools in Chennai, the Trust has schools in Madurai (12 acres), Coimbatore (6.19 acres),Tiruchirappalli (8.26 acres), and against the scenic backwaters of the Periyar river in Kochi, Kerala (4.26 acres). Today, children of SBI officers make up only four percent of the students, as the SBOA schools have become first choice for the general public. The schools have stood the test of time and met the parameters of excellence to serve the motto of the Trust, ‘Educate and Illuminate.’ With a dedicated team of 2,000 teachers and non-teaching staff, and a structured curriculum where equal weight is given to sports, extracurricular activities and academics, the schools believe in making all students communicative, confident and contributive. A scientific temperament is inculcated from a young age, aided by numerous science fairs,

The Trust’s proactive approach to sports has encouraged its students to win acclaim at national and international meets for tennis, chess, athletics, rowing and karate. Amongst its illustrious alumni are Joshna Chinappa (left), World No.13 in squash and doubles gold medal winner in the Commonwealth Games 2014, K Sangeetha, high jump gold medallist, SAF 2003, V Aswath, Junior Commonwealth Chess Champion, A Tejeshwar, skating bronze medallist, Asian Games 2014 China & PM Abhishiktha, ace swimmer who will represent the country at the Fifth Asian Schools Championship in Indonesia in May 2016.

robotic clubs, lectures by visiting scientists and educational trips such as a recent visit by students to NASA in the US. Apart from academic performers who ace the civil services, the schools’ alumni achieve considerable success in the fields of the arts and sports too. “I believe we are a success because as a trade union, we innovate, experiment, care for our teachers well and plough back all our income into the school,” says Dr. Franco. The SBIOA Higher Academy for Research and Professional Enrichment (SHARPEN) provides regular in-service training to the staff; apart from this, the Trust holds national seminars on school education, conducts

The SBOA schools are a unique example of a trade union running educational institutions with exemplary success. Large campuses, airy classrooms, Smartboards and interactive boards, well-equipped labs, state-of-the-art libraries, roof gardens and well laid out athletic tracks have inspired the best in students in varied fields.

Awards • SBOA School & Junior College was ranked Third in Academic Excellence in 2015, Tenth in Infrastructure and the 36th Best School in India in 2014 at the national level ratings conducted by Education World. It was ranked the Fourth Best School in Chennai Metro by Digital Learning Magazine in 2014.

regular interactions with distinguished speakers (former President of India, the late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, participated in one such event in the past). The IGNITE Literary Festival in 2015 brought together the best names in the fields of education, South Indian literature, cinema and food to debate, discuss and dissect issues of gender, education, environment and health. As a part of their social responsibility, the SBOA schools have adopted other local schools and provide free education to children from weaker socio-economic backgrounds. The schools and the Trust were actively involved in relief campaigns during the 2015 floods. The Trust is environmentally conscious, all the schools are plastic-free and eco-friendly, and the SBOA School and Junior College is set to adopt clean energy by installing rooftop solar panels. It propagates the use of natural and organic products, encourages cottage industries and healthy traditional food. The Trust focuses on water conservation and better solid waste management and conducted the ‘Neervazhi’ conference on the scientific restoration of Chennai in February 2016. The Trust will make its foray into collegiate education with its first college in 2017. Located in Mambakkam, Chennai, this institution will offer courses in banking, finance and public administration. Two new schools, in Anna Nagar and Mambakkam, affiliated to the CBSE are also in the pipeline.

• SBOA Matriculation & Higher Secondary School, Coimbatore was rated the Best School in Coimbatore by Digital Learning Magazine in 2015. • The British Council International School Award (ISA Award) was conferred on the SBOA School and Junior College and SBOA Matriculation & Higher Secondary School, Coimbatore in 2015. • SBOA Matriculation and Higher Secondary School, Chennai, was adjudged the Third Best School in Chennai by the Times of India Educational Survey in 2013. • Dr. Thomas Franco Rajendra Dev was awarded the Media Guild Award by Chennai Metro eveninger for creating awareness on ecology and encouraging students to take up journalism in 2012. • The teachers have received the CBSE National Best Teacher Award over the years: PC Selvarani (2013), Alexander Kalaiselvi (2012), A Rengasamy (2008), JM Sathyakumari (2003) and P Vijayachandran (2000). • School principals have been the recipients of the Best Teacher Award by the Government of Tamil Nadu: Geetha Perianayagam (2009) and Rajeswari Menon (2007).

Film directors Karthik Subbaraj & Adhiyaman Ravichandran, and actors Vineeth Srinivasan, Arya, Srikanth, Dhyan Sreenivasan & Shravanthi do their schools proud with their achievements, as do Nithyasree, winner of the Best Entertainer Award and first runner-up at Indian Idol Junior, and Yazhini, Shreesha and Bharath, Airtel Super Singers finalists.

Tel: +91 44 2615 2814/2893

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Transport & Logistics

Chennai has the biggest artificial port in India and the biggest in the Bay of Bengal. The port gave the city the sobriquet ‘the Gateway of South India’. The Chennai Port (previously the Madras Port) is the third oldest among the 12 major ports of India. Although maritime trade started much earlier in 1639, official port operations began in 1881. At one point, Chennai Port was primarily a travel port, but after 1947, it became a major container port. Having played a significant role in Chennai’s growth story, the port remains a primary reason for the manufacturing boom in South India.


