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Sandhya flanked by (L - R) Kavita, Manjunath, Vivek & Savita.

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Allen flanked by (L - R) Jayshree, Kapila, Pramodh & Pooja

Photo: Aditya Mendonca

Content Raintree Media Pvt Ltd www.raintreemedia.com

Assistant Editor Kavita Mohandas

Principal Photography Ramya Reddy S Badri Narayanan

Sales Kapila Sengupta Jayshree Menon

Contributors CMO Axis Bhanu Mathi Mohan Chitra Mahesh

Feature Writers Savita S Rao Sriram Aravamudan Vivek Jois

Design Pramodh BS Manjunath AV

Chartered Accountants Messrs YVS Vinod

Best of Chennai

Operations Pooja Goswami


International Group Publisher Sven Boermeester International Publisher & Managing Group Editor Lisa Durante CEO & Editor-in-Chief Sandhya Mendonca

Welcome to Best of Chennai Volume 1. We are delighted to introduce a brand new concept in publishing – a business atlas in a coffee table format. In the ensuing pages, we present stunning visuals as seen through the eyes of our ace photographers, who have been specially commissioned for this book. The images are perfectly balanced with thoroughly researched and documented informative features that capture the pulse of the city. Best of Chennai is a creditable platform to display all that makes Chennai such an epochal city: the key businesses across various sectors that drive its trade and commerce – engineering, shipping, health, hospitality, education and many more. The continuing success of these companies is a testament to their strong foundations and resilience that helps them steer through troubled times. We celebrate their achievements in these pages and look to offer inspiration through the individual philosophies that power their growth. This is also a showcase for the culture that is the very essence of the city - the dance, music and art which we depict through the eyes and the words of some of the renowned exponents in the respective fields: Kamal Hassan, Chitra Visweswaran, Sivasankari, PC Ramakrishna, TN Seshagoaplan and Achuthan Kudallur. Our third in the ‘Best of…’ series of books in India, Best of Chennai joins a global network of publishing that extends from Australia to the USA. 30 countries from different parts of the globe successfully publish ‘Best of …’ books in their regions, creating a unique community of businesses and readers. To make the books accessible to a wider audience, we also offer them via ebooks on www.gvpedia.com. This portal has tremendous potential for the companies and organisations that feature in our books. With efficient meta info and keywords to optimise searches, the online editions offer a considerable value addition and ensure greater visibility for participants. Best of Bangalore Volume 1 and Best of Goa Volume 1, which we published in 2008, have both been very well received. With each book, we raise the bar and experiment with new elements. We hope that we have achieved the perfect mix in Best of Chennai. I would be pleased if you could write to me at sandhya.mendonca@gvpedia.com Happy reading! Sandhya Mendonca

Editorial Director Allen Mendonca Published by Global Village Publications India Pvt Ltd under franchise licence from Global Village Partnerships Ltd ISBN # 978-81-907761-1-0 Address 7/1, I Floor, Ebony, Hosur Road, Langford Town, Bangalore 560 025 India Tel No: +91 80 4132 9394/ 5 www.gvpedia.com gvpindia@gvpedia.com Printed at Tien Wah Press (Pte) Limited 4 Pandan Crescent Singapore 128 475 Tel: +65 6771 8892 Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in the Best of Chennai Volume 1 publication. Neither GVPI nor Best of Chennai nor Global Village Partnerships Ltd take any responsibility for errors or omissions. All brands, products and trademarks are the property of their respective owners. All rights reserved: No part of this publication shall be reproduced, copied, transmitted, adapted or modified in any form or by any means. This publication shall not be stored in whole or in part in any form in any retrieval system.

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Building an Atlas of Success, Sustainability and Culture 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 then 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 books in over 30 territories, from Bangalore to Belgium. These detail 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.

Product - The Folders Fast track to the world Market Essentials works closely with Foreign Embassies,

REGIONAL HEAD OFFICES

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= Brussels

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High Commissions, International Chambers of Commerce and Trade Associations worldwide to produce high quality trade folders. Each folder is designed to offer support and advice to companies interested in trading with or investing in overseas markets.

Product - www.gvpedia.com Connecting the world’s most interesting people and organisations The portal provides GVP customers an interactive Public Relations Box managed by a user friendly ‘Enterprise Content Management System’ that allows clients to upload their press releases, photos, videos and management profiles. The latest networking add-ons and social media applications are integrated within the site, providing maximum reach and feedback. The value proposition for subscribers to gvpedia.com essentially covers four elements: exposure, expertise, exclusivity and networking.

Market Promote and network the ‘red apples’ within each economy GVP’s market sectors embrace publishing, public relations, corporate gifting, online community building and networking. Its target market covers large, medium and small entrepreneurial organisations enjoying growth, success and sustainability. GVP explores every geographic region to pick the ‘red apples’ in business, exports, innovation, design, fashion, retail, hospitality, specialty foods, the arts and more.

Unique Selling Point (USP) New markets create new business opportunities GVP publications promote, showcase and network successful economies, organisations and individuals from across the globe. The organisation celebrates success and provides recognition amongst its ever expanding international network of influential clients. Its online portal, www.gvpedia.com provides a platform for clients and readers to network, share best practice and grow new markets, creating exciting new business connections and opportunities.

Corporate Social Responsibility There is no success without ethics and sustainability The best of world business, travel and lifestyle within the Global Village is dependent on more than monetary profit. There is no success without core values such as sustainability, integrity and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). GVP’s exclusive client base is selected by invitation only based on these criteria, with the added focus of dedicated chapters covering CSR, sustainability, green innovation and giving back to the community.

Growth and Opportunity

Sven Boermeester, Chairman with Lisa Durante, Managing Partner, GVP

With its mission to serve as the premier platform for showcasing and networking the world’s top brands and companies in business, tourism and lifestyle, Global Village Partnerships (GVP) is building an atlas of success, sustainability and culture. This is carried out through the ‘Best of’ book series, the Global Village online information portal and the development of an ever expanding business network of international partners and clients. involved in more than 30 territories where the ‘Best of’ series is published. GVP has a five-year growth plan to develop a further 150 economic territories organically, through each continent’s regional head office, and through partnerships with companies and individuals that have the expertise to showcase their city, state or country.

Exchanging knowledge, skills and economies of scale in media With regional head offices in five continents, the organisation is currently

= Johannesburg

Turnover 2008 US $8000000

= London

Employees & Partners 100

= Santiago

Circulation 500000

= Singapore

International head offices London, Brussels Dubai, Cairo Bangalore, Singapore Washington DC, Santiago Sydney, Johannesburg

= Sydney

= Washington DC

Management Sven Boermeester Lisa Durante Charles Neil Leon Swartz

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10 Best of Chennai

Page 96 - 109

Chapter 8

Page 88 - 95

Chapter 7

Page 80 - 87

Chapter 6

Page 70 - 79

Chapter 5

Page 62 - 69

Chapter 4

Page 44 - 61

Chapter 3

Page 30 - 43

Chapter 2

Page 12 - 29

Chapter 1

Contents

Best of Chennai Culture

Food & Dining Hotels & Hospitality

Business Spaces & Real Estate Engineering & Shipping

Education & Training Luxury & Lifestyle


Page 140 - 149

Chapter 12

Page 132 - 139

Chapter 11

Page 122 - 131

Chapter 10

Page 110 - 121

Chapter 9

Health & Wellness Media

Premier Clubs & Sports Social Responsibility

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Chapter 1

Introduction

The day starts early in Chennai; the rituals of bathing, worshipping, decorating the entrances with the traditional ‘kolam’ and the first cup of pure filter coffee are completed before the Sun God begins his blistering reign over the city. At sundown, the city begins to cool as an impish sea-breeze wafts in lightly.

Gowri Chandrasekaran is a three-time winner of the annual Mylapore kolam contest which is held on the day of the Pongal festival.


“There is no doubt that the culture of the Tamils belongs to the great and immortal treasures of the world’s civilisation.” Prof Dr Kamil Vaclav Zvelebil, (1927 - 2009), Czech Indologist and author

Photo: Ramya Reddy


Best of Chennai

Gateway to the South With a population of eight million, this southern metropolis on the Coromandel Coast combines the best of technology and the rich core of Indian tradition. With each succeeding generation, the port city has added more layers to its unique identity, building a promising future from a proud legacy.

The Parthasarathy Temple in Triplicane, built in the 8th century, is one of the 108 holy abodes of Lord Vishnu. It is dedicated to his avatar as Lord Krishna, ‘Parthasarathy’ in Sanskrit means the ‘charioteer of Arjuna’.

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Photo: Ramya Reddy


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n the four centuries of its existence, Chennai has evolved from a colonial port town into one of India’s largest metros. A host of hardware manufacturing and automobile industries have flourished here, and the robust infrastructure has attracted leading IT firms to Chennai’s shores. Chennai is regarded as the cultural capital of the South, and has one of the most active music, theatre and art scenes in India; its film industry is the second largest in India, and its glitz and glamour add a unique aura. The city’s colonial splendour is preserved in its magnificent public edifices. Century-old beautiful cathedrals, government offices, railway stations and administrative buildings show the pride that its residents take in its history. Fort St. George, the first British fortress in India, now serves as the administrative headquarters for the legislature of Tamil Nadu, and has the oldest Anglican Church, the tallest flag mast and some of the oldest British tombstones in India. The North is predominantly an industrial area while Central Chennai is the commercial heart of the city. South and West Chennai have been mainly residential, but are now home to a growing number of technology and financial firms as well as call centres. The city prides itself on its dedicated and talented workforce. Its automotive industry is one of the largest in the country, accounting for 60 percent of the country’s automotive exports. Some of the big names that have set up shop in and around this city include Hyundai, Ford, BMW, Mitsubishi, Saint-Gobain, TVS, Ashok Leyland, Nissan Renault, TI Cycles, TAFE Tractors, Royal Enfield, Caterpillar, Caparo and MRF. Military vehicles are churned out at the Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi. The Integral Coach Factory manufactures railway coaches and other parts for the Indian Railways. The Sriperumbudur Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is Chennai’s electronics manufacturing hub; almost every global giant has a presence here. The city is also the research and development base of many global telecom and biotech giants, and is the second largest software hub in India, next to Bangalore, contributing over 14 percent of India’s software exports worldwide. Large gleaming software technology parks now loom majestically over the cityscape, contrasting with Chennai’s older gracious colonial style buildings. Leading international banks and financial institutions have large operations in Chennai, and several have their zonal headquarters here. Known for its good quality hospitals and healthcare institutions such as Apollo Hospitals, the largest private healthcare provider in Asia, Sankara Nethralaya, Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre and MIOT Hospital, Chennai is fast becoming one of the preferred destinations for medical tourism across the globe. Stretching along 60 km of coastline, Chennai’s beaches are among the longest in the country. The city’s tourism industry is growing fast, with new spas, restaurants and resorts popping up along the East Coast Road (ECR). The ECR is a state-of-theart highway that cruises along to the old town of Mahabalipuram and to Chennai’s favourite neighbour, Puducherry. Two more highways, the Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) and the Grand Southern Trunk Road (GST) have been developed along the lines of the ECR. The two recent jewels in Chennai’s crown are the exchange flyovers at Kathipara and Padi, making the City’s arterial and feeder roads among the most free-flowing and least congested in the country.

benchmarked educational standards much before many major universities even came into existence in India. The city is home to a large student population, with a large number of colleges dotting the city offering technical, arts and literature courses that are among the best in the country. The famed Indian Institute of Technology, situated in a sprawling verdant campus in Guindy, produces some of the best brains in the country. The Connemara Public Library, built in 1890 is one of the four national depositor centres in India for all published material, and has been declared a UNESCO information centre. Kodambakkam, in the heart of Chennai is the home of the stars. Kollywood the legendary movie industry has woven itself inextricably into the culture of the city. Tamil films, which along with Hindi films constitute India’s widest overseas film distribution, has seen the emergence of global personalities like Oscar-winning composer AR Rahman. The city has an impressive record in several sports, although cricket is the most popular. It plays host to the ATP tennis event, the Chennai Open. It has a rich legacy in chess and has produced many well-known chess players, the most notable of them being Vishwanathan Anand, the current World Chess Champion. Motor racing is another long standing sport, producing outstanding racers like Narain Karthikeyan. Chennai is known for its elegant silk saris of gorgeous hues and its cool cottons. The eponymous Madras cotton, usually favoured in checked designs, is also known as Madras Check. This light, cool fabric, is ideal for the hot summers. Chennai sources silks of vibrant hues from Kancheepuram, about 70 km from the capital. This temple town is the ‘silk city’ where over 5000 families weave silk saris, and some of them can trace back their roots to over 400 years. The saris are inlaid with timeless ethnic motifs of swans, peacocks and mangoes. The creation of a classic Kancheepuram sari can take as long as six months; two weavers work simultaneously - one works on the body, and the other creates the borders. There are a few pockets in the city such as the narrow bustling alleyways of Mylapore and Triplicane that seem caught in a time warp of their own, with the quality and pace of life remaining unchanged for over a century. It is here that the conventional South Indian images of jasmine garlands, idlis, filter-coffee and temple gopurams live, prosper and abound. Traditional music, dance and art forms are very popular. The months of December and January showcase music and art festivals that draw hundreds of performers and admirers (called rasikas), from across India to participate. It is of course best known for Bharatanatayam, a classical dance that originated in Tamil Nadu. The home of countless scientists, litterateurs, musicians and scholars, every lane in these two temple districts has a story to tell. The hallmark of a successful city is its ability to preserve the old while constantly adapting itself to the new. Chennai’s success in commerce has allowed it to afford its citizens all the modern conveniences of a world class city. The modern glistening city is filled with malls, resorts, highways and high-tech offices that co-exist peacefully with the deep rooted cultural values of its people. With its two equally alive and vibrant facets of tradition and modernity, Chennai reigns as the Queen of the Coromandel.

Chennai’s premier educational institutions are matchless. Madras University

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Best of Chennai

Fast facts Chennai is a city that has struck the ideal work-life balance. The thriving economy exudes a palpable buzz as its business barons and industrialists forge ahead, building steadily on Tamil Nadu’s growth rate of 12.1 percent. Equally visible is the mantle of heritage that cloaks this city where culture and customs are the leitmotif of the community.

Chennai’s markets bustle with activity.

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Photo: Yuvraj Vivek


Location The capital city of Tamil Nadu in South India, Chennai lies on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. Geographic coordinates 13.09° N 80.27° E Population Eight million Linguistic groups Tamilians constitute a majority of Chennai’s population, while Telugu and Malayali communities are sizeable. The city’s steady development has drawn people from across the country, making the population quite cosmopolitan. Religions Hinduism is practiced by 80 percent of Chennaiites, 8 percent of the population is Muslim, Christians comprise another 8 percent, and Jains, Parsis and Buddhists constitute the remaining 4 percent. Languages Tamil is preferred, though English is widely known. Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and Urdu are also spoken. Governing body The democratically elected Corporation of Chennai governs the city’s 155 wards; the government comprises a legislature (Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly), the executive and judiciary headed by the Madras High Court, whose jurisdiction extends across Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. Political parties and leaders M Karunanidhi heads Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), while J Jayalalithaa heads All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). Marumalarchi DMK, Dravida Kazhagam (DK), Tamil Manila Congress (TMC) and Rajiv Tamil Nadu Congress are the other parties. Pioneering industrialists Dewan Bahadur AM Murugappa Chettiar of the Murugappa Group, Raghunandan Saran of the erstwhile Ashok Motors and K M Mammen Mappillai of MRF. Environmental issues Pollution and ground water depletion Natural hazards The tsunami in December 2004 altered Chennai’s coastline. The city is also prone to cyclones in the monsoon season. Climate Chennai enjoys a tropical climate; monsoons extend from June to September, winters are from November to February and summer occurs between March and June, when temperatures can soar between 38°C (100.4°F) and 45°C (113°F).

Business days Mondays to Saturdays Country dialing code +91 44 Internet Code .in Currency Indian Rupees Exchange Rates Rs 51.6 for US $1 (as on March 10, 2009) Electricity 9000 MW in Tamil Nadu Major Annual Events January Arudra Darisanam Pongal February India International Leather Fair at the Chennai Trade Centre April Tamil New Year celebrations

The traditional folk dance Therukoothu is performed during Pongal Photo: S Badri Narayanan

December Chennai Open at SDAT Tennis Stadium The Chennai Dance and Music Festival Medical facilities Chennai has been pegged as an important centre for medical tourism. It has a strong medical infrastructure with 34 general hospitals and several specialty hospitals. Banks Over 60 national and international banks have a presence in Chennai. Working hours are usually between 9.30 am and 3.30 pm on weekdays and 9.30 am to 12.30 pm on Saturdays. Media Chennai’s print media comprises eight major newspapers in English and Tamil and over 30 magazines. Television is dominated by privately owned regional channels, of which Sun Network commands the second-highest viewership share in the country. Local time IST. Chennai is five and a half hours ahead of GMT.

Clothing Light cottons and linen are recommended for the hot and humid climate.

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Best of Chennai

Genesis Ancient Chennai lay in the province of Thondaimandalam, which stretched between Nellore and Cuddalore, with its capital at Kancheepuram. The region contained the ancient villages of Thiruvallikeni (Triplicane), Thirumayilai (Mylapore), Thiruvanmiyur and Thiruvotriyur, all integral parts of modern day Chennai. St.Thomas, the apostle, is said to have preached here atop a hillock, now called St.Thomas Mount, between the years 52 and 70 CE. The relics of the Saint, interred in the San Thome church near Mylapore, are believed to possess miraculous healing powers.

Built in 1504, the Santhome Church rests on the tomb of the Apostle St. Thomas

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Photos: Ramya Reddy


L

egend has it that Ilam Tiriyan, a representative of the Cholas at Kancheepuram, seized Thondaimandalam in the 2nd century AD from the Kurumbas who originally inhabited it. Power over the region changed hands several times in the centuries to follow. The Pallavas ruled the region from the 3rd to 9th century AD, followed by the Cholas until the 13th century. The Pandyas ruled again briefly for about half a century, soon to be vanquished by the Bahmani Kingdom under the Delhi Sultanate. In 1361, Thondaimandalam was annexed to the Vijayanagar Empire by Kumara Kampana II, son of the Vijayanagar emperor Bukka I. The earliest European settlers in the region were the Portuguese, who built a port and named it São Tomé (modern day Santhome) after St. Thomas. The port subsequently passed into the hands of the Dutch, who established themselves at Pulicat, north of the city, in 1612. The British East India Company arrived soon after and established a Calico Cloth factory in Armagon, a village 35 miles north of Pulicat, in 1626. It was around this time that Francis Day, an agent-in-charge of the East India Company’s Calico Cloth shop in Armagon, set off on an exploratory mission down the coastline in search of a region that produced better cloth for trade. In 1637, he selected a three-mile sandy strip of land south of Armagon, to start his new factory. The area contained the fishing village of Madraspatnam, and in the words of Day, produced “excellent long Cloath and better cheape by 20 percent than anywhere else”. Local gossip at the time however, seemed to suggest that Day’s selection of Madraspatnam was influenced by the location of his mistress in the Portuguese settlement of São Tomé nearby, in order that “their interviews might be the more frequent and uninterrupted”! Irrespective of Day’s actual reasons, his decision was supported by Andrew Cogan, his superior officer and chief of the factory at Masulipatnam. And so, on August 22, 1639, Day secured the lease of the three mile strip of Madraspatnam from Darmarla Venkatadri Nayakudu, the local governor of the Vijayanagar Empire. On April 23, 1640, with the assistance of his interpreter (dubash) Beri Thimmappa Chetti, Day began the construction of Fort St. George, the first British fortress in India, and the nucleus around which modern day Chennai grew. The Fort still stands today, and houses the Legislative Assembly of the state of Tamil Nadu. The Fort, together with the houses built for British officers constituted ‘White Town’, while labourers, dyers and weavers settled into ‘Black Town’ nearby. By 1750, the neighbouring villages of Narimendu, Triplicane, Kottivakkam, Nungambakkam, Egmore, Mylapore and several others were annexed by Francis Day’s successors through grants approved by the Nayaks of Chandragiri. The origin of the name of the little fishing village of Madraspatnam remains a mystery to this day. Though the name sounds alien to the Indian ear, it was not coined by the British. Legend has it that the village was named after Madarasan, the chieftain of the village, whose banana grove was chosen as the location of the fort. Many historians however attribute the name of the village to the church of Madre de Deus, located in the Portuguese settlement of San Thomé, nearby. Another theory is that the village was named after a Muslim madrasa or religious school that was said to have existed in the region. While the original tract of land allocated to Francis Day did contain the village of Madraspatnam, another village called Chennapatnam lay to the south of it, named after Damarla Chennappa Nayakudu, the father of Damarla Venkatadri Nayakudu. Based on land records of the time, it is probable that Fort St. George was built in

The Chennai Government Museum in Egmore, established in 1851, has sections devoted to art, archeology, anthropology, numismatics, botany, zoology and geology.

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Madras University, whose domes are seen on the right, is the mother of all southern universities.

Chennapatnam, though the two villages rapidly merged together soon after. The English continued to call the united villages Madraspatnam, while the locals chose to call them Chennapatnam. In 1746, Fort St. George and Madras were captured by the French under General La Bourdonnais, but was returned to British power three years later, through the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. Now in full control of the city of Chennapatnam, as it was known by the locals then, the British established a naval base and built a harbour. With Madras as their administrative centre, they fought several wars, notably with the French at Wandiwash, with the Danes at Tranquebar and with the Kingdom of Mysore, led by Hyder Ali and his son Tipu. By 1780, the British had gained dominance over vast portions of Southern India and established the Madras Presidency with its capital at Madras. The city became a major centre for trade between India and Europe by the end of the 18th century. Elihu Yale, after whom Yale University is named, was the British Governor of Madras for five years and established Yale University using the fortunes that he amassed while in colonial government service here. Thomas Parry set up one

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of the country’s oldest and most respected mercantile companies here in 1788. John Binny established the famous textile house Binny & Co in 1814. Spencer and Co, Asia’s largest departmental store at the time, was established in 1864. Several other notable British companies joined suit, leading to the formation of the Madras Chamber of Commerce, the Madras Trade Association and finally, the Madras Stock Exchange in 1920. Madras remained the administrative centre of the Madras Presidency even after independence. State reorganisation followed, and it continued as the capital of Tamil Nadu. Attracted by its booming commerce, many trading communities migrated to the city from all over the country. Artisans, musicians, dancers and craftsmen from the corners of India flocked here as well in the early part of the 20th century, and the city is now regarded as a major centre for the arts in the South. Madras was renamed Chennai in August 1996, after the village of Chennapatnam, in deference to local sentiment.


Named after the Governor General of India, Lord Rippon, the Rippon building was built in 1913. It houses the offices of the Chennai Corporation.

The Madras High Court was one of the three High Courts in India established by Queen Victoria in 1862, and is the highest judicial body in Tamil Nadu.

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Best of Chennai

Soul city As planes swoop down over Chennai’s Guindy district in their final manoeuvre towards the airport, passengers catch a glimpse of St. Thomas Mount, the hillock on which the Apostle resided after he touched Indian shores in 58 AD. It draws lakhs of pilgrims each year. Tourists unfailingly climb the 135 steps to its top, to see the historical city’s rhythms play out before them. The city has plenty of interesting sights for the curious traveller.

The gopuram of the over 300-year-old Kapaleswara temple is a landmark in Mylapore.

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ne of Chennai’s most popular sights is the unusual snake park, beside the Guindy National Park. It houses snakes, lizards, crocodiles and turtles in wellmaintained, generous enclosures, and is an important centre for the captive breeding of endangered pythons in the country.Set in sylvan grounds on the banks of the Adyar river, the Theosophical Society’s international headquarters is an oasis of tranquillity and intellectual quest. The grounds are known for one of the largest banyan trees in the world - the Adyar aalamaram with a span of 40000 sq ft. Embodying the philosophy of unity and equality, the grounds have Hindu and Buddhist temples and a church; rare books and manuscripts are treasured at the old library, and it is a centre for discourses and comparative study of religions and philosophies. In the thickly populated Brahmin stronghold of Mylapore, the heart of traditional Chennai, is the iconic Kapaleswara Temple, an emblem of Dravidian temple architecture. The 8th century Pallava temple is the oldest and one of the most sacred Hindu shrines, and is dedicated to an incarnation of Lord Shiva, Kapaleswara. With its distinctive 37 metre tall gopuram, the temple also has several smaller shrines. The serene atmosphere of the temple gains vibrancy during the annual 10-day celebrations with colourful kolams and music, which draws both the devout and tourists in equal numbers. Not far away, is the Parthasarathy temple. Built in 700 AD, it celebrates Lord Krishna as Parthasarathy, the ‘charioteer of Arjuna’. This temple in Triplicane is a legacy of the Pallava dynasty, though it has been renovated by other dynasties. The sakkara pongal (sweet rice) is a favourite prasadam at this Vaishnavaite temple with its vast tank and elaborate temple spire. Further ahead is Fort St. George, which is the seat of power in the State today, housing the Legislative Assembly of Tamil Nadu. The first British fort in India, Fort St. George was built in 1653 by the British East India Company, and fuelled urban growth by acting as a trading centre. The imposing High Court was built in 1892 near Parry’s Corner. Off the bustling NSC Bose Road, and near the High Court, on Armenian Street, solid large wooden doors lead into the only Armenian Church in India. Called the Armenian Church of Virgin Mary, it is one of the oldest churches in South India. Its long winding stairs take you to a view of the six bells; the largest and heaviest in Chennai. Part of the open area is paved with old Armenian gravestones. The bells of the Armenian Church have announced the start of prayers every day since 1772.

Photos: Ramya Reddy

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Flourishing under the branches of the 450 year old banyan tree, one of the oldest in India, the Theosophical Society expounds the unity of mankind and a common search for truth.

Established in 1851, The Chennai Museum is considered one of the country’s best. This landmark in the Egmore area of the City has several prized possessions including relics from the second century Buddhist sites at Amravathi, and a fine collection of ancient bronzes. The National Art Gallery at Egmore was built in 1906. The building itself is a work of art and a storehouse of India’s legacy - 10th and 13th century bronzes, 16th and 18th century Rajasthani and Mughal paintings, 17th century Deccani paintings and 11th and 12th century Indian handicrafts. Adjacent to St. George’s Cathedral on Cathedral Road are the gardens of The Horticulture Society. Started in 1835, the gardens extend over an area of 22 acres and are a verdant retreat in a bustling city. Valluvar Kottam, not far from The Horticultural Society honours the acclaimed Tamil Poet, Thiruvalluvar, whose classic work of 1330 kurals (couplets) are about 2000 years old. This 1976 building recreates ancient Tamil architecture with the 1330 verse kurals inscribed on panels. The outer structure in stone is a replica of the temple car of Thiruvarur in southern Tamil Nadu. With its ochre reflection in the adjacent pool, this sight is both majestic and heart-warming. Kalakshetra, or Temple of Arts, occupies 100 pristine acres in Thiruvanmiyur.