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“Thirai kadal odiyum thiraiviam thedu.� (Ride the rough seas in quest of treasure.) Avvaiyar I (circa 1st century AD), Tamil poetess

Untitled acrylic on canvas, by Achuthan Kudallur

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Transport & Logistics

Keeping cargo shipshape One of the biggest logistics companies in the country, the Chennai based Greenways Group has been providing shipping solutions to businesses across the country since 1962. It has an enviable list of clients spanning the crème de la crème of organisations across economic sectors – from global automobile giants who import components to leading media and publishing companies who use their services to handle complete logistics.

Logistics at its best

The CFS in Numbal, Chennai is an all weather state-of-the-art facility that protects cargo from extreme weather conditions.


o-founded by Dr. Shri Prakash and FV Arul, the Greenways Group, with a turnover of `300 crore (US $47 million approximately), has grown into a one stop destination for all logistics, transportation, tracking and inventory solutions. The Group has a panIndia presence with branch offices in cities and major ports, namely, Bengaluru, Kochi, Kakinada, Kolkata, Mumbai, Thoothukudi and Visakhapatnam, and is rapidly expanding to other cities. Its growth chart reflects the development of the shipping industry in India, as the Group plays a major role in the sector. It offers state-of-the-art facilities in warehousing and container storage through its Container Freight Station (CFS) in Numbal, Chennai, which has a total warehouse space of 5,00,000 sq ft. A second CFS with warehouse space of 45,000 sq ft has been developed in Thoothukudi. Fitted with computerised weigh bridges, rail mounted gantries and ABG cranes, with CCTV cameras and burglar alarms for security, the two CFSs handle a total capacity of 20,000 TEUs (Twenty-foot


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Equivalent Unit) of cargo. The range of materials handled includes steel coils and casings, rough granite blocks, finished granite products, excavators, metal scrap, machinery, newsprint and garments, among others. The Group also offers break bulk liner services, feeders and liners, multimodal services, stevedoring, warehousing and 3PL (third party logistics) to its clients. “Since South India is a leader in granite quarrying, we are pioneers in granite handling and the only shipping company to have the Mineral Dealers License in Chennai for all legal storage of granite as on date,” says T Johnson, Managing Director, Greenways Group. The Group has exclusive stockyards for granite in Chennai (80,000 tonnes), Kakinada (30,000 tonnes) and Visakhapatnam (15,000 tonnes) and handles about 100,000 tonnes of granite per month. The company’s future plans include making more capital investments

Some of the top-notch facilities at the CFS include an extensive warehouse of 5,00,000 sq ft and 60 triple axle trailers capable of carrying up to 35 metric tonnes.

Awards • The Greenways Group was awarded the Steamer Agent Of The Year (Break Bulk Operator) and Container Freight Station Of The Year (Multicargo) in the South East India – Cargo & Logistics Awards, consistently from 2012 - 2015. • Dr. Shri Prakash was awarded the Living Legend – Hall of Fame for Outstanding Contribution in Shipping, Maritime and Logistics sectors, at the South East India – Cargo & Logistics Awards, 2014. • T Johnson received the Business Excellence & Achievement Award by the Karnataka Small & Medium Business Owners’ Association (KSMBOA) and Dynamic Logistics Professional of the Year by South East India – Cargo & Logistics Awards in July 2015.

to improve existing infrastructure and develop advanced logistic solutions. It plans to set up storage yards in strategic locations with a focus on boosting inland railway connectivity to all major and minor ports and to develop coastal shipping in the country. The Group’s desire to excel ensures that its 800-strong staff of dedicated personnel work round-the-clock to offer smooth operations to its customers. Its CSR activities include supporting various social initiatives, especially in the field of eye-care. It has organised free eye camps, arranged free meals and assisted medical institutes and homes for the elderly, orphans and the underprivileged.

The Group ensures that its hardworking staff have a work-life balance. It actively encourages sports activities for its staff and recently won the Sea Sky Cricket League T20, among the Chennai shipping companies.

Dr. Shri Prakash, Founder & Chairman

T Johnson, Managing Director

Innovation The Greenways Group has used cutting edge technology to offer a wide range of solutions to its clients. The Group’s multi cargo CFS in Chennai is equipped with excavator holding facilities and overhead cranes that can handle up to 20 tonnes of steel coils, ensuring safe transportation of all kinds of cargo with minimal wastage and damage in transit. By adopting latest trends in logistical practices, the Group showcased the potential of the country in all cargo categories and trade lanes to global ship operators and encouraged them to bring their business to India.

Driven by the vision of its founder and Chairman Dr. Shri Prakash, the Greenways Group strives hard to provide prompt and innovative service to all its clients. Such dedication has helped the Group keep pace with the changing needs of customers and to build an enviable reputation as a pioneer and a leader in the demanding field of shipping logistics.

Tel: +91 44 2534 2261

The Greenways Group handles a wide range of materials including steel coils and casings, rough granite blocks and granite products, metal scrap, newsprint and garments, among others.

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Transport & Logistics

Smooth sailing With a hundred-year legacy of trade, the Chakiat Group has diverse business interests and over sixty years of experience as a shipping agency, which is its mainstay. Its clients include large corporates and multinationals, and it has a presence in all major Indian ports.

The Chakiat Group provides a gamut of services from custom broking and logistics to transportation and ISO tank operations, and also advises its clients on export and import policies, classifications and duties.


closely held family business, it was founded by Chakiat Narayana Menon in 1905. From humble beginnings in Kochi, Kerala, the Chakiat Group has developed into a major participant in the shipping and logistics market, growing at an average rate of 15-20 percent per annum. The Group has a turnover of around `300 crore (USD $45 million approximately) to date. Headquartered in Chennai, the Chakiat Group has offices in Bengaluru, Kochi, Coimbatore, Gandhidham, Guntur, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Tirupur, Thoothukudi and Visakhapatnam. It also has agents and representatives in Delhi and Kakinada. The Group employs over 450 experienced staff and another 1,000 people indirectly. The Group’s commercial activities began with trade of timber


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and export of rosewood. Interestingly, timber and rosewood were extensively used to build boats in those times, and the Chakiat Group supplied timber during the construction of the Kochi Port, as well as to other organisations such as Bharat Gold Mines. The Group forayed into shipping and related activities in 1952, under the stewardship of the founder’s son M Shankara Menon. The Group is now led by the third generation of the family, Shankar Menon, nephew of M Shankara Menon. Over the years, the Group has ventured into trading products such as iron and steel, cement, sanitaryware and the like, but shipping and logistics has remained its core business. “The shipping and logistics environment is very dynamic. With the continuously changing requirements of customers and overseas partners, it is important to be conscious of the international trading environment and regulations, so that we are able to offer a

The Group manages a fleet of over a hundred trailers capable of transporting diverse shipments from steam turbines and earth-moving equipment to horticultural produce.

customised product to meet their requirements by ensuring that we optimise both cost and quality,� says Menon. Chakiat owns and operates a fleet of over a hundred trailers, and has a dedicated pool of 250 leased trailers in order to meet the the large volume of traffic from its customers. It works with Port, Customs and various other government authorities to assure its customers a smooth passage for their shipments.

The company also owns and leases warehouses at all major ports and inland container depots. It operates customised warehouses in Kochi, Thoothukudi and Chennai and also operates container storage depots in Kochi and Thoothukudi, which have maintenance and repair facilities. It has also established a container freight station near the Vallarpadam International Container Terminal in Kochi, in partnership with Gateway

The Group has a specially trained workforce to handle over-sized and heavy-lift shipments such as steam turbines, earth-moving equipment, pipes and aeronautical equipment.

Distriparks Ltd. It manages receipts and distribution on behalf of certain clients in some of the warehouses. It also has a specialised group handling over-sized and heavy-lift parcels as well as shipments of steam turbines, earth-moving equipment, aeronautical equipment, and others. Chakiat serves various industries such as textiles, chemicals, power, processed food, electronics, automotives, engineering, infrastructure, and traders who deal with various commodities like coffee, tea, sugar, rice, maize, groundnuts, chillies, spices and more. The company manages a fleet of approximately 300 ISO tanks (tanks designed to carry liquids in bulk). This fleet is used to serve a group of dedicated customers in the Middle East and South-East Asia. In addition to managing their own fleet, the company also represents other tank operators as their local agents in India. The company also has arrangements with depots with facilities for repairs and cleaning.

“The vision for the Group is to be part of the Indian growth story and continuously invest in logistics infrastructure and hardware to support the growing services business,� says Shankar Menon, Director.

For the future, the company plans to expand its domestic footprint by building and developing warehousing facilities at more locations, so that it can continue on its robust growth path and double its turnover in the next five years.

Tel: +91 44 4296 1601/1750

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Media & Entertainment

Chennai has a vibrant media landscape, with a wide array of print and broadcast outlets. It is the birthplace of South Indian cinema and the home of Kollywood, the Tamil film industry - the word is a portmanteau of Kodambakkam and Hollywood. Based primarily in the Kodambakkam and Vadapalani areas of Chennai, it is the third most popular branch of Indian cinema. Chennai has the second largest number of theatres in India, second only to Mumbai. It is one of the best places for post-production work in all forms of media, due to the presence of a large number of studios and world-class technological infrastructure. The AVM Studios, established in 1945, is the oldest surviving studio in India.


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“No medium has its meaning or existence alone, but only in constant interplay with other media.” Malcolm McLuhan (1911-1980), Canadian professor and communication theorist

‘Krishna and Bakasura’, welded copper, brass and enamel, by S Nandagopal

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Media & Entertainment

Masters of movies The only Indian company to operate in the Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) standards compliant industry, Real Image Media Technologies (RIMT) has pioneered innovations like Qube Cinema, Moviebuff, CinemaDB and Justickets, introducing cutting-edge technologies to the Indian digital cinema and media industries.