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This premier school for dance, music and fine art established in 1936 by Rukmini Devi Arundale, a member of the Theosophical Society, has produced some of the country’s finest dancers and artistes. Its campus, centred around a banyan tree, resonates with creative energy, as India’s rich artistic heritage is passed and reinterpreted in a contemporary context. Strains of Carnatic music meld together at the Music Academy on TTK Road. Established in 1927 to stimulate interest in and encourage Indian music, it holds the highly anticipated Music Festival annually in December, which music lovers refer to the month as Margazhi, or music season. Amir Mahal is the residence of His Highness Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali Azim Jah, the eighth Prince of Arcot, scion of a family that traces its lineage from the Second Caliph of Islam, Hazrath Omar Bin-Khattab. Few residents of present day Chennai know that the land for the construction of the Kapaleeswarar temple tank was donated by his ancestors. The Prince is glad to share the less-known fact that, “Every year, on the 10th day of Mohurram, the Hindus allow the Muslims to dip their panjas (the sacred symbol of the hand) in the waters of the tank.” Located on sprawling grounds of 14 acres, the 70-room Amir Mahal was built in


1789, and is home to 600 people. Wallajah Road, Chennai’s arterial road adjoining the Chepauk Stadium, is named after one of the most liberal and philanthropic rulers of the Arcot family, Muhammad Ali Wallajah, Nawab of the Carnatic. The tall minarets of Dargah-e-Hazrath Syed Moosa Shah Qadri Baghdadi, popularly known as the Mount Road Dargah are not only beacons for people of all faiths, they are also a reference for the entire landscape of Mount Road and its environs. Hazrath Syed Moosa Shah Qadri Baghdadi (RA), said to have great healing powers, arrived from Baghdad Shareef in the middle of the 17th century and lived at the site of the Dargah. When he died, he was buried next to his house and here his family raised the Dargah Shareef. The sick from all over the country flock to the Dargah, hoping to be healed. Among famous worshippers are Oscar winning musician AR Rahman and the Prince of Arcot. Legend has it that when a British engineer ordered the shrine to be demolished for road-widening, blood spurted from the soil at the first attempt at excavation, and his workmen refused to proceed with the work. When the engineer forced them to resume work, he is supposed to have dropped dead the moment trenching began again. The Dargah Shareef, looked after by the descendants of Hazrath Syed Moosa Shah Qadri Baghdadi (RA) from the time his Dargah was raised, is however, only a part of the campus today. Dominating it in recent times has been one of the largest mosques in South India, with a 100 ft tall minaret. The five-storeyed Makkah Masjid, with its five 5000 sq ft halls that can accommodate 5000 worshippers at a time, is a landmark. On the way to Mamallapuram, about 35 km south of Chennai on the scenic

St. Mary’s Church houses the earliest register of baptisms, marriages and burials in India.

Spanning 12 km, Marina Beach is India’s longest beach.

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is a haven for artists. Only 18 km from Chennai city centre, and easily accessible from Mamallapuram, the sprawling 10 acres were set up in 1964, in what was then abandoned and sparsely populated land. Cholamandalam is both a permanent gallery and an open-air theatre. One can meander through the constantly changing display of stone sculptures and bronzes, and also buy pieces. Or, watch a dance, music or theatrical performance. About nine km from Chennai, Cholamandalam is named after the regional dynasty of kings, the Cholas, who were patrons of the arts. Today, there are small cottages which serve as the residences and studios for artists. Cholamandalam has evolved into a retreat, a community, where artists thrive in a tranquil but invigorating atmosphere. In the verdant crafts village of Dakshinachitra, the emphatic chime of a dancer’s anklet, or the deep resonance of a conventional drum are echoes of the past that drown out the present. En route to Mamallapuram, 30 km from Chennai, it is located in Chingleput, and was established by art historian Deborah Thiagarajan in 1988, to preserve the artistic legacy of South India. The heritage centre is a microcosm of the southern states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Cast in the mould of a village, Dakshinachitra’s streets are straight out of the 19th century. It presents tradition as a living, tangible experience; in its carefully restored spaces, cultural heritage has contemporary appeal. There are many ways to embark on Dakshinachitra’s cultural odyssey. Visitors purchase and participate in traditional crafts, and are treated to performances by folk artistes. Leather puppet shows and glass blowing techniques are frequently exhibited. Dakshinachitra educates urban and rural children in the arts, and offers an internship diploma in association with the Madras Craft Foundation Institute of Arts Management, to ensure that the wealth of tradition is transferred to the succeeding generations. Poetry in stone and sand, Mamallapuram, 58 km south of Chennai has always been a favourite haunt for locals and tourists. The silvery beaches with their rock-cut sculptures are often called ‘open air museums’. Meaning ‘brave wrestler’ and named in honour of the King Narasimha Varman I, sailors referred to Mamallapuram as Seven Pagodas. First described by British traveller J Goldingham in 1798, the bas relief and rock-cut temples are exquisite examples of seventh and ninth century Pallava art. The Pallavas were great patrons of art and poets; artists and craftsmen thrived in their reign. The tsunami of 2004 uncovered several more animal sculptures in this UNESCO world heritage site. Archaeologists and historians guess that the structures could be the remains of an ancient and once-flourishing port city in the area of this 1200-year-old rock-hewn temple. The Ashtalakshmi temple built in 1976 celebrates the eight manifestations of Goddess Mahalakshmi.

East Coast Highway lies the Crocodile Bank. Run by the legendary herpetologist and conservationist Romulus Whittaker, it houses about 5000 species over 3.2 acres. The crocodile conservation centre is the largest croc-breeding site in India, and has produced more than 6000 crocodiles. On Marina Beach, the world’s second largest beach stretch in a city, Chennai pays homage to its WWII heroes with the Victory War Memorial. Similar in intent to the traditional gurukul, the Cholamandalam Artists Village

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It is, in many ways, a reflection of the city itself. Chennai is where tradition is sustained through modern interpretation. It is one of those cities that one comes to understand and love deeply by uncovering each layer, which often intersect in its people and places. Centuries old and steeped in a passionately preserved culture, it is a city with a deep, often transcendental, soul.


The breathtaking edifices of Mahabalipuram have braved storms for centuries, welcoming sailors to Indian shores.

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Best of Chennai

The road ahead Keeping pace with Chennai’s escalating growth curve, the government and educational institutes have scheduled projects that address infrastructural requirements and power the city’s potential to play a leading role in India’s march towards the future.

Infrastructure projects ensure that the city sustains conventional industries and stimulates new growth.

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Chennai International Airport India’s first ISO 9000 certified airport is slated for an upgrade, with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) allotting Rs 2700 crore (US $522 million) towards the expansion of the Chennai airport into the largest in South Asia and the greenest in India. The government has acquired 1070 acres of land in the Manapakkam, Kolapakkam, Kerugambakkam and Tharapakkam in Sriperumbudur taluks; soon to come are a second runway, more taxiways, aprons, new passenger handling buildings, a parking garage with a green roof and rainwater capture systems. Two gardens spanning an acre each will flank the terminal. The 139931 sq ft Kamaraj Domestic Terminal, which currently handles 4.74 million passengers a year will be revamped with sustainable technologies to host twice as many passengers in a three storey structure spread across 781460 sq ft. The plans will be executed by the winners of the Chennai International Airport Competition, New York-based architects Frederic Schwartz Architects, Hargreaves Associates and Gensler.

Satellite launch Chennai’s Anna University has partnered with the Indian Space Research Institute (ISRO) to launch the Anusat, a micro educational satellite and the first to be built by an Indian educational institution. It was developed over six years by Anna University students and researchers under ISRO’s guidance. It was launched by ISRO’s Polar Satellite Vehicle (PSLV-C12) on April 20, 2009. The 50 kg Anusat will be in the low earth orbit. The data obtained from the satellite will be used for drought monitoring, wasteland management, urban planning, mineralogical mapping, flood-risk management and management of National Natural Resources Management System (NNRMS).

www.annauniv.edu

www.chennaiairport.com Chennai-Maduravoyal elevated highway In January 2009, the government flagged off the elevated road project from Chennai Port to Maduravoyal on National Highway 4, which at 19 km is the longest elevated corridor project in the country. It will facilitate swift and continuous dispersal of freight in and out of Chennai Port to other parts of the country via the Golden Quadrilateral corridor, which links Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai through a series of four and six lane express highways spanning 5846 km. The project is aimed at providing an impetus to the transport sector, encouraging trade and integrating the economy. It is significant because it relates economic growth with local development; 12000 families of the weaker sections in this area will be rehabilitated, and the adjacent river Cooum will be beautified. This four lane road is being constructed by National Highways Authority of India on a build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis, while the Government of Tamil Nadu and Chennai Port Trust have agreed to share equally the cost of land acquisition, and rehabilitation and resettlement of families from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

www.nhai.org Network of flyovers The upsurge in the IT and ITES sectors, along with Chennai’s role as a gateway to India, has ushered in a population growth resulting in a demand for greater infrastructure. Chennai’s traffic density, will be regulated by a series of flyovers in Perambur, Turn Bulls Road-Cenotaph Road, Rangarajapuram Level Crossing, Kathivakkam Level Crossing, Mint Junction, Vysarpadi-Ganesapuram subway, Villivakkam Level Crossing, and vehicular subways at Maniakara Choultry Street off Old Jail Road and Jones Road Level Crossing in Saidapet. Additionally, the causeway at Saidapet will be replaced by a high level bridge. The flyovers along North Usman Road-Mahalingapuram Road, South Usman Road-Duraisamy Road and G N Chetty Road-Tirumalai Road are already operational, and the government is currently sourcing land for the other projects, which are expected to be inaugurated in 2010.

www.tn.gov.in ISRO’s PSLV-C12 launched the Anusat

Photo courtesy: ISRO

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Chapter 2

Culture

The fount of Carnatic classical music and Bharatanatyam, the most important of the eight classical dance forms of India, Chennai is also a treasure trove for lovers of art and culture.

Renowned Bharatanatyam dancer Chitra Visweswaran with her students at the Chidambaram Academy of Performing Arts


“You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing and dance, and write poems and suffer and understand, for all that is life. � Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895 - 1986), philosopher Photo: Ramya Reddy


Culture

ExpertSpeak

Chitra Visweswaran

Evolving as a part of the ritual of worship, Bharatanatyam, the foremost of the eight Indian Classical dances, has deep roots in the fertile soil of the Cauvery delta. Originating in temples, dance flourished under royal patronage. Showing remarkable adaptability, it thrives as a much appreciated art form in contemporary times.

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lassical dance originally formed part of the ritual of worship in the temples of South India. Ancient Puranic texts mention the offering of dance and music along with the chanting of Vedas, offering of flowers and rajopachaara as part of the rituals. This offering was also known as upacharanai. Dance and music of this category was performed by the devadasis or servants of God. The practice of dedicating a daughter to a temple was prevalent in society. Historical documents state that there were as many as 400 temple dancers dedicated to the Brihadishwara (Siva) temple in Thanjavur in the 11th century AD. The magnificent rulers of South India, be it the Pallavas, Cholas or Marathas, were great patrons of art, which thrived under them in myriad manifestations. It was during the Maratha rule that Thanjavur became the cradle of South Indian classical dance and music. The present margam or format of presentation in Bharatanatyam was born in the court of Thanjavur and was formulated by four brothers, popularly known as the Tanjore Quartet. The villages of Vazhuvoor, Pandannallur, Tiruvidaimardur and the town of Thanjavur itself were amongst the main centres that came to be known for great gurus and dancers. The dance emanating from each centre came to be identified with the name of the place and the bani or sub style of Bharatanatyam came to be known by it. When temples lost their ability to support the arts, dance very naturally followed patronage into courts of royalty. Some of the gurus or teachers of this art form were extremely learned and several of the devadasis were women of great integrity, learning

Dancer

and pride. But, as with everything else, negative elements crept in and the institution of devadasis started being looked down upon. As the power of royal dynasties waned, so too did their patronage. Political and economic power shifted to Chennai and dance also moved out of the Cauvery delta region into the city. The move to the city also marked a change in the common perception of dancers. Till such time, women from so called ‘good’ families did not dance and were not even allowed to see dance performances. Change gradually set in and it was E Krishna Iyer and Rukmini Devi Arundale who were instrumental in removing the stigma attached to it. The dance style which was earlier called sadir, chinnamelam or daasi aatam was resurrected, infused with new spirit and made acceptable as ‘Bharatanatyam’. It is now a matter of great pride for all families to have at least one dancer within it. With the end of the British Raj, the artistic base shifted along with political and intellectual power shifts. With fierce nationalism and Indian governance coming in, Indians were striving to find their own identity. In this quest several national academies and institutions, such as, Kalakshetra (in Chennai), Kalamandalam (in Kerala), Shantiniketan (in West Bengal) were set up. In addition, great gurus viz. my own guru Vazhuvoor Ramaiyya Pillai, Thanjavur Kittappa Pillai, Muthiah Pillai, Tiruvidaimarudur Kuppiah Pillai and family, including his disciple TA Rajalakshmi (my first Bharatanatyam guru), Pandanallur Meenakshisundaram Pillai, amongst others, moved out of what is now ‘mofussil’, but what was then the heart of the arts. They contributed to the rediscovery of a sense of Indian-ness, even as they moved the centres of art to metros. Bharatanatyam remains popular in contemporary times as it is a communicative language that can be used to express any idea, old or new. It has a rich vocabulary and allows for interpretation at several levels. It remains relevant because of the interpretative skills of practitioners who have contributed greatly and continue to do so to keep it alive and interesting. Some of the noteworthy names are Kamala, Vyjayanthimala Bali, Yamini Krishnamurthy, Padma Subrahmanyam, Sudharani Raghupathi, CV Chandrasekhar, the Dhananjayans, Lakshmi Viswanathan, amongst others. Bharatanatyam today co-exists with contemporary dance which seeks inspiration from many a discipline. Chandralekha and today, Anita Ratnam in Chennai, are noteworthy for their contribution to contemporary dance. In summary, there is an audience for anything that is thoughtfully conceived, aesthetically performed and well-produced.”

The painted feet of the dancer highlights intricate footwork of the Tribhanga.

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Photos: S Badri Narayanan

A leading exponent of Bharatanatyam, Chitra Visweswaran was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1992, the Kalaimamani award by the Government of Tamil Nadu in 1982 and the Central Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 1987.


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Culture

ExpertSpeak

PC Ramakrishna

Traditional Tamil theatre has a strong base in rural Tamil Nadu. In urban Chennai, contemporary English theatre is flourishing. Its leading light is The Madras Players that has been serving up theatrical fare in English since the 1950s.

Theatre person

T

he Group performs English and Indian playwrights in equal measure. A newer addition to the theatre scene is Evam, founded in 2003, and nominated as one of the Tata NEN Hottest Startups in 2008. Determined to make theatre a paying proposition, the Group has had 225 shows of 16 plays across the country over the last five years with a turnover of Rs 1.6 crore (US $318000). “Tamil theatre has its origin in Therukoothu or rural story drama performances. Structurally, stage plays can be dated to the productions of The Madurai Boys Company and to the great Nawab Rajamanikkam, who introduced Spectacle theatre on stage, later emulated by RS Manohar. Pioneers of the Tamil stage were TKS Brothers, SV Sahasranamam, Poornam Viswanathan, YG Parthasarathy and others. Therukkoothu performances are still very much in vogue in the rural areas. Urban Tamil theatre has yielded to the lure of TV serials though groups like Koothu-P-Pattarai, led by Na Muthusamy, try to keep Tamil theatre alive. The Madras Players, with 53 years of continuous existence are the oldest English theatre group in India. Chennai based playwrights like Girish Karnad (now in Bangalore), Tim Murari, Chetan Shah, Shreekumar Varma, Anupama Chandrasekhar, Gowri Ramnarayan, Sabitha Radhakrishna, among others have contributed to the English theatre movement.”

PC Ramakrishna is a doyen of theatre and former President of The Madras Players, the oldest theatre group in India.

PC Ramakrishna in Madras Players and MTC Production’s ‘Mercy’, an English adaptation of a Tamil novel by Sivasankari, directed by Mithran Devanesan.

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Photo courtesy: The Hindu


ExpertSpeak

TN Seshagopalan

The fount of classical Carnatic music, Chennai has a rich tradition of music which is constantly evolving. The city has also nurtured Western classical music, and Tamil film music is an amazing fusion created by talented composers. This refreshingly different strain has found a niche in mainstream Indian cinema which the world has begun to appreciate.

Musician & Composer

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arnatic music is the confluence of many sources, though the ancient sacred texts, the Vedas, are considered to be the origin. Music flourished in the ancient capitals of Vijayanagara and Thanjavur, patronised initially by temples and later on by royal courts. The genesis of Carnatic music from 2nd to 13th century is traced in Sangita Ratnakara, the authoritative 12th century musical treatise of Sarngadeva (1210-1247). Its 5000 Sanskrit couplets comprehensively cover Swaras, Ragas, Prabandhas (musical form of this period), Tala-vadyas (percussion instruments) and Gamakas (ornamentations). Two other works, Sangeeta Sara, attributed to Vidyaranya (1320-1380) and Swaramela Kalanidhi by Ramamatya are milestones in the development of Carnatic music, for their formal classification of ragas and elucidation of techniques. After the 12th century, music devolved into Hindustani and Carnatic forms and evolved separately. Carnatic came to represent the South Indian Classical Music. The three great composers of Carnatic music, Syama Sastri, Tyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar were born during the 1700s. Called the Musical Trinity, they set to tune new compositions and evolved many new musical forms such as the Varnam, Kriti, Padam, Javali, Tillana, and Swarajati. In the early part of the 1800s, Ghanam Krishna Iyer, Vina Kuppayyar, Subbaraya Sastri, Swati Tirunal added to the vast repertoire of Carnatic music, which was further enriched a few years later by Subbaraya Sastri, Gopalakrishna Bharati, Patnam Subramanya Iyer, Mysore Vasudevachar, Koteeswara Iyer and more recently by Muthaiah Bhagavatar and Papanasam Sivan. The most singular factor in the 19th century was the breakthrough achieved by women artistes. MS Subbulakshmi, with her contemporaries DK Pattamal and ML Vasanthakumari were the trailblazers in breaking the male-stronghold of music; and fondly referred to as the female trinity of Indian music.They sparked the emergence of a host of women musicians who along with their male counterparts like Balamurali Krishnan and S Rajam have been popular performers in the 20th and 21st centuries. Today Carnatic music thrives on encouragement by organisations and corporate sponsors. In Chennai, music sabhas and theatre companies offer a host of concerts, plays and recitals every evening. Major temples host regular concerts or kacheris, especially during festivals. The cool month of Margazhi (Dec-Jan) is Chennai’s official music season, the joy of connoisseurs. Initiated by the Madras Music Academy in 1927, it features music and dance concerts, lecture-demonstrations and performances by top artistes from around the country. Photo: Ramya Reddy Grammy winner Vikku Vinayakram, the maestro of ‘ghatam’ (claypot used as a percussion instrument), is one of Chennai’s foremost musicians who straddles the traditional and contemporary music worlds with rare elan. “All the systems in music have been built on the powerful base of melody and rhythm. Even though the approach, purpose and evolution has been different for each system, the ultimate aim is to feel and make the audience sense divinity through music” - Madurai TN Seshagopalan, Padma Bhushan awardee, plays a variety of instruments including the veena, and the harmonium, and is also a harikatha exponent.

Chennai’s colonial past has left it with a rich legacy of Western classical music and several musicians play rock and jazz-fusion music, exemplified by percussionist Sivamani and bass guitarist Keith Peters. The film industry has produced some of the best film music in India, incorporating symphonic interludes and intricate accompaniments. Ilayaraja, one of the country’s leading composers in the ‘80s and ‘90s, was the first Indian composer to score an entire symphony.

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MS Subbulakshmi, the soul of Carnatic music

Photo courtesy: The Hindu

South India’s wake up call is the suprabatham, the morning hymn of Hindus. It has become almost synonymous with MS Subbulakshmi (1916-2004) whose voice is the embodiment of faith in all its purity. MS was an exceptionally gifted Carnatic vocalist who was equally

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proficient in Hindustani. A versatile singer and actor, she broke into the male-dominated music scene. She was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour.


AR Rahman, arguably India’s favourite composer, has composed music for several Bollywood and Tamil films and won a slew of international awards for the music of Slumdog Millionaire including the Golden Globe, and two Oscars, for Best Original Score and Best Original Song at the 2009 Academy Awards.

Photo courtesy: G Venket Ram

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Culture

ExpertSpeak

Achuthan Kudallur

From the kolams that adorn freshly washed doorways to the spectacular sculptures in the numerous temples, from the vibrant hues of rustic deities to the exquisite motifs woven into splendid saris, art is celebrated every day in Tamil Nadu.

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hennai has produced artists of renown – the late Adimoolam and KCS Panicker, who was a key player in setting up the artists commune at Cholamandalam, PV Janakiraman, RB Bhaskaran, P Gopinath, C Douglas, the late Dhanapan, the late Redappa Naidu, RM Palaniappan, George K, N Ramachandran, P Gopinath, Premlatha Seshadri, Kumaresan, Rajshekhar Nair, Benitha Perciyal, M Siva, the multi-faceted Thota Tharrani and photographers Sharad Haksar, Varun Gupta, G Venket Ram, Monika Ghurade and Bharath Ramamrutham. “Art in Tamil Nadu has been around almost forever; you only have to look at the sculptures on the gopurams of temples and the ayanars in villages (each village in Tamil Nadu has an ayanar, the diety who safeguards them). One could say that art grew from these early practices.

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Artist

The terracotta figurines of elephants or horses that are placed in front of the ayanars have had a lasting impression on almost all artists of Tamil Nadu. You can spot stylised interpretations in the background of most works of art.”

Born in 1945 in Kerala, National Award winner Kudallur has spent the formative years of his life as an artist in Chennai, which has encouraged several artists from around the country. An abstract painter, Kudallur is almost entirely self-taught. His brilliant interpretation of colour is “inspired by the power of Van Gogh’s yellow”.


A stone sculpture at Mamallapuram

Photo: Ramya Reddy

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Culture

ExpertSpeak

Sivasankari

The Tamil language has a living history which is nearly 3000 years old and its literature dates back 2000 years. Tamil literature is continually enriched by writers who use diverse literary forms: novels, short stories, novellas, poetry, prose-verse, self-improvement, spiritual and biographies. Chennaiites were among the first to start blogging in the country, and the city is known as India’s Blogging Capital.The reading habit is strongly engrained and as the over 300 small and large publishing houses in Chennai will testify, people like to buy books.

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hough it is very difficult to pinpoint the genesis of Tamil literature, we can consider the early Sangam period as its beginning. The literature produced so far can be broadly classified into five eras: Ancient, Bhakti, Classic, Romanticist and Modern. The ancient era includes the three periods – the first, middle and the last Sangam. Tholkappiyam, the oldest book written in Tamil, is a treatise on grammar. The Sangam poetry has awe-inspiring experimentations. Senthodai or blank verse – a style free from Ethugai and Monai (alliteration) was very popular in the Western countries in the 16th and 17th centuries. The fact that this style of blank verse has been employed well in Sangam period literature is noteworthy. It is believed that great works like Tirukkural were written during the last Sangam. The Bhakti era started around 3rd century AD. Apart from the Nayanmars (63 Saivaite saints) and Alwars (12 Vaishnavite saints) many others, including Jains, have contributed to Bhakti literature and also in writing five important Tamil classics

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Writer

Photos: S Badri Narayanan

like Silapadikaaram, Manimekalai, Seevaka Sinthamani, Valayapati and Kundalakesi. This trend continued till the 11th century. Two more great epics – Kamba Ramayanam and Villi Bharatam were written soon after. Although it is generally believed that the modern writing started around late 19th century, like many other languages in India, some experts very strongly feel that it was the Siddhas who brought into Tamil literature a modern, progressive outlook. The face of Sangam literature had the elements of ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’, Aham and Puram – and dealt with life in this world. This face changed into worldliness and spirituality, when Alwars and Nayanmars were strong in their principle of not singing in praise of man. When decay crept in after this due to extremist religious men, it was only the Siddhas who started to think, opposing rituals and superstitions. No one has spoken as deeply about spirituality and philosophy as the Siddhas. They had such progressive views. It can be said that the poems of Ramalinga Swamigal may be the continuation of the thoughts of the Siddhas. He was followed by Bharati. The Siddhas were the first to simplify the highly classical Tamil that was in usage until then. Sindhu


not have much knowledge of short stories, Va Ve Su Iyer had to provide explanatory footnotes to his story. This period was followed by an era heralded by the writings of Pudumaipitthan, which were on par with the European short stories. This ‘original short story’ period can be divided into three groups: the style of Mauni, the style of N Pichamurthy and Chidambara Subramanian, and the style of Pudumaipitthan. The advent of weekly and monthly magazines gave way to the enormous growth of popular writing, since the middle of 20th century. To Kalki goes the credit of creating the magazine reading a habit among the general public, particularly the women who were confined to the kitchen. Among the writers who contributed to the literary magazine Manikodi – Pudumaipitthan, Mauni, MV Venkatram, T Janakiraman need special mentioning. Jeeva, Nagarajan, Tho Mu Si Ragunathan, Shanmugasundaram are all well known progressive writers with left leanings. Jayakanthan was a trendsetter in the 60s. Lakshmi, Rajam Krishnan, Ashokamitran, Na Parthasarathy, Akilan, Sujatha, Sivasankari, Vaasanthi, Balakumaran are some of the important writers who not only made valuable contributions to Tamil modern literature during the second half of the 20th century, but were also extremely popular. The challenges of Radio and TV The situation is identical to what is happening in many other languages. Television or internet has the visual as well as audio attraction combined together and it is understandable that a common man is easily attracted to them. Moreover, the day-to-day tensions and workload have eaten away the time people would normally allot for leisure reading. These aspects have deeply affected the magazines’ outlook on publishing serious literature. While many magazines have opted for publishing mere cinema and political news, it is comforting to know that the ‘book’ purchasing and reading habit is on the increase. The leap in several hundreds in the number of book stalls, and the sale of books running into crores during the annual book fair is a clear proof that Tamils have not lost their interest in good literature. were the musical poems created by the Siddhas. The credit for popularising the form into Kavadichindhu and further simplifying Tamil for the common man goes to Bharati. The popularity of prose On the genesis and development of prose writing, three writers can be mentioned as the pioneers of contemporary Tamil writing. The first is Vedanayagam Pillai who wrote the first novel Pratapa Mudaliar Charithram. The second is Rajam Iyer, the author of Kamalambal Charithram and the third is A Madhavayya, who wrote Padmavati Charithram. It is an indisputable fact that these three personalities have laid the foundation and contributed to the growth of the Tamil novel. From Kalki to the present day, many have written with a literary flavour in popular journals, which could be easily understood by the common man. The grand old pioneer of this trend is Vedanayagam Pillai. In the same way Rajam Iyer is the source for writers like Mauni, La Sa Ra, Sundara Ramasamy, Krithika and many more who have created literature dealing mainly with the inner conflicts. Among modern or progressive writers, A Madhavayya laid the foundation for thoughts about human life and its problems. The writings of Bharati, Va Ve Su Iyer and A Madhavayya can be considered as the early short stories. Bharati also translated Tagore’s short stories. As Tamilians did

Writers are proving to be adaptable to modern trends. In my generation, before the advent of television and internet, it was not possible for all writers to sustain only with the writing income, though a few of us did manage to earn well. But now, with so many serials running in so many channels, I am told that quite a few writers have opted for this profession, looking for greener pastures.”