Movie-goers in over 49 countries have an enhanced experience in theatres thanks to Real Image’s Qube Cinema platform.


stablished in 1986 by Senthil Kumar, founder of a leading audio post-production facility in India, and Jayendra Panchapakesan, a pioneer in advertising film production in South India, Real Image is headquartered in Chennai with offices in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kochi and New Delhi, and a US subsidiary, Qube Cinema, Inc. based in Burbank, California. Years of experience in film, audio, video and computer technology, and familiarity with production, post-production and exhibition enabled the launch of Qube Cinema, RIMT’s own digital cinema system, in 2001. A core technology platform for digital cinema mastering, scheduling, distribution and playback, Qube Cinema is now in operation in thousands of cinema halls and post-production facilities in 49 countries across six continents. Foreseeing the potential of digital advertising, Real Image applied for and earned key patents in rule-based networked digital media playback in the US and India. Using this technology, the Qube


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Cinema Network was launched, lending a larger-than-life presence to brands on cinema screens, and reaching several million viewers across the country. In 2014, Real Image was awarded the BSI certification for ISO 27001:2005 standards compliance across its entire digital cinema mastering, content management and licensing process. The company provides digital cinema technology and advertising services to thousands of satellite-connected cinemas across India and masters nearly all the Indian movies for digital cinema release worldwide, handling duplication, satellite and physical distribution, and key management. A powerful online key management and reporting service for digital cinema distribution, KeySmith allows filmmakers to quickly generate as many keys as required for their encrypted movies by accessing a comprehensive global database of cinema theatres that is continuously updated through strategic regional partners and crowdsourcing. KeySmith also has the ability to transfer rights of specific territories to other companies within the KeySmith

service with specified validity periods, thus perfectly mirroring contractual arrangements for content.

and easy way to book tickets online for current and upcoming movie releases across a growing base of Indian cities and towns.

After impacting how movies are made and exhibited over the last three decades, in 2013, RIMT built Moviebuff to provide a modern, clean and snappy website with programmatic access to the most accurate movies, talent and technical information. Apart from being an exhaustive movie database website, Moviebuff is also a powerful critic and audience review aggregation platform designed with intuitiveness in mind.

In 2015, Real Image introduced CinemaDB, a comprehensive, self-managed database of cinemas worldwide that provides free data feeds of their equipment to theatres and acts as a universal inbox for all their content keys. CinemaDB complements the KeySmith service by serving as an accurate data source.

A year later, the company launched Justickets, a next-gen movie ticketing website for the Indian market. Built with Google’s Go language, Justickets is the first consumer-facing tool that showcases the company’s extensive cinema experience and footprint by offering a quick

“Real Image has transformed the movie industry three times so far – by introducing digital editing, digital surround sound and digital cinema. Today, we are working to create powerful online services for the movie industry that we hope will serve as the foundation for another, even greater transformation in the business and technology of the industry!”, says Senthil Kumar, Co-Founder & Director.

Jayendra Panchapakesan and Senthil Kumar, Co-founders & Directors of Real Image, have transformed the movie industry.

Qube Cinema, a core technology platform for digital cinema mastering, scheduling, distribution and playback, is used in cinemas and post-production facilities in 49 countries across six continents.

Real Image is recognised as a pioneer in digital cinema technology, revolutionising the entertainment industry time and again through several paradigm shifts in production, post-production and exhibition, and with products known in India and across the world for innovation and excellence.

Tel: +91 44 4204 1505

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Media & Entertainment

Voice of the city Addressing a constantly evolving audience and offering engaging content across a range of topics, Chennai Live 104.8 FM keeps residents hooked with a mix of music and banter. India’s first talk radio FM station is also the leading English radio channel in Chennai.

RJ Jane perks up weekdays with the Metro Mornings show between 7-11 am.


stablished in 2006, Chennai Live has positioned itself as a locally involved radio station aimed at entertaining, educating and updating the people of Chennai. Standing apart from the gimmicky sounds of other stations, in its tenth year, the station seems to inspire other radio stations to emulate its example. Apart from catering to the growing demand for urban music, the channel focuses on local happenings, information and issues relevant to day-to-day life in Chennai, through discussions and debates with studio guests and listeners. The mix of stimulating conversations and the best of regional and international music, both past and current, strikes a chord as much with its natives as with migrants from across India and the world. George Muthoot George, CEO, says, “When I first started the radio station in 2008, a lot of people would ask me, why an English radio station in Chennai? I would simply ask them, why not? Like any other city, Chennai has been built by generations of people who have come in from across the the country and the world for trade, work, art,


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music, movies, literature, and so much more.� Holding fast to the notion that this country of 1.27 billion people is more a continent, he avers that English is the unifying language that cuts across barriers and boundaries. The city is home to Gujaratis, Biharis, Bengalis, Punjabis, Malayalis and others from the 29 states and Union Territories of India. It is the 38th most visited city in the

Innovation Chennai Live 104.8FM pioneered the talk radio show concept in the country. As a current day chronicler of the city, the brief to its presenters is to build appealing conversations around the city and its citizens. It serves as a radio platform to promote local talent, both artists and entrepreneurs. Alongside this, it introduces global lifestyle choices and mindsets to Chennaiites.

world, and George does not want to restrict Chennai to only those who speak the local language, Tamil. “Talk Radio Station in India is not a spanking new concept; we took it from countries abroad, and over the last eight years, we have gradually customised it to Indian tastes. Run-of-the-mill juvenile humour, crass jokes, repetitive prank calls, music-driven programming are all gimmicks most radio stations in India resort to. While the music interspersed in between is quite palatable, one has multiple online radio stations and curated playlists available on the Web, or on your own iPod, thereby making every current radio station in India a do-oncerepeat-again version of the other. What makes me happy is that as we approach the ten year milestone, regional channels and other language radio stations are finally looking outside Kollywood and Bollywood, and also featuring ordinary people, as well as aping our concepts time after time. Imitation is flattery indeed,” says George.