Popular Tamil writer Sivasankari has achieved a remarkable output in the last four decades: her works include 36 novels, 48 short novels, 150 short stories, 15 travelogues, seven collections of articles, 13 collections of short stories, one talking book, three volumes of literary research, two volumes of anthologies, and two biographies. Photo courtesy: Kumudam Snegithi

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Culture

ExpertSpeak

Kamal Hassan

From the first silent movie produced in 1916 through the era of talkies in 1931, its emergence as a hub for South Indian films in the 1940s and up to current times, there simply is no business like show business in Tamil Nadu. The local film market accounts for approximately 0.1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product of the state and employs tens of thousands of actors, directors, camera persons, technicians, musicians, dancers and a whole subset of people who derive their livelihood from the industry.

Film actor

“T

amil cinema is verbose and unique as the Tamil language itself has a distinct identity. It has a different core construction, etymology and grammar.

In the early days of cinema, the characters spoke the language of the upper classes - either with the Mudaliar inflection or the Brahmin one. It was considered fashionable to speak in the Brahmin language and even the underdog spoke a language that was very Brahmanical. I guess somewhere audiences felt left out like the Afro Americans did in America. Not quite like that, but in some sense. There has been an anti casteist movement in Tamil Nadu from the 6th century, started by the Jains even before Periyar (Periyar Erode Venkata Ramasamy, 1879 –1973, who fought against social inequity and formed the Dravidar Kazahagam, the self-respect movement of Dravidians). The shoonyavadis, as they were called, left behind a solid stamp on Tamil culture. It all filtered down to this amalgam at some point that led towards the betterment of man - the potpourri of pre-nationalistic thoughts to the Renaissance to the printing press that created a Periyar. This was bound to reflect on cinema too. People like Mr Karunanidhi (DMK Leader and Chief Minister) have been steeped in Tamil literature and are at the same time aware of what was happening around the world. Cinema itself was an eye opener for them, which they used to the best effect when it came to propagating their messages and ideologies. I would say they watched the media with eagle eyes and learned about things around the world to the extent that they even incorporated colours of different political countries into the colour of their flags. But then I would like to caution that what we see in films has really nothing to do with the actual history. Cinema is not really the best medium to study history. Tamil cinema is not very simplistic. It is a highly complex system that reflects a lot about the state and its people. The Brahmin community retreated from this medium thinking it to be very low class. They moved out and went to the Music Academy. They thought that was art and this was not. But now they are also aspiring to be part of this larger medium. And this is the future and this is where roles are being reversed. There was a time when the Make Up Union refused to take a woman. Women could not play any technical part. They could not be assistant directors. A woman was only fit to play some roles.

Kamal Hassan is a leading method actor; he has won both popular and critical acclaim for his range of roles – from playful to action to intense drama. He has been acting since the age of six, writes screenplays and lyrics, sings playback, is a trained classical dancer, director and producer.

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All this is changing. Tamil cinema, which was very inbred, is undergoing several changes. People are looking at the world outside and films from different countries thanks to the video, internet and things like that. It is very acceptable now to be part of it all and that is how it should be. It is a versatile medium and all consuming. And a lot of people do not have a problem with that anymore.


Change will come to Tamil cinema as people become more aware of international cinema. Just as good writing came about when writers like Jayakantan, Sujatha Sundar Raman Swamy and Jayamohan read other literature which spurred them to do great work too, film makers need to be aware of the world. We survive all kinds of cinema, including the bad ones. It is like the Coovam (a river that passes through Chennai). It is there and it exists. And we exist along with it.”

“The natural oratory skills of the Tamils make dialogues in our cinema unique. Our films have become visually marvellous, technically very good and there is plenty of realism in the stories and characters. Realistic and earthy films are the most popular; as also those with native humour and the aspect of heroism. Tamils are big time lovers of heroism! They are thirsty to discover newer heroes and newer heroism.” Suhasini Mani Ratnam, is a ‘thinking’ actor, director and producer. Born into a film family, she cut a different swathe through the industry, creating a genre of sensitive, subtle cinema. She is married to Mani Ratnam, award-winning film director, writer and producer who can be credited with changing the face of both Tamil and Indian films.

Films and politics have very close links in Tamil Nadu; the two powerful political parties the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), which end up alternating in power, are both headed by film personalities turned politicians.

The Boss aka Rajinikanth Born Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, Rajinikanth is one of Tamil cinema’s most popular actors. The superstar began life as a bus conductor before getting a break in Tamil films. From playing anti-hero roles, he gradually became the leading man. He has acted in a slew of films including several in other languages.

The late CN Annadurai was the first political leader in the state who harnessed the power of the cinema to reach the masses. His original plays were made into films and went a long way in making the Dravidian movement popular. M Karunanidhi, the head of DMK, is a five time Chief Minister who began his career as a scriptwriter in the Tamil film industry and successfully used the medium to further his political career. MG Ramachandran or MGR, was a popular Tamil film actor and producer who made the transition to politics and was head of the AIADMK. After his death in 1987, the mantle passed on to his leading lady J Jayalalithaa.

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Chapter 3

Food & Dining

Chennai’s cosmopolitan tastebuds are tickled by over 500 restaurants that serve a humungous variety of cuisine from different parts of the country. In recent years, Chennaiites have developed a taste for international fare that ranges from Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Chinese to Lebanese, Moroccan, Greek, Spanish, Italian, Mexican and Continental.


“Agni, the God of Fire, watches with a thousand eyes over the man who brings him food and nourishes him with oblations.” The Vedas Photo: Ramya Reddy


Food & Dining

Repast on a leaf Arrayed on a wide green plantain leaf, the culinary delicacies of Tamil cuisine are a potent fusion of spices. The myriad eye-catching dishes vary in taste and methods of preparation across regions and communities.

The perfect South Indian breakfast: light and nutritious idlis, accompanied by a variety of chutneys with a dollop of pure ghee.

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Photo: Ramya Reddy


T

amil Brahmin cuisine, practiced by the Iyers and Iyengars, is the equivalent of the Holy Grail for vegetarians. The purity of a fluffy white idli, the delicately thin dosa, the enticement of the uber favourite pongal – in these lies satisfaction for the Tamil soul. These dishes are popular for breakfast and also for tiffin, the evening meal. Many prefer to eat these light dishes even for supper. The Tamilians love their deep fried pappadums and vathals (red chillies dipped in curd and dried). Served with rice, a curry, a porial (side dish), salad, rasam and curds, these make for a simple and perfect meal that is nutritionally balanced and delights the taste buds.

Tamilian hospitality is legendary and one is sure to be invited for a home-cooked meal; nonetheless Chennai has several restaurants that allows one to sample the delightful varieties of local cuisine, from modest eat-and-go types like Murugan Idli, Saravana Bhavan and Karaikudi, inimitable sweet shops like Adyar Ananda Bhavan and Sri Krishna Sweets to up-market restaurants where one can linger over leisurely meals like the unique Annalakshmi and many others who feature in this chapter. Irrespective of size, these eateries pride themselves on their authentic fare, a claim that is validated by their undiminished popularity.

In the past, the Tamilian Brahmin (Tambram) cuisine looked to their fields or the kitchen gardens that they faithfully tended tamarind, banana, mango, lime, drumstick and coconut trees. Tamarind, asafoetida, mustard and curry leaves are vital ingredients that flavour this seemingly simple fare. Tamil proverbs used in daily conversation demonstrate the integral role of vegetables. In a traditional family, one might well have heard a well-meaning elder enquire, “ponnai vallarthiya, peerkanga vallarthiya?” that can be translated as “has your daughter grown up to the stage of the ripeness of a ridge gourd?” The wild son of a family was compared to the snake gourd - “kallu kattaadha podalangaayum, sollu kaekkaadha pillayum vallaraadhu,” which means, “ just like a snake gourd that curls up if a stone is not tied to its tail, a boy will be undisciplined if he is not taught obedience.” The stronghold of the trading community of the Chettiars, Chettinad’s terrain is searing and sparse, in stark contrast to its rich and flavourful cuisine. Traders from the Chettinad region travelled frequently to neighbouring Sri Lanka, Burma and Indonesia and came back with a strong yen for the spices used in those countries. Back home in their kitchens, grandmothers or aachis supervise cooks as they pound black peppercorn, star anise, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and curry leaves on stones pestles, freshly before use; their proportions guided by intuition to add piquant flavour to traditional dishes. While local vegetables like brinjal, raw banana, spinach and root vegetables dominate the traditional vegetarian preparations that are winsomely showcased at wedding feasts, the region’s claim to fame are dishes like the spicy chicken chettinad, fish varuval and uppu kari. Uppu kari takes its name from the method of preparation; mutton (kari) is marinated in salt (uppu), before being cooked in a ginger paste and seasoned with split red chillies. Staples like idiyappam, a pancake of rice noodles and paniyaram, made of steaming batter in a mould are eternal favourites.

The fiery rasam is relished as an accompaniment with rice or as a drink.

In the north and south Arcot districts, food is so important to the chiefly agricultural community of the Mudaliars that the day’s menu was much deliberated by families each morning. The Mudaliars are particular about cooking different food in specific vessels that enhance the unique flavours; for example, they use stoneware to cook dishes like dal (lentils) and spinach, lead-coated utensils to enhance the rasam and earthern ware for fish curries and dishes made of tamarind. It is also believed that certain metals infuse medicinal properties into food. Ground masalas and coconut are central to its unique flavour; mutton is used in most non-vegetarian dishes like aatu kaal kuzhambu (a rich soup made from sheep trotters) chuppal kari (meat cooked with aromatic spices), kari perattal (a meat curry laced with dill and fenugreek leaves), and mochakka (shelled beans available in the South during winter). Puliogare, a rice dish made with tangy tamarind paste

Photos: Asha Thadani

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Food & Dining

Deccan delight Placed at the culinary crossroads of South India, this restaurant showcases the fare of the four southern states. Imbued with regional flavour, it tempts royal palates as much as it tickles presidential taste buds.

Served with green salad, King Prawn Porichathu is marinated and pan-fried in the choicest masalas.

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nspired by the temples and palaces of the Vijayanagara Kingdom (that reigned over the Deccan Plateau from 1336 to 1646), a majestic aura permeates the Taj Coromandel’s Southern Spice. It offers a sensory exploration of the South – for along with authentic food sources from the recipes of the heartland, it gives guests an insight into the classical music and dance that is so much a part of the Chennai experience.

Starters like the piquant chettinad chicken stay true to the recipes of the Chettiar matriarchs, and the turmeric-hued Allepey fish curry can match its counterpart from a home on the Kerala coast. The shavings of coconut soak poetically into the fluffy white hopper, appam, and its mild hint of sourness merges with the fiery flavour of Andhra Pradesh’s mutton curry, mamsam koora.

Gracefully arching her hands into the namaste, a bejewelled Bharatanatyam dancer taps her painted feet in rhythm with classical Carnatic music, an alluring sight for guests who walk into this restaurant. Beneath the stained glass dome, traditional artifacts like kindis, the long beaked brass water jugs, tablecloths of rich Kanjeevaram silks with gold borders and garlands of jasmine add character to the restaurant.

The wine list features wines that complement South Indian cuisine; the pairing of a Premier Grand Cru of Bordeaux or a Californian Cabernet with kori kempu bazule, can be an interesting experience.

Dishes are served in vast silver plates called thalis, and the aroma of spices from the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka has the taste buds in a delighted frenzy.

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Among guests who have savoured the warm South Indian hospitality and the gastronomic offerings of the Deccan are Prince Andrew of England, former US Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter who stayed here with his wife Rosalynn, and Australian Prime Minister John Howard.


From the Italian hearth Chennai’s first authentic Italian restaurant makes a bold statement on classic Italian cuisine. Winner of the Conde Nast Hot Tables Award 2008 and Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 2008, this chic restaurant leaves guests asking for more.

Fettucine on a medley of vegetables and creamy tomato sauce.

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he sparkle of the setting sun heightens the amber colours of Prego, deepening the browns into a rich mahogany. Softly, waiters move around lighting candles; the setting creates an intimate mood for dinner as the faint notes of the violin drift through along with the fragrance of flowers. Prego, Italian for ‘welcome’, is a homage to the robust fare from houses and vineyards of the Italian heartland, researched by Chefs Hemant Oberoi and Nabhojit Ghosh. Milanese Master Chef Giovanna Marson distills it further in an array of sublime offerings, from le quenelle di ricotta ai quattro gusti (a flaky pastry of vegetables and meat, seasoned with shavings of ricotta cheese) to the succulent lamb chops seasoned with aromatic herbs and served with spinach, all meticulously prepared with ingredients flown in from Italy, right down to the table salt from Tuscany. Going beyond run-of-the-mill fare like pizza, this eatery delves into the subtle nuances and warm comfort of creamy homemade pastas, freshly baked bread with a sprinkling of olive oil, pistachio soufflé with coffee sauce and delightful deviations like

chilled bitter chocolate mousse with ginger and chilli. Chef Marson who drops by your table, explains that she seeks to “introduce a kind of Italian cuisine that is traditional but contemporary”. While in the culinary embrace of Rome, we enjoy fine wine as the Romans do. Prego specialises in them, with 75 of its collection of 300 labels being Italian. The elegance of the cuisine is just the excuse we need to open up another bottle of wine, to toast yet another memorable evening.

37, Mahatma Gandhi Road Nungambakkam Chennai - 600 034 +91 44 6600 2827 coromandel.chennai@tajhotels.com www.tajhotels.com

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Food & Dining

Sweet symphony True to its name which means ‘house of joy’, Adyar Ananda Bhavan induces delight throughout South India with myriad sweets and snacks. Its cash registers make sweet music too as its 51 branches recorded Rs 140 crore (US $27 million) revenue in 2008.

Quality assurance, innovation and smart business practices are the factors behind A2B’s rapid success in a relatively short span of time.

W

ith its branches spread across Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Puducherry and Delhi, Adyar Ananda Bhavan, popularly known as AAB or A2B, is one of South India’s leading sweets and savouries manufacturers. The chain includes about 25 A2B vegetarian restaurants which also serve low calorie, low fat foods apart from North Indian and Chinese fare. The restaurants are accommodated within the premises of the sweet shops, some of which also house banquet halls. AAB’s roots can be traced to 1975, when Thirupathi Raja started Ananda Bhavan in Bangalore. In 1978, the second shop Sri Ananda Bhavan was inaugurated in North

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Chennai. The names ‘Ananda Bhavan’ and ‘Sri Ananda Bhavan’ evolved to today’s ‘Adyar Ananda Bhavan’ with the opening of the third shop in Adyar, Chennai in 1988. Thirupathi Raja’s sons KT Venkatesan and KT Srinivasa Raja, who have inherited his talent for making delicious sweets, are steering the company to greater heights by adding best practices in manufacturing and retailing. Venkatesan, the elder son, attributes AAB’s rapid expansion and growth to “proper planning, hard work and continued support of our customers”. Banks have also supported their investments and expansion plans.


From a humble four member team, AAB has grown to over 3000 employees. Today the sweets menu has over 450 varieties which not only showcase the art of sweet making, but also enhance the experience of eating. Special sweets for diabetic patients ensure no one is left behind. In 2003, it set off on a mission to retrieve the nearly forgotten traditional items such as appam, poli and kolukattai. Behind AAB’s family-friendly exterior is a well oiled, constantly expanding machine. The company has regularly added layers to its business and now has a presence in the corporate catering services space, signing contracts with the city’s top BPOs. It earned repute as the caterer for the marriage of the former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s son, where AAB even laid out lavish meals on trains for guests. The company’s expertise is apparent in its tie-up with the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, the administrative body of the Tirumala and Tirupati temples, to produce the ladoos that are offered to devotees. The Srinivasa Kalyanam organised by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam at Mumbai saw AAB supplying over 500000 ladoos, similar to the ones supplied by the Devasthanam. Its success may also be attributed to its emphasis on quality and customer service. Their manufacturing unit at Ambattur enforces strict checks on quality throughout the supply and production chain. Venkatesan points out that creating quality products requires quality raw material, and special attention is paid to the use of pure ghee and double refined oil. To make their products authentic, specialised sweet makers are hired from various places and trained to suit the brand’s unique flavour. AAB adds a new sweet to the menu list every month and carefully adapts existing menus to the tastes and requirements of customers. Eager as it is to forge ahead, the company remains true to its basics; it proudly proclaims that its forte will always be sweets. Its R&D team at Ambattur is already working on nutritious sweets for the elderly. Plans are on to export AAB’s signature sweets and open more outlets in Chennai. Promoters Venkatesan and Srinivasa Raja work towards preserving their unique tradition, while constantly reinventing their menu to meet the evolving tastes of the new generation. AAB is a member of the Snack Food Association and Srinivasa Raja is among the established administrators in the food industry. Raja is the president of The Chennai Hotel Association and the vice president of Tamil Nadu Hotel Association. Raja’s entrepreneurship has notched up a string of accolades; the Best Entrepreneur award from Bharath University, the Udyog Rattan Award in 2007 and the award for Excellence in Productivity, Quality Innovation and Management by the Institute of Economic Studies.

9, Mahatama Gandhi Road Shasthri Nagar, Adyar Chennai - 600 020 +91 44 2446 9977 +91 94442 33333 www.aabsweets.com Venkatesan and Srinivasa Raja, Owners, Adyar Ananda Bhavan

Photo: S Badri Narayan

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Food & Dining

Essence of sweet love From churning out 17.5 tonnes of mysurpa in two days, a feat that earned it a place in the Limca Book of Records in 2008, to delighting the taste buds of people across the country, this sweet-maker has received applause in the US Congress for its work ethic and community building initiatives, and won the Visvesvaraya Industrial Award for excellence in performance from the All India Manufacturers’ Organisation in 2002.

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he flagship Sri Krishna Sweets (SKS) store in T Nagar is abuzz from the moment it opens its doors at nine in the morning, with customers gazing eagerly at the variety on offer, from golden brown, melt-in-your-mouth mysurpas and dry fruit encrusted halwas to piping hot savouries. It is a scene replicated in the company’s 69 outlets across India and UAE; 26 of these are in Chennai alone. Though Sri Krishna Sweets (SKS) made its foray into Chennai in 1996, the business was established by NK Mahadeva Iyer in 1948 in the neighbouring city of Coimbatore. It began as a restaurant with a small counter for sweets, before Mahadeva Iyer set up a separate sweet shop in the 1970s. His sons M Krishnan and M Murali built up the business thereon, with Murali controlling the key Chennai branches and Krishnan overseeing the stores in the rest of the country and overseas, while adding new facets to its identity. Over the six decades of its existence, SKS has earned a loyal customer base that includes generations of families. Its products sweeten all celebrations and its gift boxes filled with sweets and savouries fly off the shelves. During festivals, customers place the sweet boxes before the idols as puja offerings, a testament to the purity of its ingredients. The key to SKS’ success is its inventiveness; its signature dishes like mysurpa and halwa are the result of much effort to improve upon taste, flavour and colour while doing away with the negatives. The products’ consistently high quality is ensured by the streamlined operations at its 50000 sq ft computerised kitchen in Nemum. With seven branches in Coimbatore by 1996, the company strategically moved to the state capital, which continues to be the hub of operations and innovation. Over the past decade, its business has escalated to over 20 times its original size, and Murali The amber hued mysurpa is the signature sweet of Sri Krishna Sweets.

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SKS follows a unique business philosophy, drawn from what M Murali, Managing Director, calls an ‘energy transformation’. “The basis of Sri Krishna Sweets is love; this is not merely a material transaction where money changes hands. It is instead an exchange of positive energy; our customers relish the products we have made with dedication, and we in turn thrive on their appreciation.”

now aims to have an outlet in every corner of the city. Catering contracts, tie-ups with supermarket chains like Spencer’s and a presence in the city’s leading IT firms are a step towards seeing this vision through. Adding zest to the cooking in homes are its line of pickles, mango and gongura leaf ‘thokkus’ (sauce), the distinctive Tamilian vatta kozhambhu and puliogare pastes that are mixed with rice, and ready-mix powders to make idli, dal and rasam. Equally popular is the pure cow’s ghee retailed by SKS which is a vital ingredient of most Indian sweets. Apart from the chain of sweet stores, SKS also has a fine dining restaurant. Rasam in Purasawalkam is an extension of Murali’s keen interest in showcasing dishes from the Kongunad belt of Tamil Nadu. Housed in a quaint colonial mansion, the restaurant’s subtly-flavoured fare is popular with a wide spectrum of Chennaiites, encouraging the launch of a second branch in the city. SKS has also recently introduced quick dining counters in the bigger Chennai branches, serving wholesome and affordable fare such as pongal, idli and dosa. SKS contributes to the development of several aspects of society, from the environment and education to culture. Community development is intrinsic to the company’s existence, and Murali explains, “We follow the saying ‘Naalum oru nalladhu seivom’ or ‘Do one good deed a day’. These are acts of gratitude to the people and community that have nurtured and supported us.”

5, Dr Singaravelu Street Pondy Bazaar, T Nagar Chennai - 600 017 +91 44 2431 2345 sks.murali@gmail.com www.srikrishnasweets.net

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Food & Dining

Shiny happy food With huge portions of great quality food from all over the Orient served in a lively and friendly environment, Cascade is a perennial favourite.

The wide selection of dim sum is part of a special menu put together by Chef Nagarajan, who has trained extensively in one of the largest Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong.

“F

ood should be fun. It should be loud, it should be colourful, it should be delicious and it should be shared,” says Head Chef and General Manager of Cascade, Rubinath Nagarajan. “Oriental cuisine, much like Indian, is generally made to be shared and should be a treat for your eyes, your taste buds and all your other senses.”

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In any of the four Cascade restaurants located in Chennai, the atmosphere is bustling. The diners are animated and chatty and the waiters are a blur of activity. Cascade is the preferred choice for couples, business people, families and groups of friends both young and old wanting to treat their palates to copious amounts of quality Oriental food.


Rubinath Nagarajan, Head Chef & General Manager

Manu Reddy, Managing Director, Chaitanya Gourmet

Starters Tempura Prawn, Satay Chicken, Crackling Spinach

Main Course Kung Pow Chicken, Prawn Thai Red Curry Eight Treasure Vegetable Hot-Pot

Dessert Ice Ka Chong, Chocolate Coated Lychee with Vanilla Ice-Cream Fried Ice Cream with Honey & Nuts tantalising favourites of the menu at Cascade, which has evolved from being IndianChinese to offering mainstream Chinese, Thai, Singaporean and Malay dishes. The décor is simple yet bright and bold. Sharp primary colours feature on the walls which are highlighted by timber, glass and mirrored panels. The space is friendly and inviting, and perfect for any occasion - for an intimate date, a business lunch, a birthday dinner or a family brunch on a Sunday. The drinks, from the favourite lime margherita to the popular fruit punch, add to the occasion and make sure every celebration is complete. Over the last 22 years, a large and loyal client base has made this popular restaurant chain a Chennai institution. Popular Tamil film actor Sathyaraj is a regular visitor with his wife. He says, “We like everything about Cascade; we live nearby and come here often for the delicious food, soothing ambience and good service.” The Nungambakkam branch has a private dining area and an open air garden while the Besant Nagar branch offers terrace dining, which is perfect for parties and also has a children’s play area. The T Nagar restaurant has just undergone a stunning renovation and offers several different dining options. The food is visible in dashes of bright colour and burst of hot steam, and is audible with the slurp of noodles and crackling pops from sizzling platters. Chicken momos, Phuket fish, dragon chicken and prawns pepper celery are a few of the

Hotel Quality Inn Sabari T Nagar, Chennai - 600 017 +91 44 4202 4285 Nungambakkam +91 44 2833 3836, 4213 7767 Anna Nagar +91 44 2628 3482, 4350 0990 Besant Nagar +91 44 2446 1625, 4201 9372

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Food & Dining

The world on a platter The credit for tempting Chennaiites to sample flavours from around the world belongs undisputedly to M Mahadevan. The Managing Director of Oriental Cuisines Private Limited (OCPL) is known as the king of Indian fusion food. With 14 different food outlet brands, it has 27 branches across India, the Middle East, Europe, Africa and North America. Its motto is eloquent: ‘Bringing world cuisine to India. Taking Indian cuisine across the globe’.

A

t Chennai’s first and only stand alone Thai restaurant, you are welcomed with a demure Yin Dee (meaning what else, but welcome in Thai). Authentic recipes and piquant seasonings with fresh local produce and choicest seafood and meat are part of a creative menu. Diners are free to choose their food ranging from the pleasantly mild to the intensely spicy. Chef’s pick: Gaihorbaitaey

Hours 12:30 pm - 02:45 pm 07:00 pm - 11:45 pm

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ndia’s first tapas bar is the hottest spot in Chennai’s night life. The menu features a tough to choose from selection of melt in the mouth tapas (both authentic Spanish as well as TexMex) while colourful barmen mix up heady cocktails. The buzz of life and laughter creates an easy camaraderie amongst regulars and visitors. Zara hums with music; while popular bands perform often, the resident DJ is a whiz at spinning tracks. Chef’s pick: Cuba Libre

Hours 01:00 pm - 03:00 pm 06:00 pm - 11:30 pm

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74, Hotel Oriental Inn Cathedral Road, Gopalapuram Landmark: Opp. Chola Sheraton Chennai - 600 086 +91 44 2811 1462

146, TTK Road, Alwarpet Chennai - 600 018 +91 44 2432 2640, 4211 0061


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ove thy neighbour is the theme in this restaurant that features the distinctive cuisine of the neighbouring state of Kerala. The name of the restaurant translates to ‘My Kerala’ and the menu is true to traditional recipes made using not just authentic ingredients, but also timehonoured techniques. So appams here will taste just the way a chechi would make back in Kottayam and the Syrian Christian fish curry would be well, Syrian Christian. Vegetarians can be assured that their food is as pure as it is in Thrissur and Palakkad. Chef’s pick: Mapilla Biryani

Hours 12:30 pm - 02:45 pm 07:00 pm - 11:45 pm

1, Kasturi Estate Kasturi Ranga Road 1st Street, Poes Garden Chennai - 600 018 +91 44 4232 8585

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his fine dining restaurant showcases cuisine from the major provinces of China: Beijing, Schezwan, Shangdong and Guangdong. Each dish brings alive the unique flavour and texture, aroma and taste of a different region, which is so different from the generic Chinese food that is generally served in most places. A meal in China Town is a memorable experience; besides the food that is faultlessly prepared and served, the ambience and service make it the perfect place for the perfect meal. Chef’s pick: Hunan Chicken

Hours 12:30 pm - 02:45 pm 07:00 pm - 11:45 pm

74, Cathedral Road Nungambakkam Chennai - 600 086 +91 44 2811 2246, 2811 4941 www.orientalgroup.in/home.htm

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Food & Dining

Toast to good times From its fiery cuisine to its weather that varies between hot and hotter, the city offers many reasons to open up a chilled bottle of Kingfisher, the multiple award-winning lifestyle brand that is associated with fashion, sports, music and food. It is available in over 50 countries, and with every third bottle of beer drunk in the country being a Kingfisher, it is indisputably India’s favourite tipple.

Chairman of United Breweries Dr Vijay Mallya (standing third from left) at the launch of The Kingfisher annual calendar; shot in exotic locales, it is the launchpad for many beautiful models both from India and other countries.

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C

hennai’s colonial past gives it a natural predilection for the brew. The watering holes of the British were the clubs that the army regiments founded for themselves and the executives of the British East India Company. After shaking off the torpor induced by the sweltering heat with games of polo, tennis or the rough and tumble tackle of rugby, they rewarded themselves with a strong, highly hopped ale called India Pale Ale. Naturally then Chennai has perhaps the most enduring tradition of beer in South India. In 1915, the five breweries which first comprised United Breweries, which now dominates over half the beer market in India, had their registered office at 17 Armenian Street, Chennai. Bullock carts loaded with bulky barrels called ‘hogsheads’ would amble along its narrow roads, destined for the quarters of the British administrators and soldiers stationed here. The city has several thoroughly modern watering holes which are tempting destinations for Kingfisher beer. The vibrant emblem of the bird from which the brand draws it name is sighted at the city’s chic clubs and hotels, and is also a ubiquitous presence in its many wine shops. Kingfisher Premium brings cheer by actively aligning itself with a slew of exciting events and consistent associations with leading fashion brands and sports. As the ‘Good Times Partner’ of the Chennai Open 2009, Kingfisher ensured that it was indeed good times all around at the tournament, with fashion shows, parties and a Fun Zone where the audience could get their faces painted, play virtual tennis and

Kingfisher is associated with the exciting Indian Premier League.

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get themselves photographed with the world’s top seeded players. The Kingfisher Chennai Open Good Times Opening party hosted by tennis great Vijay Amritraj featured a fashion show, where India’s home-grown champs Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi and Prakash Amritraj walked the ramp for Manoviraj Khosla and Vivek Karunakaran. The company’s association with the tournament drew aficionados from across the country to Chennai, especially with competitions that sponsored all-expense paid trips for the winners. Across the country, Kingfisher has evolved into a fun, youthful brand with its finger on the pulse of fashion, sport and lifestyle. The most avidly watched for is the annual Kingfisher Swimsuit Calendar which has made waves since it started in 2003, and launched the Indian film industry’s reigning stars, Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif and Yana Gupta. The company has also supported the collections of Ritu Beri, Raghavendra Rathore and Manoviraj Khosla. The Kingfisher Fashion Awards has encouraged fledgling talent since its inception in 2002, and the Kingfisher Model Hunt provides budding models with a platform in India Fashion Weeks and prestigious shoots. Its strong association with Wills India Fashion Week has resulted in exclusive pouring

In the late 1700s, India Pale Ale, a light amber beer, was specially brewed for export to India, to quench the thirst of English troops in the sweltering tropics. A London brewer, George Hodgson, devised the method of adding more hops thereby infusing a deeper bitterness and aroma which helped the brew weather the five-month journey from London to Bombay. Pretty soon, every ship sailing out of England to the British colony of India carried the precious cargo of beer to sustain the boys from home. The brew quickly became popular not just amongst the troops and colonial officers in India but also in watering holes across Britain and North America. In due course, breweries began to be set up in India; the first was set up in the 1820s in Kasauli in the Himalaya mountains by Edward Dyer, and Indian beer began to acquire its own flavour. In South India, the first brewery was Castle which came up in 1857 and was purchased by Thomas Leishman, along with four other breweries, in 1915 to form United Breweries Ltd. The company was bought by the late Vittal Mallya in 1947, and has surged to greater heights. It has 17 brands of beer, all of which have their own fan following throughout India.

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rights this year, and Kingfisher is the only beer that will be served during WIFW, at the venue and at the various parties. Cricket fans everywhere have more reasons to cheer as Kingfisher associates itself with cricket teams in the Indian Premier League, the country’s leading series in the Twenty-20 format. Its brand ambassadors are some of the world’s leading sports personalities – cricketers Andrew Flintoff, Michael Vaughan, Ajay Jadeja and Sourav Ganguly, and F1 champion Giancarlo Fisichella. It is also the official refresher for the marathons held in Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai. The brand connect extends across various media. For food lovers constantly in search of something new to stoke appetites, the Kingfisher-Explocity Food Guides are a comprehensive guide across multiple cities. Soon to be launched in Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata, the guide is currently available in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai. NDTV Good Times, the brand’s tie-up with the reputed news channel New Delhi Television Limited, is a favourite for its well-packaged, urbane shows. With content that varies from a myriad shows on cooking and fashion to interior design and technology, it is the guide to the good life for millions of Indian viewers. Come October, and its time to head to Bangalore in the neighbouring state of Karnataka, for The Kingfisher Great Indian October Fest. Spanning several days, the fest provides endless rounds of freshly brewed beer and entertainment for aficionados. Picking up on evolving market trends, the company has launched Kingfisher Bohemia, a hip selection of fruity red, rose and white wines. This exclusive range of South African wines breaks away from the rituals of wine drinking, and encourages consumers to go by instinct, and find any occasion. Going by its swiftly rising popularity throughout the country, it is a safe bet that they will.

www.kingfisherworld.com

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Chapter 4

Hotels & Hospitality

A popular tourist destination, Chennai is the third most visited city in India by foreigners, after Delhi and Mumbai. Close to 700000 tourists primarily from USA, the UK, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore visit the city annually. The peak season for tourists are the cooler months from November to February. The average room rate in quality hotels is about Rs 10000 per night (US $200). The most expensive room is the Taj Coromandel’s Presidential Suite which costs Rs 80000 per night (US $1500).


“Great hotels have always been social ideas, flawless mirrors to the particular societies they service.� Joan Didion (1934), American journalist, essayist and novelist

Photo: Ramya Reddy


Hotels & Hospitality

Southern classic The only hotel in Chennai to be featured among The Leading Hotels of the World, Taj Coromandel has been a principal landmark in the city since it opened in 1974. Part of the century-old Taj Group, India’s premier hospitality chain with 57 hotels in India and 18 abroad, the hotel defines the paradigm for luxury and service.

The elegant and warm interiors are the synthesis of contemporary and traditional design.

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n Tamil legend, the Coromandel tree or kalpavriksh has the power to grant any wish to those who seek its shade; along with our fellow guests at the iconic hotel from the Taj Group, we are happy to concur that wishes are heeded here with speed and

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grace. The verdant 2.86 acre property is a destination of choice for the leisure as well as the business traveller, while its coffee shops, bar and restaurants are the hub of the city’s social life.


The design ethic blends Indian elements with European chic, and modernism with ethnicity. The 213 rooms are distributed between Luxury and Taj Club rooms, Executive Suites, Luxury and Grand Luxury Suites, Presidential and Royal Suites. The jewel in its crown is the 1500 sq ft Royal Suite, which was home to Queen Elizabeth II when she visited Chennai in 1997. Perched on the highest floor of the hotel, the suite’s terrace sit-out provides a panoramic sweep of the city, and its quaint touches of luxury make the international elite feel right at home. The Presidential Suite on the seventh floor commands a spectacular view of the city. The interiors of fine marble and rich wood are splendidly embellished with antiques and art, creating a space that befits the heads of state and royalty who number among the guests. The Luxury and Superior rooms are spacious and offer several creature comforts. The hallmark of a Taj hotel is service and we are not disappointed when we venture in to the signature bar, Fort St. George. Local celebrities here have a particular penchant for this stylish space that is cited among The Whisky Bars of the World Gold Hotel. We nibble on canapés, sip on bohemian side car martinis, and sample a refreshing mocktail of flower extracts topped with oxygen enriched water. The bar is stocked with the choicest liquor – single malts, armagnacs, cognacs, and Cuban cigars. When it comes to dining we have diverse and equally alluring options to choose from: Southern Spice which offers a complete southern experience, replete with food, music and dance; Prego, the trendy Italian restaurant and Anise, named after the local favourite star-anise. The newly refurbished Golden Dragon takes us right into a romantic vision of China, with Sichuan cuisine, mood lighting and furniture that emphasise the Orient. We are captivated by the tea bar where we sample 15 varieties of single estate Chinese tea. A 24-hour fitness centre with steam and sauna, neighbouring tennis courts and golf courses invite us to work out the knots in our system. Taj Coromandel’s location in the commercial district of Nungambakkam, just 15 km from the airport, renders it ideal for conferences and celebrations. With eight conference facilites spread across 12000 sq ft, the hotel provides spaces for every occasion, from intimate gatherings of 20 people and product launches for an audience of 1000.

37, Mahatma Gandhi Road Nungambakkam Chennai - 600 034 +91 44 6600 2827 coromandel.chennai@tajhotels.com www.tajhotels.com

Says Arindam Kunar, General Manager, Taj Coromandel, “Chennai is a microcosm of India, and is at once both traditional and cutting-edge. At Taj Coromandel, we strike a fine balance between a luxury destination and business hotel, and the common denominator here is the warm South Indian hospitality.”

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Luxury location With a grand frontage leading off one of the busiest junctions in the city, Le Royal Méridien, Chennai, voted the Best Business Hotel in Asia Pacific by Pacific Area Travel Writers Association 2002, is a perfectly placed oasis for business travellers.

The Presidential suite offers a sumptuous experience in the heart of the city.

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hey say first impressions last, and this must be what the builders of this fine hotel had in mind when they designed and constructed the hotel’s Pallava dynasty inspired lobby and grand entrance. The grandeur of that era is reflected in the lobby’s fine marble flooring, carved fountain and hand tufted carpets. High pillars in the form of elephant trunks lead to the magnificent ceiling lit by Italian chandeliers, and a majestic dome featuring the latest in fibre optic lighting. “The city has grown and continues to grow around us, making us perfectly placed to offer an ideal base for the business traveller,” says Suresh Badlaney, General Manager, Le Royal Méridien, Chennai.

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Photos: S Badri Narayanan

“We are within easy access to The OMR (Old Mahabalipuram Road), the IT corridor as well as the many other industrial estates servicing the IT, BPO, telecommunications, automotive, manufacturing and leather industries in the Sriperumbudur and Kancheepuram districts.” With 240 rooms, Le Royal Méridien, Chennai has many accommodation options; however, the suites here truly steal the show. The three suites – The Tamil Nadu, The Washington and The Presidential are all set apart not only by the level of luxury and the amenities offered, but also by the attention to detail in their interior design and decoration. Handmade by master-craftsmen from all over India, the suites feature the finest


Suresh Badlaney, General Manager, says, “Since we opened our doors in 2001, we have always presented a convenient link between the city and the airport, but now we are also the smart choice for those wishing to do business almost anywhere in and around this city.�

marble inlaid floors, traditionally hand carved door frames and arches, and intricate ceiling cornice work. Each suite reflects a theme suggested by its name and when guests take time to have a close look, they are impressed by the rich detail found. The suites are also serviced by The Royal Club Lounge which is designed as a hotel within the hotel. Here guests can avail themselves of a private business centre, meeting rooms, personal valet service, bar and dining facilities. The hotel offers six dining options with diverse moods and equally delectable cuisine. The signature restaurant Kayal takes its name from the Tamil word for fish; it is also used to describe the contours of the human eye. It takes advantage of the coastal setting to serve up the catch of the day. The best of local fish, prawns, scallops, crab, lobsters and other scrumptious seafood sizzle as chefs flavour them in the large open-kitchen of this fine dining restaurant, which looks out to the sprawling property and poolside. Dome, the bar located in the bright and airy lobby is an ideal place for a quick bite during the day or for some evening cocktails with friends, while Cilantro, the spacious and bustling 24 hour multi cuisine restaurant, caters to an array of gastronomic cravings with a Teppanyaki counter, lunch and dinner buffet, and an a la carte menu serving the best of Mediterranean, Asian and Indian cuisine. Taking its name from the nine gems linked to Hindu astrology, Navaratna offers the best of both South and North Indian cuisine. It is a warm and elegant space where one can feast on the types of cuisine enjoyed by the maharajas of princely India whilst listening to the strains of the live ghazal musical performances that take place in the evenings. Whatever the occasion, Flame Le Club is a great place to celebrate, with its large dance floor, two bars and a line-up of the hottest DJs from all across the country. After dancing the night away, guests refuel at Cilantro, the all day dining restaurant with sumptuous snacks and fillers. Le Gourmandise, located in the lobby, offers the delicatessen that indulges the sweet tooth with its selection of breads, desserts and chocolates.

Weddings, celebration balls, product launches or fashion shows with 1000 to 1200 guests are also easily accommodated in the magnificent 10000 sq ft, pillar-less function hall, The Grand Madras Ball Room. The Jasmine Hall and The Lotus Hall also provide an ideal space for functions for up to 100 guests. Owned by Appu Hotels Pvt Ltd and operated by the Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc, Le Royal MĂŠridien, Chennai offers exceptional access to all parts of this city as well and the balance of luxury, service and efficiency that all business travellers seek.

1 GST Road, St. Thomas Mount Chennai - 600 016 +91 44 2231 4343 / 4353 4545 reservation@leroyalmeridien-chennai.com www.leroyalmeridien-chennai.com www.starwoodhotels.com

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Hotels & Hospitality

The good life South India’s first Eco Hotel, and one among 50 hotels worldwide to be awarded the 5-Globes Certification by HVS International, this is a 5 star luxury property with a green conscience.

The uber stylish hotel draws its inspiration from the foliage of beautiful trees at its entrance.

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prominent fixture in Chennai’s posh Alwarpet area since it first welcomed guests in July 2005, The Raintree combines beauty and efficiency. While its facilities have earned it the ISO 22000 certification, its best practices in ecology preservation have won for it the Srishti Green Cube award in 2006 for Good Green Governance and the

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Golden Peacock Award from the World Council for Corporate Governance in 2008. It is the first hospitality initiative of Ceebros Hotels Private Limited, a division of the real estate stalwart Ceebros, helmed by Managing Director C Subba Reddy.


The company’s construction and design prowess were crucial to the concept of The Raintree; key aspects of its architecture have been tuned to minimise wastage and recycle resources. The swimming pool on the 15th floor doubles up as a heat insulator, and the well-ventilated hotel with facilities for rainwater harvesting is built to maximise the inflow of natural light. Depressions and protrusions in the façade provide shade, reducing the need for energy-consuming cooling systems. The materials used in construction are chiefly organic; the flooring is made of recycled bamboo, and water-based paints with very little VOCs (volatile organic compounds) have been used. Expectedly, ‘Reduce, Re-use and Recycle’ is a mandate that is given high priority here, the staff encourage guests to do so too. Says Akash Gupta, General Manager, The Raintree Hotel, “Ecology preservation and eco-sensitivity is a practice that begins with the doorman and goes right through to the top management. Our guests, vendors and associates are an integral part of this programme as well.” The hotel also involves the community in green initiatives by distributing saplings, and holding seminars and competitions to raise awareness. Eco-sensitivity does not dilute comfort in this 105-room hotel. Its rooms, divided between the Deluxe, Club and Suite categories, are tastefully furnished and come equipped with LCD TVs, wi-fi and data port connectivity. Modern amenities are balanced with little green touches; potted plants replace cut flowers, the toiletries are herbal, lights are energy-efficient and cloth towels have replaced paper tissues. The delectable fare served at the five restaurants is wholesome and made purely of organic ingredients. We essay the buffet breakfast at Rainbow, the 24-hour multi cuisine restaurant, which draws its name from the colourful décor and cheerful lighting. We tuck into an extensive breakfast of Continental favourites and the Chennai staples of coconut sevai, keerai vada and pongal. Come lunch time and the fragrance of steamed noodles drizzled with a hint of vinegar leads us into Lemon Grass, the specialty Chinese restaurant. Chefs at the live Mongolian counter rustle up an array of subtly flavoured soups, a variety of delectable meats and dessert. For sundowners we head to the lobby bar Liquid for a tequila sunrise and then to the hotel’s lounge bar Havana, where signature drinks like pink floater and blue Hawaiian keep guests in good spirits. The cool evening breeze tempts us to Above Sea Level, where we manage to work up an appetite for delicious herb crusted pink salmon and peppered New Zealand lamb chops cooked on Continental lava stone grills. The Raintree is spreading its branches and will soon have a sibling on Mount Road. It will have almost twice the number rooms, more food and beverage options and larger conferencing facilities and yes, will tread the same green path.

120, St. Mary’s Road Alwarpet Chennai - 600 018 +91 44 4225 2525, 2430 4050 sales@raintreehotels.com www.raintreehotels.com

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Chapter 5

Business Spaces & Real Estate

Home to India’s first integrated business city, Chennai has designated 8.3 million sq ft of land for Special Economic Zones, the second highest such land use allocation in India. SEZs offer a productive, hassle-free environment for companies. Chennai also has several reputed real estate developers who have added modern business spaces and apartment buildings to the cityscape.


“O lands! O all so dear to me - what you are, I become part of that, whatever it is.� Walt Whitman (1819-1892), American poet

Photo: Ramya Reddy


Business Spaces & Real Estate

Pursuing excellence A prominent name in Chennai’s real estate space, it has won the CNBC-CRISIL award for the Organisation with the Best Legal Systems in 2007 and 2008, and the Outstanding Builder Award from the Builders Association of India in 2007. With 147 projects covering two million sq ft in Chennai and Coimbatore, another four million in various stages of development and plans to expand into Madurai, Trichy and Salem, the company is set to leave a lasting impression on the cityscapes of Tamil Nadu.

The design aesthethic of Akshaya reflects the professional approach of the company.

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ince its inception in 1995, Akshaya has set higher standards for itself, inspired by the Sanskrit origin of its name, which means ‘endless pursuit’. Founded by T Chitty Babu, a professional engineer, it has grown into one of the

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most respected real estate companies in the state, reputed for its transparent business practices and innovation. It has streamlined its systems to earn ISO 9001:2000, ISO 14001:2004 and


OHSAS 18001:2007 ratings, and was awarded the CRISIL DA3 rating in 2006. As an affirmation of its robust business practices, this rating was upgraded to DA3+ in 16 short months. Says Babu, Chairman and Managing Director, “It is essential for a real estate developer to respect the importance of a home to the common man. We must ensure that we deliver value with each project, and at Akshaya, we lead by example.” Akshaya is one of the early initiators of the extension of the boundaries of Chennai, foraying into OMR and GST Road for its projects. Among its residential buildings are the aesthetically designed Pacific City, Adair and Adora, and the commercial buildings are Stanz` Part and Gandhi Square. All of them reflect the business transparency and reliability of the company. It has put in place an extensive system to deliver clear title deeds, strict adherence to norms, timely delivery, and high construction quality. Says Babu, “Over the years, we have found that ambiguities persist among home buyers pertaining to rights of ownership, maintenance charges and documentation modalities. A lack of insight into rules and regulations of civic bodies and other relevant authorities have proved detrimental for some. We realised there is a latent need for a forum or platform to empower all home aspirants about the finer details essential to buying a home.” Akshaya Home Facts, which disseminates essential information to home buyers, evolved from this need. This has grown to a movement to enlighten the customer about home buying rights, and for the past five years, the company has been conducting weekly workshops for people looking to buy property. The entire concept of Home Facts developed from the core belief that “an informed customer is never a threat to Akshaya but a catalyst for our growth.” The company’s emphasis on professionalism is manifested in its systems and processes, which are backed by good corporate governance. In order to adopt best practices and introduce standards that are on par with other sectors, Akshaya has revamped its business model. It has empowered a 150 member team of experienced professionals led by CEO K Ravishankar, who previously worked with one of India’s leading conglomerates ITC, to run the business. Substantial investments have been made towards the improvement of process efficiency and cutting down the construction life cycle of the product and the company is now focusing on introducing environment friendly properties. Akshaya Cares, the CSR wing of the company, focuses development initiatives towards helping lower socio-economic sections and empowering the underprivileged. The company’s latest value addition is digitally enhanced properties called Smart Homes, which provide wi-fi connectivity, digital answering machines, Smart Card based access and video surveillance. The Aikya project is the first Smart Home in Chennai.

G Square 46, Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) Chennai - 600 096 +91 44 2496 8811, 4200 8811 marketing@akshayahomes.com www.akshayahomes.com

T Chitty Babu, Chairman and Managing Director, says “Innovation, trust and credibility have been the core traits that one associates with the Akshaya brand name. For over a decade Akshaya has pursued the highest standards of ethical business practices that has given us the reputation of being a transparent, fair and credible entity amongst stakeholders.”

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Business Spaces & Real Estate

New age spaces Nestled between sylvan forests and seven lakes, spanning 1500 acres is an incredible self-contained world. The first of its kind in India, this destination epitomises the new age lifestyle of ‘work-live-learn-play’. India’s first operational Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and integrated business city is also a coveted residential address that gives access to a global lifestyle.

The optimal combination of working, living and leisure spaces makes the World City a top choice for companies like Infosys (above).

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stablished by the Rs 34589 crore (US $6.7 billion) Mahindra Group as a joint venture with Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO), the World City is a sterling example of successful private-public partnership and the fulfilling of a vision. The Mahindra Group is listed among the Top 10 companies in India and ranked by Forbes amongst the Top 200 of the World’s Most Reputable Companies. Mahindra World City surpasses the conventional definition of a business space;

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the sheer scale of the project demands that it be viewed as a business eco-system, carefully linked and integrated to function with efficiency. Wide tree-lined roads and six lane expressways lead to sleek offices in the campus, which resonates with the confident energy of the young professionals who work for leading global and domestic companies across sectors. The enabling infrastructure and environment have provided the necessary platform for corporates


Sylvan County offers an array of residential spaces and The Canopy (right) is a premier leisure destination at the business city.

to establish their operations in a seamless manner. Stefan Huelsenberg, Managing Director, BMW Chennai, ratifies,“The key factor that encouraged us to set up our factory in Mahindra World City was infrastructure, with the additional facilities like clinics and banks that make working here convenient. It allowed us to focus solely on establishing our business in Chennai, and the factory was operational in a short span of 12 months.” Strategically located in the Golden Quadrilateral along National Highway 45, it is a 30 minute drive from Chennai International Airport, 90 minutes away from the seaport and has its own onsite railway station. The well etched master plan by Jurong International gives this campus the right balance between work and lifestyle zones, accentuated by the award winning residential layout design by Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum International. The Business Zone is divided into three sector specific SEZs for IT (Services & Manufacturing), Auto Ancillaries, and Apparel and Fashion Accessories; it also has a Domestic Tariff Area with facilities for manufacturing units in the domestic market. Companies like BMW, Infosys, Wipro, Capgemini, Lincoln Electric, Timken and TVS Group have their operations here and collectively employ 12000 people. Plug-and-play facilities are backed by an impressive support system: an onsite 230 kv power station, water storage reservoirs, streamlined waste management systems and telecommunication networks. Exports in 2008 were valued at Rs 825 crore (US $160 million), earning it the award for Outstanding Performance in Promoting Exports from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in 2008. The future is bright as well; employment is expected to touch 100000 by 2018, exports generated by 2014 are projected to be Rs 5000 crore (US $1 billion), and investments earned are expected to be equally high.

paradigm of a workplace led ecosystem and converting it into reality, providing an enabling environment in which corporates feel comfortable and happy. The careful thought in establishing and nurturing living and learning spaces is what gives the place its identity. Mahindra World School Trust has invested Rs 35 crore (US $6.8 million) in a school which is founded on modern techniques of activity-based learning to cater to the resident population. The school is structured on a very low student teacher ratio a key indicator of the focus on the students.” The Sylvan County enclave is designed by acclaimed Indian architect Hafeez Contractor. It comprises independent bungalows with private swimming pools, semidetached row houses and low-rise apartment complexes. The Canopy, a commercial complex, houses food courts, banks, clinics and shopping options. The City’s CSR initiatives are attuned to the neighbourhood; local youths from lower socio-economic areas who live in proximity are given multi-level skill training in collaboration with CAPS Foundation; diploma courses in plumbing, electrical and automobile servicing and schooling for younger children are also thoughtfully provided. The Chennai project has been the stepping-stone to similar models in other states. The World City in Jaipur, Rajasthan is already functional, and other Indian cities will soon see the futuristic vision unfolding and redefining their cityscapes

Administrative Block Central Avenue Mahindra World City Natham Sub Post, Chengelpet Taluk Kancheepuram Tamil Nadu - 603 002 +91 44 2746 0053, 2746 0054 www.mahindraworldcity.com

Says Sangeeta Prasad, COO, Mahindra World City Developers Ltd, “The uniqueness of the destination lies in envisioning and challenging the conventional

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Business Spaces & Real Estate

Stylish skylines Assurance of quality and emphasis on design are the stamp of Chaitanya Shantiniketan, a hybrid of two leaders in the building and construction industry. With a turnover of Rs 150 crore (approx US $30 million) in 2007, its very first year, the company is setting the benchmark for affordable housing.

Every aspect of the apartment-complex has been built with sensitivity: walkways have cushioned surfaces, play areas have soft surfacing, terraces are spacious and the club house is equipped with amenities for health and leisure.

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joint venture of Chaitanya Builders and Shantiniketan Builders, with headquarters in Chennai, it brings together the wealth of experience accumulated by Ramesh Reddy and Prabhat Kamal Gupta in the construction business over the last 30 years. The two pioneer builders have known each other for 20 years and have independently done much to shape Chennai’s skyline.

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Chaitanya Builders and Leasing Pvt Ltd, founded by Ramesh Reddy, has completed over 2.5 million sq ft of built-up space in Chennai and Bangalore with several projects in the pipeline. Their constructions are considered landmarks in their respective cities.


Shantiniketan was among the first to build affordable housing in Chennai. It is headed by Prabhat Kamal Gupta who was instrumental in setting up the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI) and has completed more than two million sq ft of residential space. The new company is a judicious balance of the two; Gupta, Reddy and his son Manu Reddy are part of the management team at Chaitanya Shantiniketan, assisted by Anil Seth, Shiv Gupta and Akshay Kumar Seth. Says Manu Reddy, “The group has grown through internal accruals, rather than external investment. We rely on our impeccable track record in delivering projects of the highest standards on time and to budget.” The experience of building millions of square feet and thousands of apartments translates into understanding various nuances that make a difference to their customers. A lot of planning and insight goes into the design brief before it reaches the architect. All of which help create living environments that are functional, harmonious, ecologically sensitive and stress-free. Chaitanya Shantiniketan sets store by beliefs that define a common purpose throughout the entire business. These beliefs start with having respect for the individual, recognising that people are their greatest asset and by providing innovative and integrated solutions for the living and work space requirements of customers now and in the future. This is evident at Sunnyvale, the current 396-apartment project at Aynavaram. It is set 300 ft from the main road keeping the noise and dust of the busy city at bay. Sunnyvale will have as much as 80 percent of the available area free from construction and devoted to landscaping, creating an extensive green cover that helps reduce the temperature all around the complex. The development has thoughtful additions like guest suites, enabling residents to enjoy reunions with family and friends. In all their projects, from the large 752-apartment housing complex called Gardenia at Thaiyur, Kelambakkam, to the smaller Serena, Rajakilpakkam with 72 apartments, the company lends a personal touch to its interaction with customers. From the time the prospective customer walks in the door to possession of their new home or office, this company prides itself on honesty and transparency in all negotiations and discussions. It also offers post-construction services managing and maintaining properties for a year. Says Reddy, “We believe that a house is the most important purchase that a human being would make. We gain the customer’s complete trust through attention to detail, strong customer relations and delivery of impeccable quality.” It is this kind of service that brings them excellent word-of-mouth publicity and recommendation, precluding the need for a sales or advertising campaign.

Kakani Towers 15, Khader Nawaz Khan Road Nungambakkam Chennai - 600 006 +91 44 4509 0481 / 4509 0482 / 4509 0483 sunnyvale@airtelmail.in sunnyvalechennai@gmail.com

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Business Spaces & Real Estate

The space to be Ascendas, Asia’s premier business space provider, is redefining Chennai’s business landscape with technologically advanced and intuitive properties that balance work with play. Creating sanctuaries for ideas, creativity and innovation, these workspaces provide the canvas for businesses to be inspired to excellence.