Chennai Live has set for itself the mission of addressing a vast spectrum of people who have made this city their home. To engage its listeners, the station keeps its content informative, engaging, newsworthy, emotional, funny and responsive to the city’s fast-changing needs. It keeps listeners hooked with a host of trending topics such as food, travel, automobiles, technology, sport, fashion, movies, standup comedy, theatre, independent music, pets, parenting and Next Gen kids, debates, discussions and exciting contests. The station played a key role during the floods that ravaged the city last year, cutting out all ads and music to concentrate on becoming a communication hub. With the CEO’s voice urging them “be a hero to your city, or die trying,” the team connected with people stranded in the rains, verified information pouring in from several sources and became a 24x7 helpline. The team members left their homes and slept in the studios,

George Muthoot George, CEO, Chennai Live 104.8FM, says, “Chennai Live 104.8FM will represent a New World talk radio station, giving people everything they want to hear”.

reflecting the station’s ethos that it was made of and for ordinary people with extraordinary lives. For George, it was overwhelming to realise that the station fulfilled a greater purpose than what it was ever intended to be, and it strengthened the team’s resolution to be there anytime they were required. The station’s future focus is to integrate radio content online for the digital world to like, share and spread the word. George says, “These are amazing times to live in because in the history of media, we haven’t seen these levels of collaborations and integrations, giving the world a better experience overall. Content is still king, and the power of ideas coming together across mediums is phenomenal to see. This is truly radio that makes you feel.”

Keeping commuters company on the way home is RJ Sandeep on the popular evening show, The Drive, every weekday.

Tel: +91 44 4226 1000 chennailive104.8

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Startups & Technology

Chennai, the second-largest exporter of information technology and BPO services in India, has seen a recent spurt of technology startups that are capturing the world’s attention. The city is touted to become a leader in the startup sector as well as an important investment destination in the field. Chennai has a large student population, many of them pursuing courses in science, engineering and mathematics that feeds the technology sector of the city, and leads to an education-industry synergy. MNCs and IT companies absorb these students as workforce. Technology and young IT professionals played a major role in rescue and relief work during the 2015 floods as well. Be it floodwater purifying filters, food that was not easily perishable or waterproof clothing and footwear, there was an overwhelming line-up of innovations that were put to use.


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“Any sufficiently advanced technology is equivalent to magic.” Sir Arthur C Clarke (1917-2008), British science writer, inventor and futurist

The Seat’, welded copper, brass & enamels, S Nandagopal

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Startups & Technology

Finance enabler With the glut of financial products on offer, a person is hard-pressed to make a choice from something as basic as opening a bank account to taking a loan or getting insurance. offers a simple, quick and robust online method to pick the best fit for any financial requirement by offering comparative information and customer support to make it a hassle-free experience. All of this is possible via a seamless online banking marketplace technology. is a robust marketplace with over 50 partners, a range of products including savings accounts, credit cards, home loans, personal loans, car loans, insurance, fixed deposits and more, coupled with hand-holding users through their entire journey from search to final disbursement of their product.


eadquartered in Chennai, has offices in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi and Singapore. The company has received funding from Amazon, Sequoia Capital, Mousse Fidelity and Walden International, helping it take the lead in the fintech space in India.

Their vision in this enterprise was to simplify the process of getting any financial product customised for an individual. The idea was to make the process of getting a loan or any financial product as easy as buying an airline ticket online. was founded in 2008 by native Chennaiites, Arjun Shetty, his wife Rati Rajkumar and brother Adhil Shetty. The idea for this portal grew from Rati and Arjun’s frustrating experience of multiple visits to banks to get a loan in the US. Deciding that their entrepreneurial journey lay in making finance easily accessible, the couple pitched the idea to Adhil, and moved back to Chennai to start the business. Arjun, who formerly worked with in Seattle, is the Chief Operating Officer; Rati who has worked as a marketing analyst with Kraft Foods is the Chief Product Officer and Adhil, who was with Deloitte Touche in New York, is the Chief Executive Officer.

It focused on building a one stop shop for instant customised rate quotes on loans, credit cards, and insurance products. The aim was to create a neutral online marketplace where a customer could view and compare multiple offers from various banks integrated with the platform, thereby bridging the customer-to-bank gap. Buoyed by this backing, has set about educating customers about available financial products and enabling them to make informed decisions to choose those that suit them best. Its focus is on making a user’s financial journey simple, smooth,

Innovation With an award winning website, is in a rather unique spot, building disruptive products in the personal finance space. In keeping with the company’s vision to deliver completely paperless financial transactions in the shortest possible time, it has developed a robust, secure platform to automate loan and credit card applications, submissions and perform paperless verification by electronically accessing, retrieving and verifying KYC documents. This is fortified by smart technology and tight integration with banks and financial companies to ensure a bump-free customer experience from start to finish with the highest data security and confidentiality.