The buildings in ITPC epitomise India’s finest quality business space and bear the names Pinnacle, Crest and Zenith.

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ocated along Chennai’s IT Corridor, the International Tech Park Chennai (ITPC) is a fine successor to Ascendas’ iconic flagship, the International Tech Park Bangalore (ITPB). ITPC is a quality development by Ascendas India, the sub-continental arm of Ascendas Pte Ltd, in partnership with the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO). Combining world-class business infrastructure, lush surroundings and a vibrant lifestyle replete with activites around the year, ITPC has attracted over 40 leading IT and ITES companies employing 12000 people to set up base here. The plug-and-play facilities and customised offices ensure business continuity, while its array of amenities like food courts, fine dining restaurants, health club and stylised retail areas encourage a full work-life balance.

Lee Fu Nyap, Senior Vice President, Ascendas India says, “Through these two IT Parks in Chennai, our aim is to step up our services to clients, by providing quality business space and amenities, in line with our existing strategy of delivering an international business lifestyle in a well-planned environment.”

The 15 acre prime hi-tech IT Park stands out alongside Ascendas’ landmark ITPB, Singapore Science Park and the Dalian Ascendas IT Park. ITPC is developed in three phases. Phases 1 and 2, offering 1.26 million sq ft, are already operational. Phase 3 will, upon completion in 2010, provide an additional 742000 sq ft of new business space over five acres. The Park in Chennai reflects Ascendas’ 30 years of experience across diverse Asian markets in providing total real estate solutions and award-winning science, business and industrial parks. Specialised building management teams ensure that the customised offices are equipped with 100 percent power back-up, security services at all times, advanced fire protection systems, telecommunication networks and optical fibre connectivity. Conveniences like banks, ATM and forex facilities, gift shops, a grocery store, pharmacy, and travel agency are thoughtfully set up within the Park, making working life a conducive experience for employees of tenant companies. Apart from all the amenities that set it apart from conventional business spaces, the Park’s chief differentiator is the feeling of community it fosters amongst those who work at the Park, through events like the annual Ascendas Chess Championship and festive celebrations. Ascendas also enlists support for community welfare, from annual blood donation drives to encouraging children from the Spastics Society of Tamil Nadu. It has instituted the Ascendas Excellence Award in collaboration with the Tamil Nadu Handicapped Federation Charitable Trust (TNHFC) to celebrate the achievements of the differently-abled in the fields of academics, sports and art. Following the success of the ITPC, the company unveiled CyberVale in 2007, its second IT Park project in Tamil Nadu and first IT SEZ Park project in India. Spearheaded by Ascendas, CyberVale IT Park is a joint venture with Mahindra World City. This IT Park is being developed in four phases, spread across 18.5 acres of lush landscape, and has already become another desirable destination for IT and ITES companies.

Pinnacle 7&8 International Tech Park Chennai Taramani Road Chennai - 600 113 +91 44 4225 6000 www.itpchennai.com

CyberVale is Ascendas’ second IT Park project in Tamil Nadu.

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Chapter 6

Engineering & Shipping

Chennai’s legacy of engineering and shipping is reflected in the figures that show brisk business. It has 71 engineering companies; over 2000 vessels dock at the Chennai Port each year and the average ship berth daily output is over 10000 tonnes.


“Whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves.� Swami Vivekananda (1863 - 1902), Indian spiritual leader

Photo: Ramya Reddy


Engineering & Shipping

Where size and speed match With a strong presence and wide range of services at every Indian port, AS Shipping Agencies is uniquely positioned as the leader in the Indian shipping business.

The container freight stations are ideal for manufacturing, processing and automobile industries.

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ith an annual turnover of Rs 185 crore (approx US $38 million), AS Shipping Agencies has also gained repute as the biggest granite-handling company with the biggest stockyard in Asia, and stockyards at key ports in India.

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Specialising in break-bulk, the group primarily focuses on handling and shipping granite blocks up to 50 tonnes in weight. The company’s stockyards are fully equipped with four gantry cranes each, which handle the operations of five ships every month on an average.


Dr Shri Prakash, Chairman of AS Shipping Agencies, is a graduate of the London School of Economics with over 50 years of experience in the shipping industry.

“AS Shipping Group never fails to deliver as we have set our priorities right,” says Dr Shri Prakash, Chairman of the company. “All our services are geared towards carrying larger volumes at a faster pace. Our state-of-the-art equipment can load or discharge three times more volume than is presently obtained.” The company has a storage facility that can accommodate up to 80000 tonnes of granite blocks in its Chennai stockyard, 30000 tonnes at Kakinada and 15000 tonnes at Vizag. All its container freight stations are equipped with built-in warehouses (300000 sq ft) and cemented open area (400000 sq ft) to store excavators, plant machinery and steel cargoes. These offer ideal support for the automobile, manufacturing and processing industries. The company owns Asia’s biggest cold storage for marine products in Chennai, and has been setting new benchmarks with this facility, which could store up to 3000 tonnes of marine products - fish, shrimp and other seafood at -250oC. The complex is fully equipped with plate freezers, blast freezers, ice making plants and other supporting infrastructure. It is one of the largest stuffing terminals for reefer containers for export; it is approved by all agencies like Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), European Economic Countries (EEC) and Export Inspection Agencies (EIA). The group also manages Greenways Air & Travels, which acts as general sales agents for Eva Air, Taiwan. The Evergreen container giant is a sister concern of Eva Air and operates wide-bodied aircrafts, with 48 flights, both passenger and cargo freight, every week to the US, UK, France and other countries. Being a well-structured and closely-knit organisation with independent departments that control marketing, documentation and accounting, AS Shipping gives its global customers the satisfaction of working with a team of cordial and efficient professionals. As part of its corporate social responsibility, the group has taken up the field of ophthalmology and donates generously to help make eye care available to the needy.

Dr Shri Prakash is the President of The Eye Research Centre in Chennai and has received the Hudson Silva Award from the late President of Sri Lanka and the Arthur Lim Gold Medal from the Government of Singapore.

113, Armenian Street Chennai - 600 001 +91 44 2534 2261 +91 44 2534 2091 www.greenwaysgroup.com

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Indigenous engineering excellence With over 15 million customers across more than 50 countries, TVS Motor Company, the flagship of the TVS Group, is the third largest two wheeler manufacturer in India and ranks among the Top 10 in the world. The company’s strong passion for quality and innovation is evident in the fact that, over the years, several prominent awards have been conferred on it, including the prestigious Deming Award, making it the only two wheeler manufacturer in India to have won this award.

The TVS Victor, seen here at the manufacturing plant in Hosur, was the first indigenous four stroke, 100 cc motorcycle.

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he TVS Group was established in 1911, when its founder, T V Sundaram Iyengar created an enduring business, led by a family of like-minded workers and managers who were united by a set of high, yet shared principles. Driven by this inspiration, the Group has grown to 30 companies, employing a workforce of around 30000. TVS Motor Company is the largest in the Group, both in terms of size and turnover, with four state-of-the-art manufacturing plants in Hosur (Tamil Nadu), Mysore (Karnataka), Nalagarh (Himachal Pradesh) and Karawang (Indonesia). Leading from the front, Venu Srinivasan, Chairman of TVS Motor Company, has won many laurels for the company including The JRD Tata Corporate Award, The Star

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of Asia Award from Business Week, The Jamshedji Tata Lifetime Quality Achievement Award and the Emerging Corporate Giant Award by Times and Harvard Business School Association. The company has many firsts to its credit. It was the first Indian company to deploy a catalytic converter in a 100 cc motorcycle and the first to bring out an indigenous four stroke, 100 cc motorcycle, TVS Victor. The company became the first Indian two wheeler manufacturer to win the coveted Deming Award in 2002 for its commitment to quality and went on to become the first Indian two wheeler manufacturer to win six prominent awards in a row for its premium segment


motorcycle TVS Apache in 2006. In 2007, it became the first Indian automobile manufacturer to roll out seven new products on a single day, a testimony to its manufacturing prowess.

Motor Company Indonesia. This wholly owned subsidiary of TVS Motor Company, manufactures TVS Neo, the new generation of bebeks (step-throughs), which caters specifically to the Indonesian and ASEAN Markets.

The company’s current product portfolio comprises motorcycles, scooterettes, mopeds and autorickshaws. Motorcycles include TVS Star in the economy segment, TVS Flame in the executive segment and TVS Apache RTR in the performance segment. TVS Scooty Pep+, TVS Scooty Teenz, TVS Scooty Teenz Electric and TVS Scooty Streak constitute the scooterette segment while XL Super and Heavy Duty form the mopeds segment. The company has also entered the three wheeler market in India with TVS King, India’s first two stroke 200 cc autorickshaw, equipped with an electric start and elegant styling. The TVS King is available in Petrol, LPG and CNG versions.

TVS Motor Company has an international presence in over 50 countries in the Asian, African and Latin American continents and plans to further expand its footprint. Says Venu Srinivasan, “Resilience, can-do attitude, an indomitable spirit to continuously better industry norms, doing business with a human touch and putting customers at the forefront are some of the salient features that best define Team TVS.”

Post Box No. 4 Harita, Hosur - 635 109 +91 43 4427 6780 Fax: +91 43 4427 6878 www.tvsmotor.in

One of the key strengths of the company is its strong and continuously growing network of authorised dealerships, service centres and other certified service points. Innovation, a second nature to TVS, is obvious in concepts like the astonishing 99 colours, the unique ‘balancing wheels’ for first time riders and the introduction of racing technology’s touch and feel in the Apache RTR. The constant underlying rationale, while innovating and adopting new technologies is to remain a ‘green’ company, sensitive to the ever changing needs of the environment. TVS Motor’s commitment to achieve total customer satisfaction through excellence in quality is apparent in its management philosophy, which is based on the five pillars of Total Quality Management. Quality awareness percolates through the entire organisation from new product development to after sales services. Employee welfare is the focal point of the working environment. The company actively employs the principle of Total Employee Involvement, ensuring that each employee is given an equal opportunity to create a promising career path. Employees get exposure to various skill developmental aspects like Cross Functional Teams, Supervisory Improvement Teams and Quality Control Circles. As part of its global operations, TVS Motor Company has set up PT TVS

Venu Srinivasan, Chairman, TVS Motor Company

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Doing business in Tamil Nadu The combination of on-demand workforce and affordability in Tamil Nadu is a solid base for businesses here. The state is the manufacturing gateway to access the markets of South East Asia and the Middle East. Its business-friendly governance, multiple Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and robust tax benefits put it at the head of the Indian economic boom.

Tamil Nadu is an attractive investment destination.

T

he state presents a compelling opportunity to its potential investors. It has highly skilled human resources available at reasonable cost, continuous supply of raw materials from its ports and railway networks, and a low cost of living. With its GDP growing at 12.1 percent, the State’s FDI investment constitutes 9.12 percent of the total FDI in the country.

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Photos: Savita Rao

Comprising only 3.9 percent of the nation’s total area, Tamil Nadu is the leader in leather (with 53 percent of all leather produced in India as per the reports of Central Leather Research Institute), automobile (30 percent of India’s automobile output), auto-components (35 percent of India’s output), IT (Rs 513.7 crore - US $100 million industry in TN) and electronic hardware (host to Dell, Nokia, Motorola, Cisco, Samsung, Siemens, Sony Ericsson, Flextronics and Foxconn).


Each year, the state’s strong educational system creates 100000 new engineers, 70000 technicians and 25000 other skilled workers. Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, was rated by Mercer Consulting in 2007 at 137 out of 145 cities worldwide for cost of living. The state’s GSDP (Gross state domestic product) is Rs 188921 crore (US $367 billion). The per capita income for the period 2007 - 2008 for the state was Rs 43000 (US $836) ranking second among the South Indian states. It ranks third in foreign direct investment approvals (cumulative 1991-2002) of Rs 22582 crore (US $5000 million), next only to Maharashtra and Delhi. Tamil Nadu was the winner of fDi magazine’s Asian Region of the Future award 2005/06 in terms of FDIs, surpassing Australia’s New South Wales. Raimo Puntala, Senior Vice President, Nokia, a company that has made Chennai its home, offers a strong testament to the attractiveness of Chennai as a business destination. “We visited several locations in the country before zeroing in on Chennai. Our decision has been based on three key factors: the proactive approach of the state government, overall development of the area and availability of skilled manpower.” Due to its unique location, Tamil Nadu is a natural gateway to the Middle East and South East Asian markets. Well connected to the global village by multiple airports, three major ports of Ennore, Chennai and Tuticorin, and internally by a network of roads, the state is well equipped to handle the infrastructural needs of a modern business. Single window process Industrial projects require a plethora of clearances and regulatory compliance like the approval of local bodies, which include site and building plan, health clearance, fire service clearance, environmental clearance from TNPCB, registration with the Inspector of Factories, registration under Boilers Act, sanction of power, water and land, and a safety certificate from the Chief Electrical Inspector.

Law The judicial system of Tamil Nadu is based on Indian law. Court cases are time consuming, but the results are mostly fair and just. Trials are held in English and Tamil. Mediation is also a preferred way of resolving disputes. Costs The costs of doing business in Tamil Nadu are significantly lower when compared to other places. For example, three days salary in the US can easily fetch one month or more of the equivalent labour in Tamil Nadu with equal degree of competence. This is due to the low costs of living. Cost of land is about Rs 400 (US $8) per sq metre, hotel accommodation range from Rs 2500 (US $50) to Rs 7500 (US $150) per room per night, cost of office space varies from Rs 30 (60 cents) to Rs 60 (US $1.2) per sq ft per month, while the cost of residential space range from Rs 11250 – Rs 22500 (US $225 - US $550) for a 2000 sq ft residence depending on the location. The other major overhead cost, power, is available at Rs 5 (10 cents) per kWh and water is supplied at Rs 15 (30 cents) per 1000 litres (at March 2009 exchange rates). The unbeatable combination of solid infrastructure, highly affordable cost structures and abundance of skilled labour seamlessly combine to make Tamil Nadu an investors’ paradise.

www.tn.gov.in www.sipcot.org www.tidco.com www.tamilnadunri.com

While this may sound cumbersome and protracted on paper, the government has proactively streamlined the system by creating a single window process which allows for easy establishment of business in Tamil Nadu. On an average, the single window system clears proposals in 30 days and obtains approvals of all concerned authorities as well. SEZ One of the greatest facilitators for business in Tamil Nadu is the establishment of Special Economic Zones. SEZs are specially demarcated areas that offer tremendous benefits to export businesses. They were established in the year 2000 through a revision in the EXIM Policy with a view to provide an internationally competitive and hassle free environment for export production. These SEZs are virtually deemed to be a foreign territory within the country, free from all the rules and regulations governing import and export. SEZs are specifically treated as duty free enclaves for the purpose of industrial, tariff, service and trade operations with exemption from customs duties and a more liberal regime on levies, foreign investment and other transactions. As an additional incentive, these areas are provided with power and water on a high priority basis ensuring predictability in business. The industries operating in SEZs are exempted from all taxes (except sales tax and VAT when goods are produced in SEZs but sold locally). The elimination of various regulatory and infrastructural inadequacies has created an investor and industry friendly environment.

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Chapter 7

Education & Training

Chennai has 50 medical and medical-related colleges, 100 colleges teaching technology, polytechnics and architecture, over 108 management colleges, five law colleges and three that teach mass communication.


“Learning is the true imperishable wealth.� Thiruvalluvar, (approx 200 BC) Tamil saint, poet and author of Thirukkural

Photo: Ramya Reddy

The University of Madras, incorporated in 1857, is one of the three oldest universities in India.


Education & Training

Holistic education for all ‘To make every man a success and no man a failure’ is the tenet that guides the Hindustan Group of Institutions. Founded by the late Dr KCG Verghese, the educational group encompasses a wide spectrum of multiple disciplines, degree programmes and educational institutions. Among the Top 10 educational institutions of Chennai, Hindustan University believes in holistic growth and non-formal training.

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he busy, sun soaked locality of Guindy in Chennai plays host to the headquarters of the Hindustan Group of Institutions. The modest and functional exterior seems to capture the spirit of its founder chairman, the late Dr KCG Verghese who had a vision to establish an institution that would offer non-formal technical education.

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Dr Verghese was a man ahead of his time, with a fascination and passion for all things mechanical and aeronautical (his autobiography is called Wheels and Wings). This passion paved the way for the inception of the Hindustan Engineering Training Center in 1965 in sleepy Kilpauk. Starting a self financing engineering college was


The vision of the founder Dr KCG Verghese (inset) has been enhanced by Anand Jacob Verghese, Pro-Chancellor, Ashok Verghese, Director, and Elizabeth Verghese, Chairperson, as they make the Hindustan Group of Institutions a benchmark for education worldwide.

unheard of in that day and age, but breaking the norm was to become a way of life for Dr Verghese. Today, there are over 300 colleges and universities in Tamil Nadu alone, a number that grows everyday. Hindustan College of Engineering, the flagship institute of the Group (which has since grown into Hindustan University) started with four programmes and now offers 35 graduate and 29 post graduate (including doctoral) programmes, four aviation programmes, 18 professional certification courses in a wide range of areas and specialisations. “The road was so poorly maintained, people used it to thresh rice!” recalls Mrs Elizabeth Verghese, wife of late Dr KCG Verghese, presently the Chancellor of the Group, with a sparkle in her eyes. Her cheerful demeanour hides a steely determination for the cause of quality education. The road in question is now the IT corridor of the city, and Hindustan University rubs shoulders with the offices of global software giants. The growth of the road from a simple stretch to one that hosts international firms seems to reflect the growth of these institutions. Started as a training centre specialising in aircraft maintenance, the Group now has multiple institutions which impart training in disciplines such as management, arts, technical sciences, and aviation. The unyielding pursuit of excellence has earned the University multiple laurels, a fraction of which cause the shelves in Mrs Verghese’s office to creak in protest. The University seems to live off the energy of its founder. There is a crackle of electricity in the air, of young blood and passion being guided into higher achievements. In the campus a Boeing 737 occupies the pride of place, with students swarming like bees around the Jet engines. Such practical and real-world training has caught the attention of the Government of India, which has set up a Center of Relevance and Excellence (TIFAC CORE) in Aircraft Maintenance in the campus. “We believe in holistic education. Youngsters today have all information at their fingertips. What we need is not information, but knowledge,” says Mrs Verghese. The watchful eyes of the faculty are always on the students, ensuring all round development. The University encourages cross-cultural interaction and learning as it has regular

enrollments from Bhutan, China, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Sudan, UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Fiji, Indonesia, Korea, Thailand, and many other countries. “One of the African students was silently watching the local students play basketball. After the game, he walked up to them and said “What you are playing is not basketball. Give me the ball and I will tackle all of you alone!” Watching such interaction and bonding between youngsters coming from such different backgrounds is what makes the Hindustan experience enriching.” Mrs Verghese is optimistic about the future. “Only 12 to15 percent of students in the age of 17 to 22 have access to higher education. The need of the hour is not free, quantitative education but qualitative, holistic education. Education should not be seen as a social obligation.” When questioned about the recent downturn, she remains calm and relaxed. “Education cannot be denied, it is the right of every child,” she says. “Growth cannot be sustained if it is at the expense of other members of society. The only way to sustain the growth is to reach out together, hand in hand. The need of the hour is education that inculcates values and moulds young minds to become responsible citizens. We have over a thousand years of rich heritage and it needs to be transferred to the next generation,” she adds.

40, GST Road, St. Thomas Mount Chennai - 600 016 +91 44 2234 1389 / 2508 / 6525 hetc@vsnl.com www.hindustancollege.com

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Education & Training

Education redefined Not many educational institutions can claim to offer pre-kindergarten to PhD education under one roof. With 15 educational institutions under its umbrella, this university offers studies in diverse disciplines, ranging from nautical sciences to management studies. It is led by one of the city’s youngest educationists, Dr Ganesh, whose vision is to transform aspiring young minds through education.

The spacious campus of Vels University is as distinctive as its approach to education.

D

r Ishari K Ganesh, the Chairman of Vels Group of Institutions and Chancellor of Vels University, has a contrarian’s approach to education. He believes that the very essence of education is to ‘draw out’ rather than to just ‘pour in’ knowledge through hours of mindless lectures in the classroom. In effect, the curriculum and the pedagogy at Vels lay emphasis on practical training and contemporary relevance.

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Photos: S Badri Narayanan

Vels Group of Institutions is spread across three sprawling campuses in the city of Chennai. Enclosed between the scenic Pallavaram Hills on one side and lush green fields on the other, the University campus houses the head office of The Vaels Educational Trust. Established in September 2008, Vels University is the latest in a list of educational institutions in Chennai and stands out for its distinctive approach.


With over 15 colleges, Vels is one of few private institutions in India to provide courses on a diverse range of subjects. With over 14000 students, it imparts contemporary education through 51 professional and non-professional courses. Vels is involved in major fields including engineering, management, pharmacy, physiotherapy, maritime studies, catering, mass communication, commerce, computing, dentistry and nursing. Foresight has helped the University’s growth over the past few months. When the demand for pharmacy education started growing in 1992, it started Vels College of Pharmacy in a rented place in Mylapore with just 22 students. Seven years later, Vels School of Maritime Studies was established, the first institution in the private sector to offer the course in India, with the USP of its own ship to impart training. The quest to impart wider education was not restricted to disciplines alone, but also across generations, when the Group decided to get involved in the education of school and pre-school children as well. The Vels Vidyashram School and the Vaels Billabong High International School not only showcase the involvement of the Vels Group in school education, but also its ability to cater to different social sectors. Billabong High with its Australian connections sets standards for international education. Its world-class infrastructure and state-of-the-art facilities help children to be innovative and accountable. An alumnus of Madras and Madurai Kamraj Universities, Dr Ganesh, who was cited as one of the 50 leaders redefining Indian education by Education World in November 2008, is determined in his efforts that Vels shall not just be known by its scope, but by its quality too. The University has put in place a Quality Assurance System to monitor and improve the quality of education. Infrastructure is an important yardstick in the assessment of quality, and Vels ensures the right infrastructure for all courses. With a motto of ‘knowledge is power’, the University sees education as just one aspect of individual development, and aims for the all round growth of its students. Modern teaching aids, an e-library, sports and recreational facilities are directed at improving the social and physical growth of its students. Dr Ganesh sees a more important role for Vels in the development of the country and the youth. “Our vision is to participate in the establishment of a vibrant and modern India where the youth will be free from illiteracy and unemployment,” he says. “They will be internationally competitive and fit into knowledge based societies with discipline, a national outlook and religious tolerance.” Vels will soon set up an offshore campus and is working on developing video conferencing between students and professors around the world.

Administrative Office Vels City Centre 521/1, Anna Salai (Opp GR Complex) Nandanam Chennai - 600 035 +91 44 2431 5541 / 42 Vels University +91 44 2266 2500 / 2501 / 2502 / 2503 admission@velsuniv.org www.velsuniv.org The sprawling green campus of Vels Srinivasa College of Engineering & Technology at Thalambur is located near the IT highway.

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Education & Training

Tryst with genius The hallmark of a great civilisation is its educational institutions and Chennai has several of schools, colleges and universities of repute. The emphasis on learning in Tamil Nadu can be traced back to the Vijayanagara Empire (14th to 17th century AD), known for its exceptional patronage of arts, culture and education.The city has built on this legacy; it was the first city to offer courses in engineering and law. It has produced two Nobel prize winners, eminent scientists, judges, statesmen, littérateurs, poets and academics. The ancient villages of Mylapore and Triplicane, now central parts of Chennai, have been homes to the best thinkers of the past millennium. Thiruvalluvar, one of the most revered poet-philosophers in Tamil literature, lived in Mylapore in the 2nd century BC. Peyalvar and Thirumangai Alwar, two of the most revered Vaishnavite saints lived here too, as did the great Shaivite saints of the 7th century, Thirugnana Sambandar and Vayila Nayanar. Vedic studies constitute the curriculum in modern day Chennai’s many religious and Vedic educational institutions. The Madras Sanskrit College established by SV Krishnaswamy Iyer in 1906 is one of the largest of its kind in the region. Headed by luminaries like CP Ramaswamy Iyer and Mahamahopadhyaya Chandrasekharan Sastrigal, it teaches the study of Vedanta and Mimamsa, and the courses are structured in the traditional style of education and examination. Now affiliated to the Madras University, it has fostered scores of scholars of high repute and Mahamahopadhyayas (honorary title conferred on highest Sanskrit scholar). Vedic tradition also prospers in the multitude of mathams or religious institutions. The Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham with its centre in the nearby ancient town of Kanchipuram, supports a large number of institutions within the city. Notable among them are the Veda Rakshana Nidhi trust, the Jagadguru Veda Parayana trust and the Shankara Matham. The Ramakrishna Math, a religious monastic order set up by Swami Vivekananda to follow the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, conducts lectures, bhajans, workshops and children’s programmes as part of its curriculum. In contemporary times, Chennai’s city schools have a reputation for being among the best in the country in terms of their curriculum, discipline and standards of education. Many of them have an unblemished record of excellent academics for over two centuries. PS High School and Hindu High School were among the first schools in Chennai to offer education in both English and Tamil. Among the most famous and sought after schools in Chennai today, are DAV, PSBB, Bala Vidya Mandir, Sishya and Chettinad Vidyashram. Higher Education

Traditional Vedic schools continue to thrive in Chennai

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Photo: Natasha CA

Chennai’s majestic Marina beach front is home to the University of Madras, among the three oldest colonial universities of India. Established in 1857 and modelled on the University of London, it has four campuses with more than 50 specialisation courses, over 8000 students, a faculty of about 300 and 43 external research institutes. With large endowments from various local and foreign institutions and excellent research facilities, Madras University now has a Five Star status from the


Photo: S Badri Narayanan

State-of -the-art international schools cater to the large expatriate community and affluent locals.

National Assessment and Accreditation Council of India.

cricketer Krishnamachari Srikanth and several others.

The Presidency College, originally a preparatory high school, formed the nucleus of Madras University when it was established over a century and a half ago. In a radical move at the time, the College opened its doors to women in 1889. The College’s law courses were shifted into the Law College in 1891, and thereafter, Madras University expanded fast, to include several other prestigious academic institutions in the city. In 1869, the University shifted to the beautiful Senate House, one of the most splendid examples of Indo-Saracenic architecture in the country today. Soon after, Queen Mary’s College for Women (1914) joined the University, followed by Loyola College, which opened in its spacious Nungambakkam campus in 1925.

The famous Indian Institute of Technology or IIT Chennai is one among 13 such premier institutions in India. Situated in a wooded 620 acre campus adjacent to the Guindy National Park, it was established in 1959. With around 4000 students and 360 faculty members, it provides world class technical education and research facilities in engineering and technologies. Its impossibly gruelling selection process is legendary and its graduates include some of the best scientists, academicians and technical geniuses in many parts of the world.

Madras University’s alumni reads like a scholastic who’s-who. Scores of scientists, academicians, writers, politicians of repute including many state and central government ministers and Presidents have passed through its hallowed portals in the century and a half of its existence. Four former presidents studied at Madras University - Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, V V Giri, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy and R Venkataraman. Two Nobel prize winners, Sir CV Raman and Subrahmanian Chandrashekhar graduated from here; several of India’s finance ministers, including P Chidambaram, studied here. Anna University, one of India’s largest engineering, technical and allied sciences universities, was established in Guindy in 1978. With over 2.5 lakh undergraduate students, 40000 post graduate students, over 3500 PhD scholars and an astounding turnover of 65000 engineering graduates every year, Anna University’s alumni list is equally impressive. Former president APJ Abdul Kalam studied Aeronautical Engineering here, as did AM Turing award laureate Raj Reddy,

IITC’s presence has contributed much to the city’s evolution as the hub of commerce and enterprise as industries have been able to access a well-qualified resource pool. The corporate sector has invested in education, and with this symbiotic process, Chennai will, doubtless, continue to be the bastion of learning and erudition.

Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (1888 -1982), graduate in Physics from the Madras Presidency college, discovered the Raman effect on the scattering of light in 1928. His discovery was met with great world acclaim and he was also conferred a knighthood. In 1930, he won the Nobel Prize in Physics. Raman’s nephew, Subramanyam Chandrasekhar (1910 -1991) did his schooling at the Hindu High School, Madras until 1925 and obtained a B.Sc. (hon) in Physics from the Presidency College in 1925. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983 for his studies on the physical processes important to the structure and evolution of stars.

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Chapter 8

Luxury & Lifestyle

From a silk sari costing Rs 4000000 (US $100000) to the world’s largest gold and diamond jewellery showroom (80000 sq ft), spas and salons for the body beautiful, Chennai has many temptations for the connoisseur.


“Luxury lies in the absence of vulgarity.” Coco Chanel (1883 - 1971), French fashion designer

Photo: Ramya Reddy


Luxury & Lifestyle

The art of adornment The craftsmanship of creating opulent ornaments is as cherished in Tamil Nadu as the art of dance, and GRT ranks high amongst the destinations where this craft is honed to its finest degree. Its exquisite pieces in gold have led to recognition as South India’s No. 1 Jewellery Store for 916 jewellery from the Bureau of Indian Standards, and its chic diamond ornaments have earned it the Best Diamond Showroom in Chennai award from DTC-De Beers for four years in a row. GRT has also been awarded India’s No. 1 Platinum Retail outlet by PGI.

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he city’s leading jewellery store GR Thangamaligai or GRT draws liberally from the rich heritage in jewellery design. At its sprawling four storey flagship store on Usman Road, GRT’s love for beautiful pieces is on full display; customers eagerly try on the delicate kammal, lotus shaped earrings with rubies and diamonds, or stare mesmerised at their reflection with kaasumaalai, the coin-shaped necklace typical of Tamil Nadu. Further on, brides-to-be select the gem-studded hair ornament thalaisaamaan with their parents. Others pick from the latest diamond wedding ranges that offer a break from tradition, encouraging brides to create a signature look to match their personality. Founded in 1964 by G Rajendran, GRT has grown to be a household name in Chennai for its purity and designs. Under his direction, his sons GR Ananthapadmanabhan and GR Radhakrishnan, have diversified the company into the hospitality, agriculture, education, trading and non-conventional power sectors. Its designs have adorned generations, and the first store has grown to accommodate contemporary pieces while retaining handcrafted traditional jewellery. Now spread across four floors, its wares dazzle the eye; ornaments studded with navaratnas (the nine gems believed to ward off evil and enhance the beneficial effects of the planets) sparkle from behind counters, and the typical Tamil insignia of birds and flowers assume various forms on a range of pieces. An entire floor is dedicated to diamonds, and trained staff help customers select the finest Belgian cut gems; platinum pieces entice customers to the next floor, where an array of styles await. The breadth of the collection was cited by Platinum Guild India for the Best Platinum Showroom in India in 2008. It was the first to introduce imported Italian jewellery, leveraging on its tie-ups with noted Italian designers. Its antique pieces are retailed as the Vintage Collection, which features unique jhoomkas, kangans and chokers with an enduring appeal. The company’s most valued line is its wedding collection, made with gold and platinum, diamonds, pearls, rubies and emeralds. The thalaisaamaan precedes an array of pieces that make the Indian bride exceptional. It is hemmed by the naagar, shaped like a five-headed serpent and crowned with a peacock, and the jewelencrusted hairpiece jadanaagam, which follows the shape of the plaited hair in an intertwined design. This wedding season, GRT launched four distinct lines for diamond brides to complement their personality; ‘Timeless’ features traditional designs, ‘Regal’ takes its cue from the jewellery of India’s royals, ‘Vibrant’ adds a burst of colour to conventional

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pieces and ‘Blossom’ appeals to those with a yen for soft, feminine shapes. GRT’s collections have become very contemporary over the past decade. Buoyed by the success of its silver line, it launched the GRT Silversmith collection which has become popular with children and teenagers, and parents who would like to gift something funky yet valuable. GRT Stylus finds favour with women between 18 and 35, who wear the simple and elegant plain gold and studded diamond jewellery to both work and play. In addition to the store at Usman Road, which has the largest collection of silver articles in India on a single floor, GRT’s showrooms have spread to Coats Road in T Nagar, which boasts the largest diamond floor in Chennai, Annanagar in Chennai, in Tirupathi and Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh, and Bangalore.

134/136 Usman Road T Nagar Chennai - 600 017 +91 44 2434 5042, 2434 5062 21, Coats Road (North Usman Road) Opp Sundari Silks T Nagar Chennai - 600 017 +91 44 2346 1515 grtjewels@vsnl.com www.grtjewels.com

“GRT prides itself on offering the best quality and the largest collection of diamonds, gold, designer jewellery and silverware at affordable prices,” says Founder G Rajendran, seen here with his sons GR Radhakrishnan (left) and GR Ananthapadmanabhan.

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Silken splendour A sari from Nalli occupies pride of place in the closet of the discerning Indian woman, demonstrating the iconic company’s significant brand equity. With 19 branches worldwide and a turnover of Rs 450 crore (US $92 million), this store offers both the warmth of heritage and styles for contemporary wear.

Nalli saris are fondly passed on through generations as heirlooms.

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Photos: S Badri Narayanan


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he flagship store of Nalli occupies the entrance to the glitzy Nageswaran Road, the high street for sari and jewellery stores in T Nagar. Most customers venture no further down the road, heading straight into Nalli where a century-old ritual plays out. Well trained staff dramatically unfurl yards of magnificent silk for inspection, and delighted patrons run their fingers along the rustling silk, admiring the glint of the intricate gold border or zari. The genial Nalli Kuppusami Chetty, the third generation owner of the Nalli chain, continues a tradition practised by his father and grandfather when the store was established in 1928. This author of several books on business management advocates personalised service, establishing a rapport with customers and meeting their requirements to the minutest detail. The personal touch and affability of the staff are what keep customers coming back for more, along with the undoubted quality of the silks. A recipient of the Padmashree award from the Government of India for ‘Best Trader’ in 2003, Chetty says, “My father used to personally attend to each customer; he received them at the entrance and escorted them back to their cars, often carrying their bags. During the wedding season, he also used to help customers find the best chefs and garland makers in the city; not surprisingly, they have come to feel that we are part of their families.” The Chetty family hails from the silk capital of Kancheepuram, where Nalli Chinnasami Chetty, Kuppuswami Chetty’s grandfather, used to book orders for saris from visiting Chennaiites and then travel to the city to deliver as promised. Sensing a growing demand, Chetty set up a depot in Chennai and it soon evolved into a store. The history of Nalli is peppered with interesting anecdotes. When King George V visited Chennai (then known as Madras) in 1911, Chinnasami Chetty was given the task of creating a classic Kancheepuram sari as a souvenir. While many traders shut shop during World War II, Nalli bravely remained open, and its reputation spread even to the corners of the city. Nalli saris are made of the finest raw material available with strict quality checks at its own looms; Sidlaghatta silk, the best in India, and ‘Napoleon’ zari (embroidered gold borders) with the highest percentage of gold and silver are the hallmark of all its signature silk saris. It was the first in the industry to use computers in documentation and design, which has significantly reduced the turnaround time in a craft that is conventionally long-drawn-out. Nalli has been setting up branches since 1985 under the guidance of Kuppusami Chetty’s son Ramanathan K Nalli, and now has a presence in Singapore, the US, the UK and Australia. While saris, from silk to crepe and chiffon, remain its central focus, Nalli’s business now includes the manufacture and export of fabrics, apparel and home furnishings. It retails accessories like jewellery, stoles and dupattas as well. Nalli Next, piloted by Lavanya R Nalli, the fifth generation entrepreneur from the family, targets the young urban woman. These stores, currently in Chennai and Bangalore, stock unique pieces and designer saris ideal for casual wear, cocktail parties and the boardroom. Its home furnishing line Next Living, part of the Nalli Next stores, has a variety of options for the domestic retail market, in a tastefully appointed ambience. Nalli Next is now all set to weave its silken magic in the rest of the country.

9, Nageswaran Road T Nagar Chennai - 600 017 +91 44 2434 4115, 4260 4567 inquiry@nalli.com www.nallisilk.com

Nalli Kuppusami Chetty

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Picture perfect India’s first exclusive portrait studio recreates the unique experience of portraiture with artistes blending art and technology to frame memories that last a lifetime.

From model portfolios to wedding pictures, Studio K makes every photograph memorable.

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The operations at Studio K are highly customised to provide optimum service and product quality. The studio’s bookings are strictly by appointment; it handles just two to three customers on weekdays and about four to five on weekends. Menon clicks about 100 to 150 snaps, using high-end digital cameras and carefully selected backdrops. A 55-inch plasma TV positioned above the photography area, in wireless connection with the camera, facilitates viewing of the image as soon as it is shot. The photographer aids clients in their selection by pointing out the portraits that are technically perfect.

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he Studio K effect is reflected in the build up to the photography session, the process of making portraits being as memorable as the pictures themselves. At its picturesque property in Nungambakam, hairstylists and make-up artistes carefully add finishing touches, in readiness for photographer Jana Menon. A veteran with 30 years of industry experience, he creates frames that capture the essence of his subjects. Part of Nippon Enterprises South, which operates 12 Konica Colour Labs in Chennai, Studio K is the first in the city to offer exclusive portrait photography services. “The fact that portrait photography was not given the attention it requires inspired us to start Studio K in December 2005,” says Chetan Acharya, Managing Director. Studio K was originally conceived by his father JP Acharya, one of the founders of the Nippon Group. The need to distinguish portraiture from common photography propelled the Group into giving Studio K its own niche, distinct from its dozen other studios. Its portfolio includes weddings, baby photos, alliance photos as well as family pictures and model portfolios. Its 4000 sq ft landscaped garden is the ideal option for outdoor photography.

Apart from the top-of-the-line digital photography and lighting equipment used here, the technically advanced studio includes spacious and well furnished dressing rooms and a portrait viewing lounge. After the portraits are taken, clients can settle into the lounge, the first of its kind in the city, to view all their photographs on a plasma TV. Pictures chosen, a team of skilled technicians and sophisticated software get to work adding deft little touches to give the images a flawless quality. The photographs are printed using high end machinery on quality photo paper, in accordance to the required dimensions of the client. The portraits are framed in classic Italian hardwood frames, making the finished product as impressive as the process. With an overseas degree in Imaging Systems Management, Chetan Acharya has been the driving force behind Studio K’s success. He believes that commitment to perfection and the urge to serve better can never go out of fashion. “Studio K has now been relocated to Sterling Road, and features one of the largest studios in India with completely upgraded equipment and lighting. The infrastructure to photograph even groups of 100 people is now in place,” says Acharya.

24 & 25, Sivaganga Road Off Sterling Road Nungambakkam, Chennai - 600 034 +91 44 4290 9880 info@studiok.co.in www.studiok.co.in

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Leisure icon With six state-of-the-art cinemas, an extensive gaming zone spread over 15000 sq ft and exclusive restaurants, Sathyam Cinemas offers a broad spectrum of leisure options and is one of the busiest entertainment locations in the country.

Sathyam Cinemas is the first multiplex to have all its screens equipped with 2k digital projectors and digital 3D.

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here is no cinema fan as avid as a Chennaiite, and this fervent passion can be indulged in a superlative celluloid ambience. Sathyam Cinemas was among the first in the country to introduce 2K digital projectors in all its screens. This technology enhances the clarity, contrast and brightness of the film and is, in many ways, a forerunner in the Indian movie scene. It also went on to be the first to introduce Digital 3D. Says Tan Ngaronga, COO, Sathyam Cinemas, “We are ecstatic about bringing Digital 3D to Indian cinema screens; it wows viewers and elevates their cinematic experience.” While the screens are all equally state-of-the-art, the six theatres that house them vary in design. Conceptualised by Vikram Phadke, Shivashankar and international designer Giovanni Castor, each of the themes is elaborated in minute detail. Serene sports a clean, zen look, while the décor at Seasons is fluid, keeping in tune with the changing seasons. Red carpet premieres attract stars and socialites, who add glitz and glamour. Pure Cinema screens memorable, award-winning international movies for a discerning audience. Blind Date delights cinema buffs by showcasing a surprise film every week. Yet another incentive is Fuel, a prepaid movie card which can be used to purchase movie tickets, snacks and beverages. The range of facilities at the multiplex include Magic Hat, a dedicated day-care facility and play-zone for children below 12.

The Sathyam allure extends to the gaming zone

Ecstasy, the in-house patisserie, is a destination in itself where specialist Chef Mickaël Besse whips up the most delectable desserts including blueberry cheesecake, le chocolatier and tiramisu. All the food products available at the concessions are made onsite; fresh sandwiches, crisp puffs and sinful chocolate pastries are baked to perfection at the in-house bakery. The Blur Café offers diners a range of cuisines including Indian, Chinese and Continental fare while ID serves authentic South Indian specials that have captured the palates of audiences. The Sathyam Cinemas brand extends beyond cinema and into the playing field of entertainment. It is the first multiplex to house India’s largest gaming experience. Says Ngaronga, “Blur is the country’s first multi-format gaming centre with something for everyone from the console and arcade to food.” The gaming zone occupies levels 4, 5 and 6 at Sathyam, spread over 15000 sq ft, and offers a range of platforms from PC and hand-helds like the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS Lite, to consoles like the Playstation2, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and Sony Playstation3. The Sathyam Cinemas experience caters to a wide range of audiences and offers great value for money. It records several thousand footfalls on weekdays and its parking lot is ample with thousands of cars and two-wheelers driving in each week. Sathyam Cinemas ensures that there are no barriers to absolute entertainment.

Ecstasy elevates desserts into an art form

8, Thiru-vi-ka Road Royapettah Chennai - 600 014 +91 44 4392 0200 www.sathyamcinemas.com

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Luxury & Lifestyle

On song For the discerning Chennai ear that had to long make do with garage assembled musicware, Chennai’s only authorised distributor of Yamaha musical instruments, professional audio products and home theatre systems has brought in its first real experience of a high end one-stop music store.

With a dazzling range of instruments and equipment, the store adds a welcome dimension to the music scene.

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he Yamaha Music Square at Sterling Road, Nungambakkam is always abuzz as music aficionados try out its diverse and advanced music equipment. Showcasing state-of-the-art audio equipment, the store offers a wide range of musical instruments and audio systems in a sophisticated environment. Yamaha Music Square is promoted and owned by Nippon Enterprises South, part of the rapidly expanding Nippon Group. The company took up the distribution of Yamaha AV products in 2005 in partnership with Savoy Electronics Pvt Ltd Mumbai. The success of the Yamaha AV and Home Theater products in India is based on the combined expertise and long standing friendship between Nippon Group’s Chetan Acharya and Jasvir Bhatty of Savoy Electronics. “My father JP Acharya had built up a strong distribution channel for Konica products across India. When Bhatty suggested a partnership for distribution of Yamaha products, we decided to leverage our existing infrastructure and distribute them through our offices. In 2008, Yamaha Music India offered us the distribution of Yamaha Musical Instruments as well. Thus, Yamaha Music Square was born, to showcase the latest and greatest musical instruments on offer from Yamaha.” The store has also changed the landscape of home entertainment with its Digital Home Theater Systems, Digital Sound Projectors, Hi-Fi and AV components as well as Desktop Audio Systems. The store is now geared towards raising the scope of music, both performing and listening, from passion to art. The store now has the exclusive dealership for highly sought after instruments such as guitars, keyboards, pianos, drums and PA products. These new products were introduced into a mature market. Audio equipment such as mixing consoles, amplifiers, processors and speaker systems which are used by professionals are also on the platter at Yamaha. Word of the showroom’s offerings has spread and its products are finding their way to Chennai’s many corners. Instruments are supplied to all leading music stores, recording studios and music schools in the city and Yamaha’s grand pianos adorn the lobbies of leading hotels. Institutional sales of professional audio systems like mixers and studio monitors are successful too. While stocking the entire range of Yamaha’s musical products, the store strives to make its products affordable to music lovers across the board. Pegged as the most sophisticated musical instruments store in Tamil Nadu, The Yamaha Music Square has trained musicians among the sales staff to make the experience more interactive. The acoustically treated demo room with a 65” plasma TV and Yamaha’s high end Soavo speakers ensures a remarkable theatre like effect. Customers can browse through a wide range of musical instruments and even try them out at the special Beat Spot area in the showroom before purchase. Acharya has a compelling vision of the future with a primary focus on teaching music across all generations. “We plan to start music classes in association with Yamaha, possibly with affiliation from renowned music colleges like the Trinity School of Music,” he says. And when that materialises, Yamaha’s tuning forks would strike a high note across the city.

Sterling Silver 24/25, Siva Ganga Road, Off Sterling Road, Nungambakkam Chennai - 600 034 +91 44 4290 9888 yamaha@nippongroup.com

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Where Chennai says ‘cheese’ As a one stop shop for all of the city’s photography needs, from buying high-end photography equipment and snapping up instant visa photos to printing special memories for life, Konica Color Lab and Studio sets the standard for retail photography. With a citywide retail network backed by the Nippon Group’s interests in allied businesses, the Konica Labs are a top choice for the flash-bulb popping fraternity.

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household name for photography services in Chennai, Konica Color Lab and Studio has over a dozen branches and collection centres spread across the city, serving as quality retail outlets for varied services and photographic accessories.

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With the best developing and printing facilities in the country, the labs have played a crucial role in promoting the Konica brand, which garnered over 80 percent of the Indian market in 1989.


Chetan Acharya, Managing Director, says “We deliver the best of photography services, using cutting edge technology.”

Konica Color Lab is part of Nippon Enterprises South, which is involved in the manufacture and distribution of X-ray films, photographic films, chemicals and paper. The establishment of the photography chain was a strategic extension of the Group’s range of services, transforming it from a supplier of Konica photographic goods to a converter and marketer of the company’s photography products. Chetan Acharya, Managing Director, recalls, “We realised the potential for retail outlets and launched the first Konica Color Lab at Nungambakkam in 1986. This was soon followed with seven more outlets at prominent locations, at an investment of about Rs 5 crore (approximately US $1 million).” When Konica Labs was established, its promoters had much more in mind than just taking pictures. It has played a crucial role in the sale of products such as digital cameras, memory cards, batteries, battery chargers, photo frames and camera pouches. It was also the first to introduce the 4 x 6 digital photo book, for which the design and development was completely handled in-house. Within its colourful, bright interiors every lab in its chain offers a host of services, from film developing, printing, lamination and framing for the avid photographer to products for the corporate world: calendars, business and ID cards. Konica Labs also leverages its expertise to restore old photographs, and provides CD/DVD/video conversion.

services, its outdoor photography unit introduced on-the-spot printing in 2007. Using a high speed portable printer, the labs were the first in Chennai to deliver photos at events even as they are underway. Facilitating compatibility for photo printing from digital media such as laptops, CDs and pen drives, the labs deliver a number of copies at required sizes. Konica Labs is set to raise the profile and quality of accessories printing. The chain also undertakes printing on caps, mugs, T-shirts and CD cases, apart from its value added services like restoration, colour correction, digital photo manipulation and lamination. Along with high end technology, customer service is integral to the chain’s reputation. The qualified and extensively trained staff ensures that optimum benefits of technology are reflected in every photograph, while its customer service ensures that this is delivered in the best way. Certainly Konica Color Labs helps Chennai treasure fond memories.

Apex Plaza 3, Nungambakkam High Road Chennai - 600 034 +91 44 2827 5878 / 2826 4562 Fax: +91 44 2820 7008 info@konicacolorlab.com www.konicacolorlab.com

The chain is especially popular for passport and visa photographs. All processing machines at these labs are all well serviced and maintained as per the manuals of Konica Minolta, to ensure the highest quality every time. Konica Labs also offers its services for outdoor events like marriages and birthdays. In line with its policy of setting standards and enhancing the value of its

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Chapter 9

Health & Wellness

Chennai’s health infrastructure of government and private hospitals offer a high degree of medical and surgical care that range from dental, eye and cosmetic treatments to heart and orthopaedic surgeries and complex organ transplants. Highly skilled doctors, well-equipped hospitals and reasonable costs have made it an attractive destination for health tourism; each year about 200000 people visit Chennai specifically for medical reasons.


“Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit.” BKS Iyengar (1918), Founder of Iyengar yoga

Photo: Ramya Reddy


Health & Wellness

Feeling good naturally Cholayil Group, the world’s largest Ayurvedic soap manufacturer, is tapping its heritage to create a distinctive brand of wellness. From a monthly production of nearly 20 million bars of the Ayurvedic soap Medimix, to establishing a unique wellness centre Sanjeevanam in 12 locations across India and the UAE, the company is making Ayurveda accessible to a greater populace.

Cholayil Sanjeevanam works across the wellness continuum, from nutrition and beauty to rejuvenation therapies.

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ailing from one of Kerala’s renowned Ayurvedic families, the Cholayil Group was established 40 years ago by Dr VP Sidhan with its flagship product, Medimix soap. Widely exported, Medimix earned Cholayil a place among the Top 100 Brands in India. This privately owned company draws its inspiration from the 5000 year old principles of Ayurveda and has now extended into a chain of Ayurvedic Medical Treatment Centres and Health Restaurants called Cholayil Sanjeevanam, which quite symbolically derives its name from the miracle herb Sanjeevani; according to Hindu mythology, Lord Hanuman had used it to save Lord Lakshmana’s life. With four thriving centres in Chennai at Adyar, Mogappair, Nungambakkam and Saligramam, the group is poised for an international success. “I want to

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take Ayurveda to the masses and make Sanjeevanam a global brand,” says Dr AV Anoop, Director of the Cholayil Group and head of Cholayil Products & Services (a division of AV Anoop). “With our combination of research based, clinically proven products and services, offered in a corporate and standardised way, people will be able to avail Ayurvedic treatments, medicine and food more conveniently.” Cholayil’s R&D Centre, the first private laboratory in India approved by the Central and State Drug Department to test Ayurvedic raw materials and finished products, is constantly lining up new products covering both Ayurvedic and cosmetics ranges. The in-house R&D Centre is approved by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Government of India and has also received accreditation from


Dr AV Anoop, Director, Cholayil Group, says, “We offer more than a cure. We offer prevention, treatment and rejuvenation through our complete Ayurveda healthcare system.”

Department of AYUSH (Government of India) to carry out Ayurvedic research. The group also maintains a herbal garden with more than 400 herbs in a 120 acre farm near Chennai. Cholayil is set to reinvent the global healthcare market with the introduction of modern Ayurveda centres called Cholayil Sanjeevanam, which provide holistic health services that rejuvenate physically, mentally and spiritually. Sanjeevanam’s purpose is to strengthen the body to fight disease, rather than fighting the disease directly, and encouraging natural living. It offers guidance regarding diet, treatment and medication for simple ailments and chronic diseases. The centres themselves are spacious, aesthetically designed and provide holistic treatment based on the tenets of Ayurveda, Naturopathy and Yoga in order to achieve the goal of a ‘perfect life – naturally’. Each centre has a panel of well-qualified doctors and therapists who combine time-tested treatments and modern diagnostic tools to treat conditions from asthma, hypertension and obesity, to diabetes, skin disorders and arthritis. The Ayurvedic treatments offered include Panchakarma, Sirodhara, Kayasekam (Pizhichil), Pindaswedam (Navarakkizhi), Patraswedam (Ilakkizhi), Netratarpanam, Sirolepanam (Talapothichil), Sirovasthi and other specialised rejuvenation therapies. The Sanjeevanam Centre also provides a dedicated Hair N Face Care facility which uses only natural medicated oils and herbal medicines. The talking point at Sanjeevanam is the vegetarian natural-health restaurant which serves North Indian, South Indian, Tandoori and Chinese cuisines prepared along the principles of Naturopathy. The menu and courses have been designed by eminent doctors and dieticians and prepared by specially trained chefs. The cuisine discards ingredients considered detrimental to health and the methods of preparation are fine tuned to boost nutritional value; the vegetables are cut just before they are cooked to retain nutrients; deep frying, preservatives, flavouring agents and refined products are avoided.

Natural-health vegetarian food at Sanjeevanam

One can also snap up a wide range of natural products like pure honey, natural health mix, bran rice, palm candy, ginger coffee and dhania coffee at Sanjeevanam. All these products are made with ingredients of the purest quality and retain the natural goodness of complex carbohydrates and insoluble fibres. Cholayil Products & Services recently launched Sanjeevanam Ayurvedic Cough Syrup which is free of alcohol, harmful chemicals and side-effects; the Sanjeevanam Herbal Soap is specially created to protect the skin from pollution. The products are based on a combination of ancient Ayurvedic formulations and modern research, aided by clinical trials by premier academic and research institutions like Apollo Hospitals Education and Research Foundation. To the perennial favourites Medimix Classic and Sandal soaps, the Group has added Sanjeevanam Herbal Health Soap and Ayurvedic Cough Syrup. Products in the pipeline include a pain balm, moisturising cream, anti-dandruff lotion, shampoo, antiseptic anti-fungal cream, diabetic wound cream, tooth paste and fairness cream, which will be introduced through Sanjeevanam centres and then retailed from exclusive centres across the world. In addition to the 12 Sanjeevanam outlets in India and the UAE, Cholayil plans to add over a 100 more centres across the globe over the next three years. “Through our centres, I want everyone, from a stressed out IT professional to a health-tourist, to access world-class and complete Ayurvedic treatment and products everywhere,” says Dr AV Anoop. “We offer more than a cure. We offer prevention, treatment and rejuvenation through our complete Ayurveda healthcare system.”

Bimal S, Manager Marketing Cholayil Sanjeevanam 1583, J-Block, 15th Main Road Anna Nagar, Chennai - 600 040 +91 44 2616 3770 bimal@cholayilcare.com www.cholayilcare.com

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Health & Wellness

The healing touch Committed to ‘Putting Patients First’, this is the only hospital in India to win the Niryat Shree Gold Trophy (2004) for performance in the healthcare sector. A pioneer in several crucial medical and research fields, it consistently upgrades skills and technology to offer the best in global healthcare.

Dedication and team work are the key to the wellbeing of patients.

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IOT was founded in 1999 by Padmashri winner Prof Dr PVA Mohandas, with the vision of building a world class hospital in India. Starting out as a hospital specialising in Orthopaedics and Trauma, it quickly grew into a premier multi-specialty hospital, continuously adding new departments that collaborate in the treatment of complex cases. From diagnostic scans and computer navigation to miniaturised instruments, the hospital has invested heavily in the latest technology, resulting in precise diagnoses, minimally invasive treatments and faster recovery periods.