Best of Chennai Vol 2

(From left) Adhil Shetty, CEO, Rati Shetty, CPO and Arjun Shetty, COO believe in giving a secure experience to their customers.

and seamless through a unique customer-centric online financial marketplace that works simply and efficiently. The company holds data privacy as its core value. It does not sell information to third parties or multiple banks. As an enabler of financial product purchase, its revenues come in only when the customers get their products. Hence, only verified serious customers are passed on to the financial institutions. Being a neutral marketplace, it maintains credit policies and presents them transparently without bias. Apart from giving the customer a secure experience, it ensures that its business practices are implemented to the benefit of the customer. It is certified by TrustE and regularly upgrades its certifications pertaining to information security. Importantly, the company conducts business within the tightest framework of the law. Going forward,’s sole focus currently is on enabling instant financial products so that people no longer have to be dependent on the pain points of the offline world. Focusing on its customers, innovation, transparency, integrity and teamwork, it has set

its sights on becoming the dominant marketplace for instantly issuing financial products.

Awards • was awarded the Best Financial Website by Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) in 2016. • Ranked second in the list of Top Startups to Work in India brought out by Indiatimes in February 2016 • Rated as one of India’s Hottest Startups by Business Today in 2010 • Selected as one of the Top Business Ideas by CNBC Awaaz in 2009 • Recognised as one of India’s Most Promising Startups on – India’s first and largest startup event platform in 2008

For some requirements,’s customers can get loan approvals online in seven minutes, compared to seven days to get the same offline.

Tel: +91 44 6651 1800

Best of Chennai Vol 2


Startups & Technology

A sound app Significantly changing the lives of children with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities, Invention Labs, headquartered in the IIT Madras Research Park, has become the market leader in apps for autism in India and in several countries like Denmark, France and Italy, and is in the top three in USA and Australia. Its products, Avaz and FreeSpeech, are rated amongst the world’s best solutions for children with communication, speech and language impairments.

Avaz & FreeSpeech products are widely used across India, USA, Denmark, France, Canada, Australia & Italy.


jit Narayanan, the founder of Invention Labs, graduated from the Indian Institute of Techonology, Madras (IIT M), and worked in the US with American Megatrends, a hardware and software maker, before moving back to India in 2007 to realise his entrepreneurial ambitions. He got together a group of people from varied engineering backgrounds and working in high-profile companies in different parts of the world, to invent socially relevant products for India. “I started working with kids with disabilities in 2008, initially almost as a favour for friends at a school in Chennai. As I spent more and more time with the kids, I realised the amazing impact that we could achieve with clear application of good technology in this field. I also came to realise the great potential to build a company in this space that would achieve the ‘holy trinity’: social impact, disruptive innovation and scalable profits. I am fortunate to be working with a


Best of Chennai Vol 2

team of A-listers who believe in this vision, and who are as motivated and capable as I am,” he says. Invention Labs aims to create world-class technology products that empower, educate, and engage people. Its mission is “to make every voice heard,” to give a voice to people who are struggling to communicate, either due to a disability or a language barrier. Apart from Chennai, the company has an office in the US, and is backed by Mumbai Angels and Inventus Capital, who have so far invested `4.33 crore (US $650 thousand approximately) in the company. The products are founded on research that is based on collaborative work with professionals, thought leaders, parents, teachers and children from India and across the world. Through its products, the company has touched the lives of more than 30,000 children with disabilities like autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and

Avaz works by generating speech from limited muscle movements like those from the head or hand, and is used by people with speech disorders such as cerebral palsy, autism, intellectual disability and aphasia.

other intellectual disorders, as well as their parents, teachers and caregivers. Users of Avaz have gone on to finish schooling, enroll in college and get jobs, eventually becoming contributing members of society. Invention Labs is charting a course to use technology to break down barriers for communication that could arise from

disability, language or any other reason. Narayanan says, “We worked hard to build a truly revolutionary product that meets the needs of a very under-served population. In the course of this process, we invented something which could fundamentally change the way human beings interact with language. The driving force behind our success is our relentless pursuit of the science of speech

CEO Ajit Narayanan’s TED talk about his work has been viewed more than one million times.

and language, which has resulted in quality, innovation and impact around the world.”

Awards • FreeSpeech was chosen by Apple as its Best New App in March 2016. • Avaz received the TR35 Award from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012. This award was earlier given to the founders of Google. • Ajit Narayanan, the CEO, Invention Labs and inventor of Avaz, was named Innovator of the Year by MIT TR35 in 2011. • Avaz received the National Award for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities from the Government of India in 2010.

Innovation Avaz is India’s first speech-generating device for people with speech impairments, and the first at its price point anywhere in the world. Following the success of Avaz, Invention Labs has invented a new linguistic structure called FreeSpeech that is able to use pictures to represent any thought, almost like building blocks, which are then converted to any language automatically to speak it out. Avaz is typically cheaper by 25 to 125 percent, compared to similar Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) applications. Avaz PRO, the company’s flagship product, is also much more affordable, currently costing just `12,500 in India and $199.99 in the US; Avaz FreeSpeech is priced at `620 in India and $9.99 in the US. Another unique feature is that Avaz is not limited to a single language but can support multiple languages, a factor that makes it far more usable in a multilingual country like India where an average person routinely uses three different languages every day. The FreeSpeech app guides users to create grammatically correct sentences by using appropriate prompts to help them express their thoughts through pictures. FreeSpeech is very useful for learning English; it is particularly useful for ESL (English as a Second Language) learners and for children with speech impairments.

Tel: +91 44 6555 2989

Best of Chennai Vol 2


Startups & Technology

Keeping it simple From helping incorporate a company and handling government registrations and filings to taking care of accounting, documentation and annual compliances, Vakilsearch has tapped into the growing startup fervour. By setting itself up as a technology-driven platform to deliver professional services, this startup has helped TaxiForSure, Housing, CommonFloor and Sulekha, as well as several other companies in India to get going in business, and has expanded its services to the US, Europe, Middle East, Malaysia and Singapore.


tarted in 2011 and headquartered in Chennai, Vakilsearch seems to have plugged into a huge need, and in just four years of existence, now lays claim to one percent of all Indian registrations. With its large team of experts and an equally large network of affiliates who are just a phone call away, the company is able to offer comprehensive support to customers. Ask any entrepreneur what her/his biggest problem is, and the answer would be the labyrinthine maze of regulations they need to negotiate. Vakilsearch simplifies common legal matters for startups and growing companies, offering a wide range of services online and more importantly, at affordable rates. From registering a company or a trademark registration to accounting services and online legal documentation, it has a solution to every legal and compliance need. Apart from startups, it has seen a growth in business from established concerns too. It also helps individuals in getting agreements, wills and other such requirements. Hrishikesh Datar, Founder and CEO of Vakilsearch, is an alumnus of the National Law School of India University, Bangalore. Datar has had the opportunity to work with distinguished lawyers like Arun Jaitley (currently India’s Finance Minister), PS Raman, Siddharth Agarwal and PB Ramanujam. Vakilsearch’s own entrepreneurial journey began when Datar was presenting an idea for LawWeb, a portal to provide quality content to lawyers, at IIM, Bangalore. “Why not, instead, help people find lawyers online?” someone in the audience asked, and that triggered the idea of offering legal solutions online. Vakilsearch started as a legal service provider, gradually adding more services and expanding its reach to other countries. It claims to have saved `7 crore (US $1.05 million approximately) in professional

Innovation Vakilsearch’s single biggest differentiator is its focus on getting the work done online. It leverages technology to make it easier for the customer to get services and passes on cost reductions to its clientele.


Best of Chennai Vol 2

Hrishikesh Datar, Founder and CEO of Vakilsearch, says, “India is on the cusp of a great transformation, where Vakilsearch and other companies harness technology for advancements and make magical things happen.”

fees annually, freeing up 42,000 hours for over 1,20,000 customers in the last three years. The Indian legal and professional services market is pegged at `2,40,000 crore (US $36 billion approximately). Following its vision of making the legal process simple and easy for the common man and businesses, the company attributes its growth to the need for guidance by individuals and companies who struggle to maneouvre the complex legal system. Its consistent growth is directly proportional to the ease it provides to customers through technology. Datar says, “ is the future of the profession. We envision a time in the next five years where practically all professional work can happen using a technology platform. In the future, we believe that dispute resolution will be powered by technology and the internet as well.”

Tel: +91 7200 365 365

Painless billing Offering innovative solutions to a painful business problem, Chargebee is an online subscription and recurring billing management solutions provider of automated billing, invoicing and payment processes. Apart from putting forward an efficient, secure, and cost-effective method, it claims to make billing a fun process.

Chargebee provides a SaaS solution that simplifies billing complexities and functions for subscription businesses.


egistered in California, USA, Chargebee Inc., has its development and operations in Chennai, with 65 employees engaged in development, support, marketing, sales and operations; it serves a thousand customers across 48 countries. The company is funded by angel investors Tiger Global Management and Accel Partners. Chargebee was founded in 2011 by four long-time friends and colleagues who had worked for nearly 15 years on various global SaaS products. (Software as a Service, a software distribution model in which vendors and service providers host applications on a network or the internet.) Rajaraman Santhanam, KP Saravanan and Thiyagarajan T had worked at Zoho (a web-based online office suite), while Krish Subramanian had

Innovation Chargebee stands out in the industry with its comprehensive offering and by continually adding new features every quarter. It focuses on transforming a dull and routine transaction into an exceptional experience.

racked up valuable experience in working on a wide range of B2B solutions. While subscription-driven businesses are emerging as the natural end-result of the global eCommerce revolution, operational systems and solutions are still not up to the mark. Chargebee is in the forefront of solving these challenges effectively and is comfortably positioned to tackle them. Frictionless payments are key to running a smooth recurring-revenue business, and the process runs on two pillars: acceptance of any mode of payment (net banking, credit card, direct debit, PayPal and others) and business decisions on the basic analytics that highlight monthly recurring revenue, annual revenue, retention, tax information, account payables and receivables. Chargebee offers its customers the benefit of making sense of these numbers without much effort, allowing them in turn, to deliver superior experiences to their customers. In May 2016, Chargebee joined the certified Solution Partners community of Avalara, a leading provider of tax compliance automation for business. Chargebee’s clients now benefit from automatic sales tax calculation, which happens in real-time, for

every e-commerce invoice item. It also offers all of its services to new businesses and startups for free – all the way from the beta stage until they generate up to US $50,000 (`33 lakh approximately) in revenue. Subramanian has a clear vision of where Chargebee is headed. He says, “Getting Chargebee in the hands of thousands of next generation subscription businesses and enabling better customer experience for those businesses is our mission.”