Recognising the need for joints customised to the Indian anatomy, it is developing technically advanced and economical joints, a first in India’s medical history.

Says Mallika Mohandas, Chairman of MIOT, “We strive to surround our patients with compassion and dignity and to touch each mind, body and spirit with caring hands – this is the task we have set ourselves. This is our life’s work.”

Prof Dr Mohandas performed the first total hip replacement in India three decades ago, and MIOT now has the most experienced team in the field of Hip Arthroplasty. The hospital recently launched tertiary care in Nephrology. The Nephrology department has initiated pioneering research involving kidney transplants where recipients and donors are of different blood groups.

The hospital has been credited with breakthroughs in orthopaedics, pinhole and keyhole surgeries, nephrology and cardiology. It pioneered Computer Navigated Total Knee Replacement and actively researches joint replacement techniques and materials that ensure zero error and longevity, as part of the Joint for Life programme.

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Pinhole and keyhole surgeries have been encouraged at MIOT, particularly because they eliminate the need for complex, open surgeries with a high risk of infection. They can help open up blocks and shrink tumours and are quickly becoming a popular choice of treatment, primarily because the hospital educates its patients about the benefits.

MIOT’s Adult Cardio Thoracic Department is one of the best in the world, and among the few that offer aneurysm surgery. In 2008, the department touched a


MIOT is a pioneer in orthopaedic surgery

Prof Dr PVA Mohandas, Founder, MIOT, and Mallika Mohandas, Chairman, have created a pioneering multi-specialty hospital.

milestone with keyhole endovascular stenting of aortic aneurysms. To stay on the frontline of medicine MIOT invests in medical research. The MIOT Institute of Research was set up in association with University of Zurich, Switzerland, to explore the dynamic field of stem cell research. Taking into consideration post-surgery care, MIOT has set up The Retreat, a luxurious nursing facility that houses a health club, beauty parlour, an auditorium and a multi-cuisine restaurant. Patients can recover in a comfortable and infection-free environment with immediate access to their physicians, who are available through the day at the hospital. MIOT’s College of Nursing trains nurses to the high calibre of nursing required at MIOT. The hospital frequently holds awareness camps across the country, and publishes newsletters like Medicine Today and Maruthuva Vivekam in English and several regional languages. Children’s Heart Internationale MIOT (CHIME) addresses the needs of children who require cardiac surgery. This programme offers free or subsidised treatment, and has conducted screening camps for children in India and Africa. The hospital also sets aside funds for the free treatment of people from economically backward classes. This year, it plans to form associations with hospices in disadvantaged African communities, to provide clinical and educational support, a sign of its dedication to empowering people and communities with the best care available.

4/112, Mount Poonamalle Road Manapakkam Chennai - 600 089 +91 44 2249 2288 Fax: +91 44 2249 1818 / 2249 1313 enq@miothospitals.com www.miothospitals.com

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Health & Wellness

Many reasons to smile Offering the best of dental health care in its 12 specialised operatories by expert dentists who use state-of-the-art equipment in a soothing ambience, Acharya Dental is a patient centred practice.

A great set of teeth boosts self-confidence

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r Vijailakshmi Acharya started the practice in 1974 and over the years, established it as a multidisciplinary and multispecialty clinic in its current location on Thirumurthy Nagar, Nungambakkam. She says, “Our growth has been fuelled by the needs of the patients. We just grew by delivering value for our patients.�

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Over 60 percent of its clientele are foreigners - expatriates based in Chennai or people specifically visiting to treat their dental problems. Several patients are from the Consulates and High Commissions based in Chennai. The client list includes a host of local celebrities and non-resident Indians who combine their annual holidays with a


dental check-up. The facility of making appointments on the internet is a tool used by many of them. The growing A-list clientele is an endorsement of the clinic’s continued emphasis on putting patients at ease, educating them about their problems, explaining options and offering gentle counsel. The staff exhibit care and patience while performing complex dental procedures, whether need based or cosmetic.

Dr Vijailakshmi Acharya, proprietary chief dentist, lends a warm and personal touch to the clinic.

The clinic is specifically designed to allay fears that most people generally have about dental treatments. Meticulously planned, the 14000 sq ft clinic has interiors designed to put the patient at ease. Restful paintings, mellow lighting and landscaping are part of this plan. Free wi-fi, flat screen TVs and calming music ensure that jittery patients are cheerfully engaged. The clinic offers conscious sedation, an accepted technique to relax overly anxious patients.

An expert team of dentists comprising Dr Vinod Thamby, Dr Anjum Ali Khan, Dr Ramesh Vinod Kumar, Dr Lakshmi Shekhar, Dr Jagdish Kumar, Dr Aarthi Ramakrishnan and Dr Varun Acharya tender a comprehensive range of treatments. These include general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, orthodontics, root canal therapy, children’s dentistry, preventive dentistry, gum therapy, oral surgery and laser dentistry. The most popular treatments are cleaning and whitening procedures, cosmetic dentistry, orthodentistry and tooth replacement. The 12 modern operatories follow US Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) regulations for sterilisation through infection control and barrier techniques. The clinic uses patient education software to explain procedures. “Educating the patient is the key, as good health begins with the patient’s awareness,” says Dr Acharya. She is actively involved in raising the profile of dentistry and is an active participant in professional organisations. She is a Fellow of the International College of Dentists, Member of the Pierre Fauchard Academy, Member of the Indian Dental Association, American Dental Association, International Dental Federation and Indian Society of Oral Implantology. The clinic conducts several continuing education courses. It has served as a venue for educational demo surgeries by prominent doctors from across the globe as a part of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry Continuing Education programme in India.

Glass panelled walls in the colour co-ordinated treatment rooms look out at the landscaped courtyard.

An Associate Fellow of this organisation, Dr Acharya is involved in the Continuing Education programme, and is a regular contributor to several publications in the field of dentistry. The clinic is also on the panel of many reputed organisations and conducts dental check up campaigns in schools and colleges. Centered on accountability and responsibility for patient recovery, it encourages patients to develop a personal relationship with the staff. “Along with taking care of their teeth, we try to build up their self-esteem and confidence. We want to make a difference in people’s lives,” she says.

5, Thirumurthy Nagar 6th Street, Nungambakkam Chennai - 600 034 +91 44 2827 4114, 2822 4114 dr.acharyav@gmail.com www.dracharya.in

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Health & Wellness

Spotlight on beauty Amongst the first few unisex salons in the country, Limelite offers an array of specialised treatments to a diverse clientele, who appreciate the confidence that comes with a great appearance. With its headquarters in Chennai and 13 branches across India, Limelite, an offshoot of FMCG major CavinKare, is all set to become India’s leading chain of unisex salons.

Limelite salons specialise in a variety of personal grooming needs.

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imelite is part of Trends in Vogue, the retail arm of the FMCG major CavinKare Pvt Ltd, famous for having pioneered the sachet revolution in the country. The company is best known for personal care products like Chik shampoo, Meera herbal powders and shampoos, Nyle shampoo and Spinz talcum powders. The salon and day spa extends the company’s portfolio by building on this expertise. Says CK Ranganathan, the CMD of CavinKare Group of Companies, “Attitudes towards grooming and lifestyle needs have changed dramatically. People now project their personalities through appearances, and for us, no requirement is ever the same. That is what keeps this industry dynamic, and staying ahead of the curve requires state-of-the-art technology and professional service.” “CavinKare Research and Development Center continuously innovates and creates new services and products that match the demands of consumers who are aware of, and often dictate, trends,” he adds. A quick glance at the service menu reveals what makes Limelite popular across a cross-section of the beauty conscious. It elevates something as routine as a pedicure to an exotic and well-researched treatment: favourites include the pina colada pedicure to soften the cuticles, and a chocolate pedicure to moisturise skin. Body scrubs like the baby corn butter scrub harvest natural tightening agents, while oxygen and mango butter facials revitalise skin organically. These formulations have been developed through years of study and client feedback. All its salons follow an animated design aesthetic; interiors are airy and bask in natural light and the milieu where stylists cut and colour is clean and efficient. A salient feature is a special VIP section that affords the salon’s high profile clientele privacy. Limelite constantly ups the ante, keeping pace with the changing mindset and demands of its customers. Starting with just one outlet in Chennai, it was the first to introduce the day spa facility in a unisex salon. Limelite salons now dot Chennai’s most happening areas, T Nagar, Nungambakkam, RA Puram and Besant Nagar. Additionally, it has seven branches in Bangalore and two in Delhi. Through its salons, Trends in Vogue aims to spearhead a change in the industry with product innovations, customer-centric service delivery mechanisms, and satisfying the evolving needs of the consumer.

113/58, Chamiers Road RA Puram Chennai - 600 028 +91 44 2435 3751 / 56 www.cavinkare.com

CK Ranganathan, CMD of CavinKare Group of Companies

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Health & Wellness

Beauty spot The city’s most preferred destination for grooming has evolved over the last three decades from a three-seater salon into a multi-city chain of beauty salons. Its services keep up with constantly changing expectations of customers while setting standards that are on par with the best in the business.

Bounce resonates with youthful energy as stylists snip and colour.

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EO and Founder Latha C Mohan says that she treats each day as her first day at work. Mohan established Kanya in 1981 following a course in Pivot Point International in Singapore and that was just the beginning of many firsts in the salon business for her. An expert in hairdressing, beauty and nail technology, she changed Chennai’s perceptions towards grooming. Her enthusiasm has rubbed off on clients as well, several of whom have started beauty businesses of their own.

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Mohan’s dedication has helped her stay ahead of the curve, and two decades after the founding of Kanya, she launched India’s first style lounge Bounce, followed by the city’s first day spa Oryza. Says Mohan, “We introduced the concept of a unisex salon in its truest sense when other salons were only toying with the idea.” Bounce is a youthful and trendy salon that was conceptualised by Mohan’s children, Vikram and Prarthana Mohan.


Latha Mohan and her children Prarthana and Vikram have created trendsetting salons and spas.

Trained at reputed schools like Vidal Sassoon, Toni & Guy and Saks, the duo have assembled a team of experts from the UK, Sri Lanka and India to create a style lounge with a distinct presence in Chennai and Bangalore. Says Vikram Mohan, “Bounce is undeniably more than a usual hair salon – it is a portal of possibilities – a mirror of what you can be. We realise that your crowning glory is your most important and permanent lifestyle accessory.” The motto ‘What you wear starts with your hair’ is reflected in the individualistic cuts Bounce specialises in. The salon has earned some of the industry’s best laurels like the 2005 and 2006 L’oreal Color Trophy for Best Hair Dressing and was the only salon to represent India in the Wella Trend Vision 2007 at Barcelona, Spain. Building on its expertise, Bounce Style Lounge established the Bounce Style Academy this year to develop promising talent, giving them access to latest techniques in hairstyling. The group’s next offering was the Oryza spa. Launched in 2005, the spa has notched up a steady clientele of expatriates and city celebrities. Within the exotic Oriental interiors in amber and mahogany, courteous therapists massage away every trace of stress in the body while others prepare soaks and scrubs that merge eastern and western elements. Yet another brand is Cut It Out which combines professional styling with affordability. It is positioned as a no-frills salon with an emphasis on great cuts. It will double up as the internship outlet for the Bounce Style Academy students, and will soon have more outlets in South Indian metros. The group has clearly identified a niche for itself across many segments of the market. Apart from professionalism and sharp business acumen, its success can be attributed to Mohan’s belief that everybody is entitled to look and feel good as “beauty is a reflection of one’s sense of well being”.

114, Aarti Arcade Dr Radhakrishna Salai Mylapore, Chennai - 600 004 +91 44 2811 1446 / 2811 4027 www.kanyabeautysalon.com

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Chapter 10

Media

Newspaper publishing originated in Chennai with the launch of The Madras Courier, a weekly, in 1785. Today, there are 30 Tamil magazines and seven major English publications on Chennai’s newsstands. Radio is an evergreen favourite, its commentry and music holding sway since the first broadcast out of the Rippon Buildings in 1930. The national television channel Doordarshan was set up in 1974; vernacular television channels are the most popular, and the Rs 4395 crore (US $880 million) Sun Network enjoys the second largest viewership in the country.


“The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.” George Eliot (1819 - 1880), English novelist

Photo: Ramya Reddy


Media

Redefining cinema The sole Indian company to operate in the Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) standards compliant industry has pioneered innovations like Qube Cinema and introduced cuttingedge technologies to the Indian film, broadcast and digital media industries.

Qube Cinema innovatively delivers the magic of cinema across the world.

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et up in 1993 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 creates the technology that enhances the impact of visual media. It is headquartered in Chennai, with offices in five Indian cities and abroad.

the first to introduce the technique to India’s film fraternity. It also trained editors and helped modify workflows to enable the use of non-linear editing. This was a key change in the Indian film industry, allowing for more spontaneity and creativity in the post production process, and dramatically enhancing the quality of the edit.

At that time, India’s film industry still relied on traditional methods, and Real Image was among the first to initiate a transition to new technologies and processes. A strategic partnership with Avid Technology – which had recently introduced Media Composer, a computer-based non-linear editing system – led to the company being

The company’s next advance came in 1995, when it allied itself with Digital Theater Systems (DTS), then a small US company that had created a digital sound format that competed with the established audio experts, Dolby; DTS handed over the reins of the Indian market to Real Image, while it focused on the American and

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European markets. Indian cinema persisted with outdated technology like mono sound, and was reeling under competition from numerous tech-savvy satellite television channels that had mushroomed in the country, keeping audiences at home. The switch to DTS sound helped revive the movie market, and Real Image’s offerings took the spotlight. The company’s experience in film, audio, video and computer technology and its familiarity with production, post-production and exhibition enabled the launch of its own digital cinema system in 2001, Qube Cinema. The Qube system leverages the developments in the computer industry to bring cinemas a cost-effective, professional product that combines flexibility, security and ease-of-use. It marked the foray of the company into international markets, and is now a full-fledged subsidiary of Real Image. Qube Cinema now wholly represents Real Image in the digital cinema business in Hollywood and Europe, offering flexible end-to-end solutions. Its innovative products and technology have brought some of the biggest names in the movie business worldwide into its fold, including Odeon/UCI Cinemas, IMAX, ARRI, Technicolor, Sony and Dreamworks. Closer home, Qube is a part of the digital strategy of almost all the multiplex chains and theatrical consolidators in India, apart from hundreds of independent cinemas. Foreseeing the potential of digital advertising, Real Image applied for and earned a key patent in rule-based networked digital media playback in the US and India. Using this technology, it launched QCine, networked digital cinema advertising, lending a larger-than-life presence to brands on cinema screens, and reaching several million cinema viewers across the country. The company is also working on alternative content for digital cinemas worldwide, starting with the first ever Carnatic music concert film, Margazhi Raagam, conceived and directed by Jayendra. It combines Indian classical music with evocative visual appeal and sound quality. Pooling its best resources from the latest 4K Red digital cinema cameras in a multi-camera shoot, it has studio-quality sound recording on Digidesign ProTools. Edited on Avid Media Composer software, with conforming and colour grading on Digital Vision Film Master and surround sound mixing at Media Artists, Margazhi Raagam aims to be a superlative musical experience.

At an international trade show in Las Vegas

Real Image has two additional divisions, Media Artists and JS Films. Media Artists, renowned as the best mix stage in the country, was the first in India to receive the THX certification, and was used in many memorable movies like Dil Chahta Hai and Laagan (Hindi) and Dasavathaaram (Tamil/Telugu). JS Films, a collaborative venture between Jayendra and ace cinematographer PC Sreeram, has evolved into a production services company that employs all the technologies marketed by Real Image. Real Image works with many NGOs like The Banyan, the Bhoomika Trust and Shankara Eye Hospital. It also helps run the Mahesh Memorial Trust (MMT), named after the late composer, Mahesh Mahadevan, which helps in the early detection and treatment of pediatric cancer. MMT works closely with the Adyar Cancer Institute in Chennai and has built a state-of-the-art pediatric cancer block on its premises to treat underprivileged cancer patients. Co-Founders Senthil Kumar and Jayendra Panchapakesan

7-B, Third Street Balajinagar Chennai - 600 014 +91 44 4204 1505 info@realimage.com www.realimage.com www.qubecinema.com

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Media

Live wire As the city’s first and the only talk radio station, Chennai Live is symbolic of the advancement of this metropolis in business and lifestyle. In Chennai’s media space, which is dominated by regional channels and publications that cater to the mass market, the station has cemented a strategic value proposition.

Chennai Live targets a niche audience with informed and engaging discussions teamed with English and Tamil music; RJ Bhavana hosts ‘Live Talk’.

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gainst the background of the soulful strains of morning ragas that signal the beginning of a new day, the vivacious voice of a Chennai Live’s Radio Jockey (RJ) greets listeners, even as the music segues into a string of English and Tamil tunes. Since its launch in July 2008, the radio station has swiftly caught on with Chennai’s cosmopolitan audience; its content mix of current topics and music resonate well with the educated, upwardly mobile Chennaiite.

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The radio station is the latest venture from The Muthoot Group; established in 1887 as Muthoot Bankers, the Group now comprises financial, educational, medical, hospitality and real estate companies. Says George M George, Executive Director of the Group, “Our success is a result of having a grassroot level understanding of the local environment and the customer’s needs. Chennai Live 104.8 FM is another such endeavour from our group to help meet the information and entertainment needs of Chennai’s knowledge seekers and success aspirants.”


Aimed exclusively at 1.2 million of the city’s population of eight million, the radio station’s target audience has evolved from the flourishing IT and ITES sector, and is made up of well-travelled English-speakers with a sensibility that makes equal room for global perspectives and local values. Programmes like ‘Live Talk’, hosted by RJ Bhavana features discussions and debates on local, national and international topics like recession, media wars and green issues in the city, while ‘Chennai Connection’ celebrates the spirit of this metropolis. Switching easily between English and Tamil as they chat with callers and experts, the RJs are bright, spontaneous and empathetic. RJ Arjun Thomas, a mainstay in the city’s rock music scene, walks listeners through an array of musical genres on ‘My Tunes’; Tausif regales sports aficionados with ‘Sports Café’ every Saturday, with trivia and interviews as he rounds up the week’s events. RJ Krish Ashok, one of the city’s most respected bloggers, hosts the keenly followed ‘Cyber Café’, where he deconstructs blogs, personal networking and online entertainment in avid detail. Melbin and Soundharya pep up evenings with the ‘Good Life Show’ as they blithely compare notes with listeners on their favourite cartoon characters and the wackiest jobs they would like to pursue. Ajay, who is the host of ‘From My Playlist’, uncovers a new side to Chennai’s celebs as he gets them talking on everything from childhood friends to first crushes; ‘Quiz Show’ picks brains and keeps listeners guessing with questions all through Sunday morning.

RJ Arjun Thomas hosts ‘My Tunes’

Says Prem Kumar, Station Head, “Our station will make sense to people who are very well informed. Our listener is definitely a Chennaiite with a global outlook. The philosophy of the station is to bring together a wide range of opinions and viewpoints existing in the city with a profound history, a proud present and a bright outlook for the future.” The success of the station lies in the interactivity of its programming. Senior professionals from such diverse fields as entertainment and media, industry, government and non-governmental organisations and opinion leaders frequently contribute to its programming policies. The team of RJs also conducts outside broadcasts and live appearances to promote and support local events. Having been on air for less than a year, the station has registered a phenomenal growth and has provided advertisers exclusive access to one of the city’s most influential and dynamic market bands.

Empee Towers Ground Floor, 59 Harris Road, Pudupet Chennai - 600 002 +91 44 4226 1000 www.chennailive.fm RJ Ajay hosts ‘From My Playlist’

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Media

Speaking the truth The birth of The Hindu to express the Indian viewpoint in 1878 was a turning point in the fledgling Nationalist movement and the growth of the free press. Over the years, it has become one of India’s most respected and influential newspapers, renowned for honest and unbiased reportage. Ranked among the World’s 10 Best Papers by The Times, London in 1965 and conferred the World Press Achievement Award by the American Newspaper Publishers’ Association in 1968, it continues to “champion reason over emotion”.

The Hindu’s authoritative and well-balanced journalism extends to a variety of subjects.

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ed by social reformer G Subramania Aiyer, the first editor and educationist M Veeraraghavachariar, The Hindu was started by a group called ‘The Triplicane Six’, (the name comes from the fact that the other four of its members, TT Rangachariar, PV Rangachariar, D Kesava Rao Pant and N Subba Rau Pantulu, were associated with the Triplicane Literary Society).

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Photo: Savita Rao

It was started on one British rupee and twelve annas of borrowed money, and printed at Srinidhi Press on Mint Street. A weekly, with a print run of 80 copies it was quarter of its present size, it was sold for quarter of a rupee (US $0.005). In 1905, the newspaper was bought by its legal advisor S Kasturi Ranga Iyengar; today it belongs to a family-held company, Kasturi and Sons Limited. Many of the family members have grown up with a journalistic bent of mind and hold active posts in the organisation.


From the start, the newspaper established a reputation for its assertive editorials; the very first editorial declared that “the Press does not only give expression to public opinion but also modify and mould it according to circumstances. It is this want that we have made bold to attempt to supply.” It was a mission statement in many ways, and The Hindu is the oldest surviving major newspaper of Indian nationalism, having cemented a reputation as one of the country’s most balanced and effective examples of the Fourth Estate. In the recent past too, it has not shied away from raising tough questions about the political establishment. Says Narasimhan Ram, the Editor-in-Chief, “Serious, independent, quality journalism, teamed with business viability and success has brought the newspaper where it is today: the front ranks of the world’s major newspapers. Successive waves of technological modernisation, particularly over the past 75 years, have been a key to this achievement.” A pioneer in the media scenario, the paper was the first to introduce colour, to implement computer-aided integration of text and images in page layouts, and the first in India to go online in 1995. The Hindu was the first mainline newspaper to go in for photocomposition and the first in the region to use facsimile transmission of pages. At one time, it used its own aircraft to distribute copies. Its print editions are published out of 12 cities - Chennai, Bangalore, Coimbatore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kochi, Madurai, Mangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Tiruchirapalli, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam. Together their current daily circulation is 1.3 million copies with a readership of 5.2 million.

N Ram, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu

Over the years, The Hindu has added a spectrum of publications to its portfolio. The Hindu Business Line, its financial daily, and the weekly sports magazine Sportstar are leaders in their segments, and Frontline, the fortnightly features magazine is known for its analytical depth and progressive perspective. The Group publishes annuals on industry, agriculture, environment and cricket, and compiles articles on a range of topics under ‘The Hindu Speaks’ series as well. While it has long given extensive coverage to literature and the arts – its Friday Review and Sunday magazine sections are eagerly awaited for the authoritative reviews, its conservative image has been tempered with the more recent introduction of supplements to the daily newspaper such as MetroPlus, which cover contemporary culture and lifestyle. The Hindu extends its reach far and wide. Its formidable reputation ensures that its views are duly noted both by policy makers in several state capitals and the national capital, New Delhi. The newspaper is an eternal favourite among the erudite; a typical reader peruses the daily paper from cover to cover, a habit that has become a legacy for generations.

Anna Salai Chintadripet Chennai - 600 002 +91 44 2857 6300 Fax: 91 44 2841 5325 www.thehindu.com www.thehindu.in

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Media

Smoothening the way Shaped by the belief that “every opportunity is moment of destiny�, this event management company has put together prestigious events for multinational companies, public sector units and advertising firms across India. With a strong network that extends across the globe, Scorpio Events plans to set up offices in Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi by the end of 2009.

Scorpio’s forte is corporate events; VIP speeches and entertainment performances are organised with equal flair.

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ounded in 2004, Scorpio Events draws on Founder and Executive Director Sanjeev Kapoor’s decade of experience in the event management industry and his people skills. He says, “In a business relationship, nothing compares to the personal touch. It is evident in the fact that all our clients and staff have remained with us since the day we started.” Headquartered in Bangalore, the company began with four people, and now employs close to 50. Executive Director Vineet Arya, who structures the marketing strategies of the company adds, “We are a people-centric company, and have founded our business on accountability and transparency. We rely on cautious planning. Scorpio Events is funded internally, and is a zero debt company. We would eventually like to go public and develop properties of our own.” The company’s service portfolio includes product launches, road shows, corporate conventions, celebrity management and weddings. With such a wide repertoire, the key lies in flexibility. The company has steadily gained a reputation in the industry for its ability to oversee an entire event from scratch, and its willingness to collaborate with other event management companies and vendors to ensure that the occasion unfolds smoothly. It gives equal priority to all clients, allotting separate teams to each project, along with a crisis manager. Often, the team has even had to organise a priest for weddings, or fly to other cities to source material at the last minute. The company’s strengths are logistics and the infrastructure to generate material and equipment in-house. It allows for the complete organisation of events even within a brief span of 24 hours. Scorpio Events organises an average of 18 events each month and has the necessary infrastructure to hold an event a day, as it frequently does. Its sister concern Kapoor Audio Visuals supplies equipment for events, and is sought after by other event management companies too. Yet another associated company, SK Stageworks handles everything from stage design and props to fabrication. Working in tandem, the three businesses leave no room for error and ensure that events are well-managed. The frequent collaboration of Kapoor Audio Visuals and SK Stageworks with other companies harks back to Scorpio Events’ policy of supporting the industry. Says Arya, “We do not look at other companies as competition, as this is a huge industry with scope for several players, and we want everyone to grow.” Scorpio is an active member of the Event and Entertainment Marketing Association (EEMA). Scorpio Events is credited with organising the TiE Entrepreneurial Summit 2008 (by the influential The Indus Enterpreners), annual summits for NASSCOM, the annual InNUG event in Goa, the XIII Asia Pacific Software Engineering Conference in 2006 and the Software Technology Parks India (STPI) Awards in 2005. In Chennai, it has worked with leading MNCs like HP, KPMG, AMD and Sasken, along with industry associations like Confederation of Indian Industry CII and Federation of Indian Commerce and Industry (FICCI). In the offing are entertainment events that will provide a platform for Chennai’s budding talent.

3273, Near ESI Hospital 11th Main, HAL 2nd Stage Indiranagar, Bangalore - 560 008 +91 99455 40626, 98802 16421 sk.scorpio@vsnl.net, vineetarya@scorpioevent.com www.scorpioevent.com

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Chapter 11

Premier Clubs & Sports

With two major cricket stadiums, three legendary clubs, one of the most popular golfing greens in India, a professional tennis tournament, an international motor race track, a two-hundred-year-old horse race course and one of the oldest rowing centres in India, Chennai has options for genteel and refined past-times as well as adventure and thrills.


“A healthy social life is found only when in the mirror of each soul the whole community finds its reflection.� Rudolf Steiner (1861 - 1925), Austrian philosopher and literary scholar

Photo: Ramya Reddy


Premier Clubs & Sports

Glory revisited Wrapped in the timeless splendour of its colonial history, the Madras Gymkhana Club stands proud as an enduring institution. From royalty to captains of industry, uniformed gents to sportsmen, its membership is the social barometer.

Members have myriad opportunities to unwind or test their mettle while at play.

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ometimes in the distant haze, one can almost hear the thundering hooves of the Jodhpur-clad British officers doing ‘chukkars’ as bystanders in solar topis applaud. Seated in the open-air lawns of the Madras Gymkhana Club under a moonlit sky, you wonder how many romances blossomed here on the very same Island grounds. Here, in one of the most sought after destinations in the country, one frequently gets the sensation of the past flavouring the present. Not surprisingly, as the 125-yearold club maintains solid links to history. Today, what sets this club apart is that it

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continues to stick to “basic conventions laid down from time immemorial,” says the Club’s present and youngest president, Arvind Ramarathnam. So, the anglicised Gymkhana continues to celebrate Christmas with a Santa Claus riding into the premises (in the past he came on an elephant, in a rickshaw and an aeroplane) Derby Night, Boxing Day Dance and New Year’s Eve. The open-air Friday movie night is a regular affair. The dress code is strict, Continental food (chocolate cake, club sandwiches and praline ice-cream) is a big attraction and the 3500-4000 strong memberships are guarded with a stern eye (in the last 20 years there were just 200 new members). Membership is currently closed.


L-R: PVS Vencatasubramaniam, Hon. Secretary, Arvind Ramarathnam, President, and NA Mirza, Vice President; the new committee plans to redefine the club to match international standards.

Even as it adds modern luxuries, the service of the Gymkhana’s faithful retainers adds a quaint charm.

Opened on a warm summer afternoon in April 1884, with “horsemanship and physical fitness the only gods the English knew”, the Club had a modest start. It comprised just a tent from where members who included British army officers, British company executives and South Indian rajahs would emerge to indulge in pig sticking (wild boar hunts), paper chasing, golf, tennis, football and rugby.

members in their own right. The Men’s Bar long ago gave way to the popular Mixed Bar, making it happy hours all around.

Royal patronage led to the emergence of grand stands, buildings, army bands, billiard tables, swimming pools, visits by The Prince of Wales (later to become Edward VIII), visits by Major Sammy Lee, Olympic diving champion, the club’s first cabaret by three American lady artistes, and the arrival of the ice-making plant; the club is clothed in colonial history all right.

The club today is a place for the entire family and members enjoy active sports, rounds of bridge and tombola and music concerts. On the anvil is an eco-friendly park. Be it for social recognition or sports, over drinks or a delicious dinner, the bonhomie here is all encompassing.

The Island, Anna Salai Chennai - 600 002 +91 44 2536 8160/8 mgcmail1884@gmail.com www.madrasgymkhanaclub.com

Since its inception, golf has been an abiding passion amongst the members. The Gymkhana, which is one of the founding members of the Indian Golf Union, (the Indian arm of the PGA) has two options – the charmingly named Tom Thumb golf area in the main club and the Madras Gymkhana Club Golf Annexe in Guindy. One of the oldest link style golf courses in the country, a game of 18 holes on the sprawling 6000 yards affords an intriguing challenge as the course meanders through a horse racing track. It was started in 1877 with Col. Ross Thompson as its first Captain, and the Princes of Vizianagaram, Pithapuram and Orissa were among the early Indian members. The golf annexe was flagged off at the Island Grounds but was shifted to Guindy at the turn of the 20th century. Another legacy continues to be observed as the annual match between the Madras Gymkhana Club and the Bangalore Golf Club, the second oldest surviving club, is played every year. Along with smooth fairways and the best greens in the country, the club has Ishwar Achanta, India’s only international golf referee, as its Honorary Treasurer. The Gymkhana is one of the few clubs that promotes women’s golf, dating back to the Hutton Cups in 1931, one of the first tournaments in the country for women. From being almost the sole dominion of men, (though female companionship was always welcome) the Gymkhana has opened up to women, admitting them as

Its members include tennis champions Ramanathan Krishnan, who has been a member since 1956 and his son Ramesh Krishnan, both of who recall various matches, local and international, that helped them hone their talent.

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Premier Clubs & Sports

At play With three major national events, including the prestigious Chennai ATP Open and five stadia, world class infrastructure and training, Chennai has produced champions in several major sports: tennis, cricket, chess, racing and water sports.

Tennis

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he three most famous names in Indian tennis: Ramanathan Krishnan, Ramesh Krishnan and Vijay Amritraj come from Chennai and have all contributed much to keep the city’s tennis tradition alive. India’s first tennis academy The Tennis Clinic was started by CG Krishna Bhupathi in the 1970s, spurred by a desire to train his son, Mahesh. Mahesh Bhupati, with Leander Paes, went on to win three doubles titles including the Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Although The Tennis Clinic has been reborn as the Mahesh Bhupati Tennis Academy in Bangalore, it owes its origins to Chennai. The Britannia Amritraj Tennis Academy (BAT) was a pioneering effort by Vijay Amritraj, who captained and took India into the Davis Cup finals twice. Started in the mid-80s, the BAT has produced reputed players, including Leander Paes, who apart from his eight Grand Slam victories at doubles and mixed doubles events, has won a bronze in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. He has also achieved the rare men’s doubles/mixed doubles title in the 1999 Wimbledon.

Rohan Bopanna and Prakash Amritraj at the Chennai Open Tennis Championship

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Ramanathan Krishnan reached the semi-finals of the men’s singles competition at Wimbledon; Ramesh Krishnan won the boy’s singles titles at both Wimbledon and the French Open. He went on to reach three Grand Slam quarter finals in the 1980s, and was India’s Davis Cup captain in 2007. In 1995, the legendary father-son duo started The Krishnan Tennis Center, which offers state-of-the-art facilities and trains players at all levels: beginners, top-ranking juniors, adults and professionals. Chennai has hosted the most important tennis tournament in the country, The Chennai Open, since 1997. It was awarded the Best New Event title in its second year by the Association of Tennis professionals (ATP). Hosted annually in January, it attracts the biggest names in the game; including World No. 17 and Chennai favourite, Carlos Moya and world champion Rafael Nadal. The tournament which carries a total prize money of US $450000 is played over five synthetic surface courts and gets about 6000 tennis aficionados queuing up.

Photo courtesy: The Hindu

www.chennaiopen.org Krishnan Tennis Center: www.webindia.com/ktc

Ramesh Krishnan playing in a 1985 tournament in Chennai


Cricket

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hennai and cricket are inextricably linked; the MA Chidambaram Stadium (MAC) in Chepauk is one of the oldest cricket stadiums in India, and a favourite with many Indian and international cricketers. Cricket buffs are knowledgeable and display sporting behaviour, a fact acknowledged by many a visiting team. The Chemplast Cricket Ground in the IIT Madras campus is considered as one of the most beautiful cricket grounds in the country by maestro Sachin Tendulkar. The ground, which hosts first class matches, has been the training ground for many a budding talent. Chennai’s cricketing greats include former captains S Venkataraghavan and K Srikkanth, spinner L Sivaramakrishnan, and key players Ramesh Sadagopan, Robin Singh, Dinesh Karthik, WV Raman. The MRF Pace Foundation, an academy for fast bowlers has contributed 18 players to the Indian cricket team. Chennai has its own cricket teams - the Chennai Super Kings which plays in the exciting Twenty/20 format Indian Premier League (IPL) and Indian Cricket League’s (ICL) Chennai SuperStars. This team went on to win the first ever ICL 20s championship and the ICL Domestic 50s as well.

www.tnca.in www.chennaisuperstars.info www.chennaisuperkings.com

Wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik in a Ranji Trophy match at the MA Chidambaram stadium.

Photo courtesy: The Hindu

Motor Racing

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wo Morris Garages (MG) cars chasing each other in an impromptu race prompted the two racers, Rex Strong and K Varguis to form the Madras Motor Club back in 1953. Racing weekends began in earnest at an abandoned air strip at Sholavaram. The Motor Sports Club today hosts several championships on 300 acres of land. Car events are held at the Sriperumbudur track and motorcycle events are at the Sholavaram track. Races of the FISSME, 1300cc and 1600cc class are held at Irungattukottai. India’s rising stars in motor racing, Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandok are both regulars at the Sriperumbudur track. While Narain Karthikeyan was India’s first F1 driver, the youngest ever Asian Formula Champion, Karun Chandok, currently drives for the Ocean Racing Technology team in the Grand Prix2 (GP2) series. www.mmsc.in

Revving down the Sholavaram track

Photo courtesy: Madras Motor Race Club

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Chess

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f there is one person who has put India on the chess map of the world, it is Chennai’s very own Vishwanathan Anand.

Indian chess grandmaster V Anand is the current World Chess Champion. He is the first player in chess history to have won the World Championship in three different formats: Knockout, Tournament, and Match. He has been awarded India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan and was the first recipient of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, India’s highest sporting honour. Keeping Chennai’s chess profile high are four other international masters, RB Ramesh, P Konguvel, Lanka Ravi and V Saravanan. Chennai has the largest number of chess academies and is a very popular venue for major chess meets. India’s second best chess player, a Chennaiite, Grandmaster Krishnan Sasikiran defeated Commonwealth champion and former world championship finalist Nigel Short in the Corus International chess tournament in 2009. This year, the National Under-25 and the Asian Junior Chess Championships will be held at Chennai. Indian Chess Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand at a promotional camp.

Photo courtesy: NIIT

www.chessinchennai.com

Water Sports

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ver 140 years old, the Madras Boat Club is one of the oldest rowing centres and the best-equipped in India, with state-of-the-art boats and oars. First started in the backwaters of Ennore, it was largely instrumental in forming the Rowing Federation of India. The club has about 600 members, and actively imparts yachting and rowing skills. The Tamil Nadu Sailing Association (TNSA) has a range of the best boats: 11 Olympic class lasers, 18 Optimist boats, six Enterprises and three Ocean Going Maxi 77 Class Yachts belonging to members. TNSA Tigers walked away with most of the laurels at the National Optimist Coastal Sailing Championship 2008 and TNSA’s sailors turned in a fine performance at the Asian level KFC Langkawi Regatta. www.tnsa.in

Mrinalini Santhanam sailing a Laser in the Bay of Bengal, off the coast of Chennai.

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Photo courtesy: TNSA


Golf

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hennai takes justifiable pride in its two 18-hole golf courses, the Cosmopolitan Club and the Gymkhana Club. Both the clubs and the Guindy Links Golf Course were established in the late 19th century and are popular with both local and international golfers. www.madrasgymkhanaclub.com

Others

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lthough cricket and tennis have stolen the limelight, Chennai has done equally well in other sports. The city has a Rugby union team called the Chennai Cheetahs; it is also home to a Premier Hockey League team, the Chennai Veerans. An off-beat game, Sepak Takraw, a kick volleyball sport native to South East Asia has taken off in Chennai. The Chennai Sepak Takraw League is a major attraction; players from all over Tamil Nadu represent their club in the tournament.

Infrastructure

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he infrastructure of the city has consistently supported its sporting culture. The Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) offers various training programmes for young talent at all these venues.

Ranjith Singh at the Cosmo-TNGF course

Photo courtesy: The Hindu

The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium seats 40000 and houses a multi-purpose indoor complex for volleyball, basketball and table tennis. The Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium is regarded by the International Hockey Federation as one of the best in the world for its excellent infrastructure. The Guindy Race Course was set up in 1777 in Chennai, and the best thoroughbreds have raced here for the prestigious The Classic Indian Turf Invitation Cup.

Shivender Singh and Bikramjit Singh at the Independence Cup hockey tournament.

Photo courtesy: The Hindu

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Chapter 12

Social Responsibility

With over 225 charity trusts and 110 non-governmental organisations, Chennai reaches out to provide succour to orphans, the aged, the ailing and the needy.


“Serve, love, give, purify, meditate, realise.� Swami Sivananda (1887 - 1963), spiritual teacher and proponent of Yoga and Vedanta

Photo: Ramya Reddy


Social Responsibility

Empowering communities Focused on creating sustainable changes at the grassroot level, the unique performance based rural development system of this charitable trust has helped 400000 villagers in 500 villages across four states. Harnessing corporate knowledge to stimulate growth, it also saves forests, organises water supply, prevents soil erosion and stands out as a model of public-private partnership.

All children in SST villages attend school regularly, getting the necessary education to become economically independent.

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et up as the social arm of TVS Motor Company and Sundaram-Clayton Ltd in 1996 by Venu Srinivasan, Chairman of TVS Motor Company, Srinivasan Services Trust (SST) is named after his father. The Trust collaborates with the government to help villagers become self reliant and started off by focusing on economic development.

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It soon came to realise the truth of the maxim, ‘Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.’ Today, SST emphasises on a holistic and sustainable development approach, targeting the areas of healthcare, education, environment, infrastructure and economic growth. Working in partnership with research organisations, NGOs, financial bodies, government agencies


Life has changed for the better for families who now have food, financial security and easy access to primary health care.

and local institutions, it has made a difference to the lives of 55740 families in the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh. There have been far reaching changes in the rural environment too. Over 100000 hectares of degraded forests have been reforested. Successful implementation of watershed development programmes has raised the water table and prevented soil erosion in 5800 hectares of land. Together with scientific methods of agriculture, it has helped farmers earn a steady income all year round. SST participates with government bodies in developing infrastructure such as construction of roads, drinking water facilities, proper sewage and sanitation, improving school, balwadis, health centres and community buildings in cooperation with the local communities. The aim of SST is to change mindsets and act as a catalyst for creation of self reliant village communities. For example, when a school is built, it is left up to the villagers to ensure that it is well maintained. SST however, will conduct periodic checks. This is true for all its activities. The challenge lies in sustaining these changes through the active participation of communities, which SST believes are the true agents of change. It fosters a relationship of mutual trust, with project priorities fixed through discussion. Each village has created its own Development Fund. Local communities contribute to this fund and utilise it for maintenance of village infrastructure. SST villages have an infant mortality rate of 1-2/10000 (against the national average of 69), malnutrition is 4 percent (state average – 45-50 percent), morbidity is 12-13 percent (state average – 40 percent). Access to water and sanitation, health awareness programmes, workshops and regular visits from doctors have contributed to higher health standards.

Resource centres engage village children in games, arts, crafts and computers. Robust student-teacher communities have led to greater literacy levels in SST villages. The number of students passing the board exam has rocketed to 74-78 percent from the pre-SST era of 27-30 percent. In some villages, this has reached a high of 94 percent, sowing the seeds of empowerment in the next generation. SST’s environmental initiatives, such as ‘Wealth from waste’ have had tremendous impact on the natural balance and have indirectly created additional employment and sources of income for villagers. Greening efforts have also led to increased earnings from tourism, collection of firewood and gathering of forest produce by villagers. SST’s many pioneering initiatives have been recognised through awards such as the Mother Teresa Award for the Best Corporate Citizen 2004, the Manimegalai Award 2007 for the Best Self Help Group and the Best SHG Federation for the Padavedu Panchayat in Tiruvannamalai district, Sri Jamshedji Tata Award for adult education in tribal areas and the Readers’ Digest Pegasus Corporate Social Responsibility Gold Award in 2008.

29, 2nd Floor Jayalakshmi Estates Haddows Road Chennai - 600 006 +91 44 2827 2233 sst@scl.co.in www.tvssst.org

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Social Responsibility

Connecting people The first telecom MNC to set up a full-fledged handset manufacturing facility in the country, global communications leader Nokia has acquired a whole new meaning in India, where it is connecting people to progress. By empowering women factory workers and creating community improvement initiatives, it is engineering economic transformation in Sriperumbudur.

The 210 acre Nokia Telecom SEZ houses the Nokia manufacturing facility and facilities of five of its global component manufacturers.

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Photos: S Badri Narayanan


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nce a small sleepy village, Sriperumbudur’s economic landscape has undergone a complete transformation with the setting up of the Nokia Telecom SEZ in January 2006. In three years, the plant has produced 200 million handsets, which is the fastest ramp up amongst nine global factories. From an initial headcount of 550 employees, the plant now employs 8000 people, 70 percent of whom are young women aged between 18-24. The Nokia Telecom SEZ will provide 30000 jobs when all the vendors are fully functional. The figures are a matter of pride for Nokia for the positive change that it is able to bring about in the area. The success of the plant is best demonstrated by the stories of Kapagajotheeswari, Apsara, Mohanavalli and Narmada. These young women, like many of their colleagues, were jobless, until a couple of years ago after abandoning their studies. Today, Kapagajotheeswari, who joined Nokia at 18 and works on the shopfloor, has bought her father a scooter, and shoulders the family expenses. Apsara, who joined as a trainee has moved up to assist in the supply operations unit. Like them, Mohanavalli and Narmada too are planning to get a B Com degree, and are determined to ensure further education for their siblings as well. Along with food credit cards that it gives the young women to buy chocolates and biscuits for their parents and siblings, the company offers the chance to learn while they earn. Nurturing Employees and Schooling Talent (NEST) is a seven-semester credit based on-site programme that enables eligible employees to earn a Bachelor of Technology degree. Conducted by a leading educational institution in Chennai, the course is fully sponsored by Nokia. Its concern for employee welfare extends to the crucial aspect of healthcare and an ongoing monthly health campaign has a doctor from Apollo Hospitals offering consultation on various health issues. LTY (Listening to You) is an initiative that allows those who are shy and hesitant, to open up and express themselves in anonymity; with the Kaizen Championship, the company encourages employees to contribute original solutions or suggestions to help streamline the production process. Says Sachin Saxena, Director, Chennai Factory, “People continue to be the greatest strength and to ensure that Nokia Chennai nurtures the best talent, we provide a challenging, enriching and joyful environment. Focus on continuous learning, quality services and imbibing the Nokia Values has ensured that enthusiasm levels at Nokia Chennai remain high and people at their creative best.” As part of the community involvement programme, Nokia has adopted two local villages and focuses on their holistic development. It supports six schools that impart life skills and IT education to students. The company’s pro-active philosophy has seeped into the fabric of the workforce which shows keen interest in projects like Nokia Helping Hands. An umbrella for the numerous community initiatives in and around Sriperumbudur, its activities are many: clean up of Elliott’s beach in Besant Nagar and Vandalur Zoo, India’s first public zoo that was established in 1855, acting as scribes for blind students during exams, helping out at orphanages, old age homes and homes for the mentally challenged. Along with driving the engine of the investment train in Chennai’s investment corridor, Nokia has been a direct catalyst for economic growth and has transformed lives for the better in the neighbourhood.

Nokia Telecom SEZ Park NH4, Sriperumbudur - 602 105 +91 44 4711 9000 www.nokia.com

Employees enjoying a break in the cheerful cafeteria.

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Social Responsibility

Do unto others Udavum Karangal (helping hands) is an impressive initiative that provides succour to destitutes in Tamil Nadu. Over the last 25 years, it has rescued, nurtured and educated over 25000 disadvantaged people, an achievement that is all the more remarkable as it accepts no funds from the government or any religious organisation.

With love and care, volunteers hold out a new lease of life for the young and the helpless.

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Photos: Ramya Reddy


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oyous peals of children’s laughter ring out in the gardens of Ramakrishna Vidya Niketan, the residential school run by Udavum Karangal in Thiruverkadu. Carefree kids take turns on swings and recite rhymes. The only factor that sets them apart from children anywhere else is that they all bear the same surname ‘Vidyaakar’. It is quite appropriate, for ‘Pappa’ Vidyaakar has personally rescued them, investigated their cases and provided them with shelter, medical care, schooling and often, even their names. This is just one of several establishments set up by Udavum Karangal in Chennai and Coimbatore. The story of Udavum Karangal’s origin reads like a fable. A young boy from a poor family from the small-town of Kollegal (in the neighbouring state of Karnataka) wound up in Chennai where he was raised and schooled by a philanthropist, Ramakrishnan. Guided by his benefactor’s advice to “help others”, Vidyaakar started a guidance centre in 1983 in Chennai’s NSK Nagar. A rickshaw puller walked in one day with a tiny abandoned baby. “It needed care and I felt a sudden urge to take care of the baby,” says Vidyaakar. Over the years, he has managed to provide 15 shelters for people from all age groups – new born babies to the elderly, from spastic children to people suffering from AIDS and mental illnesses and hospices for the dying. With separate facilities for children, men and women, Udavum Karangal manages to sustain itself with the sheer dedication and compassion of its 35 member staff and 75 volunteers.

Vidyaakar’s ‘helping hands’ embrace hundreds with fatherly concern.

Right from the start, Udavum Karangal has resisted seeking government funds or grants from any religious bodies, local or foreign. It seeks contributions from individuals and corporates – 80 percent of its funds come from individual donors. Approximately, 89 percent of all the funds received by Udavum Karangal go directly to the projects and around 11 percent is used to meet administration costs. Donors can choose to contribute to specific causes; for example, they can pay for the purchase of a child’s school books or a pair of shoes, sponsor a school picnic or a teacher’s salary; they can sponsor a baby’s food for a month or vegetables and groceries for a day’s meal. They can pay for medicines or clothes. Donations begin at just Rs 160 (US $4) for a school bag and can go all the way to Rs 250000 (US $6250) for an ambulance. Treatments for illnesses cover the gamut of medication, physiotherapy, psychotherapy, yoga and meditation. The organisation focuses on vocational training as an important tool in the revival of self-confidence. Patients are trained in a variety of skills from horticulture and landscaping to tailoring and craftsmanship, depending on their interests. The latest programme includes Jeevan, a vocational training school for the poor which also conducts health camps. Says Vidyaakar, “We work with individuals until they are independent and self-aware. Every individual deserves dignity, and independence is vital in the improvement of self perception.” The organisation also offers short stay facilities, ambulance services, disaster management and counselling in its branches in Chennai and Coimbatore. It provided ambulance services in the tsunami-hit areas of Tamil Nadu in 2004, provided food, shelter and counseling, and adopted the village of Kanathurkuppum; the latter act earned it a citation from Denver Sister Cities in 2005. Udavum Karangal and Vidyaakar have won several accolades and awards over the years; Vidyaakar though prefers to measure success with achievements such

as those by two students winning gold medals in the fields of social work and hotel management. For the motivated team who stretch out their helping hands, joy is measured in the number of children who have been reunited with their families – 6700, and their ability to involve the community in the process of healing broken bodies and hearts.

460, NSK Nagar Chennai - 600 106 +91 44 2621 6321, 2621 6421, 262 22161 udavum@vsnl.com www.udavumkarangal.org

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Social Responsibility

Safe haven Founded as a shelter for homeless women with mental illnesses, The Banyan has helped over 1500 women in Chennai in the last 15 years. Involving both society and the government in its rehabilitation efforts, it has focused attention on the oft-ignored plight of India’s ‘nowhere’ people.

E

ach year hundreds of women, some from far away places, find themselves on the teeming streets of Chennai, sick, destitute, ignored and abused. Timely treatment has helped rehabilitate more than 800 such women in mainstream society, thanks to The Banyan. A half-naked mentally ill woman dashed into traffic and straight into the hearts of two college students, Vandana Gopikumar and Vaishnavi Jayakumar, in 1993. Stung by the plight of the woman, Chellammal, the two searched in vain for a place to shelter her. The dearth of facilities planted the seed that grew into The Banyan. The motto ‘I exist therefore I am’ is a passionate assertion drawn from self worth; it represents the organisation’s objective of making these women independent, and renewing their sense of empowerment. Its strategy is a combination of dialogue, agitation and legal action to initiate changes while continuing with welfare activities. The Banyan is focused on making institutional mental health care in Tamil Nadu humane, responsive and effective. Adaikalam (meaning ‘home’ in Tamil) is a care and rehabilitation centre for women. Here they get medical and psychiatric treatment along with occupational therapy like games and chores. Women, old and young, from myriad backgrounds, sing, dance and play together, forming new relationships to replace the ones they have lost. The organisation’s commitment to their welfare continues post treatment; it provides a lifelong supply of medication, and conducts regular progress checks through its out patient clinic. Vocational therapy in the form of block printing, hotel housekeeping and beautification courses are converted into viable employment avenues. The NGO even provides a Legal Aid Clinic to smoothen their return into mainstream society. At times, some women are rejected by their families even after recovery; such women continue to reside at the facilities, supporting themselves through work. The Banyan Village, in the serene countryside of Kovalam, is a long-stay facility that operates along the same lines as Adaikalam. The supportive environment encourages residents to form self-help groups like Vizhuthugal, which translates into ‘branches of the banyan’. The group recently set up pickling, block printing and stitching units with a bank loan. It has also established Spice Route, a café and store that retails items made during vocational therapy.

Peer support is crucial to recovery and activities are aimed at creating close bonds.

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In 2007, The Banyan’s Health Centre & Protected Community was launched by former President APJ Abdul Kalam. The Community Mental Health Project based in Kovalam focuses on providing medical facilities and training to people from within the community to identify and assist people with mental illnesses; both projects try to


ensure that these people are cared for by their communities, and are not abandoned due to a lack of understanding.

Co-founders Vaishnavi Jayakumar and Vandana Gopikumar have evolved a rehabilitation model based on timely care and empathy.

In the course of its growth, the organisation has advocated that psychological illness is not the problem of the individual alone, but is a result of social interaction. It has successfully generated greater accountability and participation from the community and the administration through awareness campaigns, partnerships and fundraising. The government, corporates and individuals also help by making donations, volunteering, sponsoring meals, and patronising events like the NGO’s annual cultural festival Basant Utsav. The success of The Banyan model has inspired other NGOs like Ashadeep in Assam and Karuna Trust in Karnataka to replicate it through training partnerships. On a wider scale, The Banyan Academy of Leadership in Mental Health (BALM) helps transmit this model and develop talent in the field of social work, thereby bridging the gap between knowledge and action. In 2007, The Banyan won the Aram Award of Shriram Ilakkiya Kazhagam, a literary wing of Shriram Group, and in 2008, the Stri Shakti Puraskar, a Government of India award. It was also among the regional finalists for the India NGO Awards 2007.

6th Main Road Mugappair Eri Scheme Mugappair West Chennai - 600 037 +91 44 2653 0504 / 4554 8350 / 51 / 52 www.thebanyan.org

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Contributors

Ramya Reddy Ramya finds inspiration in nature, diversity and the depth of the human spirit. Her beautiful impressions of Chennai represent the subtle nuances of this timeless city. Based in Bangalore, she devotes her time to theme based fine-art work, travel photography and commercial projects that align with her style. Ramya’s evocative images are an intrinsic part of the ‘Best of’ series; her images have enhanced the Best of Bangalore, Best of Goa and now, the Best of Chennai. An alumna of the Light & Life Academy in Ooty, Reddy learnt the art of printing in the digital darkroom under the legendary John Paul Caponigro at Santa Fe. As a visual artist, she looks beyond the immediacy of the image to the possibilities each situation presents, producing images of conscious thought and effort, not mere coincidence. Her spectrum of work covers fine-art imagery, photo illustrations and photography. ramya@ramyareddy.com, www.ramyareddy.com

Badri Narayanan Whether capturing the rich textures of a saree or visually conveying the lusciousness of dessert, Badri believes in bringing every shot to life. He works with the digital medium to conjure up what his mind imagines and captures the life within each frame. Based in Chennai, Badri has a degree in Visual Communication. He dabbled in journalistic photography with a print magazine, followed by a stint as a student at the Rajeev Menon School of Cinematography. He later earned valuable experience while working with renowned photographer G Venket Ram. Badri prefers natural light photography and specialises in candid images, both travel or theme based, when he is not working on commercial ventures. +91 98408 75456, badrinarayanan@aol.in

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BEST OF CHENNAI - Volume 1  

Welcome to Best of Chennai Volume 1. We are delighted to introduce a brand new concept in publishing – a business atlas in a coffee table fo...

BEST OF CHENNAI - Volume 1  

Welcome to Best of Chennai Volume 1. We are delighted to introduce a brand new concept in publishing – a business atlas in a coffee table fo...

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