Awards • Chargebee was awarded Startup of the Year at TiECON, 2015. • Identified as High Performer in the G2 Crowd Winter 2016 rankings • Category leader, placed among top Top 25 Billing & Invoicing solutions by GetApp

Tel: +1 (877) 288 9080

Best of Chennai Vol 2


BEST OF series in India BEST OF series of books are available in a premium print format and also as Ebooks on BEST OF INDIA Vol 1 “I would like to compliment your effort to showcase the growth and success of our country.” - KV Kamath, President, New Development Bank of BRICS “The BEST OF INDIA book is like a breath of fresh air. In an age of cynicism where we are bombarded with so much negativity, it is a pleasant change to have a publication which focuses on ‘positives’ and success stories.” - Ashok Soota, Executive Chairman, Happiest Minds “The book is well brought out.” - Rahul Bajaj, Chairman, Bajaj Auto BEST OF BANGALORE Vol 2 INNOVATION EDITION “As Bangalore emerges as an entrepreneurial hot spot and India’s leading startup city, the BEST OF BANGALORE INNOVATION EDITION does a great job of chronicling the rise of Bangalore by highlighting its innovative companies and the dreams and ambitions of its startups. It is a valuable addition to the recording of these most exciting times in Bangalore’s history!” - Nandan Nilekani, Technopreneur & Co-founder, Infosys “…very relevant to Bangalore” - Pradeep Kar, Founder and Chairman, Microland “A book for everyone who’s interested in Bangalore...” - The New Indian Express BEST OF BANGALORE Vol 1 “Bangalore is about human capital. This book focuses attention on this very special city.” - Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson & MD, Biocon “The book’s a brand ambassador for the city” - India Today BEST OF GOA Vol 1 “Here we have a high-end book by a sensitive group of persons…it not only transmits the flavour of Goa to the reader but also eloquently expresses the richness of its culture and its society.” – The Herald

‘Marvels of’ series The Marvels of series of Destination Photobooks are pretty, pictorial books. They are available in paperback print editions and as Ebooks on Amazon KindleTM. MARVELS OF KARNATAKA & more “A brilliantly edited and beautifully packaged book that is concise, precise and full of spice!” - Raghu Dixit, folk musician, composer and singer MARVELS OF MYSORE & more “Combination of a coffee table book with marvellous pictures and an efficient guide for tourists to Mysore and its environs.” - Shashi Deshpande, Author “…open the window to see and sample the myriad marvels of India’s most beautiful city.” - Krishna Prasad, Editor-in-Chief, Outlook


Best of Chennai Vol 2

“...the perfect companion on a road trip through Karnataka.” - Prasad Bidapa, India’s fashion guru

Praise for BEST OF CHENNAI Vol 1 “I’m very impressed by the quality of this book, both the pictures as well as the text. It is a well-produced, outstanding quality book. This is something I would be happy to buy and distribute among my friends, especially when I travel overseas. It would be a nice way for my friends from overseas to get to know about my city, Chennai.” - Ramesh Krishnan, legendary tennis champion and former Indian Davis Cup captain “After seeing BEST OF BANGALORE, I wanted our company to be part of BEST OF CHENNAI. It is a privilege to be compared with the business leaders and big industrialists in the book.” - Nalli Kuppusami Chetty, Chairman, Nalli Silks “BEST OF CHENNAI captures the essence of the city through articles and photographs.” - The Hindu “The book looks very unique and shows some of the best pictures of Chennai all put together in one book.” - Andrew Simkin, former Consul General, Consulate of the United States of America “The ‘BEST OF’ books are very attractive, readable and very informative. The detail of work is very impressive, and it was a great pleasure to be a part of this book. I’m sure anybody who opens BEST OF CHENNAI will want to come again and again to Chennai.” - Chitra Visweswaran, renowned Bharatanatyam dancer

ISBN 978-81-930248-8-1

9 788193 024881 ` 3000

BEST OF CHENNAI Vol 2 is a celebration of and a tribute to this inimitable and resilient city. It continues the narrative of Chennai’s economic and cultural evolution that began in the BEST OF CHENNAI Vol 1, and proudly presents the sustained success of iconic local companies and startups, and their remarkable contributions to the economy and the community. Edited by Sandhya Mendonca, this book includes perspectives by renowned experts about the city’s soulful cultural fabric, and also portrays the city’s robust heritage and richness of sports. With stunning visuals and eloquent text that decode Chennai and its unique role in India’s growth story, BEST OF CHENNAI Vol 2 is a must-buy for locals and visitors alike.

‘The Boat’, silver plated copper, brass and enamels by S Nandagopal